Time and Tears for Europes Rock

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- He hugged everyone, his playing partner, captain, caddie, his opponents and their caddies, too, even one of their wives.
 
That's because Darren Clarke will never again hold the one person he wanted to hug most. Almost six weeks after Heather Clarke succumbed to cancer, her husband of 10 years stood on the first tee Friday morning at the Ryder Cup and stared through misting eyes down the barrel of the toughest tee shot he ever faced.
 
Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke receives a warm welcome from the fans on the first tee at the K Club.
He striped it.
 
'I don't know how I managed to do that. Sort of tee it up and get it somewhere down there, and it went flush, flush, flush and made a 3.
 
'It was,' Clarke added a moment later, 'good.'
 
It was better than that actually, a birdie that set the tone for a match in which Clarke and trusty sidekick Lee Westwood outlasted the American duo of Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco 1-up. Soon after it was official, and not long after Clarke buried his head on a few shoulders and was embraced by Amy Mickelson, someone asked whether the tears welling in his eyes at the end were a sign of joy or relief.
 
'Emotions, hopefully, you won't ever have to feel,' Clarke replied. 'That's basically what they were.'
 
Much has been made about how Europeans dominate the Ryder Cup -- winning four of the last five and seven of the last 10 -- because they play like a team instead of a collection of talented individuals. That was apparent even in Thursday's opening ceremonies, when the Americans again were introduced, beginning with Tiger Woods, according to their world rankings and the Europeans, as always, in alphabetical order.
 
Much has been made, too, about how Clarke's recent loss would bind an already close-knit bunch even tighter. There was plenty to support that theory, too.
 
In a classy gesture, he was hugged by Mickelson and DiMarco on the first tee and then was wrapped up in an ovation so long, loud and warm that you half-expected Clarke to float off down the fairway behind his golf ball. Every grandstand after that treated him to an encore, and along almost every fairway, cheers broke out ahead of Clarke to replace those that died out behind.
 
'I was very, very wary of trying not to make it too loud,' he said, 'in case that would be perceived as using the crowd in my favor. That's not what I wanted at all. I was very grateful for the support. I think they showed me that they care.'
 
A quieter but just as powerful dynamic is at work behind the scenes. Clarke's teammates, mindful of how often he's delivered in past Ryder Cups, have tried their level best to provide support without having it feel like pity. Clark made that delicate task easy.
 
'He's sort of the rock on our team,' Paul Casey said. 'It's been very emotional, but we're all there for him, and I think he's having a cracking time so far.'
 
Clarke was hardly the only European feeling that way after his side rang up a 5-3 lead on opening day, in part because he and Jose Maria Olazabal, another decorated veteran, offered to sit out the second session so captain Ian Woosnam could get every one of his dozen players on the course. And each, in turn, contributed at least half a point.
 
That was in sharp contrast to the U.S. side, where Scott Verplank and rookie Vaughn Taylor never got into the game, and another rookie, Brett Wetterich, lost his morning match and didn't get the chance to redeem himself in the afternoon.
 
Westwood, on the other hand, had little problem going out in the alternate-shot session without Clarke, making Woosnam's mix-and-match philosophy work by combining with Colin Montgomerie to halve their match with Mickelson and DiMarco.
 
'I've never played with Monty before,' Westwood said, 'but Woosie asked him who he would like to play with and he said me, which was nice.'
 
By the same token, Westwood, the Englishman, made his name riding shotgun for Clarke, from Northern Ireland, and the two will be back together Saturday in a better-ball match against Woods and Jim Furyk. They've become such close pals while beating the likes of Woods, Mickelson and even U.S. captain Tom Lehman during the last three Ryder Cups that not only do their styles fit together seamlessly, they often finish each other's sentences.
 
During one post-match interview, Clarke was looking for the words to describe his reception on the first tee when Westwood interjected, 'I was nearly crying myself.' A moment later, Clarke said about the opening tee shot, 'That was always going to be a tough ...' and before he could finish, Westwood cut in grinning, 'and then hit it 340 yards right down the middle.'
 
Clarke was on his own in the interview room later, though, and he wanted to make a point of sharing the credit for his sparkling play on what had been a very difficult day. He praised Westwood to the skies, then Mickelson and DiMarco, his teammates, his opponents and 'everyone involved with the event.'
 
Clarke's two sons, Tyrone, who just turned 8, and Conor, who's 6, were still in school, but he had few doubts his older boy would figure out a way to see the replay.
 
'He knows how to work it,' Clark laughed, 'better than I do.'
 
Whether that win would help lift their spirits was a question Clarke left unanswered. But when the same question was put to him, Clarke didn't hesitate.
 
'The only thing that can do that,' he said, 'is time.'
 
Related Links:
  • Ryder Cup Scoring
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • Getty Images

    Furyk: Not a 'good idea' to team Tiger, Phil at Ryder Cup

    By Ryan LavnerJune 25, 2018, 1:12 pm

    Those hoping for another Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson partnership at the Ryder Cup might be sorely disappointed.

    U.S. captain Jim Furyk all but slammed the door on the reboot Monday on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive.” Speaking at the CVS Health Charity Classic, Furyk laughed off the idea and said that it wouldn’t be a “good idea” for him to team them again.

    “It worked out so well the first time,” he said, chuckling, referring to the 2004 matches, where captain Hal Sutton paired the sport’s two biggest stars and watched them go 0-2 en route to a lopsided team defeat at home.

    Colin Montgomerie, who was also on the set and a member of that ’04 European squad, chimed in: “It was a great decision for Europe!”

    Woods and Mickelson’s relationship has improved in recent years, since they were part of the task force that morphed into the Ryder Cup committee. They even played a practice round together this year at the Masters. But Furyk seemed to suggest even that wouldn’t be enough to put them together again in Paris.

