Newcomers No Problem for Lehman
The numbers 6 through 9 are causing the casual observers to sit up with a jerk. Numbers 1 through 5 - Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Chad Campbell and David Toms ' are all recognized warriors. So is No. 10, Davis Love.
But Zach Johnson, Brett Wetterich, Vaughn Taylor and Lucas Glover? Hey, where did those guys come from?
Those guys happen to be playing darn good golf, and doing it on a consistent basis. With the new way of selecting the U.S. team ' heavily weighting the points to reflect whos playing well this year ' a lot of new guys are making a decided impact.
I think this is a reflection of what the point system was set to do, which is to reflect who's playing the best golf this year, said Tom Lehman, the American captain. The guys who are on there have really been playing a bunch of great golf this year. I'm very impressed with nearly everyone.
The numbers coming out of the U.S. Open were definitely not good for the U.S. ' only two players in the American top 30 got Ryder Cup points. And those two didnt need them ' No. 2 Mickelson and No. 3 Furyk. So, the rankings changed none at all in a week in which the final results of the Open could have made a huge difference.
The top five in the list have a spot in the Cup virtually sewed up. But those new faces are anything but assured of a position. The gap between the fifth and sixth spot ' more than two hundred points ' is as big as the difference between No. 6, Johnson, and No. 14, Arron Oberholser.
That includes No. 11, Fred Couples; No. 12, Tim Herron; and No. 13, Tom Pernice ' all veterans with plenty of name recognition, by the way. Players can go into the top 10 ' or slide out of the top 10 ' in rapid fashion.
Yeah, the volatility comes with the huge number for guys who are winning, says Lehman ' himself No. 19 on the rankings. You win a tournament, it's a huge number, so you can jump way up in a hurry.
But what you see is still, even though the points system is different and there's more points, the guys who play well for one week do make a jump but then they definitely start backing up again. The guys who are consistently playing well week after week after week are the ones that are near the top. If you go right down that list, that's exactly what you're going to say.
And who might be on that list? Brett Wetterich is No. 7 - he's been playing as good as anybody for the last three months. Vaughn Taylor has been playing great all year, Lucas Glover has been playing well for a year and a half, Zach Johnson, same way. None of these guys up there, kind of new faces, but none of them surprise me, says Lehman.
One player who surprises the captain is Chris DiMarco, who was a stalwart on the last two national teams, the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. However, DiMarco is still rehabilitating from injury suffered in the spring, and at No. 17 is by no means out of the running. And he has to be on Lehmans mind as one of the two wild-card picks. Time is running out, however, of which DiMarco is acutely aware.
But everybody - you just back up to what's wrong with the American teams, said Lehman. Part of it is that the guys not only care a great deal, they almost care too much, and they want to be a part of it so badly that you can definitely try too hard. You can definitely try too hard.
My message to everybody is set your goals high and go after them. And if you make the team it's a big deal - which is what it should be - then you do whatever it takes. But you can definitely try too hard. Once you've been there a few times, you know what it's all about and you know what you'd be missing if you weren't there. Especially this one in Ireland will be something extra special.
The European squad which will await them in Ireland in September looks like a team of mostly veterans ' which is an interesting change. Europe takes the top five from the European Tour and adds the top five from the world rankings, since many of its players are competing in the U.S.
David Howell is No. 1 on both qualifying rankings. The only newcomer at present is Swede Henrik Stenson.
They've got a very strong team, said Lehman. You look at the names that are qualified, plus add two more picks, it's quite a strong team. They're always strong.
Email your thoughts to George White
Day (68) just one back at Australian Open
Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.
Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)
What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.
Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.
Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.
Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.
Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.
In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.
"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’
Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.
“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.
“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’
Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.
The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.