McGinley named 2014 European Ryder Cup captain

By Rex HoggardJanuary 15, 2013, 6:25 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – The players have spoken, or maybe it was Twitter. Either way if the consensus is to be believed, the European Tour’s Tournament Committee’s decision to name Paul McGinley the 2014 Ryder Cup captain was the right one.

Not that the final decision to send the first Irishman into the captaincy was as easy as all that.

After weeks of speculation, politicking and . . . well, tweeting, the final debate came down to two players – McGinley and Colin Montgomery. In the end, the Tournament Committee needed about an hour to decide that McGinley was the right man to lead the Continent at Gleneagles in Scotland.

“To be honest it’s a very humbling experience to be sitting in this chair,” said McGinley, who is undefeated in three turns as a Ryder Cup player and two as a vice-captain.

But it wasn’t that legacy that seemed to push the 10 Tournament Committee members to vote for the Irishman - five members either were not at the meeting - or were candidates for the job and abstained from voting. In the end it was the 46-year-old’s successful stint as the captain of the 2009 Seve Trophy, a Ryder Cup-like team event between players from the United Kingdom and the Continent.

It was during those matches that Rory McIlroy was first exposed to team play as a professional, and where he learned firsthand how good of a captain McGinley was.

“He made me feel so confident,” said McIlroy, who made a cameo at the late-evening announcement to congratulate the new captain. “I enjoyed playing under him the most. He builds you up and makes you feel like you can do anything.”

But McGinley hadn’t felt invincible the last few weeks. In fact, he compared the give and take of this year’s selection process to being a yo-yo.

Late last year Darren Clarke, one of the leading candidates for the ’14 job, suggested he planned to withdraw his name from consideration and offered his tacit support for Montgomerie, who captained the 2010 European team to victory.

Some considered the move a reaction to the PGA of America’s decision last month to name Tom Watson the ’14 captain and Montgomerie, who owns a home a few miles from Gleneagles, seemed to gain momentum when he said he would take the job if it were offered to him.

That support, however, seemed to wane as many tops players – including world No. 1 McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter – threw their support in McGinley’s favor on Twitter and in the media.

One Tournament Committee member told GTC on Tuesday that reacting to what the U.S. does is not how Europe has built a dominant record in the biennial matches (Europe has won seven of the last nine cups) and many players, including McIlroy, felt the captaincy was a one-time deal.

It also helped that throughout the entire affair McGinley, who is 2-2-5 in Ryder Cup play, maintained a dignified silence.

“It’s amazing what you can learn when you listen and don’t talk,” McGinley said. “I felt the more I’d say the more my chances would lesson.”

The decision was unanimous despite the controversial buildup and the players got who they wanted.

“The committee is 100 percent behind this captain and that was obvious early in the meeting,” said Thomas Bjorn, the Tournament Committee chairman. “We listen to our players.”

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."