Rookie bring no baggage just confidence - COPIED - COPIED

By Associated PressSeptember 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' A recurring theme when Paul Azinger huddles with his U.S. team is to forget the past at the Ryder Cup.
 
He can be sure at least half of them get the message.
 
Ben Curtis was playing the mini-tours when Phillip Price and Paul McGinley delivered crucial points in Sunday singles to win at The Belfry in 2002, the opening blow in this decade of domination for Europe.
 
Anthony Kim was still in college when Padraig Harrington dropped one last putt at Oakland Hills to give Europe its biggest rout.
 
Anthony Kim
Anthony Kim tees off Wednesday at Valhalla. (Getty Images)
Boo Weekley?
 
He doesnt watch much golf on TV, so he might have been in a deer stand with a rifle slung over his shoulder when Darren Clarke provided the inspiration and Sergio Garcia provided most of the points in another record romp for Europe at The K Club.
 
They are among six rookies on the American team, the most in nearly 40 years, who have no Ryder Cup experience. Considering what happened the last three times ' and eight of the last 11 dating to 1985 ' they might be the Americans greatest asset.
 
Not being a part of the last few U.S. teams is not necessarily a bad thing, said Phil Mickelson, whose best Ryder Cup was his first one in 1995 when he went 3-0. So the guys who havent played, they have never lost this event.
 
It is an eclectic group, for sure.
 
Steve Stricker is a 41-year-old father of two with impeccable Midwestern manners who has been grinding away at golf for nearly two decades. He won twice on the PGA TOUR the year before Tiger Woods turned pro, plunged into a slump so deep he wondered if he would ever get out, then emerged over the last two years to rise as high as No. 3 in the ranking.
 
His greatest thrill in golf was when Azinger called to tell him he was a captains pick.
 
Right at the top, Stricker said. Its a great opportunity, something that Ill have forever.
 
Kim is a 23-year-old who grew up in LA and walks with a swagger, assuming he is not weighed down by his garish AK belt buckles. His college years at Oklahoma were marred by skirmishes with his coach, but the kid settled down and showed his potential this year, winning the Wachovia Championship and AT&T National at Congressional to become the youngest U.S. rookie since Woods made the team at 21.
 
Even as the tension builds, Kim breezes along Valhalla without a care.
 
I dont see anybody being tight, Kim said. Im sure as the tournament nears, theres definitely a little bit more added pressure. But were out here to have a good time. We have nothing to lose. Like Paul said, were the underdogs this week. Were going to go out there and freewheel it and make a lot of birdies and have some fun.
 
Kim played in a Walker Cup with J.B. Holmes, another rookie picked primarily for his roots (Kentucky) and his power. He has stopped traffic at Valhalla with some of his tee shots, including his drive onto the island green at the 352-yard 13th hole that players from both teams have been talking about.
 
The other rookie is Hunter Mahan, who made it through his first big test on Tuesday when the British press grilled him over his comments earlier this year in a magazine interview, in which he referred to the Ryder Cup as a moneymaking machine and said he heard that players were treated like slaves by the PGA of America.
 
Im just looking forward to playing golf now, Mahan said.
 
This is his second trip to the Ryder Cup, although the first one didnt last long. He was part of the Junior Ryder Cup team in 1999 that hung around on Saturday to watch the real show at Brookline.
 
That was the last time the Americans won the Ryder Cup.
 
Ive never seen anything like it, Mahan said, referring to the partisan support from the gallery, although he could have just as easily been talking about a U.S. victory.
 
Europe had five rookies on its 2004 team, and captain Bernhard Langer kept three of them out of action until the second day. One of those rookies, Paul Casey, thought that was a smart move because it gave them time to get used to noise and the nerves.
 
Azinger doesnt have that option. At least two of them will in the opening lineup Friday morning.
 
He might use all six.
 
I wouldnt have any trouble putting rookie and rookie together, he said. Sometimes, I think its more difficult to go out with an experienced player. I think sometimes the rookie feels like he has something to prove to that guy. But when you talk about rookies these guys all know that theyre equally as good as the guys who have played in the Ryder Cup before.
 
Weekley and Curtis are probably the most inexperienced.
 
Jack Nicklaus had Mahan hit the opening tee shot in the Presidents Cup last year in Montreal, and he split the middle. The only hiccup was when the strap on his bag broke leaving the first tee, a slightly embarrassing moment. Mahan played with Stricker, and they won both their matches. Stricker also went 5-0 at the Dunhill Cup in St. Andrews in 1996.
 
Kim and Holmes were teammates at the Walker Cup in 2005, which the Americans won outside Chicago.
 
Weekley is soaking it all in, starting with his uniform. The guy who first joined the PGA Tour by wearing rain pants and tennis shoes found himself in some mighty fine threads during the first day of practice.
 
I can tell you right now, these pants Ive got on are probably the most expensive thing Ive ever owned, Weekley said. These things here, they felt like a pair of silk underwear when youre getting ready to go hunting. Theyre unreal.
 
More important than how they look is how they play ' and how much they can put the last three Ryder Cups behind them.
 
I think the past has got to change, Weekley said. You dont know what youve got until you get out there and play with it. Its like getting a new pack of hounds when we were growing up and going deer hunting. You dont know what kind of dogs youve got until you run them. So lets run them and well see.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
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  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 11:07 pm

    YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

    “I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

    Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

    At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

    On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

    Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.

    It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.

    The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

    After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

    Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

    The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.

    Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.

    “We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

    A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.

    Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.

    “We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”

    She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.

    Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.

    “There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.

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    Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 9:57 pm

    Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.

    If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.

    Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.

    While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia

    There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.

    “I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”

    And there’s your hope.

    Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.

    They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.

    And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.

    The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.

    The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.

    Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money. 



    All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.

    That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.

    Whan says that’s a good thing.

    “The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”

    Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.

    The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.

    “The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.

    U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.

    “I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

    With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.

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    Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

    By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

    With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

    According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

    While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

    According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

    In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

    The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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    Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

    Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

    It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

    With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

    “To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

    It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

    Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

    Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

    Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

    In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

    Just wait until her putter heats up.

    Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

    On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

    Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.