Watson picks Bradley, Mahan, Simpson for U.S. team

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 2, 2014, 11:30 pm

There was an unmistakable theme Tuesday night with U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson’s three wild-card picks. 


Live from NBC’s famous Studio 8H – the home of “Saturday Night Live” in New York City – Watson announced that Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson would round out the 12-man team that likely will be a significant underdog when the biennial matches begin Sept. 26-28 in Scotland.

Bradley, 28, seemed destined for a pick months ago. Though winless since August 2012, he recorded six top-10 finishes this season and possesses the kind of aerial attack that should play well at Gleneagles. Still fresh in many fans’ minds is Bradley’s spirited play alongside Phil Mickelson during the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, when the duo combined to go 3-0 while energizing the crowd.

It still wasn’t enough for a U.S. victory, as the Americans saw a 10-6 lead disappear on the final day in one of the most dramatic finishes in tournament history. 

“I made no secret of how important this team is to me, and how bad I want to go back and win the Ryder Cup,” Bradley said. “This is a redemption year for guys who were on the team (in 2012). It’s going to be an unbelievable trip over to Scotland.” 

Mahan, 32, sealed his spot on his third team with his superb play over the past month, when he ran off three consecutive top-15 finishes, including a victory at the playoff-opening Barclays. 

Plus, Watson said, “Match play seems to be his forte.”

Mahan is a former winner of the WGC-Match Play Championship, but he has scar tissue of his own. He was one of the central figures during the Americans' last trip overseas in 2010, when in the final match against Graeme McDowell he stubbed a chip on the 17th hole to give Europe a one-point victory. He was left off the 2012 team. 

“I think ‘redemption’ is going to be a strong word amongst all the players,” he said, before adding: “For some reason losing lingers. It hangs with you. It still bites at you a little bit.” 

Like Bradley, Simpson was also part of the 2012 team in Chicago. The 29-year-old went 2-0 in four-balls with long-hitting partner Bubba Watson, the No. 1 points-earner for this year’s squad.

Watson admitted that the final decision came to him Monday morning, when perusing the results from the most recent matches. 

“I had a revelation,” he said. “I said, ‘That’s gotta be the guy.’”

The list of disappointed players is a long one.

Bill Haas and Chris Kirk warranted serious consideration – Haas for his good standing with his Tour frat brothers, Kirk for his 11th-hour victory in Boston. Of the six multiple winners this season, Kirk, 29, is the only one who will not participate in the Ryder Cup.

“It was a difficult phone call to talk to Chris today,” Watson said. “He said, ‘Well, if there’s any consolation, just after I won a golf tournament I can take this bad news a little bit better.’ He took it like a man.”

Other players left playing the “what if?” game included Brandt Snedeker, one of the world’s best putters but a player who missed his last two cuts in the FedEx Cup playoffs; Ryan Moore, a decorated match-play performer in his amateur days and a winner earlier this season in Malaysia; and Ryan Palmer, who led both the PGA Championship and Deutsche Bank in the early stages. 

With both teams now set, the U.S. (16.3) has the edge over Europe (18.6) in terms of the players’ average world ranking, but the home team (13) has collected more worldwide titles this year than the American players (nine).

Looking to give the U.S. side a spark, the PGA of America went outside the box with the selection of Watson, who turns 65 later this month. He was the captain the last time the Americans won on foreign soil, in 1993. The U.S. has lost five of the past six Ryder Cups, though each of the past two matches has been decided by one point.  

“There are a lot of players starting to play well from the American side, and that’s a good thing,” Watson said. “We’re going to need it – the European team, on paper, is being touted as the favorites. But I have a fundamental belief in our team, and more importantly our players have a fundamental belief in themselves that they can go and win the Ryder Cup.” 

Getty Images

The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

A post shared by theCHIVE (@thechive) on

Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

A post shared by Under Armour Golf (@uagolf) on

The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

Getty Images

Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

Getty Images

Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right. Click here if you are trying to view Tiger Tracker on the Golf Channel mobile app.)