No 5 Europe All Alone in Ryder Cup Heaven

By George WhiteDecember 24, 2004, 5:00 pm
2004 Stories of the YearEditor's note: We are counting down the top 10 stories in golf for the 2004 season. This is Story No. 5.
Mickey Wright said it in 1981, in an interview in Golf Digest. When Im playing my best golf, Im in a fog standing back watching the earth in orbit with a golf club in your hands.
That was the way the European Ryder Cup looked this year. Every drive was straight, every iron was just the right distance, every putt homed in true to the cup. The Euros appeared in a fog, but they could do no wrong. Result: they mauled the Americans by nine points, 18 - 9 .
They have that intangible, said defeated U.S. captain Hal Sutton.
35th Ryder CupThey had it from the very first match, Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington slated to go out against Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The Americans, playing at home at Oakland Hills in Detroit, were overwhelming favorites to win. But Montgomerie made an eight-foot putt for birdie on the first hole of the three-day matches, and the Euros were off and running. Montgomerie and Harrington blew a big hole in the Americans battle plan with a 2-up victory, and Europe never once trailed the entire week.
They led 3 - 1 after that first morning session, 6 - 1 at the end of the first day.
Just when it looked like the Americans were getting a little momentum after two successive wins to start Day 2, more unlikely European stars showed up. This time it was a pair of rookies, Englishmen Paul Casey and David Howell, who stemmed the tide with a 1-up win over Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell.
That's the way we've been all week - no matter what is going on, the other guys are going to pull for each other, said Darren Clarke. That's why at the end of the week, we have ended up with as many points as we have.
At the end of the second day, it was 11-5, Europe. And then, in a rousing display of European team spirit, the final day was a celebration of Euro singles superiority. Europe won that day, 7 - 4 and won the Cup by a very convincing margin.
In the end, it was a matter of who had the most skill on the greens.
We all know they are great players, all 24, and it does come down to who makes the putts, said European captain Bernhard Langer.
Bottom line is, they can all hit good tee shots and hit the green most of the time, but whoever makes the putts wins most of the time anyways, and that's what we said. Hal and I said that early in the week when we had press conferences - the team who will putt better will most likely be the winner.
And the Europeans seemed to have the edge in team spirit from the word go, said Montgomerie. We're a closer-knit team. We're one of the closest teams in international sport; we must be. It's amazing how well we play for each other, and that's huge.
I'm not saying that the Americans don't. They play for the country or whatever, that's right. But we really do play for each other. And it's amazing how we pull for each other from the word go, from the moment we get on that plane on Monday morning how we are as one. It's amazing how our record here is, belies our ranking in the world.
Was it the best team Europe has ever had? It certainly seemed that way. Montgomerie emphasized that point.
It's as good a team as we have had, he said, nodding in agreement. And it does bode well for the future. It's as good a win. We're all individually fantastic, you know, but as good a team as we have had and it all goes well for the next time around.
Monty personally had a rocky year this year with a divorce and a golf game that was sorely lacking, Montomerie-wise. But all the personal things meant nothing when it came to the Ryder Cup.
Personally it means nothing, OK? said Montgomerie. Personally it means nothing. This is all about a team event. Personally it means nothing to me. I've said that many times. That putt was not for me at all; that was to get 14 1/2 points, which we're required to do.
But I must admit here that we have come here with the best team I've been associated with. Team. All 12.
In the end, it was difficult for Langer to express himself ' the results were too overwhelming.
It's hard to put into words, he said. I can't talk enough about these 12 guys here, the three assistant captains that I had, the caddies, the wives, even the staff. I mean, just everybody did an outstanding job. They all gave 100 percent, and sometimes more.
As I said earlier in the year or in the week, the players do the job. You know, I can only prepare the way and make them feel comfortable, encourage them and provide everything they need. But in the end, they are the ones who hit the shots and hole the putts, and they have done an incredible job.
For Langer, it would seem to have been sweet revenge for that time back in 1989 when he missed the six-foot putt that gave the U.S. the win at Kiawah. But its foreign to his nature to be boastful.
I'm not that sad or depressed about Kiawah, to tell you the truth, Langer said. I was down for a couple of days, but, you know, every time I got up in the morning, looked in the mirror, I knew that I gave 100 percent out there. As long as I do that, it doesn't matter to me whether I have success or failure.
It's a famous story of which President is it of the United States (Abraham Lincoln) who failed, whatever, 12 times and then he finally became president. You gain success through failure or you learn about things. And I've had some great experiences as a player in the Ryder Cup. I've had some other ones. And this obviously was my first time as a captain. And I don't think it can get any better than this has been this week, just from the very beginning.
I knew that we would have a great time once we got here. And they actually exceeded everything that I was hoping for.
Related Links:
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    Paisley (61) leads Tour Championship

    By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

    ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Tour Championship.

    The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

    ''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

    The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.

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    ''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

    Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

    ''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

    Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

    The series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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    McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

    ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

    Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

    Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.

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    “I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

    McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

    “I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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    Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

    ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

    After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

    He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.

    Projected FedExCup standings

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    “I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

    Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

    “If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”

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    Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:01 pm

    ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.

    Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.

    Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.

    Current FedExCup standings

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    “I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”

    Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.

    “It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.