Down But Not Nearly Out

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesThe first day of the 36th Ryder Cup, at least from an American vantage point, was like getting your hair cut by a barber with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
He takes off a little here; takes off a little there; has to measure the left side with the right side; the front with the back; everything has to be perfect. He just keeps trimming. And in the end, before he hands you the mirror, youre not sure if youre going to look Hollywood or homeless.
Sergio Garcia
The Europeans have the lead and the momentum, but the Americans still have a chance.
Watching the matches play out Friday at The K Club, you had no idea how the score would take its final shape.
Would the U.S. be down five points or possibly up one by days end?
In the end, the deficit was just two ' and the Americans should be counting their blessings (as should anyone who actually wants to view a competitive contest over the weekend).
This easily could have been a blowout early, much like when the Yanks trailed 6 - 1 after the first two sessions two years ago.
The Americans were fortunate, very fortunate ' Geoff Ogilvy 2006 U.S. Open fortunate ' that they still have a chance to win this thing.
  • For one, Irelands own Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley lost a 2-up lead with three holes to play to hand the U.S. a half-point in the afternoon foursomes.
  • For another, Colin Montgomerie played rather pedestrian and didnt make his usual allotment of 25-footers. Had he made just a few more putts in the morning ' like he normally does in this competition ' we might have been looking at a genuine horror film: Oakland Hills: The Sequel.
  • Rookie J.J. Henry and Stewart Cink had to rally from 3-down after 10 holes in the morning fourballs just to get a half.
  • David Howell lipped out an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have won his afternoon match outright. Instead, he and Henrik Stenson settled for a half, thus making the score a little more respectable, and the disadvantage a little more manageable for the U.S.
  • We wont even go into full disclosure on how poorly Chris DiMarco played down the stretch in his foursomes match with Phil Mickelson. The guy who is usually a Match Play Mad Dog, looked out of sorts, more like Christopher Lloyd from Taxi than Robert De Niro from Taxi Driver' over the final few holes.
  • And then there was Furyk, who put Woods in more compromising situations than Bill Clinton in their alternate-shot match. Not only did he cost the Power Duo at least a tie with his butcher job on the first and 18th holes, he gave Sergio Garcia another team victory over Woods.
    No American wants to lose to Garcia, especially Woods. Whether or not Garcia talked a little smack about Tiger a few weeks ago, Tiger thinks he did, and that makes it fact in his mind. Make no mistake about it; these two are not friends, not even close. In fact, Id venture to say that most of the Americans, at least those with Cup experience, think of Sergio as a petulant child ' not that they have been able to administer many spankings to him in this competition.
    Things looked great early on for the U.S in this 36th edition. Woods and Furyk took down Montgomerie and Harrington, avoiding a repeat of 04, when Monty and Paddy took out Tiger and Phil to set a devastating tone.
    Maybe this would be a different Ryder Cup. After all, the U.S. was the underdog this time. And it was the American side which looked more team-oriented. They had the pre-tournament camaraderie, while the Europeans were dealing with some internal strife (criticism of captain Ian Woosnam for having the social skills of a hermit; Darren Clarkes reported distaste of Montgomerie, relating to the alleged cheating incident in Jakarta a year ago; Monty voicing his displeasure over Olazabal skipping the final qualifying event).
    Maybe the U.S. would finally make a bevy of monster birdie putts. Maybe the U.S. would take the early lead. Maybe the U.S. could actually win this thing.
    No. No. Maybe.
    With three sessions and two days still remaining, Europe once again has the lead and the momentum ' getting both without having to play spectacularly well.
    But the U.S. still has a chance. And given the way things went a couple of years ago, and given the way things could have gone this Friday, thats something about which to be very encouraged.
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    Related Links:
  • Scoring - 36th Ryder Cup
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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.