Azinger urging crowd to be 13th man

By Associated PressSeptember 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Paul Azinger was watching from his cart on the 13th hole when he decided to toss a few lapel pins toward his 13th man.
 
The Kentucky crowd went nuts, clamoring to get its hands on the tiny trinkets adorned with an American flag and the Ryder Cup.
 
Azinger hopes theyre just getting warmed up.
 
Looking for every possible edge he can muster against those guys from the other side of the Atlantic, the U.S. captain is urging fans in this overgrown college town to let loose with their red-white-and-blue passion, just as they might get fired up for a basketball game at Freedom Hall or down the road at Rupp Arena.
 
Kenny Perry
Kentuckian Kenny Perry is mobbed by fans Tuesday at Valhalla. (Getty Images)
Within reason, of course.
 
Wink, wink.
 
I love this town and I love this state, and I couldnt think of a better place for us to be, Azinger said. I know its going to be an energized crowd, so to that point were going to embrace them and try to get them energized.
 
All the while, the message is certainly always going to be to maintain a certain level of sportsmanship. We dont want anybody out of hand. Of course, there will be alcohol served and of course be some minor cases, but we are engaging the crowd.
 
The Americans could certainly use a home cookin in their every-two-year-series, which has taken on a decidedly European slant. The visiting team has won the last three contests, and five of the last six. The past two meetings have been nothing more than routs, the Euros winning each time by a staggering nine points.
 
No wonder Azinger is so eager to get the crowd engaged. He certainly remembers what happened four years ago in the last Ryder Cup on American soil.
 
The Europeans won over the U.S. gallery at Oakland Hills with their friendly banter and willingness to sign every piece of paper put in front of them. By the time the blowout was complete Sunday afternoon, the gallery sounded as though it had been imported from across the ocean.
 
We want to embrace this crowd, Azinger said. We dont want what happened in 04 to happen again. The Europeans are already requesting Sharpies on the tees and stuff like that, so I know what theyre trying to do.
 
Looking for a counter, Louisville is planning a college-style pep rally downtown on the eve of the tournament, which might be ignored in a big city such as Detroit or Boston but should go over well in a state that doesnt have a major-league franchise.
 
Were going to come down there and blow T-shirts out of guns to the crowd, stuff like that, Azinger said.
 
Hes already tossed out plenty of pins, which one might think are solid gold from the reaction of those on the other side of the ropes.
 
I want to treat them like theyre going to be our 13th man, Azinger said. Theyre screaming for more pins. I dont think we have enough. We only have 10,000.
 
Of course, booming drives and clutch putts are ultimately more important than lapel pins and raucous galleries. But Azinger, who already persuaded the powers-that-be to change the selection process ' hoping to reward those who are playing best at the moment and giving the captain two extra discretionary picks ' knows that a true home-course advantage could work wonders for a team that has six Ryder Cup rookies, half the squad, and is missing its best player.
 
Tiger Woods will be watching from home, still recovering from season-ending knee surgery.
 
Azinger does have two Kentucky-born players on his team, Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes, and he might just send them out together in the first match Friday morning.
 
That would certainly get the crowd into it.
 
Ive thought about what I am going to do with those two guys, Azinger said. Should I put them together? Should I keep them apart? You know, Id like to put them off in the first match out, to be honest with you, and get this crowd rockin.
 
Perry and Holmes certainly endorsed the idea.
 
Ive kind of pushed for it all year, said Perry, who endured plenty of criticism for skipping the U.S. and British Opens to focus on his goal of making the Ryder team. I thought it would be special for two Kentuckians to lead the charge out there to try to win the Cup back.
 
Added Holmes: Id love to play with Kenny. We have mentioned that to Paul. Its definitely Pauls decision, though. Hes the captain, and hes going to do what he thinks is right. If thats sending us off first on Friday, thats great with me. Id love to go out there and start it off with a bang.
 
Then again, that bang might go bust if Perry and Holmes were knocked off in the opening match.
 
The Americans started off with another eye-catching group in 2004 when captain Hal Sutton paired up Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, his two highest-ranked players. They lost, and the Europeans were off and rolling.
 
I guess it could backfire if we dont play well and they kick us pretty bad, Perry conceded. It could also have the reverse role. I just think with the energy and excitement, its going to put a lot of pressure on the Europeans.
 
All that aside, the most important thing the Americans can do to improve their chances of regaining the cup might be working on their camaraderie. The Europeans treat each other like the best of friends, while the U.S. team often comes across as a bunch of individualists.
 
Ive always said, and I say it from the bottom of my heart, I would rather go 0-and-5 and win the Ryder cup as a team than go 5-and-0 and lose it, said Spains Sergio Garcia, who always seems to rise to the occasion in this format. Its not about me this week. Its about the European team.
 
Even on American soil, the Europeans are the clear favorites. For once, they actually appear to have the best team on paper, especially with Woods out of action.
 
But Mickelson said it might be an advantage to have so many rookies.
 
Not being a part of the last few U.S. team is not necessarily a bad thing, he said. The guys who havent played, they have never lost this event.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
  • European Report Cards
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.