Ryder Cup victory not the end, just the beginning

By Rex HoggardOctober 5, 2016, 6:15 pm

CHASKA, Minn. – It would be easy to confuse Sunday’s celebration for a coronation, an exhale moment after two years of vague promises and lofty expectations.

If the U.S. team wanted to gloat they’d come by it honestly, they’d just rolled over the Europeans, 17-11, for America’s first victory in the biennial event since 2008.

The changes had worked. The curse was over.

But those involved with the Ryder Cup task force-turned-committee never, not once, mentioned winning the 2016 matches and ending the drought. Those involved talked of continuity and legacies, not quick fixes and Band-Aids.

From the captain all the way down to the cart drivers – that would be Bubba Watson – this was about preparing for the future. If anything, Hazetline National was a test case, not the final exam.

“We had a long-term plan and a goal for the next five to 10 Ryder Cups. I’ve said all along, personally, if we won this week that’s great, but let’s not raise the flag and say, ‘This is the greatest thing ever,’” said Jim Furyk, one of Davis Love III’s vice captains. “And if we lose let’s not say, ‘Oh s***, this doesn’t work.’ It’s a long-term plan.”

As devastating as a loss would have been to the cause of building a winning foundation, a victory could be just as debilitating if it leads to a loss of focus.

That is, after all, what many believe happened following the 2008 Ryder Cup. It’s what prompted Phil Mickelson to challenge the U.S. leadership two years ago in Scotland following the team’s third consecutive loss, which in turn led to last year’s task force.


Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos


“The pressure started when some dumbass opened his mouth two years ago in the media center,” Mickelson said on Sunday at Hazeltine with just a dollop of self-deprecation.

Mickelson was on the task force and by many accounts a de facto vice captain last week. For all those who have criticized Lefty over the years for his relatively pedestrian Ryder Cup record, know that this process has taken a toll on the veteran. And when he spoke on Sunday it wasn’t in terms of wins and losses as much as it was a testament to the legacy that he and the other American leaders hope to create.

“We need to build on this. Otherwise, it's all for naught,” Mickelson said. “We created a very solid foundation this year. With the input that Davis Love had and each vice captain, with Tom Lehman and Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson, all brought integral parts to the success of this foundation, and it's important that we build on that.”

That foundation started with Love, who has been billed as the captain’s captain. From the first task force meetings, the challenge was to appoint a front man with the ability to incorporate vastly different ideas into their own leadership model.

Someone willing to share the room with other voices and keep their ego tucked away. If, as the story goes, the Europeans have perfected the art of continuity in their captains, the U.S. team’s first leader in this new era had to be a pragmatist and consensus builder.

“We tried to identify the qualities of the next person who would become a Ryder Cup captain,” Furyk said. “Davis Love fit all those qualities perfectly. He was the right guy. He had experience, he had the media’s respect, he had the player’s respect. We couldn’t identify a better person.”

Love’s leadership-by-committee style turned out to be a perfect fit for this U.S. team. He engaged his side’s best players, challenged them for ideas and, this is most telling, he listened.

Late in Saturday’s foursomes session, Love was struggling to find the right lineup for the afternoon four-ball matches. Everybody had an idea, even his son, Dru, but ultimately it was Woods who convinced the captain to send Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth back out.

“I finally just said to Tiger, ‘Are we playing them or are we sitting them?’” Love recalled. “He said, ‘No, you have to send them back out there, they are playing so well.’”

Reed and Spieth ignited the crowd and U.S. team room with a 2-and-1 victory over Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose to give the home team valuable momentum heading into Sunday’s singles matches.

It wasn’t so much leadership by example as much as it was leadership by design. If the 2016 Ryder Cup is a template for future matches, Love is the prototype of future U.S. captains.

The legacy concept holds that each team will have a mix of former and potential future captains that connects each group in a way that hadn’t happened in the past.

For this year’s squad, that specifically applies to Furyk and Stricker in the immediate future and Woods a little further down the road.

“A vice captain under [Tom] Watson, a vice captain under Jay Haas last year [Presidents Cup] and a vice captain under Davis here, I’ve really learned a lot in three years,” Stricker said. “If I get the opportunity to be a captain, I’ll have a lot of knowledge behind me.”

Furyk, who would be a popular choice to lead the U.S. team in 2018 in France, has taken a particularly long view when it comes to the U.S. team changes and paused when asked how his experience at Hazeltine might impact a potential future captaincy.

“It really helped to be an assistant for Davis, who has done it twice, the best leader,” Furyk said. “Any time you can do this, you’re learning. You’re going to make some mistakes, you’re going to do some things right. We did a lot of good things this week. We made some mistakes, and we’ll learn from this week and keep building on the system.”

Moments later Furyk rushed into the night toward the team room to join the victory party. Sunday night he and the other members of the U.S. leadership would celebrate, but on Monday the work would continue.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. 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.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.