Azinger Officially Named US Ryder Cup Captain
'I'm going to get the blame if it doesn't work,' Azinger said Monday. 'I would like some of the credit if it does.'
Azinger, a former PGA champion and cancer survivor, was introduced as the next U.S. captain at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., where the 2008 matches will be played.
The changes were bold, and Azinger feels the Americans have nothing to lose. Europe has captured the Ryder Cup eight of the last 11 times, winning by its largest margin -- 18 1/2 -9 1/2 -- the last two times. Two months ago at The K Club, Europe became the first team to capture all five sets of matches.
Azinger wanted a qualifying process that would give him the best players, and it reflects his personality. He has often said during his 20-plus years on the PGA TOUR that he got nervous only when cash or prestige were on the line.
'I just felt like it was time for money to be the barometer,' Azinger said.
Under the new system, one point will be awarded for every $1,000 a player earns in the 2007 majors, and in regular PGA TOUR events in 2008. Two points will be given for every $1,000 earned at the 2008 majors.
The PGA of America took care of one arguments -- tournaments held opposite majors -- by offering only a half-point per $1,000 at those events. Last time, John Rollins nearly made the U.S. team by winning the B.C. Open, which was held the same week as the British Open.
Because the Ryder Cup points system was to begin after the PGA Championship in August, PGA president Roger Warren said players would be awarded one-fourth of a point for every $1,000 earned over the last 11 weeks.
The new system eliminates some glaring problems under the old criteria, when points were based on top-10 finishes.
Several players complained that they could finish 11th at the Masters and get nothing, while someone could finish ninth at the Houston Open and earn points. And with so many international players on the PGA TOUR, there were some weeks when only a couple of U.S. players earned points.
Warren said only 58 percent of the Ryder Cup points were distributed last time.
Plus, it distinguishes between strong and weak events on the PGA TOUR. Previously, a player earned as much from The Players Championship as he did an opposite-field event.
'The goal is to try to get to the point where Paul feels that he has the players that he needs to come to ... win the Ryder Cup,' Warren said.
Azinger said no one would be assured of making the team starting the 2008 season because points will have been awarded only during the majors the first year. He thought that would make players feel as though they earned a spot on the team, instead of coasting for the final few months.
'That's better than what we had,' said Scott Verplank, a captain's pick in 2002 and 2006 and one of the few Americans with a winning record. 'Apparently, they spent some time on this and I commend them for trying to fix it. But I don't think anything is going to matter until we figure out how to play that game as a team.'
'Zinger is a strong personality, somewhat of a free thinker,' he added. 'I think he'll be super.'
Still to be decided is when Azinger will make his captain's picks.
The United States has never had more than two picks since 1989, and they were announced the morning after the PGA Championship.
Warren said the qualifying process again will end at the '08 PGA Championship, but that Azinger would have until Monday a week before the Ryder Cup to make his four picks.
Part of that is a massive change in the PGA TOUR schedule. Starting next year with the new FedExCup competition, a 'playoff' series begins two weeks after the PGA Championship, with three big tournaments leading to the Tour Championship. In 2008, the Ryder Cup will be held the week after the TOUR Championship.
'I like the idea of being able to pick four players,' Azinger said. 'I like the idea that I don't have to pick them immediately after the PGA Championship. I have an opportunity that no other Ryder Cup captain has had, and I really appreciate that.'
Azinger also said he was 'awe-struck' to get the job. He played on four Ryder Cup teams and was 5-7-3, going 2-0-2 in singles while usually taking on Europe's best.
His counterpart at Valhalla will be six-time major winner Nick Faldo, who has earned more Ryder Cup points than any other European. Faldo and Azinger were golf analysts for ABC Sports the last two years, and they have a rivalry in the Ryder Cup, battling to a draw in a 1993 singles match that had no bearing on the outcome.
He was diagnosed with lymphoma in his shoulder after the Ryder Cup, and won only one more time on the PGA TOUR the rest of his career.
Azinger said Faldo will be under more pressure trying to follow after Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, all of whom guided Europe to victory.
'I've got more of an everything-to-gain situation,' Azinger said. 'There's going to be a little more heat on Nick to get it right, and I think a little more of the microscope will on Nick if he gets it wrong.'
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out
Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole, No. 9.
Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.
"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.
"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.
Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."
"I'm not," harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."
"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.
He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from some TV cables, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.
Na (62) leads Hoffman by one at Colonial
Kevin Na leads the Fort Worth Invitational by one over Charley Hoffman following a first-round 8-under 62. Here's where things stand through 18 holes at Colonial.
