Bet on the Vets for Ryder Cup Victory

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupEvery two years, the European Ryder Cup captain looks into his stable and surveys his horses. He usually has two kinds in there: stallions and Clydesdales.
The stallions are often young and wild, bundles of nerves and energy. Theyre ready to run and run. Yet, they often spend more time than not tied up inside the stalls.
When it comes time to win the Ryder Cup, the European captain saddles up his Clydesdales and rides his big horses right into the winners circle.
The Europeans have never relied too much on their stallions ' their rookies, unless they had to (see 1999). They win with their Clydesdales ' their veterans.
Two years ago, none of the four first-time European Ryder Cup team members produced a winning record ' while two of the three American rookies did. Nonetheless, Europe won back the cup by three points ' the largest margin of victory since 1985.
In 99, Europe had seven rookies to just five vets. Captain Mark James opted not to play three of those seven until the singles session, and built up a four-point lead heading to the final day. Five of the seven rookies lost on Sunday ' including the three without a match under their belts, and Europe lost the cup.
It goes without saying ' though well write it: Experience wins the Ryder Cup.
Bernhard Langer knew this when he selected Colin Montgomerie as one of his two captains picks.
Montgomerie is the most decorated Ryder Cup player on either side. He has played in six Matches, compiling a 16-7-5 overall record. His 18.5 career points are 8 points higher than anyone else on either team (Davis Love III has 10).
Europe and the United States each have seven players with Ryder Cup know-how on their team and five rookies.
The Americans feature Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Love, Jim Furyk, David Toms, Jay Haas and Stewart Cink. The Europeans counter with Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood and Paul McGinley.
Both teams are very close on paper, said Golf Channel analyst and six-time European Ryder Cup team member Peter Oosterhuis. The Americans might have a slight advantage. The world rankings favor them; they have the major champions. But Europe always seems to make a match of it dont they? More than a match, they seem to win.
The names may favor the Americans, but the numbers fall in favor of the defending champions.
Europe has won or retained the cup six of the last nine times the biennial matches have been contested.
And they can chalk up that record to the Big E ' Experience.
The Europeans won 15 points two years ago at The Belfry. Of those points, 12 came courtesy veterans. Rookies ' individually or as a partner on a team ' helped contribute only three points.
As previously mentioned, the U.S. had just one rookie in 1999 to the Europeans seven ' its the only Ryder Cup the Americans have won out of the last four.
Two years prior, the Europeans had five rookies, and they helped give their squad a five-point lead heading into the final day. But with the cup on the line, it was the veterans who accounted for 3 of the four singles points won on Sunday that allowed them to claim victory.
Philip Walton, a rookie on the European team, will be forever remembered for earning the final point that won the 1995 Matches. But he and fellow first-timer Per-Ulrik Johannson provided only two points the entire week. The Europeans won because they had only two rookies to the Americans' five. And on that Sunday, the European veterans pounded the U.S. rookies into submission in the singles.
This time, each team will have seven old hands on board. And U.S. captain Hal Sutton isnt afraid to use the European strategy of taking the veterans to the whip, while the rookies sit and cheer from the sidelines.
We are going to take 12 egos up there, and everybody thinks that they are going to play a part in winning the 2004 Ryder Cup, Sutton said. The truth is, some will play a bigger part than others. That is just the reality of it and I hope everybody can accept that and understand their role.
In comparing the Seasoned Seven, the Europeans hold the advantage in almost every category ' pertaining to the Ryder Cup.
The seven European veterans have a combined 37-30-13 Ryder Cup record; the U.S. has a 31-35-13 record. The Europeans are 16-11-3 in foursomes; the U.S. 10-13-5. The Europeans are 15-11-6 in four-ball; the U.S. 11-16-5. The Euros, however, are 6-8-4 in singles, while the U.S. is 10-6-3.
Montgomerie and Harrington are not only the only European players to post a winning singles record, theyre the only Euros to have won a single singles match. On the other hand, Mickelson, Love, Furyk and Toms have winning singles records, while Tiger is 1-1-1. Haas is 0-2-0, while Cink is 0-1-0.
Sam Torrance said two years ago that out of the shadows come heroes. And true there are players like Walton or Phillip Price, who defeated Mickelson in singles in 2002, or McGinley, who made the cup clinching putt in 02, who add the final straw that breaks the other teams back.
But its the heavyweights who dog pile on top of the Americans to give such players that opportunity.
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    After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

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    Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

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    Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

    At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

    “The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

    Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

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    Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

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    “Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

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    Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

    By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

    PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

    Laura Davies won the day.

    It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

    Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

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    For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

    In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

    “I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

    At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

    “It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

    Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

    “It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

    With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

    “People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

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    Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

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    She also relished showing certain fans something.

    “Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

    Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

    In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

    Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

    “The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

    After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

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    Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

    In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

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    And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



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    Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

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