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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(Not that) Jutanugarn shares lead with (not that) Ko

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 1:58 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn overcame a poor start and birdied the 18th for a hard-earned 1-under 70 to tie Jin Young Ko at 9 under on Saturday going into the final round of the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open.

Ko shot a 66 at Wilshire Country Club in her bid to become the year's first two-time LPGA winner. She won the Women's Australian Open in February, her first victory as an official tour member.

Jutanugarn is trying to match younger sister Ariya as a tour champion. Seven-time winner Ariya was tied for 27th after a 72 in the third round.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park was two shots back in third after a 69. Her birdie putt for a share of the lead on 18 slid just by the hole.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

Moriya Jutanugarn's round included a double bogey on the par-4 first hole and a bogey on the par-4 sixth. She eagled the par-4 14th after holing out from the fairway 93 feet away. The ball took once bounce and went in, eliciting a stunned look from Jutanugarn before she high-fived her caddie.

Jutanugarn read the break perfectly to make birdie on 18 and share the lead with Ko.

Playing two groups ahead of Jutanugarn, Caroline Inglis also eagled the 14th. She briefly jumped up and down and smiled. She shot a 69 and was four shots back in a tie for sixth with Minjee Lee.

Aditi Ashok eagled 14 early in the round.

Ko did some scrambling of her own. Her ball found a sandy hazard on the 17th with a scoreboard and a winding creek in between her and the green 190 yards away. Her approach landed just off the green and she made par. Her round included six birdies and a bogey on 16.

Eun-Hee Ji (70) and American Marina Alex (72) were tied for fourth at 6 uner.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng shot a 70 and was in a six-way tie for 12th at 2 under.

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Defending champs Singh, Franco take senior lead

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 12:15 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco took the third-round lead Saturday in the windy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Singh and Franco shot a 7-under 47 in wind gusting to 20 mph on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to get to 19-under 145, a stroke ahead of the teams of David Toms-Steve Flesch and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett.

''It was a tough day,'' Singh said. ''The wind was swirling, have to get the club right and we made some putts. Carlos played really well on the back nine and I played really well on the front nine, so we ham-and-egged it a little.''

Toms and Flesch also shot 47, and Broadhurst and Triplett had a 33 on the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course.

''We just paired well together,'' Toms said. ''I don't think either one of us played great. We picked each other up out there.''

Wind and rain is expected Sunday when the teams finish at Top of the Rock, again playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

''Make as many birdies as possible and see what happens,'' Singh said. ''That's all we can do.''

Singh and Franco are trying to become the first to successfully defend a title since Jim Colbert and Andy North in 2001. Singh won the Toshiba Classic in March for his first individual senior title.

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week in Georgia for his first senior victory.

Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer had a 34 at Mountain Top to join Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal at 17 under. Jimenez and Olazabal had a 33 at Mountain Top.

''It's great for me to be able to play with him as a team member,'' Olazabal said. ''We do have great memories from the Ryder Cup and other events, and it's always a great pleasure to play with a great player and a friend.''

Langer took the final-round forecast in stride.

''We've done it hundreds of times before and we'll probably do it again,'' Langer said. ''We'll make the best of it. We both have a good attitude. We're known to play in all sorts of weather and I just look forward to playing one more day with my partner here.''

Wisconsin neighbors Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were 16 under after a 48 at Top of the Rock.

John Daly and Michael Allen, the second-round leaders after a 46 at Top of the Rock, had a 37 at Mountain Top to drop into a tie for seventh at 15 under.

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Landry shares Valero lead, eyes first career win

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 11:15 pm

After coming up just short of a breakthrough win earlier this season, Andrew Landry has another chance to earn his maiden victory at the Valero Texas Open.

Landry came within inches of winning the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, ultimately losing to Jon Rahm in a four-hole playoff. He struggled to find form in the wake of his close call, missing the cut in each of his four starts following his runner-up finish in Palm Springs.

But Landry took some time off to welcome his first child, Brooks, last month and he made it to the weekend in his first start back last week at the RBC Heritage, where he finished T-42. He made a move up the standings Saturday at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67, and at 13 under shares the lead with Zach Johnson heading into the final round.

