Fading Stars

By Randall MellOctober 3, 2010, 11:30 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – It's too late to bench them now.

American captain Corey Pavin had no choice going into Monday’s singles at the Ryder Cup.

He had to put Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the lineup.

The only question to ponder: Where should he hide them?

Yeah, that’s ridiculously over the top, but a European reporter actually asked Pavin where he was going to hide Mickelson moments before the singles lineup was released. It’s no stretch to imagine European golf fans having some fun over a lager or two tonight at the expense of the United States’ best players.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is 2-1 this week, but thanks to a lot of help from Steve Stricker. (Getty Images)
Actually, Woods and Mickelson are the planet’s best players at Nos. 1 and 2 in the world rankings, but those are lame-duck designations now.

That’s not over the top. That’s almost a certainty.

Mickelson will lose his No. 2 spot in Monday’s newest world rankings. Lee Westwood is guaranteed to move up with Mickelson falling to No. 3. Woods won’t be far behind. European Tour officials project that Westwood need only finish top-20 in next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links and again at the following week’s Portugal Masters to take the No. 1 ranking.

The lousy Ryder Cup Sunday Woods and Mickelson endured was confirmation of what all the signs have pointed to this summer. Woods and Mickelson are fading together. That’s not to say they won’t fight their way back into winning form. That’s not to say they won’t win more majors and big events, but there’s enough wrong with their games, their bodies or their spirits to wonder if they’ll ever be at the top of the world rankings together again.

Woods, 34, is putting his life back together, searching for old confidence and overhauling his swing for the third time in his career. Mickelson is still dealing with his wife’s health issues and his own recent diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. He turned 40 this year.

Of course, this Ryder Cup isn’t over.

Woods and Mickelson have to be highly motivated to make statements Monday. That’s part of the fun in the challenge the Americans face in trying to come back from a formidable 9½-6 ½ deficit.

Notably, as much as the Americans need to mount an early charge to build momentum, Woods and Mickelson were not front loaded in the lineup to get the team off to a fast start. Woods will go off in the eighth slot against Francesco Molinari, Mickelson in the 10th slot against Peter Hanson.

What final statement will Woods and Mickelson make? Will they be instrumental in another remarkable American rally like they were in 1999 at Brookline when they both won their singles matches in helping the United States mount the largest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history? Or will they be instrumental in an American swoon as they were Sunday at Celtic Manor?

Woods got throttled in his foursomes match Sunday.

He endured the worst pummeling of his Ryder Cup career in the 6-and-5 rout that Westwood and Luke Donald put on Steve Stricker and him.

It was the worst thrashing any American Ryder Cup duo has experienced in 15 years. Yeah, Woods won two matches with Stricker, but if you watched, you saw how Woods struggled. When the duo birdied four of the final seven holes to win their opening fourballs match, Stricker made every birdie.

Mickelson’s misery Sunday was extended late into his fourballs match with Rickie Fowler, but he left the grounds more bruised than Woods. His defeat was one for the record books. He has now lost more Ryder Cup matches than any American who’s ever played in them. He’s 10-17-2 in Ryder Cups, but here’s the staggering stat. He’s won just two of his last 17 Ryder Cup matches.

Both Woods and Mickelson sound like they’ll come out scrapping Monday.

“I think tomorrow’s singles are going to come down to one of the last few matches,” Mickelson said. “I think we are going to make up some ground early. We are going to try to close the gap and see if we can make a run at this.”

Woods harkened back to Brookline’s comeback.

“We have done it before, so there’s no reason we can’t do it again,” he said.

When that reporter asked Pavin where he was going to hide Mickelson in the singles lineup, Pavin couldn’t have liked it.

“There is nobody to hide,” Pavin said. “But thank you for asking. I appreciate it.”

Pavin did defend Mickelson’s record.

“He's played in the most Ryder Cups in history for us,” Pavin said. “This is his eighth. So he's played a lot of matches.

“I think he's playing hard, he's playing the best he can and he's been in good positions. You know, he's had a few 6-footers that were very key putts, and if he makes those, it's a different result. That's the way match play is, just a little of this or that. I've seen Phil make some pretty important putts in his career. He's won 38 times and four major championships. He's a pretty good player.”

Actually, Mickelson hasn’t played in more Ryder Cup matches than any American, but he’s getting there. Monday will be his 30th Ryder Cup match. Billy Casper played in 37.

Pavin didn’t have to defend Woods. He made him one of his four captain’s picks.

Woods and Mickelson still have chances to change their own momentum and help the Americans win. That’s something they haven’t been very good at either. The Ryder Cup teams they’ve played on together are 1-4.

 

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm