Woosnam Enjoys a Bubbly Week

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- Standing on the balcony, the celebration in full swing, Ian Woosnam took a big swig of champagne. Way too big, in fact. It came spewing out of his mouth and bubbling through his nose.
That was, to be frank, the most adversity the winning Ryder Cup captain faced all week.
Ian Woosnam
European captain Ian Woosnam raises the Ryder Cup chalice.
His European team wrapped up an 18 1/2 -9 1/2 victory over the Americans on Sunday. Well before that, most golf experts were calling this the best European team ever.
After watching it come together, the only question was: Who couldn't have led this team to victory?
'The proudest moment of my life,' Woosnam called it. 'When you've got 12 fantastic players and a back-room staff I've got, it made my job very easy.'
For the record, though, Woosnam's captaincy wasn't all smooth sailing.
He took criticism from the European press for not being as accessible or amiable or interesting or organized as his American counterpart, the losing Tom Lehman.
Woosie's biggest pre-event news came earlier this month, when he made a splash by choosing Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood as his wildcard players, then hamhandedly telling Thomas Bjorn, one of the players he passed over, about the choice rather casually at a pub.
Although Woosie's delivery might not have been ideal, the choices he made certainly were.
Westwood teamed with Clarke to win both their fourball matches. Westwood got half points with Colin Montgomerie in both foursomes games, while Clarke stood on the sideline and smoked cigars. On Sunday, Clarke and Westwood won in singles.
Nearly all of Woosnam's decisions looked like winners. It's what happens when you're coaching the better players.
'I think you look at the scoreboard, and that says everything about Woosie as a captain,' Clarke said.
But it's probably not fair to let the scoreboard be the final judge of Lehman.
He came in with what NBC commentator Johnny Miller said were '12 guys -- three of them are firing a 50-millimeter cannon and nine guys are shooting BB guns.'
To his credit, Lehman stayed away from any disruptive decisions, like in 2004 when Hal Sutton paired Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together, saying, 'I felt like history needed it. I felt like the fans needed it. And most of all, I felt like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods needed it.'
That pairing went 0-2 on the first day, and the whole idea was widely credited for leading to the avalanche that resulted in an 18 1/2 -9 1/2 loss.
The score this time was the same. Lehman's critics will contend the captain didn't put his top three in the best position to win.
He kept Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods together for all four team matches, and they won only two. He put Phil Mickelson with Chris DiMarco three times, which produced no wins. But when he paired Mickelson with David Toms, Lefty lost there, too.
Lehman benched rookie J.J. Henry twice even though Henry was playing well. He also used a captain's choice on Scott Verplank but only used him in one of the two-man matches. Verplank complained Saturday, and Lehman appeased him by making him the last player to go out in the Sunday singles.
Those on the American side dreamed Verplank's match against Padraig Harrington might be very important. It wasn't. Verplank won it anyway to finish the week 2-0.
'Second-guessing is a waste of time,' Lehman said. 'I do know that everything we did, we did for a reason, and with the best possible intention. But at end of day, you've still got to put the ball in the hole, and we didn't do that.'
The Europeans did. And Woosnam looks like a genius.
'I've had some criticism over the last few months, but that's gone and past,' he said. 'We got the victory we wanted. I had 12 terrific guys to help me through it.'
Related Links:
  • Ryder Cup Scoring
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Elvis returns, whiffs golf shot at Tiger Jam

    By Grill Room TeamMay 21, 2018, 12:18 am
    Getty Images

    Crenshaw pleased with reaction to Trinity Forest

    By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 12:02 am

    DALLAS – Despite the tournament debut of Trinity Forest Golf Club coming to a soggy conclusion, course co-designer Ben Crenshaw is pleased with how his handiwork stood up against the field at this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

    Crenshaw was on property for much of the week, including Sunday when tee times were delayed by four hours as a line of storms passed through the area. While the tournament’s field lacked some star power outside of headliner Jordan Spieth, Crenshaw liked what he saw even though Mother Nature didn’t exactly cooperate.

    “We’re pleased. It’s off to a nice, quiet start, let’s say,” Crenshaw said. “The week started off very quiet with the wind. This course, we envision that you play it with a breeze. It sort of lends itself to a links style, playing firm and fast, and as you saw yesterday, when the wind got up the scores went up commensurately.”

    Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

    AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

    That assessment was shared by Spieth, a Trinity Forest member who has become the tournament’s de facto host and spent much of his week surveying his fellow players for opinions about a layout that stands out among typical Tour stops.

    “A lot of guys said, ‘It’s grown on me day to day, I really enjoyed it as a change of pace, I had a lot of fun playing this golf course.’ Those were lines guys were using this week, and it shouldn’t be reported any differently,” Spieth said. “It was an overwhelmingly positive outlook from the players that played.”

