Continental Shift

By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2010, 6:02 am
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. – Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin:

Straightaway congrats, seems you’ll make the trip across the pond to Wales in September with all 14 clubs in the bag if Tiger Woods keeps to the script on Friday in Florida and maps out his return strategy to the PGA Tour, among other talking points the world is anxiously awaiting.

The bad news is that glancing at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship it seems you’ll need to send Woods out in every match at Celtic Manor for America to retain the cup.

We travelled cross country, braved jumping cholla and coyotes and first-round upsets to watch a World Golf Championship and the European Four-Ball has broken out.

On Thursday an Englishman outlasted a Northern Irishman in an overtime special, a Spaniard clipped a Dane and the game’s most capricious format has voted nearly everyone off the island that doesn’t have a pocket full of Euros.

Now much of what is transpiring in the dusty hills north of Tucson is the byproduct of a greatly-depleted U.S. lineup that is missing Woods and world No. 3 Phil Mickelson, to say nothing of world No. 2 Steve Stricker’s first-round stunner at the hands of a spirited Englishman named Ross McGowan.

Yet missing heavy weights and misfiring heavies explain only a portion of the Continental wave that has overtaken Dove Mountain.

Of the 22 European players who started the week, 11 advanced to Day 2 and five will be around for the Sweet 16. By comparison, 21 Americans made the trip up Dove Mountain, eight made it through the first round and four remain.

And it’s not just how many Europeans remain, but how young they are: Paul Casey, Oliver Wilson, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter are all around for the third round and all are closer to the beginnings of their careers than they are to their primes.

Not included in that group are 20-year-old Rory McIlroy (who lost to Wilson in 20 holes) and 25-year-old Martin Kaymer, who ran into match play magician Tim Clark on Thursday.

On paper, where six of the top 10 players in the World Ranking are European, there has been a Continental tilt for some time. But it is on the parched turf of Dove Mountain that the Europeans seem to be making a statement.

“You have a situation where Europe could have more than 12 players in the top 50 (in the World Ranking) and have to leave some players off the team,” said Rocky Hambric, president of Hambric Sports whose European clients include Wilson and Francesco Molinari.

“That guy is the perfect example,” said Hambric gesturing toward McGowan. “He is a heck of a player, a heck of a match play player and could get left off the team.”

In many ways the European curiosity is a reversal of clichés. There was a time when the Europeans enjoyed an embarrassment of short riches, with a rooster that was top heavy but not deep, while the Americans were the ’27 Yankees of Ryder Cup play.

It seems now, however, it is the European bench that runs deep and the Americans who depend on the stars to lead the way.

The format seems to be the primary reason behind the European match play success. In Europe nearly all amateur events are match play and juniors are taught the nuances of the game from an early age.

But that only explains a portion of the Continental shift.

“We’re brought up on it, but at this stage, I think there's pretty much nobody in the field that's not got experience in match play,” Wilson said. “There's a lot of young talent (in Europe) and I think that's what it comes down to in the end.”

In many ways the European renaissance is being led by the English, with nine players in the Match Play field, six that advanced to Round 2 and four that will be around for Friday’s action.

“It’s a great era for guys to be coming through playing great golf,” Ian Poulter said. “When (Lee Westwood) was the only guy, eight, nine years ago that was in the top 100 in the world. Now, I’m not sure of the stats, but I think there’s probably at least 15 guys. So it’s great.”

Great, that is for European captain Colin Montgomerie. Pavin, however, well . . . at least you’ll have Woods.

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.