Azinger seeks long-term RC solution, not quick fix

By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2014, 4:15 pm

If we’ve learned anything from the 2014 Ryder Cup it is that from inflated expectations can come colossal disappointment.

The Tom Watson experiment was supposed to stem the American slide, which has now been extended to eight losses in the last 10 matches. To put that in context, this year’s most successful U.S. Ryder Cup players – Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed – were still in diapers the last time the American team won back-to-back matches (1991 and ’93).

In retrospect, the expectations for Watson and an admittedly depleted U.S. team were decidedly unrealistic. In the rush to win at all costs the PGA of America and president Ted Bishop dusted off an aging legend and hoped for the best.

In the wake of another loss, the association will now turn to a blue-ribbon task force for answers in 2016, when the matches will be played at Hazeltine National, with an idea pinched from Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling: “The best way to have a great idea is to have a lot of ideas.”

But that optimism, however misplaced, comes with a built-in set of pitfalls. Following the U.S. team’s loss at Gleneagles the vitriol has reached an all-time high, a reality that will only be compounded by two years of king building.


Video: Azinger discusses possible 2016 Ryder Cup captaincy


However extensive the nip/tuck of the current Ryder Cup process may be, the crescendo leading up to the ’16 matches will only set the stage for even more handwringing if the United States can’t wrest itself from the trash heap of pedestrian play.

Paul Azinger knows all too well the heights the Ryder Cup road will travel the next two years and the danger of arriving at a cliff as opposed to a catapult in 2016. It at least partially explains why he chose to pass on the opportunity to sit on the 11-member task force, instead taking his ideas to the PGA powers in a more private setting.

Azinger already has a plan sketched out – “it’s ready to go,” he said – and will meet with the PGA of America early next month to discuss his ideas.

“It’s more than just how you pick the captain. I want to have my discussion with them in private. I don’t want to have an ultimatum with the PGA of America; I want to work with them,” he told the “Morning Drive” crew on Wednesday.

’Zinger, more than anyone, knows that the American Ryder Cup problem goes well beyond the need for pods and more timely captain’s picks. The margin between victory and defeat goes much deeper than a timely putt here or a fortunate bounce there.

The 2008 captain also realizes the inherent dangers of a quick fix and the red, white and blue elephant in the room – where does the U.S. side go if the result is another defeat in two years?

“If the two teams are perfectly even, the European team still has an advantage,” he explained. “Just look at the way they pick their captains. At Gleneagles I saw lots of past captains on the fairway, a lot of future captains. We don’t have a contingency plan. We don’t have the same continuity that they have.”

Although Azinger was reluctant to give specifics of the plan he will present to the PGA next month, it is clear his ideas go well beyond a Band-Aid. Forget potential pairings and horrid foursomes play, for the former captain, America’s issues start with the concept of a lack of ownership.

“I want to look at this Ryder Cup from 360 degrees; (Europe) may have a bigger advantage because right now they are a little bit better,” Azinger said. “They are invested in the Ryder Cup because it is owned by the European Tour and that makes a difference as well.”

In 2008 ’Zinger was a task force of one, creating a winning atmosphere, but it didn’t translate to a winning legacy. Just ask Phil Mickelson.

In fact, four years later it led to what appears to be the reactionary decision to pull Watson out of retirement and now a high-profile roundtable with the ultimate mandate – make the matches matter again.

The alternative is a continued march to irrelevancy. While Rory McIlroy dismissed the notion that a lopsided Ryder Cup is a bad Ryder Cup, falling back on a historical advantage the U.S. side enjoys (25-13-2), that must seem like ancient history to the current crop of American players.


Video: Azinger discusses Ryder Cup relevancy


But asked if he could envision a time when arguably the game’s greatest event could lapse into a predictably anticlimactic cycle, Azinger’s answer was telling.

“It could, yeah. America needs to win one,” he told your scribe. “It’s really interesting irony that you can’t focus on winning and you certainly can’t focus on losing. You want to focus on process. It’s razor thin and the future is bright for the Ryder Cup and the American team can still play well and win these matches.”

Just don’t try to tell that to the Europeans, who have become the Harlem Globetrotters to the U.S. side’s Washington Generals.

With tongue firmly planted in check, it is a measure of Europe’s confidence that Ian Poulter tweeted this week that the secret password for the newly minted task force was “0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0” – the U.S. team’s Ryder Cup record the last 10 matches.

The PGA of America answered with a task force and a blank canvas, but the problem is that such drastic measures leave nowhere to go if it turns out the emergency button doesn’t work.

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.

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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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.