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.”

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.