Austin obsessed with making Ryder Cup team

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
Follow the 90th PGA Championship all week on GOLF CHANNEL. Click for our TV schedule!
2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' By any measure, Woody Austin has had a solid and successful career playing golf. Yet he believes his resume has one obvious gap in it.
I played every major. Ive been around the world and played in different events, the 44-year-old journeyman said this week during preparations for Thursdays opening round of the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. If I get on the Ryder Cup, Ill say Ive played in every big event and on every big stage that you could play as a professional golfer. Thats the one thing Im lacking.
Woody Austin
Woody Austin hopes to play for the Red, White and Blue in the Ryder Cup. (Getty Images)
To make the U.S. squad for next months Ryder Cup at Valhalla, Austin will either have to climb one spot in the rankings ' he is ninth, one rung below Steve Stricker ' or else catch the eye of team captain Paul Azinger, who could make him one of his four elective picks.
There is much to recommend the persistent Austin, who has won three times in his 14 years on the PGA TOUR, stood out on last years winning U.S. Presidents Cup team and ranks 32nd on this years money list.
But he has not won since Memphis a year ago and Azinger has said he will give priority to those with victories this year. Yet Azinger talks as if Austin is precisely what hes looking for: someone who wants to be at Valhalla and who will fit in, prepare, handle the pressure, keep the ball in play and win some points.
Woody Austin is a pretty good player, Azinger said Wednesday. He hasnt won, but I believe hes had chances to win and hes a pretty good match-play player. And hes kind of got that blue-collar mentality.
Whether he makes the team or not may ride on his play this week at Oakland Hills, a course that Austin professes to love even though it is long (he is only average off the tee) and has devilishly hard greens (he calls putting the weak link in his game).
This is the kind of venue that seems to work for me, he said. You have to drive it in the fairway. The bombers, when they hit it into the rough, at least arent sitting with perfect lies.
Austin is one of the most popular players on Tour, most likely because the galleries see themselves in him.
I like to try to show that Im no different than you. Youre doing your job and Im doing mine. Other than that I just play golf. I play golf a little bit better than you, but that doesnt allow me or give me the right to walk around like Im better than you, he said. So I try not to give off that persona. I try to make people feel like they can come to me. And I try to talk them as much as possible.
The most impressive things about Austin are often eclipsed by those hot-pepper shirts he wears or his unfortunate appearances on video.
After winning the Buick Open in 1995, Austin beat out David Duval to earn the PGA TOUR rookie of the year award. He closed with a 67 in last years PGA Championship at Southern Hills to finish second to a guy who wont be around to hold him off this week, Tiger Woods.
But he bristles at the way hes portrayed by some, a sort of comical oaf who is constantly getting into humorous situations. He believes some ridicule him, and that many do not take him seriously as a golfer or a man.
Hes tired of seeing the video from years ago where he repeatedly hits himself in the forehead with a putter shaft after missing a putt.
Then, of course there was last year during a critical point in the Presidents Cup when he attempted to advance a ball on the edge of a water hazard left of the 14th fairway at Royal Montreal, splashed it out with a mighty swing, then lost his balance and fell face first into the lake.
That was shown countless times on television and is a staple on video Web sites. Almost no one remembers that he birdied the final three holes that day to earn a much-needed half-point for the Americans. Or that he captured an impressive 2 1/2 points for the U.S. side in his first international team competition.
He was called Aquaman. It was funny at first ' he even played it up by breaking out a pair of large, purple goggles the next day at the competition. Since then, everywhere he turns someone mentions his least favorite moment of what was otherwise one of the greatest weeks of his life, ending with a victory celebration alongside captain Jack Nicklaus and his teammates.
After getting a taste of that, he longs to make the U.S Ryder Cup team with perhaps his last shot at doing so.
He is almost consumed with playing well enough at Oakland Hills that he wont have to rely on Azinger to arbitrarily pick him.
Its like I told my wife, As much as I dont want to think about it and as much as Im trying not to think about it, I cant STOP thinking about it, he said.
Perhaps making the squad would help highlight his game instead of his bloopers.
I want to be known as me. I want to be known as a golfer, he said. I dont want to be known as a guy who fell in a lake.
Related Links:
  • Video: Adam Barr chats with Woody Austin
  • Video: Woody Austin PGA press conference
  • Full PGA Championship Tee Times
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

    Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

    Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

    “It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

    The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.

    Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

    “I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

    A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

    “I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

    He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

    “It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

    Getty Images

    Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

    Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

    “It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”

    Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

    The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

    He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

    Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

    “I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

    Getty Images

    Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

    By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

    Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

    Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

    With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

    All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

    “This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”

    Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship

    Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

    “It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

    Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

    “Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

    Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

    “My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

    Getty Images

    Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

    We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

    Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

    If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

    It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

    Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.