Pavin selects Woods Johnson Cink Fowler for Ryder Cup

By Doug FergusonSeptember 7, 2010, 6:58 pm
Ryder Cup

NEW YORK – Tiger Woods was a no-brainer as a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup.

Rickie Fowler?

That required a little more than deep thought.

“It just came down to feelings,” captain Corey Pavin said. “I had a gut feeling about Rickie.”

Fowler, the 21-year-old mop top who only turned pro 11 months ago, made history Tuesday as the first PGA Tour rookie on the American team and the first captain’s pick to have never won on tour.

He was the only big mystery when Pavin announced his four picks at the New York Stock Exchange. Pavin also chose a pair of major champions, Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson, both of whom have played the Ryder Cup on the road.

The matches will be held Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor in Wales.

Fowler will be the youngest American to play in the Ryder Cup since Woods in 1997, but only the second-youngest player at Celtic Manor. Rory McIlroy, the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland, earned his way onto the European team.

“I can bring a little bit of color to the team, I can bring some youth to the team and hopefully, get the guys pumped up a little bit,” Fowler said. “But as I said, we’re all going over there to win, so we’re all going to be getting each other pumped and focusing on our main goal, bringing home the cup.”

The Americans won two years ago in Kentucky, and will try to win for the first time overseas since 1993 at The Belfry.

This will be the sixth Ryder Cup team for Woods, but the first in which he needed to be picked. Woods had finished first in the standings every time, including in 2008 when he spent the second half of the year recovering from knee surgery.

“It’s great to be a part of this team,” Woods said. “I’m honored to be selected … and looking forward to going back and having a great time with the team and hopefully, bring the Cup back.”

The eight Americans who qualified after the PGA Championship were Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Jeff Overton.

European captain Colin Montgomerie said Pavin used his four picks “to good effect.”

“Like my European team, the American side has an excellent blend of youthful talent alongside some seasoned Ryder Cup campaigners, and I am delighted to see Tiger Woods amongst Corey’s selections,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is a better event with him in it.”

Cink made his fifth consecutive team – his third as a captain’s pick – while Johnson is playing for the second time.

The final selection – and Pavin’s most difficult – went to Fowler, the first PGA Tour rookie to make the U.S. team. While the former Oklahoma State star has three runner-up finishes a pro, he still hasn’t won, and has not had a top 10 for three months.

Fowler played in the Walker Cup twice and went 7-1, including a 4-0 record at Merion last year. Pavin was not the least bit concerned that Fowler will be making his debut before fans who will be pulling against him.

“I think he can handle it, and that’s why I picked up,” Pavin said. “I think he’s a very mature young man. He’s had experience in international play. He’s got a very steady head on his shoulders.”

No one else stood out over the last three weeks. In the final tournament before Pavin’s picks, none of the 14 players on the captain’s short list finished among the top 10.

According to people with knowledge of the decision, the final selection came down to Fowler and big-hitting J.B. Holmes, who tied for 11th at the TPC Boston. Holmes went 2-0-1 two years ago playing before a home crowd at Valhalla.

Among those left off were Anthony Kim, who missed three months this summer with thumb surgery and was bumped out of the top eight in the final qualifying tournament; former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and Charley Hoffman, who closed with a 62 on Monday to win the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Hoffman was not on Pavin’s short list at the start of last week, but the captain called him Monday night to say he had been considered.

Fowler’s selection gives the Americans five Ryder Cup rookies – Watson, Overton, Fowler, Kuchar and Dustin Johnson – and two players without a single PGA Tour victory. Overton is winless in his five years on tour.

Woods, who retained the No. 1 world ranking for the 274th consecutive week Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, became an obvious selection once he said at the PGA Championship that he wanted to be part of the team. He has been accused of being indifferent toward the Ryder Cup, and his career record of 10-13-2 is the one flaw in an impeccable career inside the ropes.

