Love, Olazabal will be lauded or loathed Sunday

By Jay CoffinSeptember 25, 2012, 10:40 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – Captains are either heroes or goats. It goes with the territory.

When someone signs up to lead a team – especially one as significant as the Ryder Cup – they know every move will be scrutinized. If a previously successful pairing teams together to play poorly, it’s the captain’s fault. If the Sunday singles lineup works, it was perfectly crafted. If it fails, it was a miserable strategy.

There is no middle ground.

When history is made here Sunday at Medinah and the 39th Ryder Cup is in the books, how will Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal be remembered as captains?


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Can Love rally the troops and instill unity into a group that often has been accused of being selfish? Can the non-confrontational man make a difficult decision to sit a player if it means an ego could be bruised? With bigger names like Fred Couples and Michael Jordan surrounding the team, will Love even receive proper credit if the Americans are victorious?

As for Olazabal, can he channel the late Seve Ballesteros and use that Spanish machismo to be the ultimate leader of men? How will he use Martin Kaymer, the one-time stud who has turned out to be the weakest link for Europe? How will the Europeans react to the partisan American gallery?

Looking at past Ryder Cups there seemingly always is an indication of how the week will unfold for a captain.

Let’s start with the bad. Hal Sutton thought he was a genius in 2004 when he paired Tiger Woods with Phil Mickelson in the first two sessions on Day 1 at Oakland Hills. They lost both matches and the U.S. got smoked 18 1/2 to 9 1/2.

“I’m not too worried about being second-guessed because this whole world is about second-guessing,” Sutton said on the eve of the Woods-Mickelson debacle. “Everybody else has got the answer but nobody’s been walking in these shoes.”

That same week, European captain Bernhard Langer was the difference maker. The steely German had always been known to give a monotone interview but he shed that stereotype and charmed the American gallery by insisting his squad sign autographs for at least 20 minutes each day. The fans appreciated the gesture and never were a major factor in favor of the U.S. In fact, they almost seemed thrilled Europe won.

Corey Pavin was the fall guy for the leaky rain gear two years ago in Wales. That surely wasn’t the sole reason why his squad lost, but that – combined with his failure to inspire his team – led to his downfall. Even before the rain gear issue, Pavin forgot to introduce Stewart Cink as one of his team members at the opening ceremony. Too many gaffes.


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All these incidents seem petty, but each foreshadows a sign of what’s to come.

Curtis Strange’s American team was tied at 8 heading into Sunday singles in 2002 at The Belfry but he put Mickelson and Woods in the last two positions and they were irrelevant because Europe jumped out to a hot start and won the cup by 3 points.

Paul Azinger is known for his well-documented pods system where he put his players together in small groups to form tight bonds and become invested. Each player was paired only with someone from his respective pod all week. The result was the only U.S. Ryder Cup victory in the last 13 years.

Ballesteros took the captain position to a new level in 1997 at Valderrama when he willed his team to victory and never envisioned a scenario where Europe would not win his beloved Ryder Cup in his native Spain. Europe took a 5-point lead into Sunday singles and easily won although the score ended much closer than the matches really were. Seve captained the Ryder Cup like he played in the Ryder Cup.

So far neither Love nor Olazabal has had the sort of moment that would predict success or disaster. That’s a good thing.

Love is a smart man who has listened diligently to past captains and drawn upon his own experience as a player who collected a 9-12-5 career record in six Ryder Cups. He distinctly remembers playing in his first Ryder Cup in 1993 when Tom Watson was captain. Watson never told any of the players who they were going to play with before the matches. That made Love uneasy and he made it clear that wouldn’t be the case with this squad.

“Familiarity is key,” Love said.

There are egos to deal with on the American side but Love also made it clear that each player will play at least three matches and that it’s likely that no player will play in all five matches. He wants players fresh.

“We’ve got some guys on this team that realize the ultimate goal is to win, not to play five and be 5-0,” Love said.

Olazabal was asked Tuesday if he was going to bring any guest speakers into the team room Thursday evening to set the mood and rally his troops.

“You would have to have a guy that really knows what the Ryder Cup is to get into the hearts of those players,” Olazabal said. “So, in that regard, I never thought of anyone that could really get to the guys that way.”

Good point. Olazabal is that man.

A veteran of seven Ryder Cups with an 18-8-5 career record, Olazabal was 11-2-2 with Ballesteros as his playing partner, earning them the “Spanish Armada” nickname. Olazabal’s friendship with the late Ballesteros was so strong that Seve’s silhouette is emblazoned on the bags of Team Europe.

Both Love and Olazabal seem to be at peace and have a game plan for most situations. All the proper buttons have been pushed to this point, but there are still two more days of hype before the matches begin.

We don’t know the ultimate result, but we do know that one man will be a hero, the other a goat.


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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


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And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

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Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


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In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.