Clock ticking to make U.S. Ryder Cup team

By Rex HoggardAugust 10, 2012, 11:45 pm

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Few Fridays in golf are as emotionally toxic for the game’s top 1 percent as PGA Friday.

Each year, be it a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup calendar, those looking to play for crown and country receive the most Draconian of progress reports. That Friday at Kiawah felt more monsoon than major only served to add to the degree of difficulty.

The Ryder Cup clock has been running for two years now, but on Friday the hands finally caught up with the hopefuls.

One by one they drifted off a windswept Ocean Course counting strokes and crushed dreams. First off was Rickie Fowler, 12th on the U.S. points list but out of time following his second consecutive Friday 80.

The captain’s-pick-turned-darling of the 2010 matches will need another lifeline, this time from Davis Love III who will announce his four picks on Sept. 4, if he’s going to make it to Medinah.

On Thursday night Fowler, and a handful of other Ryder Cup hopefuls, attended a dinner hosted by Love at the tony Sanctuary Club on Kiawah Island, and Captain America’s message was predictably esoteric.

“(Love’s) biggest thing was just go out and have fun and play. Try not to worry about making the team or pushing yourself and putting extra pressure on yourself,” Fowler said. “Let it happen.”

Easier said than done, as all six players currently on the “pick bubble” (Nos. 9-14 in Ryder Cup points) learned on Friday.

Just three of the six bubble boys made the cut – No. 10 Steve Stricker, No. 14 Dustin Johnson and No. 15 Bo Van Pelt – while No. 12 Rickie Fowler, who rebounded from his Friday 80 last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a weekend 69-69, No. 9 Hunter Mahan, No. 13 Brandt Snedeker will now have to wait until Sept. 4 to learn their Ryder Cup fate.

But then Van Pelt has been here before. In 2010 he arrived at Whistling Straits, another faux linksland design courtesy of Pete Dye, 13th on the U.S. points list. He tied for 28th to finish the week where he started at No. 13 and never got the phone call from captain Corey Pavin.

For Van Pelt, a salt-of-the-earth, no-nonsense type, getting worked up over the Ryder Cup is wasted energy.

“It’s one of those deals where you had two years to get inside that top 8,” said Van Pelt, who missed Thursday’s dinner to celebrate his son’s sixth birthday. “Coming down to the last week it’s kind of like an exam. Whatever happens, happens. It’s kind of out of my control.”

Mahan, who did attend Love’s dinner, seemed a tad more invested in the subject, the byproduct, no doubt, of a burgeoning cup resume that saw him emerge as a team leader at last year’s Presidents Cup.

“It’s not just one tournament, it’s all year long. It goes on for all year. The focus is on this week, but we have the next few weeks to make an impression,” Mahan said. “This isn’t a one-tournament pick. Through eight months of golf you’re not going to play well every week. You’re not going to play well when you want to.”

If the status quo remains unchanged – a distinct likelihood given No. 8 Phil Mickelson’s turnaround on Friday (71) and Lefty’s 600-point advantage over Stricker – conventional wisdom suggests Love would pick Mahan, Stricker and Furyk, who was 5-0 at last year’s Presidents Cup, and let Fowler, Snedeker, Johnson and Van Pelt decide who lands the last spot with their play over the next three weeks.

But then picking a rookie, either Snedeker or Van Pelt, over Fowler, who scored his first Tour victory this year and was a rare bright spot on the ’10 team, seems unlikely considering Love’s apparent aversion to risk taking.

In that scenario, the person with the most to lose, or gain, on a fierce Friday was Snedeker, who has not been treated kindly by the various team selection processes throughout his career.

In 2003 Snedeker won the U.S. Amateur Public Links, earned All-America honors at Vanderbilt and was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and yet was snubbed for that season’s Walker Cup team.

Last year, he was again passed over for a spot on Fred Couples’ Presidents Cup team. A Ryder Cup snub would make it an imperfect trifecta, a reality that seemed etched into Snedeker’s face as he slumped onto a bench in the locker room following a second-round 78 that left him at 11 over.

“I don’t think I played poorly because of the Ryder Cup, I just played poorly. I can’t put my finger on it,” Snedeker said. “I didn’t put more pressure on myself, felt like I had good preparation for the tournament, sometimes you just have one of those weeks. You just don’t want it to be this one week because it is two years boiled down to this one week to try to make the team . . . that sucks.”

Snedeker missed Love’s soiree on Thursday, opting instead for an intense 45-minute session on the practice tee with his swing coach. There didn’t seem to be much Love could say, but he tried.

“He texted me at the British Open, he texted me this week. It’s just, ‘Have fun and play golf don’t worry about the Ryder Cup,’” Snedeker said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, but you want to get there.”

When it comes to playing for one’s country it seems you really can want something too much.

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.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.