One Team Set One More to Go

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
The Americans now know who will comprise their 2004 Ryder Cup team. But they have to wait two more weeks to see exactly whom they will face.
This weeks World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational could go a long way in determining who makes up the European team that will take on the U.S. at Oakland Hills Sept. 17-19.
Players have two ways of qualifying for the European squad. The top 5 players on the World Points List as of Monday, Aug. 23 will automatically qualify, as will the top 5 not otherwise qualified from the Ryder Cup Points List as of Sunday, Aug. 29.
The World Points List is based on world ranking points awarded since Sept. 4, 2003. The Ryder Cup Points List is akin to a money list, where one euro earned in a European Tour-sanctioned event (since Sept. 4, 2003) equals one point.
Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jiminez and Lee Westwood are currently the top five players on the World Points List; all are in the field this week.
If those five maintain their positions, Thomas Levet, Paul Casey, David Howell, Ian Poulter and Paul McGinley would be the top five players on the Ryder Cup Points List; Howell and Poulter are the only ones not in attendance.
Other Europeans in need of a good week in this limited field include: Fredrik Jacobson (sixth World List) and Luke Donald (10th World List).
Thomas Bjorn, Colin Montgomerie and Jesper Parnevik are also in the field, but are really looking to try and impress European captain Bernhard Langer, who is also playing. Langer will make his two captains selections after the top 10 players qualify.
It's up to Bernhard to see whether he's looking for experience or he's looking for players that are particularly on form at the time or whatever the case may be, Montgomerie said at the PGA Championship, where he finished 70th.
I have not just one or two or three guys who should come into the equation, Langer said. There's really probably eight of them who, maybe even more than eight, who have a right to be picked or should be certainly considered, and I understand that. It's going to be a tough one.
Langer addressed the media last week at Whistling Straits and offered some insight to his selection process.
Obviously I need someone who can perform under the most extreme pressure, because that's what Ryder Cup is; it's not a local club championship or anything, as you all know. There's more pressure in that event than any other event, I would think, he said.
I know the greens there at Detroit there are extremely tough ' very, very difficult. So, ideally, you would like to have someone who has a good short game, yet at the same time if the fairways are narrow and the rough is up, you need someone who can hit it straight, as well.
So you need all that. On the other hand, if I have two or three players who are the same and one has a lot of experience and one doesn't, I'd probably prefer the guy who has experience. So there's various things I need to look at. It's not going to be easy.
The NEC Invitational is the second of the three individual WGC events. Tiger Woods won the Accenture Match Play Championship for his only victory of the season. Hes also the defending champion of next months American Express Championship.
Woods has won eight of the 14 WGC tournaments hes entered, three of which have come at the NEC. His trio of NEC titles came from 1999-2001. Hes finished fourth each of the last two years.
Once again, the tournament will be contested at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. Firestone hosted the event when it was known as the World Series of Golf, from 1976-98. It was also the host each of the first three years after it became affiliated with the WGC. It moved to Sahalle Country Club in 2002, only to return to Firestone last year.
Clarke was the champion a year ago, shooting 12-under 268 to win by four over Jonathan Kaye.
The field is comprised of playing members from the most recent Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams, the top 50 from the Official World Golf Ranking, and winners of selected worldwide events.
Related Links:
  • Ryder Cup Points List
  • Full Coverage - WGC-NEC Invitational
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.