My Ryder Cup Team
Simple as this ' the U.S.A has lost its balance in this event and its grip on what it takes to win. However, as I said on 'Live From The Ryder Cup' on Sunday night, the European team deserves far more credit than the United States deserves criticism.
Europe won it because they know how to play and they know how to relax. Period.
I will not question the talent of the U.S. players. I wont criticize their desire to win. I wont pile on Tiger or Phil for that matter. Bottom line ' we need them. I certainly wont harp on captain Tom Lehmans effort to make it all go right. Ive never seen a captain push all the right buttons and come up so empty (on either team.) It comes down to knowing how to do it when the bell goes off on Friday morning.
Before I submit my new-look Ryder Cup team for 2008, take to heart my thoughts about American disposition on the golf course in general. Our players struggle to smile and hug and back-pat and skip and jump and laugh. The emotion the Americans show seems so angry. Its fist pumps and gritting teeth and straight-lipped faces and steely eyes and a general feeling of 'us against them.'
When the United States makes a big putt, its a fist-bump ' not an arm-around-the-shoulder embrace walking to the next tee with a smile.
Do our guys look like a bunch of jolly good fellows? Off the course they might be ' on the course they struggle to come across that way. Europe has no problem acting that way or being that way.
Everyone has their theories. Nobody is a lock. I root for America as I should. Im hardly rooting against Europe, however. Theyre easy to embrace.
So lets make a new team. All bets are off. And for the sake of a balanced team with no superstars, were eliminating Tiger and Phil and Jim Furyk to come up with a hypothetical 12 who will take the course at Valhalla in 2008. The names are here for the criticism and the reason for selection is short and sweet.
Bottom line: what has been used hasnt worked. Ive got 12 captains picks to fix it:
Captain ' Larry Nelson
He deserves it. And recent cups have proven that a captain neednt be so in touch with the PGA TOUR.
Vice Captain ' Brian Hewitt (TGC)
Hes got a lot of vices. He might as well add this one. Plus, its always good to have a journalist in the teams corner for the proper spin.
Vice Captain ' Mark Cuban
Suddenly, theres no undue attention on the players is there?
My leader. Loose and fun. A perennial top 10 in driving distance, total driving and greens hit in regulation.
My grinder. Tough as nails. His swing isnt the best. But his heart is among the best. Europe doesnt care about majors ' neither do I.
Streaky hot, streaky mad, never seen a match he didnt want to win. Remember ' star power is out the window. Were there with a team that has no scouting report.
Third in driving A\accuracy, ninth in putting average. In play and in the hole. That works right? He didnt get enough run at this years Cup. Hed be out there plenty on my team.
Forget what happened at the K Club. Ill take my chances. Hes a team room guy. Hes a teammate. Period. Hell hug a guy until he cries. End of discussion.
Every team needs an over-achiever. Bryant drives it great (sixth in accuracy in 2005) and has just the right chip on his shoulder. Hes no star but hes been a survivor.
Olin Browne ' eighth in driving accuracy this year; fourth last year. Brownes been to Q-school enough to have a Masters degree. Another tough you-know-what. If a match was all-square after 18 ' hed demand extras.
He proved plenty to me at the K Club. Plus, hes just a darned good ball-striker. He smiles a lot, too, and he begins my run of nice guys who dont like to finish last.
Ive always liked Stricker. Go ahead, tell me he cant drive it well. Fine. Hes fourth in putting right now, second to Tiger Woods in scoring average (ahead of Furyk and Mickelson), and fifth in the all-around category. Remember, he started the year with NO EXEMPT STATUS and right now sits 31st in money. In the running for nicest guy on PGA TOUR.
He can make you laugh. He smiles a lot and he can play. Never appreciated, hes suddenly 20th in money. Hey Brett ' theres Sergio ' go get him!
Soft spoken southern boy with a good old heart and a whole lot of game. Sure he struggled when the pressure was on to make the team, but I tell him there is no pressure ' just go play. He can play. Hed be a terrific partner.
In 2005 he was third in putting average and ninth in scoring average. Hes No. 1 (sorry Ben) in slow play. Which is exactly why I put him out first in every session to set the tone for the day. Get em riled up Ben ' its OK with me.
If anyone gets hurt and cant go, Ive got birdie machine Ryan Palmer on call and good guy Joe Durant on speed dial, too. Durant leads the PGA TOUR in driving accuracy, hits a ton of greens. Everyone likes Durant. That works, too.
For the record, Michael Jordan is not allowed to watch. Ill give his tickets to Charles Barkley. Michaels rings would put too much pressure on my team. Barkley doesnt have one. Hell make us laugh and theres no chance hell try to pull an American player aside with a swing tip.
Folks, weve got two years to figure out the right formula to get the Ryder Cup back. I give you two days to get back to me with a better roster. Remember, the best team America could come up with for the last two Ryder Cups has managed to be outscored 37-19.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.
A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.
In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.
“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”
Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.
“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.
Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.
“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”
How does she feel?
“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”
Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.
New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title
NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.
Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.
She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.
“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”
Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.
Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.
Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.
Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.
“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.
Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.
“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”
You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios
NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.
Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:
Race to the CME Globe
Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.
Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.
The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.
Ariya Jutanugarn is also one shot off the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.
Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.
So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.
Rolex Player of the Year
The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.
Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.
Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.
Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.
It’s simple math.
The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.
1st - 30 points
2nd – 12 points
3rd – 9 points
4th – 7 points
5th – 6 points
6th – 5 points
7rd – 4 points
8th – 3 points
9th – 2 points
10th – 1 point
Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.
Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.
Rolex world No. 1 ranking
World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.
Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.
At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.
Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.
Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.
''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''
Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.
''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''
Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.
''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''
J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.
''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.
''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''
He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.
''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''
Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.
''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''