Waugh could strengthen U.S. golf by bridging organizations

By Gary WilliamsOctober 1, 2014, 5:53 pm

Sometimes you have to reeducate yourself, just go back to school to learn what you’ve forgotten and realize that your fellow competitor has a firmer grasp on the subject and keeps producing higher marks.

Thus is the dilemma of the U.S. Ryder Cup culture. The agent for change and an encouraging future may lie in the mind of an individual who was nurtured in a culture of learning. More on that game-changer in a moment.

First, how did we get here, both the USA and Europe?

Many factors have contributed, some tangible, others intangible. However, the intangibles may be more impactful than the world rankings of the top European players starting to mirror those of the Yanks on a more consistent basis.

Lets start with the "systems," which is the most palpable component to why many think one side cares more than the other. It’s insulting to think the Americans don’t try or don’t care, and that the Europeans care more. But one side has more pride in the success of the team – it’s not about the flag; it’s about roots and soul.

The European Tour owns the property on its side and the Ryder Cup is its crown jewel. Every player is a product of the system. Of course, its biggest stars make the lion’s share of their wealth on the PGA Tour – that's not a slight or a turning of the back to where they came from. The reality is, that America provides the best fields, most money, most world ranking points and is home to three of the four majors.

Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia have not forgotten where they came from. On the contrary, they take pride in their origins and that it gave them the launching point for their wealth and place in the game. Yet, every two years they essentially get to leave their lives as de facto NBA superstars to put on their high school jerseys with the boys they grew up with and take on an American all-star team.

But more importantly, they are being guided by the guys from the neighborhood, European Tour brethren who never forgot where they came from and remain the soul of the system. Their pride in winning the cup for their respective nations is matched by their pride in the tour of which they are all a product.

Herein lies the disconnect – the European players are invested because they have a voice; their fraternity runs the tour and decides who leads the team.

The PGA of America is an admirable organization and I'm proud to say that as a former class-A member. But the association doesn't have the emotional and intellectual connection with the U.S. players charged with pursuing the cup because, while they're trying to grow the game, the players bi-annually representing the U.S. on its behalf are trying to win tournaments. The players don’t have any investment in the culture of the Ryder Cup until they are part of the team. Only then it's a formalized meet and greet while Europe descends on a Ryder Cup site having made every choice together in a unified systemic fashion that determines a resume based on the collective cause, not whether you won a major.

Now for the solution. It requires vision, commitment, concessions, and one who sees the viewpoint of all parties while being strong in his positions, but sensible enough to listen and be educated while teaching. The individual who should lead USA Golf is an accomplished businessman, but equally as important, he's a golf insider with relationships at every level. Seth Waugh is the answer.

The son of an English teacher at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and one of five sons, he had a choice to coach and teach or enter the business world. Either would have been fulfilling but Waugh ascended to the CEO position of Deutsche Bank in 2000. His rise was met with great success for his company and he chose golf as an investment in the branding of the company he was running. Along the way he earned the universal trust and respect of every key figure in golf – player, administrator, commissioner, sponsor and governing body.

His name was strongly kicked around as the successor to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. Waugh left his post at Deutsche Bank not because he was burned out, but because he wanted to invest in his son's four-year journey through college golf at Wake Forest – caddying for him in summer events and taking the time to reset the pins on his next passion. I've found that project, CEO of USA Golf.

Waugh knows the AJGA system, the college system, the PGA Tour culture and has the cache and humility to bridge the gap between the PGA of America and the Tour to navigate and negotiate concessions on both sides to find a common goal. Waugh has the ability to create golf events at the junior, scholastic, collegiate and professional levels to instill common goals, while making the U.S. side stronger in international team competitions while maximizing the marketability of the Tour’s biggest stars.

The PGA of America and the PGA Tour are in a good place and they have a chance to serve each other’s best interests by creating a position that will be the greatest bridge to unity and future success. Waugh should lead the search for future captains while fostering unity among players – letting their voices be heard – and also encouraging the captaining of Junior Ryder Cup teams by players in the U.S. Ryder Cup system. Ten years ago, USA Basketball was at a crossroads with the perception that the world had caught up with them, when in reality it was a concession that the NBA made that they needed a leader to build a new system under the direction of Jerry Colangelo. Big egos listened to each other and USA Basketball has a system that is a classic buy in. The dividends are championships with common purpose.

"When Jerry Colangelo took over, a new program and a new attitude was established, and the results are staggering," ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas said. "USA Basketball has won four straight FIBA world titles, which has never been done before, and USA Basketball has won every major title at every level.

"While the sports are different, the idea is the same: to create an environment of team, selfless service to others, and having a 'we first' approach.  We seem to accept that the Europeans do it naturally and we don't. That is a lame rationalization and excuse. We have lost eight of 10. That's a 20-year trend that is far beyond talent or making putts. We can't just say 'play better.' This trend is the result of a losing culture and requires change."

Waugh spent 30 years making the right investment for his various business segments and it’s time for the PGA of America and the PGA Tour to cede some power to a visionary that will serve both entities and pay dividends. Waugh always wanted to coach and teach. If given the chance he can do it in the sport he loves the most.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray

On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.




Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”