Couples: U.S. needs less task force, more fun

By Will GrayOctober 30, 2014, 3:55 pm

The weeks following the American's Ryder Cup loss have sparked speculation on two fronts: what went wrong last month and who will be tapped to fix it in 2016?

Fred Couples' name has been discussed as a solution to the latter, and Wednesday at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship he offered a variety of opinions on the former.

Couples, 55, captained three straight victorious Presidents Cup squads, in 2009, '11 and '13. He also played on five Ryder Cup teams and served as an assistant captain to Davis Love III during the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah. According to Couples, the creation of an 11-person task force in the wake of Gleneagles is a sign of overkill.

"I don't think anyone should panic. I don't think we need a task force. I don't think we need the PGA of America straining about this," he told reporters at the season's final Champions Tour stop. "What I really think they need is to get players that have been on a lot of these teams to get a feel for what kind of captain they need."

Tom Watson wasn't the right fit, as his hard-line stance alienated some players and his questionable lineup decisions led to a five-point defeat. Couples believes one of his best traits as a potential captain is relating to the 12 players in his team room, something he feels Watson failed to do.

"I just think by watching, he didn't cradle his boys enough, and that's what they need," he said.

Couples also believes that Watson made a critical error by sitting Phil Mickelson for both sessions during Saturday's play, when the Europeans stretched its lead from two points to four heading into Sunday's singles matches - and it's one that he would not repeat as captain.

"I know one thing, I will play Phil Mickelson on Saturday of the next Ryder Cup if he's on the team. That was the only thing I could see that maybe you could say that Tom, something happened there," Couples said. "Because we lost three and a half to a half (in the afternoon session), and I guarantee you it was because Phil wasn't out there playing. I guarantee it."

The task force assembled by the PGA of America has yet to meet, but Couples' track record as the Presidents Cup captain has made him a top candidate to lead the Americans at Hazeltine in 2016. He stated that he would welcome the nomination as captain, but added that the job may not be quite as difficult, or involved, as some contend.

"I think anyone would love to be the Ryder Cup captain. I particularly don't think it's really that hard to do, I really don't," he said. "I keep hearing it's a two-year process. Well, what would I do right now? I don't even know who's going to be on the Presidents Cup team, let alone the Ryder Cup team. So I could go have dinner with Rickie Fowler for two straight years and tell him everything, and then he might not make it.

"So I think it's all - it's just a little bit much. We need a little more fun and that comes with winning."

Couples noted that the Presidents Cup is "easier" to captain than the Ryder Cup because the Ryder Cup requires more difficult lineup decisions. Citing the successful partnership of Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson that developed in the months leading up to Gleneagles, he believes that the Europeans currently have an edge because of their commitment to teams and lineup decisions regardless of individual match outcomes.

"I think the easiest part is just really not panicking," he said. "You've got to have your teams ready and just get points, and it's not easy to do. They make it look easy because they're winning and their formula, whatever it might be, is not because they're closer and they're friendlier to each other. That's the biggest crazy thing ever.

"Every team I've been on has been phenomenal, and I'm sure every team Europe's ever had has been phenomenal. They just win, so it looks easier."

Couples even offered the argument that the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain doesn't necessarily need to be a golfer.

"He doesn't need to know anything about golf," said Couples, who noted he received advice as Presidents Cup captain from former MLB manager Joe Torre and NBA star Michael Jordan. "They all have their teachers, they're all cooked food, they all have an incredible hotel room, they all have caddies, they all know the course and they go out and play. I can't tell them anything on the golf course. What am I going to tell them, it's a cut 5-iron or this putt breaks to the left?"

As the focus continues to shift away from 2014 and toward 2016, Couples' candidacy will likely only grow - and the main reason for that is clear, even to him.

"The one thing that I see personally with me is I don't intimidate any of the players," he said. "I don't make them nervous, I make them relaxed because I'm just another guy."

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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