Top Newsmakers No 3 The Ryder Cup

By Randall MellDecember 27, 2010, 6:10 pm

Top 10 Newsmakers

All the fans jammed on the hillside above the 18th green at Celtic Manor in Wales could have testified to the special nature of the Ryder Cup before it even began.

As Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell settled over an approach shot at the end of the event’s final practice round, you could feel goose bumps rise on the back of your neck.

With the Welsh National Anthem rolling across the hillside as Ryder Cup officials prepared for the opening ceremony, the sense that something spectacular was in the making rode the air.

The soul-stirring music touched so many of the folks there.

“I was getting teary,” said Mark Roe, the three-time European Tour winner and Sky Television reporter who walked with McDowell’s group in that practice round.

Thanks to McDowell, there were a lot more tears in the end.

Tears of joy and heartache.

Through a difficult week, through two days of showers, through downpours that ignited an American raingear controversy, this Ryder Cup’s terrific closing act made all the trouble worth enduring.

With rain delays squeezing these matches into four sessions instead of five and pushing the singles over to an extra day, the heart-thumping Monday finish made the trek through the muck more than worth the journey.

Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan battled in a decisive final match that made this Ryder Cup finish among the best in the 83-year history of the competition.

Hunter Mahan addresses the press at the Ryder Cup
Hunter Mahan addresses the press at the Ryder Cup. (Getty images)
McDowell’s heart-thumping 15-foot birdie at the 16th green would prove to be the decisive blow in Europe’s 14½ to 13½ victory. It set up Mahan’s heart-wrenching disappointment. At the 17th, Mahan flailed at his tee shot, then futilely stabbed at a chip, chunking a shot that will be remembered for bringing the curtain down on this drama.

The nature of the aftermath captured just what makes the Ryder Cup golf’s most riveting spectacle.

European fans swarmed McDowell and his teammates and paraded with them to the clubhouse.

It was a day so compelling, nobody in the crowd of 35,000 seemed to want to leave when it was over. They stayed around to celebrate Europe's fourth victory in the last five Ryder Cups. They sang and chanted with their heroes, who sprayed champagne down on them from a clubhouse balcony in a raucous victory party.

“I’ve never felt nerves like it in my life,” McDowell said of the tension surrounding his dramatic putt at the 16th. “The U.S. Open felt like a back nine with my dad back at Portrush compared to that.”

McDowell, winner of this year’s U.S. Open, doused teammates with bottles of champagne. You don’t see scenes like that in major championships. You don’t see the depth of emotions stirring players and fans alike at the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA Championship. You don’t see so much winning and losing, so much joy and misery packed into one day of golf like the final day of a Ryder Cup.

You also don’t see defeat quite the way you saw it among the Americans.

Mahan was so choked up with tears meeting the media that he could barely speak.

It inspired his teammates to rally around him with Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink and Jim Furyk defending Mahan.

“I’ve never cried after losing, other than the Ryder Cup,” Furyk said.

The Americans haven’t won a Ryder Cup in Europe since 1993.

“It was one of those Ryder Cups that had everything,” Europe’s Lee Westwood said.

And he meant everything.

The week started with American captain Corey Pavin forgetting to introduce one of his players (Cink) in the opening ceremonies.

“We’re 1-up,” European captain Colin Montgomerie cracked afterward.

It got worse for Pavin on the first day of competition when word spread that some of his players were complaining that the rain gear he and his wife selected was leaking. On the other side, Montgomerie was looking like a genius who was leaving no detail to chance. Frustrated that the electronic scoreboards weren’t sufficiently conveying the impact of Europe’s commanding three-point lead going into Monday’s finish, Montgomerie ordered the boards to be reconfigured overnight. He demanded a board that would more prominently display the Euro advantage with more blue European flags.

In winning five of the six third-session matches and halving the other, Europe strongly tilted momentum its way.

But the unforgettable nature of this Ryder Cup’s finish was set up by an American charge.

Dustin Johnson sparked the American rally, giving the USA its first singles point by routing Germany’s Martin Kaymer, 6 and 4. Moments after Johnson’s point registered, Steve Stricker closed out his match, beating Europe’s best player, Westwood, 2 and 1.

Tiger Woods fueled the American rebound with a 4-and-3 thumping of Francesco Molinari. Woods holed a shot from 133 yards for eagle. He made seven birdies and an eagle in a performance that rivaled any he’s delivered at the height of his powers. He was 9 under over 15 holes.

Jeff “Boom Baby” Overton came from behind to win three consecutive holes and beat Ross Fisher. Phil Mickelson delivered, too. He ended his streak of four consecutive Ryder Cup singles losses by defeating Peter Hanson.

For the remainder of the year, GolfChannel.com is counting down the Top 10 Newsmakers of 2010. For a list of the complete top 10 and the scheduled release dates, click here.

American rookie Rickie Fowler embodied the resilient nature of the American team. Four down with six holes to play against Edoardo Molinari, Fowler birdied the final four holes to gain an improbable halve. He rolled in 18-foot birdies at the 17th and 18th holes.

When Zach Johnson followed with a victory, this Ryder Cup was tied at 13½ with the outcome down to Mahan vs. McDowell in the anchor match.

“There were a lot of points where I thought we weren’t going to win,” Westwood said.

McDowell wiped the doubt away rolling in his 15-foot birdie at the 16th to go 2-up on Mahan with two holes to play.

The emotional weight of the dramatic finish hit Mahan hard after his chunked chip led to a concession.

Still, it was in Mahan’s tears, in the way his teammates rallied to his defense, that golf fans appreciated just how much both sides care about this event.

“We know what it means to us,” Furyk said. “Whatever you all thought in the past, whatever you've all written in the past, it's your observations, the way you feel. But that judgment . . . we know what it means.”

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.