Ten Great Golfers But Only Two Picks

By George WhiteAugust 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupNow its time for the jaw-flapping to begin. Everyone will have a take on the Ryder Cup wild-cards. A few will think Hal Sutton did pretty good by picking Jay Haas and Stewart Cink. They will be much in the minority, however.
Hey, how about Jerry Kelly and Scott Verplank? What about Steve Flesch and Jeff Maggert? Didnt Justin Leonard play well enough in the PGA to merit a pick? Hey Hal, have you forgotten Todd Hamilton in the British Open? And my goodness, how can you leave off John Daly?
We will know the night of Sept. 19 how good Suttons picks were. That will be the moment after the Ryder Cup ends and Haas and Cink will either be glorified or vilified. So, incidentally, will Sutton.
Time will tell ' were four weeks away ' whether I made the right decision or the wrong decision, said Sutton.
I have no complaint with either of Suttons choices. Undoubtedly, an excellent argument could be made for several others. And undoubtedly, if the U.S. loses once again, they will have a lot of merit. But for today, for right now, what can be said critically of Haas and Cink?
Haas was bumped out of the top 10 and an automatic spot on the team in the PGA Championship. He is No. 9 in scoring average and a better-than-average putter ' No. 31.
Cink is an excellent putter ' leading the tour in that category. And hes No. 8 in the all-around rankings. Hes been fairly consistent of late, finishing in the top 17 in his last five events, in the top eight in three of those.
Sutton has played alongside both. I would rely on his assessment of Haas and Cink long before I would rely anyone elses. If he says those two are better than Daly or Verplank or Hamilton or whomever, I would only say, Yes sir, I guess youre right.
Actually, he didnt say Haas and Cink are better. What hes saying is that, in his estimation, they are better for the team at Oakland Hills. His judgment was made of many factors, including this years results, obviously, but also a number of intangibles.
There is plenty ' plenty ' room for disagreement. Sutton knows there will be plenty ' after all, he had some pretty good talent from which to choose.
For example:
KELLY : I considered Jerry very seriously. Jerrys a fighter, he really wanted to make this Ryder Cup team.
HAMILTON: Were talking about the dark side of being U.S. captain of the Ryder Cup. Many deserving people ' Todd Hamilton won twice, stared down two great players to do it. I went with what I thought was in the best interests of the team.
MAGGERT: He didnt enter the PGA because his wife was on the verge of delivering a child. But Maggert was No. 11 on the Ryder Cup list when he withdrew.
DALY: The peoples choice, hes a Samson with a driver (third) and a wonderful putter (fifth). But he missed the cut in the last two majors, which had to weigh heavily on Suttons mind.
I went with what I thought the team needed, said Sutton, and that happened to be Jay and Stewart. Its a shame that we have to make it about who didnt get picked instead of who did. I feel for every one of those guys who didnt get picked. I didnt have but two choices.
Sounds good enough for me. Those are the two Sutton wanted. Will they be the two who will help bring home the Ryder Cup? Well know Sept. 19.
Email your thoughts to George White
Related links:
  • U.S. and European Ryder Cup Points List

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup
  • Getty Images

    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

    Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."