Sutton Picks Haas Cink as US Wild Cards

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton selected Jay Haas and Stewart Cinkj as wild cards to round out the American team.
 
'I want to congratulate everyone who made this team, and I especially want to congratulate Jay and Stewart,' said Sutton. 'They are not only great players, but they're great human beings. This team has been rounded out very nicely with their additions.''
 
Seven players had clinched a spot regardless of what happened at the year's final major: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry, David Toms and Chad Campbell.
 
'I had about five guys on my mind the entire time,' said Sutton of the wild-card picks. 'Somebody could have changed that yesterday - and there were a lot of changes. But Stewart and Jay were on my mind the entire time.'
 
Chris DiMarco and Chris Riley played themselves into the Ryder Cup with their performances Sunday in the PGA Championship. DiMarco finished second after a three-man, three-hole playoff and Riley was fourth -- good enough to knock Haas and Steve Flesch out of the top 10 in the Ryder Cup point standings.
 
Justin Leonard needed to win the tournament to make the team.
 
'It's gut-wrenching coming down to the end,' Riley said. 'To play for your country, I got chills out there thinking about it. I really am proud of myself. ... To finish fourth in a major championship - it's pretty awesome and I feel really good.'
 
DiMarco made two double bogeys the final round at the '01 PGA, four strokes that kept him from making the U.S. team that year. He only needed an eighth-place tie to make it this year.
 
After hitting his 6-iron onto the green at No. 18, 'I looked at my caddie and said, 'That's good enough, for sure,'' DiMarco said. 'I'm proud of myself that I went out and did it.'
 
Riley missed a 4-foot putt on the 18th and thought that kept off the team, but he made it when Leonard didn't.
 
Fred Funk, 48, would have been knocked off the team only if Leonard, Riley and DiMarco had all made it. Having missed the cut, he was watching on television and doing the calculations in his head.
 
'It hasn't really hit me yet, other than I'm getting a million phone calls,' Funk told The Associated Press. 'That was my goal going into this year. To have it actually happen at this stage in my career, it's a great way to finish my regular tour career.'
 
Funk played in the Presidents Cup last year at Fancourt in South Africa, where DiMarco made a clutch putt on the 17th hole on the final day. 'Hal said, 'Just take that moment, with a Ryder Cup on American soil, and multiply it by a 100,'' Funk said.
 
Seven players had clinched a spot regardless of what happened at the year's final major: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry, David Toms and Chad Campbell.
 
Flesch, who came to Whistling Straits ninth in the standings, and Haas, who was 10th, were the big losers in the wild scramble that determined the majority of the team. Haas, of course, eventually was selected.
 
'It's out of my hands now. I had my chance and I didn't play that well this week,' Flesch said. 'I'm tired of hearing about it. I can't wait until he makes his two picks and it's over.'
 
Jeff Maggert, who was 13th in the standings and needing to move up, withdrew because his wife gave birth to twins. By Sunday, after cuts and withdrawals, there were 17 players left in contention for the three spots up for grabs.
 
Cink needed a sixth place and finished 17th. Scott Verplank needed to finish ninth and came in 62nd. Todd Hamilton needed a seventh and got a 37th. Seven golfers, including Leonard, needed to win and didn't.
 
Haas, 50, was the second-oldest player ever picked for the team, second only to Raymond Floyd in '93. Haas last played in the Ryder Cup in '95 at Oak Hill. On the 18th hole of the deciding match, he popped up his tee shot on his way to making bogey, losing to Philip Walton and giving Europe the win.
 
Sutton himself missed the cut at Whistling Straits. He spent the last two days in his hotel room watching the tournament on television with the volume turned down.
 
The Associated Press was also used existensively in this report..
Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.