Leaderboard: Na (-8), Hoffman (-7), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Andrew Putnam (-6), Beau Hossler (-6)
What it means: The veteran Na is in search of just his second PGA Tour victory in 367 events played. The 34-year-old's lone victory came at the 2011 Shriners to go along with nine runner-ups, the most recent of which was a tie for second at this year's Genesis Open. Na missed three straight cuts in April but has rallied back with a weekend stay at The Players and a T-6 at last week's Byron Nelson. Ranked 75th in the world, he is not currently qualified for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship.
Round of the day: Na turned in a clean card Thursday with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 first, his 10th hole of the day. He closed with a chip-in birdie at No. 9 following a friendly disagreement with his caddie (more on that below).
Best of the rest: Hoffman was likewise bogey-free, drawing seven circles. The four-time Tour winner and typically steady performer has yet to register a top-10 finish this season.
Biggest disappointment: Not that a round of 1 under is tragically disappointing, but Jordan Spieth has a pretty solid history of going low at this event and contending for the title. He's seven back through Round 1.
Shot of the day: Satoshi Kodaira recorded the second albatross in tournament history when he holed a 3-iron from 234 yards at the first.
Honorable mention: Na got into a pretty good back-and-forth with his caddie about whether to lay up or try to clear the water from the right rough at No. 9. Na went for it, avoided hazard, and holed this chip for birdie.
Quote of the day: "I told you." - Na, after his chip-in
Golf Channel's NCAA Golf Coverage Continues Mon-Wed., May 28-30 With the NCAA Men's Golf Championships
Two National Championships to be Decided Over a Three-Day Span – Individual (Mon., May 28) and Team (Wed., May 30)
Eight of the Top-10 Ranked Programs in the Country Set to Compete; Reigning NCAA Men’s National Champions Oklahoma and Current Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Paired Together Starting Friday
Buick and Stifel Co-Presenting Sponsors of Golf Channel’s Coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships
ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2018 – Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s dramatic championship match where Arizona defeated Alabama in a playoff to claim their third women’s golf team national championship, Golf Channel returns to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. next week for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf National Championships. Taking place Monday-Wednesday, May 28-30, Golf Channel’s coverage will feature nearly 30 hours of live tournament and on-site wraparound news coverage, showcasing the top men’s college golf programs in the country.
NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage: Coverage begins on Monday, May 28 to crown the individual national champion and to track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30 will include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion.
In addition, Golf Central will surround live tournament action with pre-and post-event news coverage produced on-site at Karsten Creek Golf Club, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online via Golf Channel Digital. News and tournament coverage also will be live streamed on Golf Channel Digital. College Central, Golf Channel’s online home for college golf, will provide comprehensive editorial coverage throughout the championships.
Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)
Monday, May 28
Individual National Championship
4-8 p.m. (Live)
Tuesday, May 29
Quarterfinals, Team Match Play
11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Tuesday, May 29
Semifinals, Team Match Play
4-8 p.m. (Live)
Wednesday, May 30
Team Match Play National Championship
4-8 p.m. (Live)
Stifel and Buick Sign on as Co-Presenting Sponsors for Golf Channel’s NCAA Golf Championships Tournament Coverage: New for 2018, Stifel Financial Corp. and Buick have signed on as co-presenting sponsors for Golf Channel’s tournament coverage of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. In addition, Stifel has extended its partnership with the Fred Haskins Commission, Golf Channel and Golfweek as presenting sponsor of the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to nation’s outstanding male collegiate golfer.Golf Channel will announce the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel following the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, on a live edition of Golf Central, Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The show will include profiles on the top candidates for the award and a live interview with the winner, who also will receive an exemption to compete in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR. The Haskins Award honors the nation’s most outstanding male Division I collegiate golfer as selected by his peers, coaches and the golf media.
Semifinal Teams in Match Play to Receive Invitations to Compete in East Lake Cup: The East Lake Cup, taking place in late October at historic East Lake Golf Club, will feature the top-performing teams from the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Invitations for the field have been extended to Arizona, Alabama, Southern California and Stanford – semifinalists in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, and also will be extended to the semifinalists in the Men’s Championships. Modeled after the NCAA Golf Championships, the format for the East Lake Cup consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition. Golf Channel will air live coverage of the East Lake Cup Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-31.
College Central – Golf Channel Digital Coverage: Golf Channel will provide comprehensive coverage via College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, and Ryan Lavner, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.
Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut
Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.
Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.
Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.
Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.
While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:
No prob Doug. I’m +11 now and tweeting during my round. I’m playing as hard as I can. I have 8 holes left if you want to come out and kiss my ass. https://t.co/UMeFWFKLVP— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) May 24, 2018