Hamilton a Ryder Cupper

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2004, 4:00 pm
TROON, Scotland -- Todd Hamilton left Royal Troon with the silver claret jug.

Hal Sutton left with a dilemma.

Hamilton's playoff victory over Ernie Els made for a great story, and Sutton was there to tell it as an analyst for ABC Sports. He watched a 38-year-old journeyman hit remarkable shots, show incredible poise and stand up to the challenge of two of the best players in golf -- Phil Mickelson on the back nine, Els in a pressure-packed playoff.
 
Hamilton is a worthy British Open champion.

But does that mean Sutton wants him on his Ryder Cup team?

The U.S. captain already had his hands full waiting to see who will show enough game to make the team on his own. The guys from No. 9 to No. 14 in the standings have not won this year, nor has any of them come particularly close. Sutton has been leaving letters of encouragement in their lockers all year.

Odds are, Hamilton never got one of those letters.

He wasn't even a card-carrying member of the PGA Tour until seven months ago. Since then, he birdied the last two holes to beat Davis Love III in the Honda Classic, and he shot 69 from the final group and beat Els in a playoff for his first major championship.

Sure sounds like Ryder Cup material.

Hamilton's victory was worth 300 points, enough to move him up to No. 15 in the standings.

'To be honest, I haven't thought anything about it,' Hamilton said Sunday evening. 'I hadn't played well for a couple of months. I don't even look at the standings. I know Tiger is usually top and all the other normal guys that are on the team are always up there. Hopefully, this bit of magic will continue.'

If Sutton were to leave Hamilton off the team, that would mean five of the last nine Americans to have won majors would have to watch the matches on television -- Hamilton, Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA), Ben Curtis (2003 British Open), Rich Beem (2002 PGA) and David Duval (2001 British Open).

The only other player in recent times to win a major and get left off the Ryder Cup team was John Daly, and it happened to him twice -- after the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open.

Daly was so unpredictable -- on and off the course -- that the captains never took any grief for leaving him off.
 
Europe probably won't have any major champions on its team, so this is a good problem for Sutton to have.

An unpleasant problem might be if Fred Funk makes the team.
 
Funk, No. 9 on the standings, chose not to play in a major championship so he could try to get Ryder Cup points against junior varsity competition at the B.C. Open. He tied for 40th, so it became a moot point. Still, several of his peers thought it smacked of a guy ducking a challenge.

Is that what you want on a Ryder Cup team?
 
'You would never see me backing down from a major,' said Jerry Kelly, who is 11th in the standings.
 
All this will be sorted out over the next month as golf heads into the homestretch.
 
The PGA Tour season doesn't end until November, but interest starts to wane after the PGA Championship, then returns for one weekend in September at the Ryder Cup.

Phil Mickelson looks like a lock to win PGA Tour player of the year, and the way his season has gone in the majors, he probably will be the betting favorite at Whistling Straits to win the PGA Championship.
 
It's hard to believe Mickelson has won only two tournaments -- the Bob Hope Classic and the Masters. But he leads the money list with $5.4 million, not quite half of that coming in the majors.
 
If not for missing two putts inside 5 feet -- on the 17th hole of the final round at the U.S. Open and on the 13th hole of the final round at the British Open -- he might be headed to Wisconsin for a shot at the Grand Slam.
 
Still, Lefty has 1-2-3 finishes in the majors, and that's tough to beat.
 
Unless Tiger Woods wins a couple of World Golf Championships and their $1 million-plus payoffs, the only player who seems capable of winning the money title is Vijay Singh.

But then, Singh no longer looks like the same player he was in the spring.
 
Gunning for his third consecutive victory, he was within one shot of the lead at the Wachovia Championship until a bogey-double bogey finish. He shot 78 in the final round at the Nelson Classic, 78 in the final round of the U.S. Open, and 76 in the third round to fall out of contention at the British Open.

'I just have to rethink what I need to do,' Singh said as he left Royal Troon.

Els is having a spectacular season and could replace Woods at No. 1 in the world by the time they arrive at Whistling Straits.

Then again, he might need to be suited for a strait jacket after having three excellent chances in the majors and coming away empty. Particularly crushing was the British Open, where he missed four putts inside 15 feet on his final five holes.

As for Hamilton?

He could win the PGA Championship and make a strong case for player of the year with two majors.
 
That also would put him on the Ryder Cup team, and then Sutton wouldn't have to worry about leaving the British Open champion off his squad.
 
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    Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

    By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

    There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

    There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

    Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

    The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

    Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

    If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

    “The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

    The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

    Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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    Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

    By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

    There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

    Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

    While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

    Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

    1. Brooks Koepka

    2. Dustin Johnson

    3. Patrick Reed

    4. Justin Thomas

    5. Jordan Spieth

    6. Rickie Fowler

    7. Bubba Watson

    8. Webb Simpson

    ---

    9. Bryson DeChambeau

    10. Phil Mickelson

    11. Matt Kuchar

    12. Brian Harman

    On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

    Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

    European Points

    1. Tyrrell Hatton

    2. Justin Rose

    3. Tommy Fleetwood

    4. Francesco Molinari

    ---

    5. Thorbjorn Olesen

    6. Ross Fisher

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Rory McIlroy

    3. Alex Noren

    4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    ---

    5. Ian Poulter

    6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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    Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

    By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

    Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

    The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.



    The second is from Sunday night.



    And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

    Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

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    Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

    By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

    After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

    Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.


    Updated Official World Golf Ranking


    It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

    Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.