Another Flop at Ryder Cup Keeps US Searching

By Sports NetworkSeptember 25, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesAmericans keep looking for a quick fix in the Ryder Cup.
After watching the Europeans post their biggest blowout in 2004 and capture the cup for the seventh time in 10 tries, the PGA of America revamped the qualification process by stacking the deck in favor of the hottest players, no matter who they were.
And who were they, anyway?
The bottom four players who earned a spot on this U.S. team - Vaughn Taylor, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich - have a combined five victories on the PGA Tour, and only Wetterich (Byron Nelson Championship) won a tournament against a decent field.
Nothing changed.
Europe won by the same score Sunday, 18 1/2-9 1/2, leaving the Americans searching for a new fix.
'Everyone wants answers out there,' Jim Furyk said. 'What happened? Why? What's the difference between 18 1/2 and 9 1/2? And I don't think there's a guy up here that can give you that answer.'
Joe Steranka, the PGA of America's chief executive, already was trying to figure what to do next.
'We'll start talking about it on the way home,' Steranka said.
What the PGA of America thought was reconstructive surgery was nothing more than taping an ankle.
Those four unheralded rookies were not the problem. In fact, they contributed more points than four of the veterans ranked ahead of them. Phil Mickelson, Chad Campbell, David Toms and Chris DiMarco didn't win a single match among them over three days at The K Club.
So what went wrong?
U.S. captain Tom Lehman said the Europeans made more putts. But that's true every week at any golf tournament.
The cheap explanation is that the Americans don't care, which is an insult. They cared enough to take a two-day trip to Ireland for practice three weeks before the matches. And if they don't care about team events, how did they win the lesser Presidents Cup against a team that was every bit as strong as Europe, one that didn't even include Geoff Ogilvy?
It's not the money and the exorbitant lifestyle, either, because half of Europe's team has taken up PGA Tour membership, and most of the other half also fly in corporate jets, drive courtesy cars and get everything handed to them.
And please stop with the notion that Europe gets along better than the Americans.
If anything, the Americans might be guilty of liking each other too much. A couple of Europeans still don't like Colin Montgomerie for that illegal drop he took in the Indonesian Open a few years ago, especially when they thought he was let off the hook. Jose Maria Olazabal has kept his distance from Sergio Garcia, his fellow Spaniard, the past several years.
For one week, they manage to put that aside and build each other up.
Sure, there were some problems with this U.S. team, same as always.
Mickelson likely will take the brunt of the criticism.
He has won only one match in the last two Ryder Cups and is 1-9-1 dating to Saturday afternoon at The Belfry in 2002. Lefty shuts it down after the PGA Championship in August, which is a problem because the Ryder Cup is played in September.
Mickelson was asked if he was shocked at how the Ryder Cup unfolded and if he felt he played well.
'I don't know what to say. That's a tough, tough question,' Mickelson said. 'Obviously, I expected to get more points than a half. But I felt like we were in every match. Things just didn't go our way.'
Mickelson played 86 holes, but with Americans desperate to see their red scores on the board, he led a total of four holes all week. Of the five matches he played, only two reached the 18th green.
Lehman deserves some criticism, too, at least as much as Hal Sutton in 2004 considering the score was the same.
Sutton's biggest error was sending Woods and Mickelson out a second time. Lehman spent a captain's pick on Scott Verplank, then used him only twice (both wins, by the way). He failed to recognize that neither Mickelson nor Chris DiMarco was playing well, yet he left them together for three matches (0-2-1). He twice sat Henry in the afternoon after the rookie had given the U.S. team a spark.
Lehman spent time with basketball coaches John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski, but apparently they didn't tell him about making adjustments. He had his pairings set before he arrived in Dublin, while Ian Woosnam waited until watching his boys practice before coming up with teams that not even the British press saw coming.
Even if the Americans find their answers, it might not be enough.
Perhaps the most troubling trend for the United States is that there doesn't appear to be any help on the way. The youngest player on this team was Taylor (30), who is about three months younger than Woods.
Europe had the players in their 20s - Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Paul Casey - and 30-year-old Henrik Stenson finished first in its Ryder Cup standings.
The Europeans are so strong that Woosnam thought he could have fielded a capable team by taking the next 12 guys in line.
'I'm not saying that we would have gotten this result,' he said. 'But it just goes to show the potential of European golf. We've got strength and depth for a long time to come.'
Perhaps the European Tour can borrow the slogan from their peers across the pond: These guys are good.
And maybe it's time to lower expectations of the Americans in the Ryder Cup.
Europe had a better team and played better. This time, it was the Americans who spend the first two days trying to hide its weaker players. The outrage comes from fans who expect the United States to own every sport, whether its basketball in the Olympics for the World Baseball Classic.
Keep in mind, though, Americans didn't invent golf.
And they sure don't own it anymore.
Related Links:
  • Ryder Cup Scoring
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

    An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

    Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.