Task force tabs 'PGA guy' in Love, just like old times

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2015, 6:10 pm

It’s official.

Darren Clarke will lead the European Ryder Cup team against a U.S. squad led by Davis Love III. Well, Love hasn’t officially been trotted out as the 2016 captain. That will occur next week in what will amount to the most anti-climactic news conference since Tom Brady distanced himself from Deflategate.

Essentially, the only mystery that remains is why Fred Couples didn’t get his turn at the American helm? Or, in more esoteric terms, what is a “PGA of America guy?”

The notion took root last November when Couples was asked about his chances to captain the next U.S. team, “You know, I’m not a PGA of America guy.”

On Tuesday, in the wake of Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte’s report that Love will be named the ’16 captain next week, Paul Azinger – who along with Couples appeared to be the front-runners for the next Ryder Cup gig – told GolfChannel.com, “If true, Davis is an excellent choice for many reasons. He’s still connected to the players. He was very prepared and thorough in 2012. He’s a PGA guy as well.”

Needless to say, there is no formal definition of a “PGA guy.” One longtime PGA insider pointed out that Love’s father was a well-respected member of the association for years and that Couples perhaps wasn’t as detailed-oriented as the PGA would like.

Historically, being a “PGA guy” was generally described as a player in his early 50s with numerous appearances in the Ryder Cup who had won a PGA Championship, although there are numerous exceptions to that including, most recently, Tom Lehman and Corey Pavin.

Azinger, the last American captain to win the Ryder Cup in 2008, fit that description. Ditto for Love.

But that rough outline has just as many glaring exceptions. Most notably Larry Nelson, who won the PGA Championship twice, compiled a 9-3-1 record in three Ryder Cup appearances and was arguably the most-qualified potential captain to lead the U.S. side considering his status as a U.S. war veteran.

According to Nelson, he was in line to captain the 1995 American team but Lanny Wadkins suggested that he should lead the squad at Oak Hill in New York and Nelson would take his turn in 1997 in Spain.

“That to me was a done deal,” Nelson said in December 2012. “I assumed everyone would be good to their word and I would captain in ’97.”

Nelson never got the call for ’97 – Tom Kite did – or any other year.

Conventional wisdom suggests Mark O’Meara isn’t a “PGA guy” either, likely because of his involvement in the 1999 pay-for-play coup regarding the Ryder Cup which led to the PGA giving $200,000 to players to donate to a charity of their choosing.

O’Meara, who has won two majors and has 16 PGA Tour victories, has been bypassed by the likes of Lehman (one major and five Tour titles) and Pavin (one major and 15 titles). O’Meara also has more starts in the biennial matches than Lehman or Pavin, but none of that seemed to matter under the old system or, seemingly, the new structure.

Previous captains were chosen by a group of PGA executives with input from past captains. The new system, born from the 11-member Ryder Cup task force, was supposed to be different.

The task force – which included past captains (Lehman and Love), PGA executives and current players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler – was billed as a chance to create a new legacy for the U.S. side.

There has been much talk about creating a succession plan for future captains and getting the current players invested in a winning formula, much like the format used for years by the European side.

“A decisive game plan is what we need to have,” Love said in early December after the task force’s initial meeting.

But that plan also seems to have remnants of a status quo of sorts.

Azinger, who was championed by Mickelson to return as captain following last year’s Ryder Cup loss in Scotland, told PGA officials he wasn’t interested in being captain again because of various “personal and business” reasons. Azinger also suggested Love, who was clearly a popular choice among the active players on the task force, but that still doesn’t completely explain why Couples didn’t get the nod.

According to one source close to the meetings, at least three players on the task force said that Couples “needed to be the guy” and in November the three-time Presidents Cup captain – a resume boost which some have suggested actually hurts a potential Ryder Cup captain’s bid – said he received numerous texts and phone calls from players saying “We need you to do this.”

Instead, the task force came up with Love, who was without a doubt a wildly popular captain with a Type A personality perfectly suited for the job.

He’s also a “PGA guy.” It seems some things never change.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

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

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Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

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Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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