A Tie That Binds

By George WhiteNovember 24, 2003, 5:00 pm
It will undoubtedly make some people angry, this decision by 24 players and two captains in the Presidents Cup. Got to have a winner, you know. Hang the sportsmanship or whatever. Just let me know who the winner is.

Those people can leave the room now. They arent going to like this sermon. They can go cheer their basketball teams until kingdom come. There never is a tie in basketball, you know.

And there wasnt supposed to be a tie in the Presidents Cup. If the score did happen to be deadlocked, well then, the side which had won the previous Cup got to retain it. Marquis of Queensbury rules and all, you know.

Thats the way they do it in the Ryder Cup. And after all, the Ryder Cup is the most successful week in golf history.

But maybe theyve got it wrong in the Ryder Cup. For one week, both sides step to their corners and proceed to growl at each other. For one week, the nations of Europe and America are dead-set against each other. And regardless of how hard the players try to change it, the rabid fans of both sides wont hear of it.

Maybe, though, we saw something last week that is worth noting. Leave the basketball, baseball, football, hockey and soccer to the hotheads. Maybe now, golf has taken on a new meaning.

Davis Love III noticed it immediately. I think it showed that it is different from the Ryder Cup, he said.

The Ryder Cup has gotten a little over the top. We've seen that in the last few years. And this tournament, we've stressed, from presidents to captains on the stage and dignitaries on the stage, they all got up and said, We want these matches to be played fairly.

That's the way it ended and that shows the world that we are going to play these matches for fun, for the love of the game and we are not going to beat each other's brains out over it.

That somehow is an idea that has gotten away from us the last 25 years or so. Tony Jacklin felt that the only way to make Europe competitive was to isolate the team a little from the Americans. And it worked. The Kiawah Island debacle was a continuation, the following matches in England was just plain nasty, the heckling of Colin Montgomerie in Boston was nothing but a national disgrace. Last year it was a bit more civil on both sides, but there is no shortage of bad blood here.

And then ' this. This was truly a breath of fresh air. What ' both sides shake hands and share the Cup? Are you crazy ' what has happened to the modern conception of sport?

Its the right thing to do, agreed the 24 players. After I had made the putt, I was on the front left part of the green on (the second hole) and Jack came up to me - as well as Gary - and mentioned to me, if Ernie makes a putt, why don't we just call it a tie and move on? said Tiger Woods.

Then Commissioner Finchem was on the phone with Jack, and he mentioned that if there's a tie, then the Americans would retain the Cup - and that's not something that obviously the International Team would want to have happen.

So, Jack decided to propose the idea of having a shared cup to Gary at the time, and both of the captains agreed. Gary went back to his team, his team agreed, and it was the right thing to do for the game of golf.

Actually, both captains agreed earlier in the week that the no-tie rule was a pretty good idea. But it became increasingly clear as Woods and Ernie Els continued their playoff that it really wasnt a good idea. Neither Jack Nicklaus nor Gary Player had the stomach for it. Neither did Woods or Els. Neither did anyone on either team.

As soon as the match ended in a tie, we both started talking that we did not want to have this, said Nicklaus.

You know, said Els, it's only a game, isn't it, at the end. It's a game you don't want to lose, but it's a game.

You know, I think in the spirit of the Presidents Cup, the way we've been playing these matches over the years, I think this is a fitting finish to this one. We really beat each other up, and at the end of the day, I think we were so evenly matched, it would have been unfair to myself and Tiger to win or lose the Cup.
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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.

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."

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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.


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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.

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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."

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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."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."