Cupboard Looks Bare for US

By George WhiteSeptember 26, 2006, 4:00 pm
Well, the 2006 Ryder Cup belongs to the ages now ' and that seems like an overly dramatic way to express the situation if you are a USA fan. People, 2004 wasnt a fluke. America got beat by nine points then, and it would have finished even worse this time were it not by a supreme act of benevolence from Paul McGinley in conceding a 25-foot putt to J.J. Henry.
 
Its already in the record books, friends. Is it going to be the same for the next six to eight years for the U.S.?
 
Im searching now, going through page after page in the PGA TOUR media guide for the good young Americans. Lets see now hmmm wait a minute, Im sure theyre here someplace.
 
And ' they are few and far between.
 
Europe had three men on their team in their 20s, and all three figure to be around a long, long time ' Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Luke Donald. The U.S., alas, had none in their 20s. Its difficult to rebuild when you are handicapped by the likes of that. Critics are saying that we should sacrifice a Cup or two by going with more young players. But whom?
 
According to my calculations, there were 24 American men in their 20s on the PGA TOUR this year. Twelve of them wont be make the top 125 to keep their cards unless something unforeseen happens.
 
That leaves 12 to develop into star material - in a hurry. Oh, there are a few candidates - J.B. Holmes (24) won early this year in Phoenix and Bubba Watson (28) has a T3 and a fourth. He leads the tour in driving distance, but alas, he's 157th in putting.
 
Bill Haas (24) has a T4 at Wachovia, Lucas Glover (28) almost made the Ryder Cup this year and has a win at Disney. Ryan Moore (23) finished T2 at the Buick Championship. Sean O'Hair (24) won the John Deere last year.
 
Charles Howell III (27) is a terrific ball-striker but a poor putter. Ben Curtis (29) has shown flashes of encouragement, winning the British Open three years ago and winnning two more times this. But he's missed the cut six times this year. Jonathon Byrd (28) is 18th on tour in scoring.
 
The big question mark in all these 20-somethings is putting, and that is where Europe consistently has the edge. Howell is 194th on the tour rankings. Curtis is 128th. Glover at No. 44 is the best of the lot.
 
The sad thing is ' for the U.S., at least ' that the European threesome of Garcia, Casey and Donald are individually better that any of the American youngsters. For any of them to make a difference in the Ryder Cup, the U.S. men will have to show vast improvement.
 
The Americans? Dont look for much help from the older players. The worlds second-best player, Phil Mickelson, finished winless at 0-4-1. As long as he insists on shutting down the engines after the PGA, he wont help. Jim Furyk, No. 3, didnt do much to change the final result after his opening match with Tiger Woods, finishing with one win and three losses in his last four outings. David Toms? 0-3-1. Chris DiMarco? 0-3-1.
 
Tiger Woods finished at an acceptable 3-2. The rest of the battle-tested veterans ' Mickelson, Furyk, DiMarco and Toms - finished 2-13-3. Remove Furyks team wins with Woods and you have a winless 0-13-3 record.
 
Poor Tom Lehman say what you will about his captaincy, but he was in dire situation before the matches ever began. There wasnt ANY American - or Americans ' who could have made the winning difference, no combinations of players paired up for the team matches who could have brought about a victory for the U.S.
 
And the question now is ' when will it turn around? Well, what do you see? Are Garcia, Casey or Donald suddenly going to fade from world competition? Highly unlikely. Will the U.S. suddenly discover three or four golfers who are hiding in the shadows ' thats how far away they were from making this Ryder Cup competitive. And thats highly unlikely.
 
The possibility exists that it will take two or three players who are right now still in high school to again tilt the balance in favor of the Americans. Maybe, in spite of all the scoffing, a certain 16-year-old girl from Hawaii maybe some 12-year-old staying late after school to practice chipping at his local muni course. Maybe maybe maybe
 
Email your thoughts to George White
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • Getty Images

    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

    Getty Images

    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

    Getty Images

    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x