The next golden era for Europe

By Doug FergusonOctober 5, 2010, 10:26 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – The Ryder Cup used to be the crowning achievement for European golf.

Now it’s gravy.

From the balcony of the clubhouse at Celtic Manor, the Europeans sprayed champagne onto a delirious crowd Monday afternoon, stopping every now and then to chug some of the bubbly in a raucous celebration.

All they cared about was winning the gold trophy that apparently had only been on loan to the Americans. Considering how the year has gone – and what the future holds – they might as well have been celebrating a banner year.

Europeans won three consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour, the first time that has happened. They had more major champions than any other continent, with Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and Martin Kaymer of Germany taking the PGA Championship in a playoff.

Coincidence? Maybe. The world ranking, however, suggests otherwise.

Europe has five players in the top 10 – and 11 players in the top 25 – which is more than the Americans. Lee Westwood moved up to No. 2 in the world, and he won’t have to do much at the Dunhill Championship this week or the Portugal Masters to replace Tiger Woods when they meet in Shanghai next month.

For years, there was a perception that the Americans had the best players and Europe had the best team. Now, it seems as though everything is going Europe’s way.

This could be the next golden era for European golf.

“I think it’s been a golden era for a couple of years now,” Westwood said.

Westwood quickly pointed out what made this European team look stronger than ever: It wasn’t so much who was on the team at Celtic Manor, rather who was left off.

It was the first time Europe had a top 10 player who couldn’t make the team, either on points or through a pick. That would be Paul Casey of England, who is No. 7 in the world and spent the Ryder Cup riding his bike through western Canada.

Six years ago, Europe didn’t have a player ranked that high on its team.

Also left off the team were Justin Rose, who won two times on the PGA Tour in the span of a month, first at the Memorial, then at the AT&T National; Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, two Swedes who played on the previous two teams and are coping with a slump; and Sergio Garcia, who had played in five Ryder Cups before turning 30. He was a vice captain at Celtic Manor.

Five of the players in this Ryder Cup were under 30. One of them is Kaymer, who already has a major. Another is Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who tied for third in two majors and shot 62 to win on one of the PGA Tour’s toughest tracks at Quail Hollow.

“I think the last four or five years have been a good time for European golf,” Westwood.

Still to be determined is whether this crop can dominate golf the way its “Fab Five” – Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam – did in the 1980s and 90s.

Langer and Lyle won majors in 1985, the same year Europe ended 28 years of U.S. dominance in these matches. For most of the last decade, the U.S. team showed up at the Ryder Cup boasting the most major champions, and Europe proved its worth in the Ryder Cup.

Now it gets the trophy and the majors.

“I think it was clear that this Ryder Cup team was one of the hardest teams to get on,” Luke Donald said. “We’ve won nine of the last 13. We’re starting to get close to that word ‘dominance.”’

The next step is to win more majors.

Westwood could become only the third player to reach No. 1 without having won a major. He was runner-up in two majors this year, the Masters and the British Open, and he finished one shot out of a playoff in each of the previous two years. Even though he had not played in nearly two months because of a calf injury, Westwood looked as though he had never been away.

“If you look back 10 years ago, I was the only English player in the top 100,” he said.

Now there are six among the top 30, although none has won a major. The last Englishman to win a major was Nick Faldo in 1996.

“We need to start winning majors,” Westwood said, speaking more of his country than all of Europe.

As more Europeans take up membership in the PGA Tour, Westwood is content to stay home. He has tried the U.S. tour, winning this year at the St. Jude Classic. He just doesn’t see the need to travel across the Atlantic to make sure he plays his minimum tournament. He recalls showing up at some tournaments wondering what he was doing there.

“I’m not going to be taking up my tour card,” he said before leaving Celtic Manor. “I think I got it right this year.”

So did Europe. Seven of its players won in America. Two won majors.

It took 12 to win a Ryder Cup.

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: