Another Controversial Trip Home for Norman
Yes and yes, if you believe Bruce Devlin. No and no, if you believe Greg Norman.
Devlin, an Aussie with considerable tournament wins himself, has caused a firestorm in the golfing world of Australia by criticizing Norman for not participating in the Australian Open last week. Devlin called Norman an 'ungrateful individual' for missing the 100th anniversary of the Open and said, 'You'd think he'd have the decency to come out and celebrate something special.'
After last weeks Thanksgiving holiday, Norman now is in Australia this week to play the Australian PGA. When he arrived Down Under, he was immediately inundated by media members for his reaction to Devlins comments. Norman was stunned by the remarks.
Now, Devlin has always seemed like a polite and personable guy. But consider that Norman has lived in the U.S. since 1983, a period of 21 years. Before that, he played fulltime on the European Tour since 1977. So he has not been a fulltime resident of Australia for 27 years.
Nonetheless, he has played the Aussie Open 23 times, teeing it up the first time as an 18-year-old amateur in 1973. I believe I have supported the event as well as anybody else on the Australian circuit or any professional,' Norman said. And that seems pretty impressive, considering he would have had to make the trip halfway around the world to Australia the majority of those 23 times.
Of course, this was the centennial of the Open. And that meant a little something special. But contrast this with the fact that it was the Thanksgiving holidays in the States. Daughter Morgan-Leigh was home from college for one of the few times in the school year. Ditto son Gregory. What would you have done?
'Ask the general public and I think the consensus would be spending time with your family is more important than going out there playing golf,' said Norman.
Hes right. There are only four years that Morgan-Leigh will be in college, but this happens to be one of them. His choice was simple ' be a husband and stay at home for the holidays with your family, or be a golfer and go to the centennial anniversary of the Australian Open.
Norman chose his family.
'It's my life. My children are in college and the only time they come home is for long weekends like Thanksgiving,' he said.
Now, Norman has had a row several times with the homeland over skipping this or that tournament. Actually, he bypassed the Australian Open the first time back in 1992 because it was Thanksgiving week.
I had committed to my family that I would spend Thanksgiving with them, he told Golf Digest in 92. I had never spent Thanksgiving with them, and the kids are old enough now (Morgan-Leigh was 10 then, Gregory was seven) that they know what Thanksgiving is all about
I just figured I need to spend time with my family Im going to spend time with my American family.
So this criticism handed down by Devlin isnt new. Norman has discovered how difficult it is when, 1, you live in the United States; 2, you are the most famous golfer in your home country of Australia; and 3, there is a days flight time and half a world between them.
Hes also learned how difficult it is to juggle his multiple business projects, the American holiday schedule, and the Australian golf schedule.
He gets a lot of appearance money to play in Australia, and if thats your criticism of him, you certainly have a valid point. But he says that appearance money in not the issue in this particular Aussie Open controversy.
'Someone mentioned to me that I was offered $400,000 to play last week,' he said. 'There was no discussion about appearance money last week and I've played in this country without it before.'
And he says he has forked out big chunks of his own money to keep certain Australian events afloat. 'I have underwritten tournaments in this country to the tune of $1 million when things were going down the toilet, he said.
This is what happens, though, when you are the sporting idol of a country. Sometimes you just don't know where the next attack is coming from.
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U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup
The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.
Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.
"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.
Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.
Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3
Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up
Match 3 — Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)
Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2
Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2
Match 6 — Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1
Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up
Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up
Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1
Match 10 — Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1
Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)
Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up
TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018
ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).
Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).
Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).
Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.
This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.
-NBC Sports Group-
Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf
Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.
He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.
The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.
He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.
“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.
It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.
For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.
Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.
In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.
Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.
For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.
“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”
But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.
“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”
In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.
His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.
As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.
“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.
“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.
It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.
Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.
“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”
If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.
Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.
Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.