    “I hope they’re both watching, because they just fell off the couch laughing,” Furyk said. “I wouldn’t guess that would be a good idea as a captain, I’m just saying.”

    Both Mickelson and Woods are outside the top 8 automatic qualifiers. Mickelson is currently ranked 10th, while Woods is now 39th.

    Woods has already been named a vice captain for this year’s matches, though Furyk said that Woods had broached the topic of being a playing vice captain as early as January. Furyk added that he hasn’t discussed what Woods would need to show him over the course of the year to be considered for a captain’s pick.

    “He hasn’t played as big of a schedule as everybody else,” Furyk said, “but when he has played, he’s played pretty well. Definitely an eye-opener for everyone.”

    Getty Images

    Grandma hopes sick JT has some 's***-kicking antibiotics'

    By Grill Room TeamJune 25, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Justin Thomas tied for 56th at the Travelers Championship, still recovering from a brutal test at the U.S. Open and, apparently, battling an illness.

    Thomas is next competing at this week's French Open, along with the likes of Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and a host of potential Ryder Cup foes.

    Count his grandmother as one who is pulling – really, really pulling – for his physical recovery.



    Grandmothers are the best. And as you can make out from the top of the text exchange, she finally figured out what was on JT’s pants in Round 1 at Shinnecock Hills.

    Getty Images

    What's in the bag: Travelers champion Watson

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 12:22 pm

    Bubba Watson won the Travelers Championship for a third time in his career. Here's a look inside his bag:

    Driver: Ping G400 LST (7.6 degrees), with Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Prototype X shaft

    Fairway wood:  Ping G (13.2 degrees), with Fujikura Tour Spec 8.2 X shaft

    Irons: Ping iBlade (2), Ping S55 (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

    Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52 degrees, 55 degrees, 63 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

    Putter: Ping PLD Anser

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

    Getty Images

    Travelers purse payout: Bubba, Cink close low, earn big

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2018, 12:06 pm

    Bubba Watson shot 63 on Sunday to win the Travelers Championship. He took home the trophy, but he wasn't the only player to earn a big payday. Here's how the purse was paid out at TPC River Highlands:

    1 Bubba Watson -17 $1,260,000
    T2 Stewart Cink -14 $462,000
    T2 Beau Hossler -14 $462,000
    T2 J.B. Holmes -14 $462,000
    T2 Paul Casey -14 $462,000
    T6 Kevin Tway -13 $234,500
    T6 Brian Harman -13 $234,500
    T6 Russell Henley -13 $234,500
    T9 Chase Seiffert -12 $189,000
    T9 Bryson DeChambeau -12 $189,000
    T9 Anirban Lahiri -12 $189,000
    T12 Rory McIlroy -11 $147,000
    T12 Ryan Blaum -11 $147,000
    T12 Jason Day -11 $147,000
    T15 Charley Hoffman -10 $115,500
    T15 Patrick Cantlay -10 $115,500
    T15 Danny Lee -10 $115,500
    T15 Kyle Stanley -10 $115,500
    T19 Brooks Koepka -9 $79,000
    T19 Fabian Gomez -9 $79,000
    T19 David Lingmerth -9 $79,000
    T19 Zach Johnson -9 $79,000
    T19 Emiliano Grillo -9 $79,000
    T19 Matt Jones -9 $79,000
    T19 Jamie Lovemark -9 $79,000
    T26 Sam Ryder -8 $49,700
    T26 Si Woo Kim -8 $49,700
    T26 Richy Werenski -8 $49,700
    T26 Blayne Barber -8 $49,700
    T26 Steve Marino -8 $49,700
    T26 Peter Malnati -8 $49,700
    T26 Patrick Rodgers -8 $49,700
    T33 Alex Cejka -7 $39,550
    T33 Tyler Duncan -7 $39,550
    T33 Kevin Streelman -7 $39,550
    T36 Seamus Power -6 $35,175
    T36 James Hahn -6 $35,175
    T38 Scott Stallings -5 $30,800
    T38 Russell Knox -5 $30,800
    T38 Brandon Harkins -5 $30,800
    T38 Lanto Griffin -5 $30,800
    T42 Adam Hadwin -4 $24,500
    T42 J.J. Henry -4 $24,500
    T42 Jordan Spieth -4 $24,500
    T42 Mackenzie Hughes -4 $24,500
    T42 Brett Stegmaier -4 $24,500
    T47 Billy Hurley III -3 $17,578
    T47 Vaughn Taylor -3 $17,578
    T47 Sam Saunders -3 $17,578
    T47 Kelly Kraft -3 $17,578
    T47 Keegan Bradley -3 $17,578
    T47 J.J. Spaun -3 $17,578
    T47 Wesley Bryan -3 $17,578
    T47 Denny McCarthy -3 $17,578
    T47 Scott Brown -3 $17,578
    T56 Ryan Armour -2 $15,680
    T56 Keith Mitchell -2 $15,680
    T56 Ken Duke -2 $15,680
    T56 Justin Thomas -2 $15,680
    T56 Hunter Mahan -2 $15,680
    T61 John Huh -1 $14,910
    T61 Martin Laird -1 $14,910
    T61 Steve Wheatcroft -1 $14,910
    T61 James Driscoll -1 $14,910
    T61 Tom Lovelady -1 $14,910
    T61 Nick Hardy -1 $14,910
    T67 Daniel Berger E $14,350
    T67 Trey Mullinax E $14,350
    T69 Cameron Tringale 1 $14,000
    T69 Kyle Thompson 1 $14,000
    T69 Ethan Tracy 1 $14,000
    T72 Dominic Bozzelli 2 $13,650
    T72 Martin Flores 2 $13,650
    74 Padraig Harrington 4 $13,440