Internationals must win 2013 Presidents Cup

By Randall MellOctober 1, 2013, 5:00 pm

The team colors for the Internationals ought to be black and blue.

The beatings they’ve endured from the Americans in the Presidents Cup have left some ugly marks.

The team flag for the Internationals ought to be white.

They’ve been breaking out the white flag early on Sundays in these lopsided matches for almost a decade now.

And the team captain ought to be Louis Herman Klotz.

For those of you unfamiliar with “Red” Klotz, he is the owner and coach of the Washington Generals, the hapless opponent to the Harlem Globetrotters since the ’50s. Klotz used to play point guard for the Generals, who have gone more than 40 years since they last beat the Globetrotters. Klotz’s overall record against the Globetrotters is estimated to be six wins and 13,000 losses.

Yeah, the Internationals are a bunch of losers. They’re 1-7-1 in these matches.

Sobel: Not a must-win situation for Internationals

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Presidents Cup capsules: United States | Internationals

Apologies here to Nick Price, the noble International team captain and World Golf Hall of Famer, but he needs help, and that’s where this column comes into play.

There’s nothing like spicy bulletin-board material to motivate the ranks, and so consider this a care package for the Internationals, a gift-wrapped box of insults sincerely aimed to aid and assist the Internationals in making these matches matter. I’d like to say these matches are careening in perilously quick fashion toward irrelevance, but I’m not sure just how relevant they’ve ever really been.

Yes, there are possibilities. There is hope in looking back at how the Ryder Cup evolved from an annual American thrashing of Great Britain & Ireland to the glorious team competition it is today. We get that these things take time, but we also get that time is shrinking in this age of instant information. We also get that if it weren’t for Tiger Woods teeing it up, these matches would get infinitely fewer eyeballs than they otherwise would.

So, really, Captain Price, consider these gifts of outrageous vituperation for what they’re intended, a spark in helping the Presidents Cup evolve more quickly. Consider this package of insults as being offered up for the greater good of the game in the hopes they’ll make the Presidents Cup’s outcome worth caring about.

Hey, you know Woods isn’t going to do you this favor. He isn’t going to go all Muhammad Ali and goad your team with taunting barbs and digs.

So, here we go, with earnest sacrificial intent, here it is in black and white, the truth as to why these matches don’t matter more: The Internationals are stinking up these matches with all their losing.

Yes, Ernie Els is a proven winner. He has won four major championships, 19 PGA Tour titles and more than 60 overall professional titles. Angel Cabrera has won a pair of majors. Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel have all won majors, but as a team they head to Muirfield Village this week hoping to help the Internationals win the Presidents Cup for the first time since 1998.

The last time the Internationals won these matches Bill Clinton was president of the United States and Jesse Ventura was the governor of Minnesota. Nobody knew what an iPod or iPad was. That’s because they hadn’t been created. Neither had YouTube.

That’s a long legacy of losing, but the Internationals don’t just change their luck with a victory this week. They make these matches more interesting. The Ryder Cup didn’t really matter until the Americans struggled to win it. The same formula should make the Presidents Cup matter more.

So take these insults as they’re intended, as fuel for a more intriguing Presidents Cup.

Yes, bulletin-board material is more valued in the combative sport of football, but it works in golf, too.

Just ask Jack Nicklaus.

Back before he won the Masters in 1986, Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Tom McCollister wrote that the Golden Bear was washed up in his return to Augusta National that year.

“Nicklaus is gone, done,” McCollister wrote. “He just doesn’t have the game anymore. It’s rusted from lack of use. He’s 46, and nobody that old wins the Masters.”

Nicklaus’ dear friend, John Montgomery, posted the article on the refrigerator of the home Nicklaus was renting at the Masters that week. While Nicklaus downplayed the significance beforehand, he entered the media room after his stunning victory asking where Tom McCollister was.

“Thanks, Tom,” Jack cracked.

“Glad I could help,” McCollister cracked back.

So here you go, Internationals, a little something for your refrigerators, or the bottom of a bird cage.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."