Zinger Warms to His Awesome Task

By George WhiteNovember 7, 2006, 5:00 pm
Paul Azinger is under absolutely no delusions. Dont call him the American coach ' there already are 12 coaches for each of the U.S. players. He is a captain. And, by no means is he miracle worker.
 
Azinger assumes the captaincy of a boat that is listing badly. The U.S. has lost six of the last seven Ryder Cups. And the U.S. players will not win unless they can play better golf in 2008 than the Europeans. If Vince Lombardi were coaching the last-place team in 1967 instead of the Green Bay Packers, he could not possibly have won the NFL Championship, regardless of how great a coach he was. Ergo Hal Sutton and Tom Lehman, the last two U.S. captains.
 
Paul Azinger
Paul Azinger will lead the U.S. squad at the 2008 Ryder Cup.
Now, with that bit of info out in the open, Azinger says he has some ideas. But one of them does not revolve around lighting a fire under the U.S. players. The idea that the Americans have not wanted the Cup as badly of the Europeans is pure, well, poppycock, he feels.
 
I think the greatest misconception is that the Europeans are more passionate about the Ryder Cup than we are, said Zinger. Clearly, they look like they have more camaraderie, giving each other headlocks and noogies, patting each other on the back and all that.
 
But the reality is, when their team wins the first session in the morning and then wins the first match in the afternoon, then they are going to look that way. I hope America and the press remembers what 1999 was like, that comeback ' if there ever were more passion and more excitement than what was shown in that instance, then youve got to show me where that came from. The American players are passionate, and they are hungry and starving to do well in this event.
 
But the reality is, theyve been behind a lot lately. And (that passion) just doesnt show.
 
And he says that, frankly, the Europeans had the better players the last two matches when they outscored the Americans by convincing 18 - 9 margins.
 
The European Ryder Cup team is fantastic, and they have been for a long time, said Azinger. And its time that we recognize that fact.
 
The PGA of America has set up a new selection process, hopefully to get one or two more hot players on the team. And Azinger has been given two additional selections, making it four wild-card picks selections instead of two. Outside of that, there isnt a whole lot the PGA can do. Its up to the Americans to get better. Zinger will merely take what hes given and try to hash out a win.
 
I think I have the opportunity that no other Ryder Cup captain has had, he said, and I really appreciate that.
 
PGA of America president Roger Warren conceded that at most there might have been one or two different players under the new selection process than there was in the last two Cups. For the losing trend to be reversed, the U.S. will have to rely, first and foremost, on Azingers ability to get four winning players ' plus, of course, an over-all improvement in the American players who are the eight automatic picks.
 
In 2008, of course, the Americans will be having to compete under a rather dubious schedule ' they will be coming off a seven-events-in-eight-weeks stretch that is compliments of the PGA TOURs new FedEx Cup. The TOUR Championship will be the week before the Ryder Cup. It remains to be seen just how much of a hindrance that will be.
 
Very few of the potential Ryder Cup members ever play that concentrated schedule. Will the Americans be a worn-out troupe, playing with lots of heart but little else? Could be.
 
I dont really know how the best players in the world are going to react, confessed Azinger. I dont know how they are going to respond to that type of a schedule. I dont know that, because they feel theyre already qualified, theyll take some time off.
 
Somehow, though, I feel like it is better for us that the American players are going to be playing in the FedEx Cup series leading into the Ryder Cup. It may end up being OK.
 
If it is any consolation, several of the Europeans will be in the same boat, since many of them are members of the U.S. tour. And, two years is a long time into the future ' maybe three or four Americans will come to the fore in that time, maybe the situation wont look nearly as bleak by then.
 
But be assured, says Azinger, the 12 men who will wear the United States colors will be ready to play.
 
I think that America as a whole, the PGA of America as a whole, and the players as a whole are tired of getting beat, he said simply. And I just think they will be very hungry - I really do.
 
Zinger let it go at that. No rash promises of victory. No flag-waving, no barn-burning, no evangelistic fervor. But you can bet your money on the Americans being ready. If Paul Azinger can get them to play the utmost of their capabilities, then he has done everything that a captain can do.
 
Email your thoughts to George White

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.