With or Without You

By John HawkinsMay 19, 2010, 12:35 am
Earth to reality: Tiger Woods currently is 10th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings – not bad for a guy with one top-10 finish in the last eight months. I don’t suppose Woods looks over his shoulder and sees Ben Crane lurking 142.6 points back in 11th, or whether Tiger is even aware the number of automatic qualifiers was reduced to eight so U.S. captains would have four selections instead of two.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has a career 10-13-2 record in five Ryder Cup appearances. (Getty Images)
The ultimate control freak, Woods has been spending an awful lot of 2010 in unfamiliar territory, and I’m not talking about the middle of the fairway. Seriously? He’s more likely to beg off Corey Pavin’s squad with an injury or personal issues than he is to not make it, but as the Tigerless Yanks proved at Valhalla with EuroSmash ’08, his presence is desired, not required.

Apparently, winning a U.S. Open on a broken leg is easier than contending elsewhere with a busted life, just as reclaiming the Ryder Cup is a cinch once you’ve lost your 14-time major champion. Without Woods in Kentucky, the Americans played like over-the-top underdogs. Everybody mattered, everybody contributed. First-timers Anthony Kim and Hunter Mahan, Old Glory’s best young players, proved particularly valuable, and from the negative vibe of back-to-back routs at Oakland Hills and the K Club, the positive mojo out of Valhalla couldn’t have been stronger.

In the months leading up to those matches, U.S. skipper Paul Azinger was asked numerous times about his picks – experience or performance? “Experience isn’t worth a damn if the only experience you have is losing,” the captain would say, and from there, the tone was set, the group mentality reflective of a man who never went looking for a fight but never walked away from one, either.

For once, the boys from the other side of the Atlantic were the ones getting frantic. Tiger doesn’t like the rah-rah unless there’s a trophy on the line and a $1.4 million check to deposit, and he’s entitled, but for chops like me, the Ryder Cup is what it’s all about. I want to win to make other people feel good, so they yell and scream and get drunk on pride and unity. I want to beat the other guys not so much to prove a point, but to revel in the satisfaction, and if you wanna revel, you need some company, some help.

You need teammates. You need camaraderie. Happy golfers are relaxed golfers, and relaxed golfers win. Paul Azinger understood that, Nick Faldo never will, and though I truly believe Ryder Cup captains are vastly overrated, they do serve one crucial role: To establish (or determine) the team’s competitive disposition, then mix messages and personnel in a way that will maximize overall performance.

I’m not sure you can do that if Woods is the centerpiece of your team. Whereas Phil Mickelson seems to enjoy the team format and the notion of winning and losing together, Tiger, at least in theory, struggles to bond with guys he’s usually trying to beat. Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, both low-key and serious, have become his friends, but if you’ve got more than a few ounces of personality, there’s a good chance you’ll draw Woods’ ire, heaven forbid.

Philly Mick has no problem grabbing the microphone in a room full of alpha males or dumping a bushel of opinions on his captain. Woods, as you may have surmised in his Feb. 19 pseudo-confessional, doesn’t have that gear. As ferocious as he can be on the course, he is, like so many tour pros, non-confrontational to an extreme. In short, a team Tiger is a different animal than one without him, but after Valhalla, I’m not sure which one is fiercer.

Azinger could have trained either critter. I would suggest that Pavin learn how to do the same.
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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.