That Mojo Has Worked for Euros

By George WhiteSeptember 21, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesVoodoo and Ouija boards, moonless nights and black cats. Is it really just a case of bad luck? Oh ' and you can throw one more in there: the United States getting smoked time and again in the Ryder Cup.
They try again this week, the boys from America. And actually, theres no science to describe it. Europe shows up at the matches and, for some reason, applies the perfunctory death grip on the Yanks. Result ' the Europeans have won the four of the last five, with only a superhuman rally by the U.S. in 1999 keeping it from being Europe 5, America 0.
I used to scoff loudly when someone bought up the concept of team or mentioned something as vague as bonding. Hey, this is golf. It isnt football, where you have 11 men whose duties are vastly different. In golf, what do you do? You hit the ball off the tee, you knock it on the green, you putt it. It seemed like a simple enough assignment without any room for mysticism. The 12 men who were the best, be they from the U.S. or from Europe, won.
But this has gotten way out of hand, and I cant make myself believe that for the last 10 years, the Europeans have so dominated golf. And ' they havent. Americans have a big lead in the number of wins in majors. Americans have won 10 of the last 12 British Opens. But Europe has the 4-1 lead in the Ryder. And that can no longer be written off to coincidence.
Ergo, I am beginning to believe in the M-word ' meshing, and the T-word ' team. I have also begun to believe in voodoo and black cats and the foolishness of walking under ladders.
Lets look at the last four matches, dating back to 1997, since only American (Phil Mickelson) and one European (Colin Montgomerie) played in '95.
Its been a lopsided story since 97. The U.S. has won only one daily session in that timespan ' in 02 when the Yanks prevailed, 4 - 3 , on Saturday. Every other day of the last four Ryder Cups, the Europeans either beat the Americans in the team matches or at worst tied (once). You think the karma isnt impressive on the European side?
Now, in the singles, its a different story. America leads in that category, 25 -22 1/2. More on that later ' right now, lets concentrate on the pairs, where the U.S. has a poor record with Europe leading the last four Ryder Cups by 39 points to 24.
Incidentally, most people believe the Europeans have a big lead in the alternate-shot (foursomes) because the men of the U.S. never play that format. In the U.K., as a matter of fact, alternate-shot is quite often played when four men go out in the evenings for a friendly match. Its a much quicker game, of course, when you have just two balls in play amongst the four players, rather than four balls for four players.
Better-ball (fourballs), of course, is the game almost always played in the U.S. when four men get together for Saturday outings. But ' Europe has a more commanding lead in better-ball. In that exercise, they are 20 -11 . Alternate shot (foursomes)? They had a 6-2 advantage the last time out, but except for that one, they are up by only 13-11. Hmmm
The singles story has become much closer the last couple of times the Ryder Cup has been played. The pattern was nearly always the same ' Europe would keep it very close in the team matches, but would absolutely get murdered in singles. In both 2002 and 2004, Europe actually won the singles, 7 - 4 each time.
A side note here: Jim Furyk is unbeaten in the Ryder Cup in singles. And in fact, he is unbeaten in the Presidents Cup. He is a combined 7-0-1, a draw with Irishman Paul McGinley the only blot on an otherwise perfect record.
Chris DiMarco, incidentally, is a perfect 3-0 in the Ryder and Presidents singles. Tiger Woods is 5-2-1, having lost to Costantino Rocca and Retief Goosen and drawing with Jesper Parnevik.
Woods, though, has a disappointing mark of 2-6-1 in team play in the Ryder Cup. But dont tell Tiger that he doesnt care about these matches!
I put my heart into it each and every time, said Tiger. I hate losing, and I go out there and I play with all my passion. It's just unfortunately sometimes I do not win.
I've had some of my best matches where I've shot some of my best scores - shot 64 twice and only won one match in best ball; 65 two times, and again, only won one match. And one of the matches I shot 63 with Davis (Love) in best-ball and barely won that.
So I've played some of my best golf and haven't gotten all the points that I felt I could have. There's times where I've played like a dog, as well. So I don't know. I try so hard, and unfortunately sometimes you just don't win.
Its a mantra that could be repeated by just about all the American players of late. Yes, Europe had to have better team players, whatever that meant. That doesnt necessarily mean that the Europeans wanted it more, or tried harder. What it definitely means is that they have known how best to mesh together. And dont ask me to explain that, because it goes far beyond what I can express.
Jose Maria Olazabal says that the Americans cant be faulted for their team spirit, nor can they be faulted for not having a greater will to win.
I think they care, and they have cared in the past, he said. And I think they care this time. I'm pretty sure that theyre more eager to do well this time because of what happened the last two editions.
We are all competitors, and none of us likes to lose. I know they are fighters. I know they have come with one goal, and that one is pretty simple - trying to beat us. We're going to have to play really, really well if we want to keep that trophy with us.
But, lets face it ' Europe in the past has had that certain mojo, that karma, that ' team spirit? Whatever it is, it has worked exceptionally well for them.
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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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    Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

    They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

    It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

    “I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

    The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.