Reveling in the Ryder Cup
I had that moment Monday on the 17th green at Celtic Manor. Standing amidst the joyous chaos, alternately keeping an eye on my cameraman so as not to lose him in the crush of revelers, I was mesmerized by what I was witnessing.
The crowds had lifted Edoardo Molinari in the air, as if he were the happy groom at a wedding. Again and again, he thrust two fingers in the air and led the delirious fans in song: “There are only two Molinari brothers. There are only two Molinari brothers!”
The electricity and emotion sent a shiver through me, with a twinge of remorse. It struck me. Among the things I’ll never know is how good it must feel to be hoisted like that in victory, a victory pleaded for by millions.
I play in a men’s basketball league back home and I’m certain that even if our collection of teachers and lawyers and businessmen wins the fall season championship we’ll only exchange high fives, then ice down our aging bodies.
Home-course advantage is worth a half point, everyone agrees, though the Europeans get extra credit for creativity. Their songs and their chants are funny but not unfair.
Now it’s gone quiet, quiet enough at least to round some thoughts together.
Let’s focus on the man upon whom the task of clinching the Cup nervously fell, without whom there would be no celebration, Graeme McDowell. He may not be America’s player of the year – that distinction, however tepid the case may be, will go to Jim Furyk with his three wins. But McDowell could be, if there was such an honor, golf’s man of the year. In a single season he became a national champion and a continental hero.
McDowell is Russell Crowe in Gladiator, stout hearted and brave, the kind of guy who’ll turn around with a wink and a joke just as he’s heading into the heat of the battle. Men want to be in his company and willingly follow his lead.
In the press center here at St. Andrews for the Dunhill Links Championship, McDowell explained how he reacted when told that he had to win his match against Mahan because Molinari had only halved his against Fowler just ahead.
“Oh sh–t,” McDowell recalled.
The room howled with laughter because people laugh when they’re with GMac.
He was on a roll. Asked what kind of reception he believes he’ll get when he goes to the States as the man who not only won the U.S. Open but also took the Ryder Cup away from the Americans, he says, “I just hope they let me in when I go to immigration. I’m just hoping they don’t send me home.”
He’ll play more in the U.S. next year, and it wasn’t lost on him last weekend that he was playing against “these guys who will become sort of my peers and colleagues.”
But the great thing about golf, McDowell believes, is that “we can share a beer and talk about these things.”
A man who can talk and play, McDowell’s a rare commodity in golf. His new peers would be well served to belly up to the bar with him.
He has a few good stories to tell.
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
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
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.
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.
Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain
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
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.
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.