Notes Miller no fan of captains picks

By Associated PressSeptember 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Johnny Miller still thinks the U.S. will snap its losing streak to the Europeans, but the outspoken former PGA TOUR star turned commentator isnt a fan of Paul Azingers four captains picks.
 
Miller called Azingers selections of J.B. Holmes, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker and Chad Campbell OK but would have traded Holmes for a more veteran player like Scott Verplank.
 
I certainly wouldnt have gone with J.B. Holmes, I tell you that, said Miller.
 
Miller said he would have chosen Verplank, Rocco Mediate, Brandt Snedeker and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson over Holmes and Campbell, but said his views are like arguing over favorite ice cream flavors.
 
Besides, for all the risk involved with picking lightly experienced players, Miller said the U.S. teams problems over the last 13 years have started at the top with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
 
The great play by (Jim) Furyk, Tiger and Phil has not been there, Miller said. Its why the U.S. has done so poorly. Those three players have really played poorly in Ryder Cup play.
 
The trio has a combined record of 25-37-8, though Woods will be watching this years Cup from home while he rehabs his surgically repaired left knee. That may be a good thing in Millers eyes.
 
Without Tiger there, it surely isnt going to be easy, but if youre a gambler or a statistician, you think How can Europe keep making all these putts?' ' Miller said. Its time for the U.S. If youre a betting man odds are putting is going to flip flop in the U.S.s direction.
 
MISSING THE GREATEST
 
The man was missing, but the message was not.
 
The U.S. team visited the Muhammad Ali Center on Monday night, but a meeting with the former heavyweight champion and Louisville native had to be rescheduled when weather prevented Ali and his wife Lonnie from making the trip from Michigan.
 
Instead the team toured the center, which opened in 2005 and traces Alis life, boxing career and humanitarian efforts. The tour begins with a brief video about Alis legacy based on the Rudyard Kipling poem If.
 
'Its about What if? and dreams, Azinger said. I thought that was an important message. Thats such an important perspective on his life, and its so vast; it reaches beyond sports and athletics. The players loved it. They loved being in there. I just thought it was a great place to start the week.
 
Its not the first time a captain has turned to an American icon to give the team a little boost. Future president George W. Bush read a note written at The Alamo to the 1999 team before it rallied to knock off the Euros at The Country Club in Brookline.
 
Justin Leonard called the visit inspiring, but doesnt think the U.S. needs to look outside for encouragement. The U.S. teams lackluster play ' losing five of the last six Cups, including some in embarrassing fashion ' is plenty enough.
 
I dont think that we as players need that for further motivation, Leonard said. I think the motivation is already there. But it just adds some memories to the week.
 
Azinger remains hopeful the team will get a chance to meet Ali later in the week, and Ali isnt the only luminary Azinger hopes can bring a little juice to the team. Azinger invited former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz to dine with the team on Tuesday.
 
Hell probably say a few words, its hard to get him not to, Azinger said.
 
U.S. WINS (JUNIOR) RYDER CUP:
 
The Americans can only hope to follow the example set by their junior team.
 
The U.S. romped to a 22-2 victory over Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup on Tuesday, winning at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green.
 
The Americans built on their opening-day success in the foursome and mixed four-ball matches, winning 11 of the 12 singles points and earning a halve in the final match.
 
Cory Whitsett of Houston won his match, 6 and 5, over Matteo Manassero of Italy, and Jeffrey Kang of Fullerton, Calif., defeated Moritz Lampert of Germany, 4 and 3.
 
We wanted to play like the matches were zero-to-zero and just go out there and win as many matches as possible, Whitsett said.
 
Jeffrey Kangs singles point secured the victory for the U.S.
 
We really didnt feel any pressure out there today, Kang said. We were able to have fun and play our game.
 
The Americans only other victory came in 1997, when the it was known as the Junior Match and was not a PGA of America sanctioned event. The teams will play a nine-hole friendship match on Wednesday at Valhalla, site of the 2008 Ryder Cup.
 
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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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”