He will be going to Wales on his own – his divorce was approved two weeks ago – and no longer cutting such an invincible figure.

Woods has failed to win since returning at the Masters, although he appears headed in the right direction. He posted three rounds in the 60s at the Deutsche Bank Championship for the first time all year.

“Whether I was a person who was picked or a person who earned their way on the squad, it doesn’t change the overall goal,” Woods said. “It’s still the same. And that’s to go over there and win.”

Europe’s team has six Ryder Cup rookies – Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Peter Hanson, Rory McIlroy, Ross Fisher and PGA champion Martin Kaymer – along with Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Miguel Angel Jimenez and U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell.

Zach Johnson won the Colonial in May, and the former Masters champion had been coming on strong in recent weeks. He finished one shot out of the playoff at the PGA Championship, and kept himself in the mix at the tour’s playoff events. Cink, who won the British Open at Turnberry last year, has been making slow progress in recent months.

“What was important to me is who I thought could play well in that environment over in Wales,” Pavin said. “That was my first criteria. Obviously, I like guys that are playing well, and that’s important. I wanted to find guys that round off the team and make it a team of 12, not 12 individuals that are great players.”

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CJ Cup: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 16, 2018, 9:20 pm

The PGA Tour returns to South Korea this week for the second edition of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges. Here is the key information for the no-cut event, where Justin Thomas is defending champion.

Golf course: Located on Jeju Island, the largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, The Club at Nine Bridges opened in 2001 and was designed by Ronald Fream and David Dale. The par-72 layout (36-36) will measure 7,184 yards for this week's event, 12 yards shorter than last year.

Purse: The total purse is $9.5 million with the winner receiving $1.71 million. In addition, the winner will receive 500 FedExCup points, a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, and invitations to the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Players, Masters, and PGA Championship.

Last year: Thomas defeated Marc Leishman with a birdie on the second playoff hole to earn his seventh career PGA Tour win.

TV schedule (all times Eastern): Golf Channel, Wednesday-Saturday, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

Live streamingWednesday-Saturday, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. 

Notable tee times (all times Eastern): 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, 8:15 p.m. Thursday: Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Sungjae Im; 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. Thursday: Marc Leishman, Si Woo Kim, Ernie Els; 8:25 p.m. Wednesday, 7:15 p.m. Thursday: Jason Day, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama

Notables in the field: Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Ernie Els, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and last week's winner Marc Leishman.

Key stats:

 This is the third of 46 official events of the season and the second of three consecutive weeks of events in Asia

• 78-player field including the top 60 available from the final 2017-2018 FedExCup points list

The field also includes 12 major champions and two of the top five in the Official World Golf Ranking (highest ranked are No. 3 Koepka and No. 4 Thomas)

Thomas and Koepka both have a shot to ascend to No. 1 in the OWGR this week - they will play their first two rounds grouped together

Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit

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Els eyeing potential Prez Cup players at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 16, 2018, 6:55 pm

Ernie Els is teeing it up this week in South Korea as a player, but he's also retaining the perspective of a captain.

While the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia is still more than a year away, Els has already begun the process of keeping tabs on potential players who could factor on his International squad that will face an American contingent captained by Tiger Woods. Els played in last week's CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and this week received one of eight sponsor exemptions into the limited-field CJ Cup on Jeju Island.

Els played a Tuesday practice round with Presidents Cup veteran and Branden Grace and India's Shubankhar Sharma, who held a share of the 54-hole lead last week in Malaysia.

"It's going to be a very diverse team the way things are shaping up already," Els told reporters. "We've got another year to go, so we're going to have an interesting new group of players that's going to probably make the team."

In addition to keeping tabs on Grace and Sharma, Els will play the first two rounds with Australia's Marc Leishman and South Korea's Si Woo Kim. Then there's Sungjae Im, a native of Jeju Island who led the Web.com Tour money list wire-to-wire last season.

