Euros mapping out road to Medinah, Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 11, 2012, 7:45 pm

Talking Ryder Cup points in January is akin to fretting over NFL wild-card possibilities in September, the acme of competitive foolishness that wastes time and energy on an utterly elusive target.

Yet for a handful of globetrotting Europeans who occupy the transatlantic grey area between tours the path to potential team membership began long before last week’s season openers in Hawaii and South Africa.

For Martin Laird the road to Chicago and this year’s matches actually began in 2010 when he took up affiliate European Tour membership and finished fifth at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The 124,594 euros he earned was enough to secure him full status in 2011. That’s when the Scot began to be squeezed by the small print.

Laird was married last July and knew he’d miss a month of competition as he and his wife, Meagan, set up shop in Scottsdale, Ariz. Because of this he wouldn’t be able to play his 13-event minimum as a full member in Europe which would, in turn, keep him from playing the circuit in 2012 and keep him off this year’s Ryder Cup team.

“I had two choices after 2010, either take full membership or none at all. If I would have taken membership and not gotten to my 13 (event minimum) there is a two-year ban,” Laird said. “I couldn’t have made the Ryder Cup team.”

Laird took up affiliate European membership this year but because of the policy pencil thrashing he missed out on the first four months of qualifying for the European team. With his runner-up showing last week at Kapalua he moved to 40th on the world points list, which is a third of the European selection system along with a European points list and two captain’s picks.

“I’m not going to play enough events for the Europe points list unless I go over there and win a couple of times. I’m going to go back and play four or five events in Europe and that’s going against guys that will play 30 events over that period of September (2011) to September (2012),” said Laird, who hopes to play the Scottish Open and Dunhill Links as well as the four majors and four World Golf Championships.

“With the world points list I don’t see why even if I don’t get into the top five (and earn an automatic selection) I can at least put my name in the picture to be a pick.”

Perhaps, but from his vantage point on this side of the Atlantic, Laird should look no further than fellow Scottsdale resident and Ryder Cup hopeful Paul Casey for a cautionary tale of selection woe.

In 2010, Casey was ninth in the world ranking and had played in the last three Ryder Cups yet was passed over by captain Colin Montgomerie because, some speculated, he had not spent enough time playing the European Tour.

Justin Rose suffered a similar fate despite a torrid mid-summer stretch that included victories at the Memorial and AT&T National. Rose and Casey were chilling oversights, or examples depending on your point of view, for PGA Tour-based Europeans and a reason for players like Laird to consider a more deliberate path to Ryder Cup membership.

Monty’s message was clear – it would take more than the minimum to rate a captain’s pick.

“(Laird) should play the three events in the desert (Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai),” said European uber-manager Chubby Chandler, who has a number of clients, including world No. 2 Lee Westwood, splitting time between tours this year.

“He should come, play three weeks, gets some points, get some visibility, make it look as though he’s trying to play both, even though he is not. Just to make sure he gets in (European captain Jose Maria Olazabal’s) head and gets to know a few of the guys.”

Some, however, have speculated that Olazabal, who spent more time playing in the United States during his career than Monty, will be more accommodating to the plight of American-based Europeans when he makes his picks in late August. Nor has the Spaniard been as dogmatic as Monty about potential picks playing certain European stops.

It’s also telling that it is performance, not politics, that Casey puts his Ryder Cup faith in despite Monty’s perceived snub in 2010.

“I’ve made three now and the best way to make a team is to win golf events,” Casey said last month before being sidelined with a dislocated shoulder.

“It doesn’t matter where in the world they are, you just have to win. If you’re not playing full-time in Europe you’ve only got the world points list to come in on and that’s going to be filled with players who are winning.”

In this, the threadbare tour cliché “play better” seems the only way to cut through the convoluted European selection din. Even from Laird’s administrative limbo that has left him four months behind the pack his only chance to make the team is to play well regardless of which side of the transatlantic gap he’s on.

Medinah may seem a lifetime away, but for some Europeans it turns out it’s never too early to start thinking about the Ryder Cup.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.