    Crenshaw didn’t bristle as tournament leaders Aaron Wise and Marc Leishman eclipsed the mark of 20 under par, noting that he and co-designer Bill Coore simply hoped to offer a “different experience” from the usual layouts players face. With one edition in the books, he hopes that a largely positive reaction from those who made the journey will help bolster the field in 2019 and beyond.

    “To me, the guys who played here this week will go over to Fort Worth, and hopefully the field at Colonial that wasn’t here would ask questions of the people who were here,” Crenshaw said. “You hope that some good word spreads.”

    Getty Images

    A. Jutanugarn wins Kingsmill playoff for 8th title

    By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 11:32 pm

    WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the second hole of a playoff Sunday to win the Kingsmill Championship for the second time in three years.

    Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 66 to match Nasa Hataoka (67) and In Gee Chun (68) at 14-under 199.

    Jutanugarn and Hataoka both birdied the first extra hole, with Chun dropping out. Hataoka putted first on the second extra hole and missed badly before Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-footer for her eighth career victory. The 22-year-old Thai star's older sister, Moriya, won the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in Los Angeles in April for her first LPGA Tour victory

    Full-field scores from the Kingsmill Championship

    Jutanugarn started the day two shots behind Chun and had a two-shot lead before making bogey at the par-5 15th. Hataoka, playing with Chun in the final threesome, birdied No. 15 to join Jutanugarn at 14 under, and Chun made a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th to also get to 14 under.

    The tournament was cut from 72 holes to 54 when rain washed out play Saturday.

    Brooke Henderson closed with a 65 to finish a shot back. Megan Khang was fifth after her third straight 67.

    Getty Images

    Jimenez wins first Champions major at Tradition

    By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 9:32 pm

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Miguel Angel Jimenez finally got to light up a victory cigar after winning a senior major championship.

    Jimenez won the Regions Tradition on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions major title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. He celebrated with a big embrace from fellow Spaniard and two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who hoisted him in the air.

    After a round of photos and speeches from local dignitaries, Jimenez finally got to break out the celebratory cigar.

    ''It's time to have a medal in my pocket and it's nice to be on the first major of the year,'' he said.

    Jimenez held or shared the lead after every round, taking a three-shot edge into the final round at Greystone Golf & Country Club. The Spaniard finished at 19-under 269 for his fifth PGA Tour Champions victory.

    ''It's been a wonderful week,'' he said. ''My game was amazing, really.''

    Full-field scores from the Regions Tradition

    Steve Stricker, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers tied for second.

    It was the third time Jimenez had entered the final round of a senior major with at least a share of the lead but the first one he has pulled out. He tied for third at the 2016 Senior British Open and for second at the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.

    Durant and Sauers finished with matching 69s, and Stricker shot 70.

    Jimenez birdied two of the final three holes including a closing putt for good measure.

    Jimenez entered the day at 17 under to tie Gil Morgan's 21-year-old Tradition record through 54 holes. He got off to a rough start with an errant tee shot into a tree-lined area on his way to a bogey, but he never lost his grip on the lead.

    Jimenez had three bogeys after making just one over the first three rounds, but easily held off his challengers late.

    His approach on No. 18 landed right in the center of the green after Stricker's shot sailed well right into the gallery. He had rebuilt a two-stroke lead with a nice birdie putt on No. 16 while Durant and Stricker each had a bogey among the final three holes to leave Jimenez with a more comfortable cushion.

    Stricker and Durant both had par on the final hole while Sauers also birdied to tie them. Durant had produced two eagles on No. 18 already in the tournament but couldn't put pressure on Jimenez with a third.

    Stricker's assessment of his own performance, including a bogey on No. 17, was that he ''made quite a few mistakes.''

    ''Just didn't take care of my ball, really,'' he said. ''I put it in some bad spots, didn't get it up and down when I had to a few times, missed a few putts. Yeah, just didn't have it really, didn't play that good, but still had a chance coming down to the end.''

    Jeff Maggert finished with a 64 and was joined at 15 under by Scott McCarron (67) and Duffy Waldorf (66).

    Jimenez made a birdie putt on No. 16 one hole after falling into a tie with Stricker with a bogey. Durant faltered, too, with a bogey on No. 16.

    ''When (Stricker) made birdie and I make a bogey on the 15th, everything's going up again very tight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's time to hole a putt on 16, for me that makes all the difference.''

    Stricker had two wins in his first four senior tour events this year and remains second on the money list. He has finished in the top five in each of his events.

    Bernhard Langer finished five strokes off the lead in his bid to become the first to win the Tradition three straight years. He shot 66-67 over the final two rounds after a slow start.