How the European Team is Shaping Up
Amazingly, Clarke is one of only three European team members to have won a title in 2002 (Sergio Garcia and Thomas Bjorn). The burly Northern Irishman has played well in Europe and in the States. He won the English Open and finished second in Houston.
Clarkes only health issue is his left big toe. He dropped a suitcase on his foot while packing to leave the PGA Championship. He said it got better as the week progressed at the WGC-NEC Invitational, and expects to be fully recovered by Cup time.
Clarke played in both the 1997 and 99 Ryder Cups, compiling a 3-4 record.
Harrington is Europes most consistent player. He tied for fifth at the Masters; tied for eighth at the U.S. Open; tied for fifth in the British; and tied for 17th in the PGA Championship.
The one thing lacking on Harringtons resume this season is a victory. He's also battling nagging neck and ankle injuries that may hinder his play.
He earned his first Ryder Cup berth by finishing second in each of the final two events of the qualifying period. He then went 1-1-1 in the 1999 Matches.
Bjorn has been playing well of late, and rewarded himself with his first victory of the year at the BMW International. Prior to his win in Germany, he tied for eighth in the British Open and tied for 15th at the NEC.
The Dane didnt qualify for the 1999 Matches, but went 1-0-1 in his maiden appearance in 97.
The 39-year-old Scot has been plagued with a bad back this year. Despite four consecutive top-4 finishes in the middle of the year, he is on the verge of going winless on the European Tour for the first time since 1992.
He withdrew from the NEC and the BMW International, citing back problems.
Montgomerie is competing in his sixth straight Ryder Cup. His overall record is 12-7-4. He is 3-0-2 in singles play.
Fulke has only two top-10 finishes since January, but did tie for 10th in the PGA Championship.
The Cup rookie made the team based on his two victories in 2000 and his runner-up in the 2001 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Westwood is coming off his most encouraging finish of the season, a tie for 15th at the NEC.
Over a span of two winless years, the Englishman has dropped from fifth in the Official World Golf Ranking to well outside the top 100. He has yet to post a top-10 finish this season.
Westwood is 4-6 in two previous Cup appearances.
McGinley opened the season with a tie for fifth in the Dunhill Championship, but since has one top-10 and nine missed cuts in 20 starts. After tying for 18th in the Masters, he missed the cut in each of the final three majors.
The Irishman is one of four rookies on the European team.
The 2001 British Open runner-up has had a silently successful season. He started the year by making it to the Round of 16 in the WGC-Match Play. He then finished second in Dubai.
He finished runner-up again at the Murphys Irish Open, and has a pair of sixth-place ties in the European Open and Volvo Scandinavian Masters.
The Swede is making his Ryder Cup debut.
The 45-year-old German earned his fifth career runner-up in his native countrys BMW International. It was his best finish of the year, and one of only two top-10s.
Langer is easily the most experienced member on either team. He is making his 10th Ryder Cup appearance. Only Nick Faldo (11) has played in more Matches.
Langer has a career 18-15-5 record. The 1999 Ryder Cup was the only edition he has missed in two decades.
Langer has been the hero and the goat. He missed a six-footer for par that gave the U.S. the Cup in 1991, and then went 3-1-1 in Europes 1997 upset over the highly-favored Americans.
Price earned a pair of third-place finishes in June, but has recorded only two rounds in the 60s over the last two months. His title defense in the Algarve Open de Portugal resulted in a tie for 60th.
This is his first Cup appearance.
Garcia started the season with a victory in the PGA Tours Mercedes Championships and a win in the European Tours Spanish Open. The 22-year-old Spaniard also finished in the top 10 in all four majors.
Garcia was brilliant in his Ryder Cup debut in 1999, going 3-1-1. He earned all 3 points by partnering with Jesper Parnevik. His singles loss came at the hands of Jim Furyk (4 and 3).
Parnevik vowed he would play every event this year until he won. After going 0-10, he took a week off. The Swede has still yet to win this season, and has only two top-10s in 24 starts.
After teaming with Garcia for three victories and a halve in foursomes and four-balls, Parnevik lost his singles match to David Duval, 5 and 4. He has a 4-2-3 record in two Ryder Cup Matches.
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.
While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.
He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.
"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."
Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.
"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.
Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.
"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"
The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.
Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.
"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."
DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.
Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.
"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."
Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.
Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.
"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."
Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.
"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."
LPGA lists April date for new LA event
The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.
When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.
The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.
The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.