International Men of Mystery

By Rex HoggardOctober 8, 2009, 2:46 am

Presidents CupSAN FRANCISCO – Don King couldn’t sell this lemon. Not with an unlimited marketing budget and the Rockettes making sales calls. Not with a stroke a side for Adam Scott and a two-club rule for Tiger Woods. Not if both Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh went to a belly putter at Harding Park.

Anything can happen in match play, we’ll hear that a lot the next 96 hours, but on paper, the Brawl by the Bay is a bust. That has to change, just probably not this week and that’s a shame.

The best chance for renewal will be in 2011 at Royal Melbourne. For the record, we’ll go four days at Harding Park and see where the American flags fall. If history holds, most will go in the ‘W’ column.

If International captain Greg Norman is looking for a celeb assistant, a la Michael Jordan, he should get Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin to draw up this week’s game plan: anything within a touchdown is a moral victory and defense is the best offense. Go, fight, win.

Angel Cabrera Camilo Villegas Presidents Cup
International team members Angel Cabrera (left) and Camilo Villegas are paired together for the opening foursome matches. (Getty Images)

America loves winners, to a point. Eventually the masses turn on you (See: Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, Mike Tyson), and America’s 5-1-1 Presidential line has rendered a once-promising grudge match something of a Ryder Cup test match.

After the major championships, team events are golf at its best. Even last week’s Tour Championship couldn’t touch Valhalla on the “chills meter.” And the Presidents Cup has all the juice to be top shelf – the game’s biggest stars, a classic municipal golf course, contrived head-to-head matchups only the golf gods can deliver at the majors, and Jordan.

The only thing that’s missing is parity. It's been that way since the beginning.

“You know what, they're just going to have to move it south. When we go south, we're good. We either win or we actually tie. When we play north, we have difficulty, so move it south,” said Ernie Els, noting the only International victory (Australia) and tie (South Africa) have come south of the equator.

It’s a fine point, but then what chance does the world side have north of Monterey?

Rename this the 24-man Skins Game and what we have is off the charts, but this event has the foundation to be so much more. So much better, in fact, than the Ryder Cup.

History aside, the founding fathers have this one right – six matches on Days 1 and 2, leaving no one out of the fray, and captains matching each other during each pairing session (I will see your Phil Mickelson/Anthony Kim and raise you a Geoff Ogilvy/Tim Clark).

All that is missing is a little helmet-on-helmet. Two years ago at Royal Montreal the matches were over before most Canadians opened their Sunday morning newspapers, but the event scored a last-minute mulligan when favorite son Mike Weir took down Woods in a heated singles match.

But warm and fuzzy only goes so far. Sooner or later substance, not style, must define an event.

The Ryder Cup suffered from a lack of interest and intensity until the powers pulled the rest of Europe onto the GB&I side. So unless the International side can annex Windermere, Fla., it’s up to Norman’s dirty dozen to fix this.

There is a line between contentious and consequential, and the Ryder Cup has overstepped that boundary in the past. Nobody wants that, not the misplaced aggression of Kiawah or the misguided esprit de corps of Brookline.

But the fire of Valhalla, the emotion of the K Club, the competitive pitch of Brookline, that would transform the Presidents Cup from biennial blowout to must-see title bout.

“It’s important that the matches are very competitive and I have no reason why they are not other than the fact that maybe because we get to play this format every year,” said Justin Leonard, a veteran of seven Ryder and Presidents Cups. “Greg Norman’s job is probably a little more difficult in bringing those guys together and only playing the format every two years.”

It took Paul Azinger’s passion and creativity to break the United States out of a similar Ryder Cup cycle last year, but the problem is Norman is no Azinger. The Shark arrives in San Fran the author of a pair of dubious picks, a doomed marriage and a shoulder on the DL.

That’s not to say the International side is without heroes or hope, but unless Els worked in an impromptu putting lesson with Dave Stockton since the Tour Championship or the Victorian Institute of Sport has found a way to clone Geoff Ogilvy and Robert Allenby the eighth Presidents Cup will be a title bout sans the bout.

A large sign in San Francisco Airport urged travelers to get their flu shots. Norman must have eyed the sign with interest. If only the cure for the International side’s woes came in a needle. Instead, he’ll just walk on them for the next four days, and we’ll all hope for the best.

Getty Images

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.