Love has confidence in four Ryder Cup rookies

By Randall MellSeptember 26, 2012, 9:22 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – U.S. captain Davis Love III took special interest in his four Ryder Cup rookies when they went out to play their first practice sessions Tuesday at Medinah Country Club.

With some of the largest crowds you will ever see watching practice rounds, Love was curious how the Americans making their first Ryder Cup appearances would react.

Would they look wide-eyed? Or overly nervous? Or unusually uncomfortable in any way?

Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker are the X-factors in this year’s biennial competition. While the United States appears evenly matched with the Europeans in so many ways, the Europeans boast more experience. The Euros have just one rookie (Nicolas Colsaerts) on their roster.

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The four American first-timers arrived with little idea what pressure awaits them, but they also arrived with no Ryder Cup scars.

“The Ryder Cup to me is like the last nine holes of a major when you’ve got a chance to win, except it starts Friday morning on the first tee,” Love said. “And it never lets up.

“I honestly don’t think you get any more nervous on Sunday trying to win your singles match than you are on Friday morning trying to hit your first tee shot.”

That pretty much makes Ryder Cup practice rounds feel like the early rounds of a major. So Love watched, looking for clues as to how his first-timers were feeling.

“They were nervous on the first tee, and some of them admitted it, and they were shocked at how many people were out there, but while they were telling me that, they never missed a shot,” Love said.

With Europe having won four of the last five Ryder Cups, the American rookies will have a lot to say about whether the United States can turn around Europe’s dominance. One-third of Love’s team has never played in a Ryder Cup before. Whether that makes them fearless or fearful will become clear early in Friday’s foursomes, the toughest format in the event. It’s alternate shot, the truest “team” competition in golf in that a player suffers more in that format when a partner hits a bad shot. It ratchets up the pressure on every shot.

How many rookies will Love put out right away? How many will he wait to introduce in fourballs?

Love looked for confirmation in what he was seeing in the practice rounds, in his rookies looking as good as he thought they did. He found it cozying up to swing coach Butch Harmon out on the course.

“Butch was watching a lot of them, and he goes, `Holy cow, these guys are playing unbelievable, aren’t they?’” Love said.

Love said the toughest part of his job isn’t figuring out pairings but figuring out who to sit out because so many of his players appear to be in good form.

“They’re all playing great, they all look like veterans,” Love said.

Bradley, Dufner, Simpson and Snedeker may be playing in their first Ryder Cup, but they hardly fit the mold of rookies. They’re all among the top 14 in the world rankings, three of them among the top 10.

“They’re major championship winners, they’re FedEx Cup winners,” Love said. “They’ve done a lot. They’ve played a lot of great golf, and they’re really comfortable, confident guys.”

Simpson, 27, won the U.S. Open this year and played on last year’s winning American Presidents Cup team.

Bradley, 26, counted the PGA Championship among his two titles last year. He won the WGC-Bridgestone this year.

Snedeker, 31, just won the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup last week. He has won twice this year.

Dufner, 35, also has two victories this year.

Phil Mickelson is playing in his ninth Ryder Cup, more than any player in these matches, but he says the veteran nucleus of the team is getting as much from these rookies as they’re giving to them.

“We need that excitement, that energy that the rookies provide as much as they need a little bit of guidance,” Mickelson said. “We need that positive outlook, that desire to win, because our highlights, our moments that we look back on are ’99 and ’08, the two times that we’ve won. We want to create another memory, another special week.

“I’m going to be playing a lot with Keegan Bradley, that’s no secret here. It’s fun playing with Keegan because this is his first team event. He is so excited, and that exuberance and energy, you feed off it.”

Bradley isn’t the only rookie who appears to have found a natural partner.

Simpson looks like a good match with Bubba Watson, and Dufner with Zach Johnson.

Snedeker looks like a possible match with Jim Furyk or Tiger Woods if Woods and Stricker are split up.

The American rookies take a lot of confidence into their pairings.

“I feel confident, right now, at an all-time high,” Snedeker said. “I’m playing the best golf of my career. I beat some of the best players in the world last weekend, so I feel like my game is ready the rest of the week.”

Dufner thinks his temperament should help him this week.

“Obviously, the pressure and the environment of this event is going to be nothing like I’ve experienced,” Dufner said. “So, I’m just looking forward to being out there and in that moment and seeing how I respond to it. I generally stay pretty even, not too up, not too down. It might be a good fit for me.”

The Ryder Cup hasn’t really started and Bradley’s already ranking the week as one of his best experiences.

“Walking to the first tee [for Tuesday’s practice round] was probably the proudest moment of my entire career,” Bradley said. “I’ve had the most fun I’ve maybe ever had on a golf course. It was, honestly, one of the highlights of my career. I kind of expect that to happen every day this week.”

That’s music to Love’s ears.

Click to check out Golf Channel's and NBC Sports' Ryder Cup coverage.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.