Busting some Presidents Cup myths

By Jason SobelOctober 7, 2013, 2:40 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Let’s face it: Until the final hour, the most dramatic part of the Presidents Cup occurred on the first day and didn’t even have anything to do with the matches. It was waiting to see whether that baby squirrel was going to gnaw off one of Davis Love III’s fingertips.

That would have been the only nail biter of the week before things started tightening up down the stretch. It never quite got to Defcon 2 levels – hey, it’s the Presidents Cup; does it ever? – but there were at least a few clenched fists before Tiger Woods clinched and everyone else unclenched late Sunday afternoon.

A relatively close final score of 18½ to 15½ should help lessen the idea that this competition needs a complete overhaul, but certainly won’t alleviate it altogether. Depending on individual personality and fandom, your emotions likely ranged somewhere on the spectrum between slightly perturbed and Iowa State football coach.

Presidents Cup: Articles, videos and photos

The list of cries from those outside the gallery ropes about how to “fix” this event is easier said – or maybe screamed – than done, despite PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s claim that, “By every measure, this was the strongest Presidents Cup we've had.”

That qualifies as a Hyperbole of the Year candidate from a master of such lingo. But it doesn’t erase the fact that many of the complaints in regard to this event don’t come armed with a solution.

In fact, most of 'em don’t.

Let’s bust five of the myths that afflicted the Presidents Cup this week:

“They should have made the singles matches more entertaining!”

Put yourself in the captains’ softspikes for a minute. You’ve been serving in this role for two years now, charged with the sole responsibility of winning the cup. Nowhere in the mission statement does it claim you’re also responsible for TV ratings, too.

When a Tiger Woods-Adam Scott or Phil Mickelson-Ernie Els match failed to materialize after the captains played their daily game of Battleship, many were quick to criticize them for not producing on-course excitement. Let’s look at it from the other side, though: If the captains had paired players based solely on whom the fans wanted to see, wouldn’t that devalue this as more exhibition than completion? Absolutely.

As Nick Price said when questioned afterward about why he didn’t save Scott for Woods: “I did my pairings this morning to try and win the cup, not to put 1 and 2 together.”

One thing is for certain: It’s impossible to question that motive.

“They should change the points structure to give the Internationals a fighting chance!”

OK, there may be something to this one. Traditionally, the back end of the International lineup is much weaker than that of the U.S. side. Fewer matches per session, logic says, will mean fewer bottom-of-the-roster guys competing.

Should it happen? Well, depends on whom you ask.

“Oh, yes, there's lots of changes I would like to see,” Price said, “but I don't think we should discuss those now.”

“I like this format and I like the Ryder Cup format,” said U.S. assistant Love, who captained last year’s Ryder Cup team. “I think it works out well to leave both of them like they are.”

Will it happen? The PGA Tour will certainly look into the possibility, but despite Price’s pleas, there’s hardly any guarantee that fewer matches will lead to a closer result.

“They shouldn’t play in a city where it rains all the time!”

Yes, Muirfield Village is perennially soggy whenever the Memorial Tournament is played. That’s the rainy season. The townsfolk know it, the players know it and anyone who’s snoozed on the couch waiting for frequent delays to end knows it.

Even Price tried to apologize to host Jack Nicklaus. “I'm sorry it rains here like it does,” he said, shaking his head. “I don't know what to say. I wish one day we would be able to control the weather.”

Mother Nature didn’t cooperate this week, but here’s a neat little fact that has gone mostly overlooked: The average annual rainfall in Dublin during the month of October is 2.61 inches, making it the second-driest month in this town. The amount of rainfall from Thursday-Saturday? Exactly 1.60 inches. That’s about two-and-a-half week’s worth of the average rainfall in a three-day span.

That said, it wouldn’t be terrible to hold this thing in a desert four years from now. You know, just in case.

“They should combine the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup!”

So you’re really going to sacrifice one terrific competition to maybe sort of kind of improve another one? Or just dilute the first one?

Forget for a minute the fact that the PGA of America and European Tour own the Ryder Cup, but the PGA Tour owns the Presidents Cup. Even if all parties agreed to somehow split the monumental profits of the two events, any type of winner-stays-on suggestion clearly isn’t fully thought out.

The potential of Europe playing against the International team? Blah. Call me an ugly American, but that matchup would have little appeal, even outside of U.S. borders.

The Ryder Cup is steeped in tradition. The Presidents Cup isn’t there yet. Maybe it never will be, but there’s no reason to play Robin Hood here and steal from the rich to give to the poor.

“They should just scrap this thing altogether!”

That’s not exactly the most progressive thought right there. If they stopped playing competitions just because one team won more often, the Harlem Globetrotters would have been out of business a half-century ago.

OK, bad comparison – the Internationals deserve better than Washington Generals status.

But things change pretty quickly in the elite level of professional golf. It wasn’t so long ago that the U.S. could barely scrape together a dozen capable players for one of these competitions. (Or have you forgotten the days of Vaughn Taylor and Brett Wetterich?) By the same token, international players are going to keep improving.

Countries like China, Japan and even India could quickly become golf hotbeds – and they certainly have bigger populations from which to choose. According to the latest census numbers, there are 6,061,900,000 people living outside of the U.S. and Europe, but “only” 313,900,000 stateside.

Hmm … based on that, it sounds like the guys in red, white and blue pulled off another upset on Sunday.

OK, maybe not.

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

Getty Images

McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

Getty Images

What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x