"There's so many Korean youngsters here this week, so I'm going to really see how they perform," Els said. "Still a long way to go, but these guys, the young guys are going to be really the core of our team."

Els, who will turn 49 on Wednesday, made only five cuts in 15 PGA Tour starts last season, with his best result a T-30 finish at the Valero Texas Open. While it's increasingly likely that his unexpected triumph at the 2012 Open will end up being his final worldwide victory, he's eager to tackle a new challenge in the coming months by putting together the squad that he hopes can end the International losing skid in the biennial matches.

"The U.S. team is a well-oiled team. They play Ryder Cups together, they obviously play very well in the Presidents Cups against us, so they're a very mature team," Els said. "We are going to be a young team, inexperienced. But that doesn't scare me because I know the course very well down in Melbourne, I've played it many, many times. I feel I have a very good game plan to play the golf course strategy-wise and I'm going to share that with my players."

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CIMB champ Leishman hopes to improve on CJ runner-up

By Will GrayOctober 16, 2018, 6:29 pm

Marc Leishman is back in Korea with momentum on his side, hoping to fare a little better than a year ago.

Leishman nearly took home the trophy in the inaugural CJ Cup, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Justin Thomas. But the Aussie put his approach into the water on the second extra hole, allowing Thomas to wrap up the win a few minutes later.

"Excited to be back in Korea. I have a lot of good memories here at this golf course," Leishman told reporters. "Hopefully I can play well again and go one better than last year."

Leishman's playoff loss kick-started a strong opening stretch to his wraparound season, but he closed it without a victory. That drought ended in emphatic fashion last week, as he cruised to a five-shot win at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia for his fourth career PGA Tour win and his third since March 2017.


CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


Leishman told reporters last week in Malaysia that before the week started, his driving was so crooked that he feared his equipment reps might need to add a few golf balls to his locker. Instead, he found his groove en route to shooting 26 under par at TPC Kuala Lumpur and leaving the field in his wake.

"Golf's a funny game. It can change very quickly from bad to good or from good to bad," Leishman said. "It was certainly a goal of mine to win this season, and to win my first event of the season is great. Also to be going back to Maui puts me in a different frame of mind for the whole year. For a lot of reasons, I'm really happy with what last week brought."

Leishman played on the Korean PGA Tour in 2006 while getting his pro career off the ground, but even with that experience he expects a learning curve while going from the steamy conditions of Malaysia to the cool and wet climate that has greeted players this week on Jeju Island.

"It's a big adjustment going from so hot and humid last week to fairly cold and hopefully not wet, but it was wet this morning," Leishman said. "The ball goes different distances, your body's not quite as loose as what it is when it's hot. Just little things like that that you have to adjust to."

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Bowditch eyes same fusion surgery as Tiger

By Will GrayOctober 16, 2018, 6:03 pm

After struggling through a couple lean years on the course, Steven Bowditch is ready to go under the knife.

Bowditch has won twice on the PGA Tour, and the Aussie was a member of the International Team at the 2015 Presidents Cup in South Korea. But his game fell apart shortly thereafter, as Bowditch has made just two cuts in his last 40 starts dating back to July 2016 while putting up some eye-popping scores.

Bowditch's exemption for his win at the 2015 AT&T Byron Nelson expired in August 2017, and he spent last season without full-time status on Tour for the first time since 2010. He made eight starts, notably finding a caddie via Twitter search before missing the cut at the John Deere Classic in July.

But the 35-year-old revealed Tuesday that his on-course struggles have been tied to some health concerns that have been difficult to pinpoint. Having finally received the appropriate diagnosis, he is preparing for a spinal fusion surgery next month between the L5 and S1 vertebrae - the same two that Tiger Woods successfully fused last year:

Bowditch's estimate of a "late 2019" return likely means he'll miss the entire 2018-19 season. When he returns he would do so with past champion status based on his wins, which also included the 2014 Valero Texas Open.