"I just did everything really good," Landry told reporters. "I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat, and I had a couple bad putts that I didn't really make. I'm happy with it, it's a good 5-under round. Gets me in the final group tomorrow and we'll see what happens."

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Landry started the day one shot off the pace and in the final group with Johnson and Ryan Moore, and at one point he took sole possession of the lead after birdies on three of his first six holes. Now he'll have another chance in the day's final tee time where he's grouped with Johnson and Trey Mullinax, who sits one shot back after firing a course-record 62 in the third round.

For Landry, it's another opportunity to break into the winner's circle, and it's one for which he feels prepared after coming so close three months ago.

"I mean, I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself. There's no other explanation for it," Landry said. "You can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot.

"Zach's always been a role model to me the way he plays golf, I feel like we have very similar games, and it's just going to be fun tomorrow getting to play with him again."

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Z. Johnson, Landry share 54-hole Texas Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 10:56 pm

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson birdied the par-5 18th Saturday at the Valero Texas Open for a share of the third-round lead with Andrew Landry, a stroke ahead of record-setting Trey Mullinax.

Johnson shot a 4-under 68, holing a 10-footer on 18 to match Landry at 13-under 203 at TPC San Antonio's AT&T Oaks. Landry birdied the 16th and 17th in a 67.

Johnson won the event in 2008 and 2009, the last two times it was played at LaCantera. The 42-year-old Iowan is trying to win for the first time since the 2015 British Open.

''I've got 18 holes to get to that point,'' Johnson said. ''I've got to do exactly what I did on the back side and that was give myself opportunities on every hole. I'm putting great, I'm seeing the lines well, my caddie's reading the greens well, so it's just a matter of committing and executing down the stretch.''

The 30-year-old Landry is winless on the tour.

''I'm a good putter and I just need to give myself a lot of opportunities tomorrow like I did today,'' Landry said. ''I'll be looking forward to tomorrow.''

Mullinax had a course-record 62. He played the back nine in 7-under 29, going 6 under on the last five with eagles on the par-5 14th and 18th and birdies on 16 and 17. He also birdied Nos. 10 and 12 and bogeyed 11.

''It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had,'' Mullinax said. ''To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good.''

Johnson played the front nine in even par with two birdies and two bogeys. He birdied Nos. 11, 14, 15 and 18 on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

''Different wind today early on, misjudged some numbers, misjudged some wind, made some bad swings, all of the above,'' Johnson said. ''But truthfully, my short game was actually pretty good, my putting was great. I missed some putts, but I hit some really good ones, hit some lines and I gave myself opportunities especially on the back side.''

Landry had a bogey-free round.

''I just did everything really good,'' Landry said. ''I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat.''

Ryan Moore was two strokes back at 11 under after a 70. Sean O'Hair had a 65 to join 2015 champion Jimmy Walker (67), Chris Kirk (68) and 2013 winner Martin Laird (69) at 9 under.

''I just feel like I'm getting closer and closer to playing better and better golf, more solid golf, putting rounds together,'' Walker said. ''I'm excited for the opportunity tomorrow.''

Mullinax has made 42 of 44 putts from inside 10 feet this week.

''They just kind of remind me of greens from home,'' Mullinax said. ''My caddie, David (Flynn), has been reading them really well. We trusted each other on our reads and I've been hitting good putts. Been working hard on putting on the weeks off that I've had so it's good to see some results.''

The 25-year-old former Alabama player chipped in for the eagle on 14 and the birdie on the par-3 16th.

''It was just a little bit down the hill,'' he said about the 16th. ''All you had to do was just land it just past that little light grass spot. My caddie told me just read it like a putt, so I tried to just read it like a putt and it went in.''

On 18, he hit a 3-iron from 255 yards to 15 feet to set up his eagle putt. He broke the course record of 63 set by Matt Every in 201 and matched by Laird in 2013. The tournament record is 60 at LaCantera, by Bart Bryant in 2004 and Johnson in 2009.