Price has Presidents Cup options - not all good

By Doug FergusonAugust 27, 2013, 8:09 pm

NEW YORK – The Americans have a 7-1-1 record in the Presidents Cup, and it looks even more lopsided on paper.

Consider the options of the two captains.

This is the final week for players to earn a spot on the teams before Fred Couples and Nick Price get two captain's picks.

If nothing changes in the U.S. standings, Couples will have to choose from among Dustin JohnsonBubba Watson, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, if he can persuade Stricker to take a break from his semi-retirement. And that list doesn't even include 20-year-old Jordan Spieth. Whenever a guy starts a season with no status and is headed to the Tour Championship, odds are he's playing pretty good golf.

For Couples, that's a nice problem to have.

International captain Nick Price has a short list that doesn't resemble a ''Who's Who'' as much as a ''Who's That?''

Move past Tim Clark at No. 11 and his choices include Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat. There are three Aussies, just not the names you're used to seeing – Marc LeishmanBrett Rumford and Marcus Fraser. There's George Coetzee and Brendon De Jonge, both from southern Africa. And don't overlook Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan, who this year became the only player to miss the cut in all four majors.

What binds them is not the contrived International flag under which they hope to play. It's that none has competed in the Presidents Cup.

''There's a lot of rookies,'' Price said Tuesday morning.

He wasn't talking about potential picks, but players already on the team – Branden Grace and Richard Sterne, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Graham DeLaet of Canada, who is holding down the 10th spot going into the Deutsche Bank Championship.

The International team has not looked this outmatched since 1998 at Royal Melbourne, the year one of its players (Carlos Franco of Paraguay) tuned up for the matches by going through Q-School. Another (Joe Ozaki) only made the team because his big brother (Jumbo Ozaki) decided not to play.

What happened?

They gave the Yanks their biggest spanking in team competition. It was such a rout that when Price won the clinching point, the staff was still clearing breakfast off the tables in the clubhouse.

''If you look back at Melbourne in '98, and the draw in South Africa in '03, our guys played their (tails) off,'' Price said. ''That's what we need.''

The Presidents Cup needs a new winner, even if that means new faces. It needs emotion, which has been missing since Chris DiMarco ran screaming into the arms of Jack Nicklaus after making a putt on the final hole in 2005.

It needs one of the most distinguished characters in golf breaking a club over his knee in despair.

''That really was embarrassing for me,'' Price said.

Yes, that was him.

The Presidents Cup in South Africa was so tight in 2003 that Price knew every point – every half-point – could be the difference. Playing against Kenny Perry, he twice rallied from a three-hole deficit. On the final hole at Fancourt, Price missed a short birdie putt to halve the match and snapped the putter in two as he walked off the green.

No apologies were necessary, though he still offers them.

''A freak reaction,'' Price said. ''But I'll tell you what it's turned into. A guy phoned me from South Africa and said, 'Tell us about the time you walked off the green and broke your putter in front of (captains) Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.' It was totally unintentional. But it showed how much I cared.''

Price still cares enough to challenge PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem over the points structure.

Unlike the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, there are five matches (instead of four) in the team sessions, and thus 32 points available for the week instead of 28. The idea is to have more players on the course. Nice thought, but is this supposed to be like Little League with the emphasis on participation?

Price realizes the Americans have greater depth. Playing for fewer points gives him a better chance for a close contest. Even when the Americans had better players in the Ryder Cup a few generations ago, it always was close because there were fewer points available and Europe could hide its weaker players.

Finchem rejected the proposal presented to him by Price and former captain Greg Norman.

''I understand his thinking,'' Finchem said a month ago. ''But I think we have a nice history that's built up already in the Presidents Cup. I increasingly feel like unless it's broke, don't really mess with it. And the Presidents Cup has been very, very successful.''

Successful by what measure?

The fact the Americans have lost only once in two decades? That the last three cups haven't even been close? One more blowout and this will be bordering on a biennial exhibition, if it's not already.

''I was listening yesterday to the European coverage of their tour, and the guys are already talking about the Ryder Cup next year,'' Price said. ''Obviously, the Ryder Cup will be there (at Gleneagles). But I wish we could hear that about the Presidents Cup. The only way that's going to happen is if it's closely contested.''

Even if that means having players hardly anyone knows.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.