Debate: U.S. Ryder Cup player under most pressure

By Jason SobelSeptember 5, 2012, 9:01 pm

The rosters have been filled out and the waiting game has begun. Now the question becomes, who on the U.S. Ryder Cup team is under the most pressure to perform at Medinah? We asked our writers to weigh in. Here are their thoughts.

By JASON SOBEL

Every time we address one of these, “Which player has the most pressure on him…” questions, I ponder the possible answers and always circle back to the same one.

Tiger Woods.

Such is life when you’re a 74-time PGA Tour winner, 14-time major champion and one of the world’s most recognizable faces.

Let’s face it: If Jim Furyk or Brandt Snedeker lays an egg at Medinah and fails to perform up to expectations, it becomes a source of consternation within the shallow walls of the golf world and its inhabitants, from players to media to fans.

If Woods stinks up the joint, though, it turns into worldwide headlines.

Call it the Mom Clause. If Furyk or Snedeker or any of the other United States team members individually spit the bit against the Europeans, will your mom even hear about it? Depends on whom your mom is, but probably not. If Woods fails in spectacular fashion, however, you can bet that Sunday evening phone call with mom will include a question about why that popular golfer in all the commercials didn’t help his country win the competition. The situation instantly turns from a few bad swings to an international incident.

And that, my friends, is what we called added pressure. When the eyes of the world are watching your every move – as they always are for Tiger – nobody else will have more of it resting on their shoulders. 


BY REX HOGGARD

The rookies. All four them – Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner – will feel the most pressure later this month when they roll up at Medinah for their first Ryder Cup. They always do.

It’s the nature of golf’s most-intense event, where every match feels like a Sunday at major and every putt is handicapped by the pressure that comes with playing, not just for yourself, but for your flag and friends.

Although they were not rookies, it’s the kind of stuff that sent Mark Calcavecchia into the dunes at the 1991 matches at Kiawah and reduced Hunter Mahan to tears in 2010 in Wales. Nothing can prepare a first-timer for the self-inflicted pressure that waits on the first tee.

This year’s crop has the advantage of the friendly confines of Medinah, where the Chicago galleries will surely be whipped into a jingoistic frenzy. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Sure Simpson played well in last year’s Presidents Cup and Dufner has been to his share of Auburn-Alabama games, but nothing can prepare them for the weight of playing for your partner, your team, your country.

Al Geiberger was a rookie on the 1967 Ryder Cup when then-captain Ben Hogan approached him with a simple piece of advice. “Don’t lose,” the Hawk hissed.

This year’s captain Davis Love III won’t have to make the same curt speech, his four rookies already know what’s on the line.


BY RYAN LAVNER

Already, there are cries of cronyism.

Jim Furyk got picked even though he is the only team member without a victory this season. (Snubs Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler each won in 2012.)

Jim Furyk got picked because he played on four Ryder Cup teams with Davis Love III. (Mahan and Fowler have combined to play three Ryder Cups.)

Jim Furyk got picked because he’s good in the team room. (Mahan and Fowler are popular, too.)

That’s such an interesting phrase, isn’t it? Good in the team room. What does it mean? That the player gives the best motivational speeches? That he leads the most boisterous cheers? That he is the team’s best conversationalist?

Whatever it means, whatever it entails, it’s the reason Furyk – and, to a slightly lesser extent, Steve Stricker – is considered an invaluable asset to the team, because he has Ryder Cup experience and because, yes, he’s good in the team room.

Love suggested that during a practice round, he could send out Stricker and Furyk with a rookie like Brandt Snedeker, and in one day, after just 18 holes, the first-timer would be fit to perform during the most pressure-packed three days of his life.

But that alone isn’t enough to justify a pick. This is Phil Mickelson’s ninth appearance. This is Woods’ seventh Cup. They’re veterans, too.

Furyk’s overall record in seven previous appearances (8-15-4) leaves little to be desired, and his point percentage (.37) is the worst among 2012 team members who have played at least two Ryder Cups, and teams he’s been on have gone 2-5 since 1997. Furyk is virtually assured of not playing four balls, given his 1-8-1 mark in that format, and his 2012 meltdowns (U.S. Open, Bridgestone) are still fresh.

So, is veteran savvy still that important? We’ll find out later this month.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.


Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:


Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''