Cash or country: Ryder Cup records give clear answer

By Brandel ChambleeOctober 5, 2012, 12:11 pm

The Ryder Cup, which pays nothing to the players, pits a country against a continent and gives the world a reason to scream at the TV. In the U.S., people are still screaming.

Never has a golf competition spurred so much debate. By comparison, majors fall flat. Perhaps Americans feel denied the right to brag, or perhaps it’s just that, one week removed from the most lavish payout in golf, there is evidence that the best U.S. players play harder for that money than for their country. 

The Europeans staged the biggest comeback on foreign soil in Ryder Cup history. That's stunning because it’s their seventh victory in the past nine competitions and because they are consistently considered the underdog. Yet they consistently win. Those wins raise questions that challenge our beliefs about the best players in this country when we see them win millions.

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, with 130 wins on the PGA Tour, rank 1, 2 and 4 on the Tour's career money list with more than $220 million in combined earnings, have left their mark on the Ryder Cup over the last 15 years. It’s a scar. If they can win all those tournaments, why can’t they win the Ryder Cup? 

They don’t choke when they play for money; is it reasonable to suggest they choke when playing for their country? If that's the case, why don’t their “lesser” opponents choke to the same degree? 

Choking can be attributed to caring too much. If that's not the case, then is it the opposite – caring too little?

The questions are swirling like a dust devil, because we want to believe that players, who are insanely compensated the rest of the year, will play just as hard for free, for their country, one week a year. 

Perhaps it’s something else: 'our' system versus 'theirs.' It’s been suggested that Americans are spoiled by going to college before they begin their pro careers, whereas Europeans, who largely skip college, become blacksmith-hard by struggling through their early years on tour. There is tangible evidence to support this theory, as 12 of the 16 players who have ascended to the No. 1 spot in the world are from outside this country and none of those 12 except Luke Donald went to college for any significant time. 

Furthermore, the majority of the players who have been in the top five in the world are from outside this country as well. When the world rankings debuted in April 1986, there was only one player from the U.S. in the top five. In the 25 years since, if one looks at the rankings in the first week of January every year, it is not dominated by Americans. From April 1986 through January 2012, the top five included 51 Americans and 79 from outside this country. But this fact has been obscured by Tiger’s dominance and Phil’s supporting role.

Still, Tiger and Phil, with their records suggesting they are so much better than the vast majority of the Europeans they have faced, should leave in their wake a disemboweled leadership on the opposing roster. But that never happened and when they were paired together, rather than play to their potential, which was stratospherically higher than their opponents, they were pathetically oblivious to their roles as leaders.

Another theory about the United States’ continued caving is that Europeans have the team concept in their DNA, from generations of soccer madness, which, the argument goes, makes American interest in football look laid-back. Of all the reasons people spit out for Europe’s dominance, this one makes the least sense, but then so does watching a 90-minute contest that ends 0-0. Maybe Europeans do grow up on soccer and are fervent followers, but no less so than U.S. players follow their alma mater’s wins and losses.

Argue this out any way you want because it defies logic. To me, the losses boil down to one simple conclusion: If the Ryder Cup were as important to Tiger, Phil and Furyk as winning titles and money, then their Ryder Cup records would be in step with the rest of their Hall of Fame careers. I’ve seen enough Ryder Cups to dismiss the idea that it is the randomness of match play that gives us unpredictable winners. Look at Tiger’s individual match-play record (33-7 in the WGC Match Play), look at his playoff record in Tour events (11-1), and then look at his Ryder Cup (13-17-3) and Presidents Cup (20-14-1) records and consider the difference between his record when he plays for himself and when he plays for the United States. 

That’s why people are screaming.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.