Let the Cup Be Close

By Kraig KannSeptember 21, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesThe 36th Ryder Cup begins on Friday. And given what happened two years ago at Oakland Hills outside Detroit, Mich., lets hope its not over before Saturday play begins.
Do you remember? It was 6 1/2 - 1 1/2 after Day 1 play. The only points for the United States came from a half earned by Chris Riley and Stewart Cink in the morning fourballs and a full point earned by Chris DiMarco and Jay Haas in the afternoon foursomes.
For the record, it was 11-5 after two days, and then Europe continued to whip the Americans, 7 1/2 - 4 1/2 in singles.
Regardless of what happens, and tossing aside the fact that Europe has won four of the last five Ryder Cups and seven of the last 10, I hope this years event is truly an event.
Heres what Id like to see above all else:
1. A Ryder Cup that goes down to the final singles match on Sunday. Who wouldnt want that!?!
2. American rookies make an impact. Vaughn Taylor can putt the lights out. J.J. Henry is a terrific ball-striker. Zach Johnson is a mild-mannered, steady player who can make putts. Brett Wetterich is the guy whos the yellow light to me. He hits it a mile and can overpower a golf course, but do the nerves cause long drives to go wayward? Any use of the rookies that adds up to six points would be huge.
3. Tiger Woods to play like Colin Montgomerie. Tigers the greatest player and the most talented. Hes done all the right things leading into this years Ryder Cup. Can he put his frustration over tabloid articles linking his wife to pornography in its proper place? Tiger hardly needs motivation.
4. Darren Clarke to have a week of good fortune. He deserves it. Clarke has more friends in golf than most. This week he arrives without his wife, Heather, who passed away recently after a bout with cancer. If Europes to win, then Clarke as the hero is certainly a story worth rooting for.
5. More heroics from Monty. Like him or not, hes one of the greatest to ever play the Ryder Cup. Cmon ' even if the United States wins, you have to hope they beat a European team whos on its best form. Monty without his best is hardly fun to watch in this event.
6. Entertaining press conferences. Remember Ben Crenshaws Saturday night presser at Brookline in 1999? We need great quotes and great characters to emerge and keep the energy going.
7. Great weather. So far, the rains been the biggest story. Wind on Thursday night nearly turned the grandstands into a grand mess. A Ryder Cup using lift, clean and place is no Ryder Cup in my opinion. Cool weather works ' but a little sun instead of rain is nice.
8. An American hero. In 2004, Sergio Garcia said, I think that this whole team and also myself, we just live for this. When youre winning its easy to say that. Garcias been a hero of sorts ever since he played as a rookie. He's 10-3-2 overall in three Ryder Cups. DiMarco proved a worthy hero at the Presidents Cup. If America wins, let somebody be the undisputed star.
9. Let it be the big story. This time of year is about the NFL, college football and a baseball pennant race or two, among other things. The Ryder Cup can put golf on the front page ' if its good. I go back to the Let it Be Close headline. Golf needs a boost at this time of the year. Lets hope we all get it.
Im sure Im forgetting something. So go ahead and finish my list. Ill be glued to the set and waiting for good things to happen.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."