U.S. needs to break mold with next Ryder Cup captain

By Randall MellOctober 3, 2012, 4:05 pm

Extreme measures are in order.

With the United States losing five of the last six Ryder Cups now, seven of the last nine, the pressure is on the PGA of America to snap out of a prideful, stubborn pattern that’s hurting the American team.

The PGA’s next choice as U.S. captain may rank as its most important since these matches began in 1927.

The PGA’s choice to lead the Americans against Europe at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014 ought to be narrowed down to two men right now: Paul Azinger and Fred Couples.

But they’re long shots.

The problem is that either choice defies the modern regime’s stubborn history.

Azinger, 52, broke Europe’s stronghold on the cup by leading the Americans to victory in ’08 at Valhalla. He probably would have come back to lead the Americans again in ’10 if he had been asked, but the PGA doesn’t bring captains back anymore. Nobody has been given a second shot at being captain since Jack Nicklaus (1983, ’87).

The Euros can’t seem to make a wrong call in the Ryder Cup anymore, but they’ll probably make a big mistake in failing to ask Colin Montgomerie to come back and lead them in his native Scotland in two years. Montgomerie proved an effective captain leading the victory at Celtic Manor in ’10, and he wants to return to skipper in his homeland, but he is on the record saying he does not expect to be asked.

By bringing Azinger back, the PGA has a chance to outsmart the Euros and give the Americans an early advantage.

Would Azinger be willing to reprise his role?

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Azinger told Golf Channel this week. “I just don’t know. If I were to be asked, I would probably consider it.”

Couples, 53, will lead the Americans as the Presidents Cup captain for a third consecutive time when the United States is host to the Internationals at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, next year. Couples led the Americans to lopsided President Cup routs in ’09 and ’11. The fact that he’s busy with Presidents Cup duties is problematic, but not that problematic with a good team around him. It’s almost the same job, really. The PGA Tour wouldn’t like it, but it would serve the greater good for American golf. It’s just wrong if Couples never leads a Ryder Cup team.

But Couples is an even longer shot than Azinger. The PGA isn’t going to name a Ryder Cup captain that the PGA Tour tabbed first for its Presidents Cup. That’s unfortunate. That’s just cutting your nose off to spite your face.

The most likely American choice, it seems, is David Toms.

Here’s how Las Vegas might handicap the possible captains if they were laying odds:

David Toms 2/1

He didn’t just win a major, he won a PGA Championship, helping to make him a priority choice to lead the Americans at Gleneagles in two years.

Toms, 45, is a 13-time PGA Tour winner who played on three American Ryder Cup teams (’02, ’04 and ’06). All three of those teams lost, two of them in record routs. Toms was 3-1-1 in the ’02 loss at The Belfry, where he was a bright spot for the Americans. He was 4-6-2 overall in Ryder Cup play. He is a well-respected and deserving choice, but he’s also young enough to wait should Azinger be named again.

Mark Calcavecchia 10/1

If Toms gets the nod, Calcavecchia’s time has probably already passed. If Toms is the pick, it would appear Calcavecchia is being skipped over. Calcavecchia, 52, is a 13-time PGA Tour winner with a British Open title (’89) among his wins. He played on four Ryder Cup teams (’87, ’89, ’91 and ’02), just one of those a winner. He is 6-7-1 in Ryder Cup play. He would liven up the interview room with his colorful take.

Paul Azinger 20/1

If anyone is equipped to battle the spirit of Seve Ballesteros, it’s Azinger, his Ryder Cup rival. Azinger “cracked the code” in helping the Americans break a string of three consecutive losses to the Euros in ’08. He is a proven skipper with the smarts, passion and strong personality needed to lead the USA on the road.

Justin Leonard 30/1

His role in helping the Americans’ epic comeback on that brilliant Sunday in ’99 makes him a lock for future captaincy, but, at 40, he is probably too young this time around. Leonard made that 45-foot putt on the 17th at Brookline in Sunday singles that helped seal the victory. He is a British Open champ who played on three Ryder Cup teams, two of them winners. He is 2-4-6 in Ryder Cup play.

Davis Love III 50/1

As a losing captain, Love will get nitpicked for decisions, but he was able to create the same kind of supportive environment that Azinger did. He didn’t fail his players as much as they failed him on Sunday. Still, he captained an American team that blew the Ryder Cup. It makes him a real long shot to return.

Fred Couples 100/1

The PGA of America won’t hire a guy the PGA Tour beat them to the punch to, and it won’t hire a guy who would be juggling two jobs as the ’13 Presidents Cup and ’14 Ryder Cup captains.

Larry Nelson 500/1

One of the great injustices of Ryder Cup captaincy is the fact that Nelson was never named captain. He won three majors, two of them PGA Championships. He was 9-3-1 on American teams that were 2-1. He is 65, and the PGA won’t right this wrong.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.