Sutton Named 2004 US Ryder Cup Captain
In a press conference held at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield, Mich., site of the 35th Matches, Sutton was officially named the 23rd different person to captain the U.S. side.
Im overwhelmed, honored, looking forward to the challenge, Sutton said. Its one of the greatest honors any player could have bestowed upon them.
Sutton is a four-time Ryder Cup team member. He competed in 1985 and 87, and then waited 12 years for his next appearance. As a 41-year-old, he went 3-1-1 in helping the Americans to a startling come-from-behind victory at Brookline in 1999.
He went 1-1 this year at The Belfry, making his career Ryder Cup record 7-5-4. His loss came in the singles matches to Bernhard Langer, who is on the short list to be the next European captain.
But more than his record, Sutton has been credited with being the teams emotional and locker-room leader.
He is now shouldered with the task of bringing the Cup back to the States. Europe defeated the U.S. last month in Sutton Coldfield, England. They have held onto the Cup six of the last nine competitions.
We possess all kinds of talent in America when it comes to golf, Sutton said. We got the worlds greatest player and the worlds second-greatest player on our team. I dont know what the missing ingredient is right now other than that I think we need to become more passionate about it.'
'In no way do I want anyone to have the impression that the American players are not passionate about winning the Ryder Cup,' he added. 'Let's face it, everybody wants to knock the Americans off, you know, and they get pretty intense about doing that. We need to be just as intense to make sure that that doesn't happen.'
One of the players criticized for a perceived lack of passion about the Ryder Cup is Tiger Woods. Woods didn't help matters when he said he would rather win the $1 million first-place prize at the American Express Championship than win the Cup.
Such statements - even though Tiger later said he made them in jest - and a career 5-8-2 Ryder Cup record, make Woods an easy target as one who is far more concerned with individual accomplishments than being a team player.
'I would like to challenge Tiger to look at Jack Nicklaus' Ryder Cup record (17-8-3), and let's go after that one, too,' said Sutton. 'Jack understood the passion of the Ryder Cup and what it was like to play.
'Tiger's the greatest, if not the greatest one of the greatest players that we've ever seen in the game. And he's going to bring that game out this next time, I assure you.
'I want him to quarterback this team; I want him to lead this team.'
Sutton was earmarked the next Nicklaus after he defeated the legend for his first major title at Riviera in 1983. Beginning in his first full season in '82, he won seven times in five seasons, including The Players Championship and the PGA Championship.
But a seemingly Hall-of-Fame career hit a wall a couple of years later.
Sutton went winless on tour from 1986 to 1994. He ended that drought with a victory in the 95 B.C. Open, but again failed to win the next two seasons.
Everything changed, however, once he turned 40. He won six times from 1998-2001, adding another Players Championship (2000) trophy to his mantle, as well as the 98 Tour Championship, when he held off Woods.
Sutton has dealt with nagging back injuries and sleep apnea over the last 18 months, and has made only 11 cuts in 26 starts this year. Still, he says he will continue to play a full schedule over the next two years, though he wont compete on the 2004 team should he again qualify.
I waited a few days to say I would take the captaincy, Sutton said. I dont want to throw in the towel as a player. I still dont feel Ive accomplished everything that I can. Its been a tough year for me this last year and I do want to continue to play, and play at a high level.
'I think part of being a captain is being current. I think I need to be out there, I need to be listening to these guys, communicating with these guys, and I need to be playing well enough that they respect me a little bit.'
Europes captain is expected to be chosen by the end of the year. Langer and Ian Woosnam, a vice-captain to Sam Torrance in 2002, are among the leading candidates.
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.
The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.
"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."
Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.
It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.
Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.
Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore
SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.
He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.
Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.
The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.
''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''
Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.
He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.
Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.
Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.
''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.
Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.