Ryder Cup task force shows U.S. serious about winning

By Jason SobelOctober 14, 2014, 11:42 am

The idea of a task force originated with the first militaries, becoming more popularized in an official capacity with the United States Navy and its process of increasing operational flexibility during World War II. In April of 1941, the U.S. Pacific Fleet was reorganized into task forces; by October of that year, additional changes were made in order to streamline these task forces to maintain readiness for war.

Since then, task forces have not only served as a standard part of military terminology; the phrasing has permeated any manner of society where a hotly contested issue has given reason to take up a cause. There’s a task force to solve the potential effects of climate change. There’s one to tackle preventative measures against the deadly Ebola virus. There are several to protect the rights of children in cases of abuse.

By those comparisons, the PGA of America’s recently established task force, created with the goal of finding a more effective way of preparing for and eventually winning the next Ryder Cup, appears somewhere on the spectrum between overly self-indulgent and insufficiently self-aware.

That notion, though, may only underscore the prevailing rationale here: Desperate times call for desperate measures.

If there needed be another definitive line of demarcation for when this biennial competition elevated yet another level in its degrees of seriousness, here it is. It would be naïve to suggest that until recently this event was a mere whimsical exhibition, but instituting a blue-ribbon task force in an attempt to ensure the next result is different raises the stakes again.

Call it a task force or an ad hoc committee or a just bunch of guys who are trying to reclaim old glory for Old Glory, the message still rings true. Status quo wasn’t good enough, so the PGA of America is changing the game. The organization is taking a more specialized approach toward that stated end goal.

Of course, as those attempting to solve the effects of climate change have probably found out, there’s a difference between creating a task force and creating a successful one.

The panel consists of Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Raymond Floyd – the four most losing players in U.S. team history, with a combined 68 match losses among them. Throw in Rickie Fowler, who has yet to win a Ryder Cup match in eight career opportunities, and multiple PGA officials who didn’t preside in their current roles the last time this team prevailed in 2008, and you’re left with a task force charged with finding a way to win that hasn’t often accomplished that feat.

That isn’t to suggest that any of these task force members are ill-equipped to help steer the U.S. squad toward its second triumph of this century two years from now at Hazeltine. Just putting them in the same room – or at least on the same conference call – represents a step in the right direction.

Placing an increased emphasis on victory should have figurative impact, if not literal. Even if this task force doesn’t magically uncover the perfect captain to lead the team, even if it doesn’t find the secret formula to balancing qualification points and wildcard selections, even if it doesn’t mean the team will be favored on home turf, it will prove to officials and competitors alike that priorities have been ratcheted up a few notches.

This is the “personal investment” that Mickelson famously (or infamously, depending on your point of view) spoke about following the recent loss at Gleneagles. It can be argued that European players have treated their tenures on the roster as a series of continuous two-year stints, while their American counterparts see it as more of a one-week assignment.

Just placing an increased onus on the importance of the Ryder Cup should serve as a wakeup call to everyone involved that collective focus on the event needs to begin sooner and run deeper.

Therein lies the greatest role of the newly formed task force. The main focal points from outsiders will be literal alterations – the next captain, the number of wildcard picks, the ordering of team sessions. Purely centralizing on those measures, however, would be missing the point.

This is about getting players more heavily involved; it’s about letting them make decisions to forge that personal investment. The happy byproduct will be an increased importance on the Ryder Cup, not just during that week but for the next two years, and not just on making the team but helping the team to victory.

Sure, the idea of a task force to win an international golf competition sounds overly self-indulgent compared with most task forces, but that underscores the major theme of what’s taking place right now. It’s time for the U.S. to start getting more serious about the Ryder Cup.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm