Euros Have Had Shaky Time Too

By George WhiteSeptember 5, 2006, 4:00 pm
A disclaimer here at the outset ' this column and $2.87 will get you a cup of java at Starbucks. The past 10 Ryder Cups have proven that nothing is more foolhardy than to try to predict a winner before the first tee is pushed in the ground.
Nonetheless, you read a couple of weeks ago in this corner that the Americans have struggled the past couple of months. Tiger has been sensational, of course. Jim Furyk has been steady. But the other 10 have been up-and-down ' and some a lot more down than up.
Today, its Europe turn to stand up and be dissected. And if youre searching for some nugget that might favor the U.S., read on.
The Euros spent last week playing on home soil, of course, and it is exceptionally difficult to get a good read when the gents from the two sides are not competing at the same tournament. The lads competed in the BMW International in Germany last week, and since primarily Europeans were playing, then it isnt really surprising that a European (Henrik Stenson) won. Look at it as an intramural match ' or, if you will, as world-class competition.
So, with that nervous interjection, here is a look at the 12 who make up Europe:
DAVID HOWELL ' Went through a lackluster late summer in which he missed three cuts in seven events before finishing T4 in the BMW. And, he hadnt finished better than T35 prior to the German tournament. Has fought knee and shoulder injuries this summer.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE ' Missed the cut in three of the four majors this year. That may or may not be telling in the Ryder Cup ' probably not, considering what he has done in past matches. And in his last nine tournaments in Europe, hes finished T14 or better in seven.
JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL ' Only Euro to take a pass on the BMW, even though he was in danger of being passed. But with the exception of the European Tours Open de France early in July when he finished T10, he hasnt had a top 20 berth. He did finish T21 in the U.S. Open and T22 in the WGC-Bridgestone.
HENRIK STENSON ' One of two rookies on the European squad (the U.S. has four), Stenson won the aforementioned BMW. He also finished T14 in the PGA, which was not too shabby. However, in his six previous tournaments, his highest finish was a T22 with one missed cut.
LUKE DONALD ' An emerging stroke-play star that American fans must watch closely. His line reads thus this summer: Barclays T5, U.S. Open T12, Cialis Western T21, Scottish Open T2, British Open T35, Deutsche Bank (Europe) T15, PGA T3, WEC-Bridgestone T8, BMW T6.
SERGIO GARCIA ' Another fellow who bears watching ' after missing the cut in the U.S. Open, Garcia finished T5 in the British Open T3 in the PGA in his last two majors.
PAUL CASEY ' Since U.S. Open when he finished 15th, hes been all over the map won at Gleneagles and 15th in the U.S. Open, but missed the cut at Europes Deutsche Bank, 71st in British Open, T53 International, and missed the cut at the PGA. Then, he finishes T4 at the WGC-Bridgestone before landing at T13 at the BMW. Anyone care to guess what his form will be in a couple of weeks?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON ' This is a man who missed the cut in both the British Open and PGA. However, he has several good efforts this summer, including a T2 at the Booz Allen, a second place in Europes Open de France, and last week a playoff loss at the BMW.
ROBERT KARLSSON ' The other European rookie, Karlsson has won two events in Europe and lost a playoff in another. However, in international competition, he finished T35 in the British Open, T29 in the PGA and T62 in the WGC-Bridgestone.
PAUL MCGINLEY ' A real puzzle here- missed the cut in both the majors in which he played (the U.S. and British Opens). And he would have missed the cut in the WGC-Bridgestone (he finished T66 out of 76 in this no-cut event.) And, he missed the cut last week in the Euro tourney at the BMW. However, it should be mentioned that he has had knee problems this year.
LEE WESTWOOD ' He withdrew at the WGC-Bridgestone after shooting 79-67-74. However, he tied for second at Europes Deutsche Bank and tied for 29th at the PGA. One of captain Ian Woosnams wild-card picks, along with:
DARREN CLARKE ' Theres no use trying to predict where this tortured soul will find himself in his return to play after the tragic death of his wife. However, he swears he will be ready. And dont forget that the Cup will be played in the Republic of Ireland, and Clarke is from Northern Island.
All this analysis, and Woosnam says it is futile. Stroke play is stroke play. When it comes to match play, it's a different competition, he says.
I think we've gone into other matches where the guys have not been playing well and we've come out winning. And I think, you know, it's a different kind of beast all together playing in the Ryder Cup. And it's all about bonding, friendliness, being a team. And that's getting each other excited and playing together and pulling our strengths together to fetch the best out of each player.
And of course, hes right.
Ever see a kid go though the farce of whacking a piata? Thats what its like trying to figure out who should be favored. By reputation, Europe has by far the most illustrious players. And, the Euros will be playing at home, in Ireland. But the Ryder Cup is all about intangibles. And we wont know who has the edge in intangibles until the start play at the K Club.
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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.