No Experience No Problem for Lehman

By Mercer BaggsAugust 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' Tom Lehman was wondering why it took so long.
 
It took all of two questions, he said Wednesday. I thought that was for sure No. 1. Im actually a little disappointed.
 
Lehman, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, met with the media on the eve of the 88th PGA Championship. But while he had plenty to say on this day, what he says this coming Monday will bear far more significance.
 
Davis Love III
Davis Love III is one of many players this week trying to earn his way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
It is on that day, at 9:00 a.m. local time, that Lehman will reveal his two captains selections. And, as he said, it took all of two questions in this session to ask if one of those two picks might be used on himself.
 
Earlier in the year when I was playing extremely well, I thought this was possible, he said about being the first player-captain since Arnold Palmer in 1963. I was putting well and hitting it decently. Over the last three or four, five months, Ive hit it very well and putted very poorly. The Ryder Cup is all about the short game, really.
 
In some ways, I feel Id be a detriment to our team because my putting is streaky.
 
Lehman said he was cornered Tuesday by Chris DiMarco, who is currently sixth in the U.S. points standings and is all but a lock to make the team. DiMarco told him that he and other team members agreed that Lehman had to play if he qualified.
 
I go, Well, thats really nice, but I am the captain and I get to make that decision, Lehman said with a smile.
 
Lehman almost wrapped up a spot on his own team last week at The International. He lost in a playoff and moved to 19th in the current standings. A win would have put him in seventh place with just one qualifying tournament remaining.
 
The PGA Championship is the last chance for U.S. players to earn points for the Ryder Cup. The top 10 on the points list will automatically qualify for the team, which will try and win back the Cup from the Europeans Sept. 22-24 in Dublin, Ireland.
 
The European team will be finalized three weeks after the PGA.
 
As of now, the top 5 players on the U.S. list are guaranteed a spot on the team ' Tiger Woods; Phil Mickelson; Jim Furyk; Chad Campbell; and David Toms, who said Wednesday that he is nearly 100 percent healthy after dealing with a back injury. DiMarco is almost a certainty at sixth.
 
But the final four spots are up for grabs.
 
And the final four spots are currently held by would-be Ryder Cup rookies.
 
Vaughn Taylor, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich, respectively, occupy positions 7-10. Just beyond them are a few other players with no Ryder Cup experience: John Rollins at No. 11; Jerry Kelly at No. 13; and Lucas Glover at No. 14.
 
Lehman, however, isnt concerned that his team might consist of a quartet of first-timers.
 
Ive been saying all along, when it comes to the Ryder Cup, there was a time when Jack (Nicklaus) was a rookie, there was a time when (Tom) Watson was a rookie, there was a time when (Hale) Irwin, (Fred) Couples, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer ' they were all rookies at one time, he said.
 
So the idea of not having experience does not scare me at all.
 
Experience, Lehman said, isnt always a good thing ' not when that experience consists of nothing but defeat.
 
The U.S. has lost four of the last five Ryder Cup Matches, including an embarrassing 18 - 9 defeat on American soil two years ago.
 
But, the Yanks got big boost of confidence last year, when they won back the Presidents Cup over the International team. Lehman paid close attention to that contest and called it a very important victory for the Americans. He believes that the attitude the U.S. players displayed that week needs to transfer over in order for them to reverse the tide in this biennial competition.
 
When the American team won the Presidents Cup, I kind of felt like, you know what, thats one ' thats one off the list. Weve got one more to go. And so that was motivating to me, said Lehman, who has played on three Ryder Cup teams, including the last victorious squad in 1999.
 
To see them play well was important. To see the style in which they played was more important. They played very aggressively, they were loose, they had fun.
 
Enjoying oneself, Lehman believes, is essential to winning. Thats something he picked up from legendary basketball coach John Wooden when the two met earlier this year.
 
His whole things was, if you dont have fun, youre not going to love it, and if you dont love it, youre not going to work hard enough to be successful, Lehman shared.
 
The U.S. team has always seemed to play like they are afraid of losing something that they dont have, he added. The Cup isnt ours; its theirs. So that puts us in a different role, I think. We may be the underdogs.
 
That may well be the case given the Americans recent track record in the Ryder Cup. But, regardless of how many first-timers make this years team, they still have the top 3 players in the world in Woods, Mickelson and Furyk.
 
Thats important, said Lehman. Those guys are champions. I think they are going to bring that champion mentality to the rest of the team, whoever they might be.
 
Exactly. There are a myriad of possibilities, a bevy of players who could earn their way onto Lehmans team by weeks end.
 
The winner of the PGA will earn 675 points. Wetterich, currently in 10th place, has only amassed 746 points over the last two years. That means its possible for Robert Gamez, at 104th, to still make the team.
 
As for those with a more realistic chance, theyre trying their best to narrow down their focus to the immediate task at hand.
 
Theres one more week to win a tournament,' said No. 9 Johnson, who held the 54-hole lead at The International before ultimately finshing outside the top 10 and not earning any Ryder Cup points. 'Thats my thought process.'
 
Ive focused on (making the team) in the past and I didnt do well in tournaments. If I do well in the tournaments then the Ryder Cup takes care of itself, said No. 13 Kelly, who skipped the last two events to better prepare for this final trial.
 
No. 11 Rollins, who missed the cut while playing the first two rounds alongside Lehman last week, shares Kelly's approach. Im I focused on the PGA and trying to win the PGA. If I do that, then good things will happen,' he declared.
 
That, of course, is easier said than done.
 
Its tough. I just need to go play. Ive been thinking about points too much, said No. 15 Davis Love III, who has played on every Ryder and Presidents Cup team since 1993.
 
I know I can help out. I know I can add some experience. But you want to take the best players.
 
As to who Lehman will select with his two discretionary picks is anyones guess.
 
Even his.
 
Im going to be completely honest with you and say I dont have the first clue right now who Im going to pick, he said.
 
I dont want to sound like Im clueless about what Im looking for. Im just saying that theres about four or five or six guys that I think could really fit.
 
Which means Lehman will be as much spectator this week as competitor.
 
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  • Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: