In Lehmans Terms
He has beaten all three in confrontational Ryder Cup play. And he wont shrink from the moment. He has that much in common with Hal Sutton, his predecessor as U.S. captain.
By any measurement, Tom Lehman is an excellent choice to lead the Americans against the Europeans at the K Club, an Arnold Palmer design near Dublin, when the Ryder Cup renews itself two years from now in the Republic of Ireland.
But Lehman knows his captaincy will be defined by how well his players perform in the matches. More specifically, his team will win, almost certainly, if it makes more putts than the Euros.
The team that makes more putts in Ryder Cup play invariably appears to be the team having more fun and displaying more camaraderie. Or as Don Kessinger, a man who once managed the Chicago White Sox, told me: Its hard to look like youre hustling when youre running back to the dugout after popping out to the second baseman.
The man left on the outside looking in on all of this is Larry Nelson. Nelson won three majors and went 5-0 in the 1979 Ryder Cup matches, including four-four against the legendary Ballesteros.
Nelson was seen as the favorite for the 2006 job after Paul Azinger removed himself from the running in recent weeks. Now that Lehman has been selected, it appears Nelsons only sin was being too old. He will be 59 when the teams tee it up in 2006.
To his credit, Nelson took the Lehman news with characteristic good grace and equanimity. Tom Lehman is a great guy, Nelson told me. He is very enthusiastic. Hes a great pick. Its my hope that he will do very well.
When I asked Nelson if he had any advice for Lehman, he answered indirectly. He referenced the fact that he would have been much older than his players and he said sometimes that can be a detriment and sometimes that can be a benefit.
Lehman will be 47 two years from now.
I think it comes to a point where things can kinda pass you by, Nelson said.
Lehmans task will be to keep himself removed enough from the players in the sense that he will be able to know that he isnt going to be able to keep all 12 happy all the time.
I believe a few of Suttons players let him down off the course at Oakland Hills in the Americans 18 -- 9 loss in September. But if Sutton made one mistake, it was trying to keep everybody happy once the matches began.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like Nelson was gently reminding Lehman that captaining is an imprecise science. But just as players look for a consistent set of greens on the course, they will look for a consistent decision-making from their captain off the course.
If Tom Lehman doesnt back down from that concept, his captaincy will be a success.
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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing
The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.
Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.
The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.
Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:
"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.
"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.
"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.
"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."
Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International
PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.
Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.
''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''
Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.
''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''
Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.
England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.
Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open
Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.
Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.
This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.
Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.
Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season.
Both players will be making their first ever major starts.
“I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."
“It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."
The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.
The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.
Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.
Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.
''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''
The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.
Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.
Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.
''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''
Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.
First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.