Ryder Cup still a contest between tours

By Doug FergusonAugust 30, 2010, 11:57 pm

Ryder CupPARAMUS, N.J. – If it seems outrageous that the No. 9 player in the world would not be part of the Ryder Cup, then consider the European team that first crushed the United States in this popular exhibition.

The highest-ranked player Europe had in 2004 was No. 9 in the world.

That was Padraig Harrington, who six years and three major championships later became a debated captain’s pick Sunday.

Colin Montgomerie called it an “embarrassment of riches” that his three picks did not include Justin Rose and Paul Casey, who was at No. 9 when the choices were made. And that the likes of Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson and Sergio Garcia didn’t even qualify.

The real embarrassment will be if Europe doesn’t take home the cup, last seen on Twitter being meticulously polished by former U.S. captain Paul Azinger as a way to needle Ian Poulter.

Europe is a lot like the United States used to be.

It has the highest-ranked players, with all 12 members inside the top 40 based on Monday’s ranking. Europe won more majors this year, with Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer trumping Phil Mickelson. And it is favored to win the Ryder Cup, once the domain of the USA.

One thing hasn’t changed.

Winning the Ryder Cup is more meaningful to Europe than the United States, which is not to suggest the Americans don’t care about winning or won’t cover their ears if they have to listen to the singsong cheering of “Ole, Ole, Ole.”

This is not a competition between the best players from Europe and the U.S.

It’s a competition between tours.

What motivated Europe for so many years – and led to so many victories – was the perception of being a second-class golf tour. Even though it is the second-best tour in the world (with deep apologies to the Nationwide Tour), no one likes to hear it.

And that’s why any suggestion to revamp Europe’s qualifying criteria would be a mistake.

The top four players are decided by the world ranking points they accumulate over the last 12 months. The next five come from money earned during the same time from European Tour events. The other three players are up to the captain.

It doesn’t hurt that seven of Europe’s players were not U.S. tour members at the start of the year.

Luke Donald suggested last week that if the No. 10 player – that would be him – were left off the Ryder Cup, something would be seriously flawed with the system. It was not clear if he was talking about the Ryder Cup criteria or how he got to No. 10 in the world.

“The European team has to look harder at the qualification system and whether it’s the correct way to do it, or whether there’s a better way,” Donald said after learning he was a pick. “I think golf really is becoming a world game, and I understand they won’t protect the European Tour. But at the same time, the top guys are going to want to play against the best players in the world, no matter what.

“And they shouldn’t be penalized for that.”

No question golf has become a global game, which is why the major tours lean so much on the world ranking. But to exclusively use the world ranking to determine the team would make the Ryder Cup feel more like the Presidents Cup. The passion of the Ryder Cup is as much about tours as continents and flags.

Sure, there are a few tweaks that can be made.

Europe should consider taking four players from a ranking list, four players from a money list and giving the captain four picks. That’s the same number of picks the Americans get.

Even more peculiar is why Montgomerie had to make his captain’s picks – Harrington, Donald and Edoardo Molinari – on Sunday night. Players don’t begin to arrive in Wales until Sept. 27, which is a month away. Are they really in that much of a rush to stitch names into the back of caps and fit players for tuxedos?

European officials tried to force players’ hands by making them choose between the final European Tour qualifying event (Johnnie Walker Championship) and the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs (The Barclays).

Harrington, Donald, Casey and Rose chose to play The Barclays, even though the ranking points did not count toward Ryder Cup standings because of the five-hour time difference. Make the picks on Monday, and those four could have tried to play their way onto the team. There’s no drama in Europe watching on TV at 11 p.m.

Then again, isn’t the drama supposed to unfold Oct. 1 at Celtic Manor?

Would it have mattered? Not this year. It would have been an embarrassment for Montgomerie to leave off Molinari, who won two big tournaments in Scotland over the last two months to rightly deserve a spot on the team.

Someone was going to be left out. Someone was going to be upset. Someone was going to question the system.

Montgomerie won’t say this, but it did not hurt Donald’s chances when he was among the few who played the Wales Open this summer for a preview of the Celtic Manor course.

Harrington said if he did not make the team, he would have blamed only himself for not setting his schedule property.

No one was more devastated than Casey, who realized he wasn’t on the team when he saw Harrington’s wife give a thumbs-up to his caddie without saying anything to Casey.

Even so, he found perspective in his despair.

“I’m not going to stand here and plead a case for why I should be on the team,” Casey said. “It’s done and dusted. I tried my hardest, and I didn’t make it.”

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.