Punch Shot: One fix for the Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 30, 2014, 12:50 pm

Everytime the U.S. team loses a Ryder Cup (especially when it loses big), panic ensues. Does the Ryder Cup need fixing? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with what, if any, change is required to make the competition more competitive.


The Ryder Cup doesn’t need fixing. It’s the American team that needs fixing. American players expected captain Tom Watson to put them in position to look good at Gleneagles this past week. Watson expected the players to make him look good. It's embarrassing how awful they made each other look in the aftermath.

Yes, the PGA of America needs to re-examine how it chooses its captains, needs some kind of summit to come up with a system for preparing the U.S. team for Ryder Cups, some model that gives continuity to the succession of captaincy. Still, hot players hold trump cards in golf. The Americans can help themselves in that department moving the selection of captain’s picks back until the Tour Championship is complete. The FedEx Cup playoffs are a great barometer of who’s hot. It’s such a waste that the picks are made halfway through them. Really, if the Americans flipped three matches this past week, they win the cup. Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk would have brought something vital to the Ryder Cup if picked after the Tour Championship. They would have brought momentum.


The Ryder Cup isn't "broken" and doesn't need "fixing" just because one team always wins and the other, well, doesn't.

That doesn't mean, though, that after 40 editions of the event, it's totally infallible.

If I was pronounced King of the Ryder Cup (which admittedly might not happen anytime soon), I'd add a little more intrigue to the festivities - and I would steal it straight from the Presidents Cup.

The idea of random pairings based on how the captains separately order their lineups is outdated. I'd get 'em into a room before each session and match up players, fantasy draft-style. And just because I'm a benevolent king, I'd put the entire thing on live TV so everyone could watch them squirm through the decision-making process.

Unlike other potential changes, this one doesn't need a major fix in policy. But it would definitely add a new dynamic to the proceedings.


For a week Paul McGinley talked about Europe’s winning Ryder Cup template, the mystical format that produced yet another victory for the Continent in the biennial matches. When pressed for the magical “template” on Sunday, however, it was the players, not the diminutive captain, who answered.

“Wave after wave,” smiled Graeme McDowell.

“When the storm comes, we'll be the rock,” offered Justin Rose.

“Have fun,” laughed Lee Westwood.

Europe’s secret, at least the core of it, is in its captains’ ability to make the players buy into the master plan. For McGinley those concepts included avoiding complacency and not letting up, even when the team took a 10-to-6 lead into Sunday singles. For Jose Maria Olazabal in 2012 that blueprint was slightly different, but the constant is the European players’ commitment to the plan.

If the U.S. team is going to end a slide that has now been run to eight losses in its last 10 matches it will need to find a way to duplicate that concept and it starts and ends with the captain. Like the Europeans, the U.S. needs to include the players in the captain’s selection process. It is the most obvious way to get them fully invested in the process and the plan.


My one fix for the Ryder Cup? Simple – don’t hire another Tom Watson.

Seriously, the over-the-top, blow-the-system-up reaction to another American loss was entirely too predictable. Lest you forget, the 2010 Ryder Cup was decided by the final two men on the course. The U.S. would have won the 2012 matches if not for a 45-footer on 17 by Justin Rose and Ian Poulter draining, well, just about everything. More often than not, the Ryder Cup is an evenly matched, fiercely competitive event.

That Europe won this year shouldn’t have been surprising– it was playing on home soil (where it hasn’t lost since 1993) and boasted arguably its strongest team ever, with four of the top 5 players in the world. Throw in the fact that the Americans had an out-of-touch, irrational and impulsive captain in Watson, and the U.S. had virtually no chance in Scotland.

Such stinging (and public) criticism by Phil Mickelson will undoubtedly prompt change – perhaps giving players more input on future captains – but we should hope it’s not a complete overhaul of the system. In a Watson-less Ryder Cup, it’s almost always a fair fight. 


I have no issue with the format or minutiae of the event, but if the U.S. is going to restore the Ryder Cup to anything resembling a competitive contest, the powers that be must divorce from the notion that future American captains must be former major champions. Every U.S. leader dating back to 1927 has had a major victory on his resume, which makes introductory press conferences easier but does not necessarily translate into that individual’s ability to lead a squad of 12 men in a team competition.

Paul McGinley never won a major, but Sunday he became the fourth such European captain in the last 20 years to hoist the cup, joining Bernard Gallacher (1995), Sam Torrance (2002) and Colin Montgomerie (2010). While a captain’s decisions on picks and pairings can be second-guessed regardless of his credentials, there is something to be said for hiring someone for whom a victorious captaincy would serve as a career highlight. 

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.