Playing on Paper
On paper, they are the superior team. They have the top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking on their team. They have three of the four 2001 major champions on their team. They have seven of the top ten 2001 PGA Tour money earners on their team.
Basically, the U.S. is loaded.
But are they playing better golf heading to Birmingham, England?
There are two weeks remaining until the matches commence. The WGC American Express Championship and the Tampa Bay Classic will be contested this week; while the SEI Pennsylvania Classic and the Trophee Lancome (European Tour) will be played the following week.
That leaves just a couple of more competitive chances for any of the 24 participants to hone their games.
Heres how the players are playing with two weeks to go.
Tiger Woods -- Won the WGC-NEC Invitational two weeks ago, but unexpectedly faltered after sharing the first round lead in the Bell Canadian Open. Rating ' (A-)
Phil Mickelson -- Has three top-10 finishes in his last three starts, including a runner-up at the PGA Championship. Still, for a man who measures himself by titles, no victories since the Canon Greater Hartford Open to start July. Rating ' (B+)
David Duval -- Won the British Open in July, but slipped in the final round of the PGA Championship. Also failed to finish in the top-20 at The International and the NEC Invitational. Rating ' (B)
Mark Calcavecchia -- Tied for fourth at the PGA Championship, his only top-10 finish since the Masters Tournament in April. Rating ' (C-)
David Toms -- Secured a spot on the team with his PGA Championship victory. Played respectably the following week at the NEC, tying for 13th. Rating ' (A-)
Davis Love III -- Torrid start cooled due to back injury. Tied for fifth at the NEC, but failed to crack the top 20 in each of the last two majors. Rating ' (B-)
Scott Hoch -- Won the Advil Western Open in July. Tied for 7th in both the PGA Championship and the Taiwan Open (Sept. 2). Rating ' (B+)
Jim Furyk -- Went seven straight starts without a top-10, but has since earned a pair of runner-up finishes (Buick Classic, NEC) and a tie for seventh at the PGA Championship. Rating ' (B+)
Hal Sutton -- Discovered sleep disorder was the result of a heart condition. Hasnt earned a top-10 finish since winning the Shell Houston Open in April. Rating ' (D+)
Stewart Cink -- Collected back-to-back third-place finishes at the U.S. Open and Buick Classic, yet hasnt finished inside the top 10 in his last six starts. Rating ' (C)
Scott Verplank -- Captains choice solidified selection with victory in Bell Canadian Open. Also tied for seventh at the PGA Championship. Rating ' (A)
Paul Azinger -- Was in contention at the NEC before shooting final-round 72; tied for fifth to earn first top-10 in over two months. Rating ' (C+)
Darren Clarke -- Won the Smurfit European Open in July and finished third in both the British Open and NEC Invitational. Lone blemish ' a missed cut at the PGA Championship. Rating ' (A-)
Padraig Harrington -- Also missed the cut at the PGA, but has three runner-up finishes and five top-10s in the last two months. Rating ' (A-)
Thomas Bjorn -- Collected a pair of top-20s at theVolvo Scandinavian Masters and the BMW International, but finished outside the top-30 in the British Open, PGA Championship and NEC Invitational. Was forced to withdraw from last weeks European Masters due to a shoulder injury. Will skip this weeks AmEx event, but is expected to play the Trophee Lancome. Rating (C+)
Colin Montgomerie -- Was disqualified from the PGA Championship after realizing he had signed an incorrect scorecard. Still, has picked up his game. Led through two rounds of the British Open before faltering over the weekend into a tie for 13th. Also has two wins this season, both of which have come since the start of July. Rating ' (B+)
Pierre Fulke -- Hasnt sniffed a top-10 since finishing runner-up in Januarys WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Rating ' (D-)
Lee Westwood -- Tied for second in the Scandinavian Masters, but finished outside the top-40 in both the British Open and PGA Championship. Withdrew from the NEC due to wrist problems; though, did return the following week to tie for 16th in the European Masters. Rating ' (C)
Paul McGinley -- Won a weather-shortened Wales Open, tied for third at Loch Lomond and tied for 10th at the BMW International. Has only missed one cut worldwide this year. Rating ' (B)
Niclas Fasth -- Finished runner-up at the British thanks to final-round 67; his only top-10 over his last seven starts. Rating ' (C+)
Bernhard Langer -- Despite a missed cut at the PGA Championship, won the Dutch Open, tied for third at the British and tied for 11th at the NEC. Rating ' (B)
Phillip Price -- Won Portuguese Open earlier in the year, but hasnt recorded a top-10 in his last seven starts. Rating (D+)
Sergio Garcia -- Won twice on the PGA Tour before July. Finished tied for ninth at the British Open, tied for 11th at the International, tied for seventh at the BMW and tied for fifth at the Bell Canadian. Only blip was a missed cut in the PGA Championship. Rating ' (B+)
Jesper Parnevik -- Three top-20s since the British Open, but no top-5s since his victory at the Honda Classic. Rating ' (C)
Overall, the U.S. grades out to a (B) average, with the European team garnering a rating of (B-).
Take into consideration the home course advantage and the European's may be less of an underdog than you might think.
Who do you think has the stronger team on Paper?
Share your thoughts!
Full Coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.
With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.
Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.
The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
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?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
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
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.
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.