What's the one thing Love should have done differently?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 2, 2012, 4:50 pm

Everyone second-guesses a losing Ryder Cup captain. Even the captain has to wonder, 'Is there one thing I could have done differently?' If U.S. captain Davis Love III has asked himself that question, the GolfChannel.com team has some answers.

By JAY COFFIN

Difficult to pick just one.

The mistake Davis Love III made that sticks out most is posting Tiger Woods 12th in the Sunday singles lineup. I get it, the dude isn’t known for adapting well to the team atmosphere, and he slapped it around suburban Chicago for two days like a man who wasn’t engaged. Steve Stricker wasn’t much help to Woods but 0-3 was 0-3.

Singles, however, is a different animal, it’s where Woods shines brightest. To put him 12th, in a position that was virtually guaranteed to not matter, is reckless. Many believed Woods’ match would be irrelevant because the Ryder Cup would be clinched much earlier by the Americans. Turned out it was clinched by the Europeans in the 11th match when Martin Kaymer defeated Stricker.

This generation’s best player doesn’t play well in team events, but he’s still the best match-play competitor of this generation, too. Love said that everyone on his team got what they wanted in singles. So that means Woods wanted the last position? Even if it was true, Love should’ve known better. Woods needed to be a factor. Sadly for the Americans, and the crazed Chicago fans, he wasn’t.


By RANDALL MELL

Phil Mickelson can be a golfing genius, but sometimes he outsmarts himself. He won with two drivers in his bag at the 2006 Masters, but he struggled miserably in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines after deciding not to put a driver in his bag on what was then the longest layout in the championship’s history.

It’s difficult in this corner to overly scrutinize Davis Love III’s Ryder Cup decisions, because his strategies put his players in good position to win on Sunday. Sometimes, in sport, you lose because your field-goal kicker misses a point-blank chance from 25 yards. Love watched something akin to nine kickers missing Sunday at Medinah. In the end, if Jim Furyk doesn’t bogey the final two holes, if Steve Stricker makes a putt at the 17th, if Tiger Woods makes more than one birdie in the final round to take some early doubt out of his match, the Americans probably win. This writer will remember the American players beating themselves on Sunday more than the captain bungling anything. Yeah, the Euros were great, but the Americans winning just three of 12 singles matches? It's the lousiest Sunday in American Ryder Cup history.

Still, we’re second-guessing here, which is a sport within a sport in the Ryder Cup. If there’s one decision Love made that could be undone to try to win that Ryder Cup, it’s resting Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in the Saturday afternoon fourballs. They were 3-0 and looked unbeatable as a tandem crushing Luke Donald and Lee Westwood in a record-tying rout in foursomes.

Yeah, Mickelson was insistent with Love that he rest, even citing stats showing that players who competed in all five matches did not historically fare well in Sunday singles. By the way, Americans who play five matches are 17-11-7 since 1979. Mickelson told Love that winning one more point on Saturday was not worth losing two on Sunday, but Love should have persuaded Mickelson otherwise, even though Love liked the idea of resting every player for at least one match. With the luxury of 20/20 hindsight, we can say Love should have scrapped that plan. Mickelson was wrong. One more point on Saturday would have been worth the risk of losing two on Sunday.


By RYAN LAVNER

OK, so Phil Mickelson duped the captain. U.S. Ryder Cuppers who play all five sessions don’t actually have a poor singles record. The two Europeans who played all five sessions at Medinah, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, won their singles matches, too.

If there was one player on the U.S. side who could break the trend and play all five, who had boundless enthusiasm and could go another 18 (if not 36), who could resuscitate a lifeless teammate and pull out a victory . . . then it was rookie Keegan Bradley.

Lefty wanted to rest and not play five, and that’s his choice. (Though, really, shouldn’t it have been the captain’s?) Bradley, however, was so explosive in the team format and playing so well, how could Love afford not to trot him out again on Saturday afternoon? He’s 26 years old. He played only 12 holes in the morning and, really, cut that total in half – they played alternate shot.

In Saturday afternoon fourballs, Love should have paired Keegan with Tiger, left Stricker (who clearly had lost his putting stroke) on the bench, and watched to see if it worked, to see if it created a spark, to see if Bradley and Tiger chest-bumped and backside-slapped, to see if Bradley’s exuberance and Tiger’s stoicism created an mesmerizing duo.

The Europeans were buoyed by the fact that they split fourballs, that they trailed only 10-6 heading into Sunday. In hindsight, the Americans probably wished they had that extra point Saturday night – and their dynamo, Bradley, on the course in each session.


By REX HOGGARD

Let the nitpicking begin, although these types of postmortems always seem to ignore the fact that neither Davis Love III nor Jose Maria Olazabal hit a putt that mattered last week. But if we must identify a goat it’s best to begin, and end, our search with the captain’s picks – specifically Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker.

With Furyk and Stricker, Love opted for known commodities, let’s call them comfort picks. In Stricker the American side had the yin to Tiger Woods’ yang, a partner who he enjoyed a 2-1-0 Ryder Cup record with, while Furyk was viewed in team circles as the U.S. quarterback.

Neither, however, produced. Furyk was 1-2-0 and bogeyed his final two holes on Sunday to cough up a 1-up advantage to Sergio Garcia and swing the momentum back in the Europeans favor.

Stricker was no better, posting a 0-4-0 week and finishing bogey-par to drop the decisive point to Martin Kaymer, who didn’t exactly set Medinah ablaze on Sunday. The German was 1 over par on Sunday yet clenched the cup for Europe with his 1-up victory.

Love's biggest mistake may have come a month before the matches. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, it’s natural to wonder if Hunter Mahan, who was ahead of Furyk and Stricker on the U.S. points list yet was passed over for a pick, could have delivered on Sunday? One thing is for certain, he couldn’t have performed any worse.


By JASON SOBEL

I don't have a problem with many of the decisions made by Davis Love III. If just one player had turned his L into a W on Sunday, the captain would be hailed as a conquering hero and we'd instead be second-guessing his European counterpart right now.

The truth is, I thought Love did a very good job from a tactical and managerial standpoint. The only major issue I had relates to advice.

One by one Sunday afternoon, players approached the 17th and 18th holes for either the first time or one of the first times all week. And one by one, they went long and/or left approaching each green.

In a regular PGA Tour event, competitors are limited to advice only from their own caddies. At the Ryder Cup, the captains are free to dole out warnings anytime they wish.

Love should have taken advantage of that. By the time such decisive matches as the ones involving Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker reached the final hole, he should have been walking down the fairway with them saying, 'Everyone's gone long here all day. Keep in mind your adrenaline and take one club less.' Or once they were in such a predicament, Love could have offered, 'Yes, that putt from the back of the green is very quick, but it doesn't break nearly as much as you think.'

There is a difference between individual tournaments and team competition. Love had an opportunity to take advantage of that difference, but didn't.

Just think: His advice could have contributed to one more shot or one more putt being so much better. If he had, we might not be second-guessing him right now. We might be hailing him as a conquering hero.


By WILL GRAY

The writing was on the wall.

In a year full of top finishes and solid play, Jim Furyk’s season was highlighted by the ones that got away. Whether it was an errant tee shot on the 70th hole at Olympic or a double bogey on the final hole at Firestone to hand the trophy to Keegan Bradley, doubts ran rampant about the former U.S. Open champ and his ability to seal the deal.

When Furyk saw his singles match with Sergio Garcia slip away on Sunday – allowing the Spaniard to turn a 1-down deficit on the 17th tee into a 1-up victory with a pair of pars – those lingering doubts were confirmed in a way no American fan had hoped to see.

Even with the revised format for compiling the American squad, captain’s picks are a precious commodity. In using one on Furyk, captain Davis Love III chose a player whose career fourball record (still stuck at 1-8-1) essentially took him out of the mix during the afternoon sessions and whose ability to handle the pressure cooker of singles play was suspect at best. Weeks or months down the line, perhaps the question Love will ponder most is whether a player like Bo Van Pelt, a steady ball-striker with a penchant for birdies, could have been more useful – or productive – in the slot given to Furyk.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.


11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.


1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.

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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.

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Spieth selected by peers to run for PAC chairman

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 6:43 pm

Jordan Spieth may still be relatively young, but he has gained the confidence of some of the PGA Tour's most seasoned voices.

Spieth is one of two players selected by the current player directors of the Tour's Policy Board to run for Chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC). Spieth will face Billy Hurley III in an election that will end Feb. 13, with the leading vote-getter replacing Davis Love III next year on the Policy Board for a three-year term through 2021.

Last year's PAC chairman, Johnson Wagner, replaces Jason Bohn as a player director on the Policy Board beginning this year and running through 2020. Other existing player directors include Charley Hoffman (2017-19), Kevin Streelman (2017-19) and Love (2016-18).

The 16-member PAC advises and consults with the Policy Board and Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on "issues affecting the Tour."

In addition to Spieth and Hurley, other PAC members for 2018 include Daniel Berger, Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Chesson Hadley, James Hahn, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Geoff Ogilvy, Sam Saunders, Chris Stroud, Justin Thomas, Kyle Thompson and Cameron Tringale.