Punch Shot: Couples for Ryder Cup captain?

By Ryan LavnerOctober 8, 2013, 12:18 pm

A perfect 3-0 record as Presidents Cup captain begs the question – is it time for Fred Couples to get a shot at leading the Americans in the Ryder Cup? GolfChannel.com writers debate whether Captain Cool should get the call.



That’s not to say Freddie couldn’t be the U.S. skipper. Of course he could. He might even go undefeated in that competition, too.

But it’s more an issue that Couples might not want to be Ryder Cup captain. He’s a player's manager. He keeps things loose. He lets the guys play. He doesn’t get fazed.

That laid-back vibe works at the laid-back Presidents Cup, where players showed up with wigs and shook hands Fresh Prince-style and adopted a squirrel as the unofficial mascot.

The Ryder Cup? Every week is a new commitment. Every decision is vetted. Every comment could be construed into bulletin-board material. Being a Ryder Cup captain is a full-time, two-year gig. Easygoing doesn’t work. Neither does looseness.                             

If Captain Cool looked anything but Sunday – when the Americans held a six-point lead heading into singles – then how would he handle the pressure and intensity of the Ryder Cup, which can make even the most seasoned player want to upchuck on the first tee?

Couples should remain a one-cup captain. 


It’s just bad form if the PGA of America never offers Fred Couples the American Ryder Cup captaincy.

Clearly, the fact that Couples took the Presidents Cup captaincy before a Ryder Cup captaincy was offered damaged his chances of ever leading the Americans in the Ryder Cup. The fact that Couples took the Presidents Cup job two more times just might have killed his chances, but let's hope not.

It’s just silly if taking the Presidents Cup job somehow disqualifies Couples for a chance to lead the Americans against Europe. I say a chance, because I’m not sure Couples would take it, but he deserves the chance. If he’s not offered, it’s a snub every bit as egregious as the PGA of America skipping over Larry Nelson. Couples is a Hall of Famer, a major champion and a member of five U.S. Ryder Cup teams. That’s a Ryder Cup captain’s resume.

Outside the walls of the PGA of America, who cares that Couples dated the Presidents Cup before the Ryder Cup? Actually, his Presidents Cup run creates tremendous curiosity over how Couples’ leadership style would fit at the Ryder Cup. Would his team respond the same way to him in a significantly more intense Ryder Cup setting? Would Captain Cool navigate the heightened pressures as effectively? Here’s hoping someday we learn those answers.


No, Fred Couples shouldn't captain the Ryder Cup team.

A lot of people believe that the United States Presidents Cup team took on the personality of its captain these last three times, but I'd argue that it was the captain's personality that was perfectly suited for the more laid-back style of this event.

While the Presidents Cup is all smiles and butt-slaps, the Ryder Cup is about pressure and emotions. That's not to say Freddie couldn't handle it – I'm sure he'd be fine – but the characteristics of his Presidents Cup teams just wouldn’t carry over to a Ryder Cup.

And quite frankly, I'm not sure how much he'd like it, either. Couples seemed nervous when his team was 'only' leading 17-13 on Sunday afternoon. How much pleasure would he derive from an event where the pressure is magnified tenfold?

Again, that's not to say he couldn't handle it. Or couldn't be successful. Or that I wouldn't want him to do it. It's just that everyone would be expecting the same looseness and energy that pervaded his Presidents Cup rosters. And that would be impossible to replicate at the Ryder Cup.


Should Fred Couples get his turn as a U.S. Ryder Cup captain? Of course. Will he? Well, that’s another column.

But following Boom Boom’s third successful turn leading the American side over the Internationals, the only thing that seems to be standing between Captian Cool and the Ryder Cup helm is politics and misplaced priorities.

Whatever the motivations, the U.S. players respond to Couples’ laissez faire leadership style, winning by an average of four points at home (Harding Park and now Muirfield Village) and away (Royal Melbourne) during his tenure.

“The only thing I pay a lot of attention to is my guys. You know, they will tell me right now when the bus is leaving, I don’t care. When is the bus going in the morning? I don't care,” said Couples late Saturday, which prompted an eye-roll by Hunter Mahan. “When we get out here, I care a lot.”

Couples’ is the ultimate player’s coach, leading through consensus. Late Sunday, for example, he huddled with his two assistant captains, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Mahan to set his Sunday singles line up. It’s a leadership style that is more Steve Jobs than Steve Spurrier, and it works with today’s high-profile, highly-paid professionals.

Maybe Tom Watson will be the game-changer the PGA of America hopes he will be next year in Scotland. But either way, Couples deserves a turn. Whether he will get it, well . . .

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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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 Web.com 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.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."