Ryder Presidents - Its Overload Says Kite

By George WhiteSeptember 24, 2004, 4:00 pm
Tom Kite shudders a little when he thinks about it. But the former U.S. Ryder Cup captain sees the possibility of last weeks lopsided European victory happening time and time again in the foreseeable future.
No, its not because he thinks the European players are that much superior to the Americans. That problem would eventually fix itself and the talent from the two continents would level out. But this problem will not go away, regardless of how much the Americans want it to.
I think the Presidents Cup is killing the Ryder Cup, Kite said firmly. I really do I think its really difficult for the U.S. team right now.
The Presidents Cup, of course, is the PGA Tours biennial competition matching a U.S. team against an international team, meaning the rest of the world minus Europe. Played in the years in which there isnt a Ryder Cup, its a relative newcomer, only in existence since 1994.
Kite played in seven Ryder Cups, stretching from 79 to 93. He would have played in twice that many international competitions if the Presidents Cup had been in existence. He believes that expecting the Americans to participate in a match every year is persistently draining their enthusiasm.
Thats a lot to ask ' especially when the other team (Europe) gets rejuvenated, he said. They have the opportunity to get refreshed, not have it for a year.
This years lopsided affair was a perfect example. I see the enthusiasm among the guys who have not played in many past Ryder Cups or Presidents Cups, he says. You see it in Chris DiMarco, Chris Riley, even Jay Haas. But you just dont see the same enthusiasm in the guys who did it just 12 months before. Twelve months before that they did it, and 12 months before that and 12 months before that.
Kite, now 55 and a standout on the Champions Tour, realizes that the competitions occupy only one week of the players time a year. But there is one key difference ' for Europe its only once every two years. That, he believes, is a major difference. The opportunity to represent your country is a huge honor, he says, but coming every year as it does, its diluted a little.
I remember reading a quote from Nick Faldo and somebody asked him if he wasnt disappointed that he wasnt going to play in the Presidents Cup, remembered Kite. He said, Youve got to be kidding! I need two years to recover from this!
Kite confesses that he doesnt know an answer. He isnt even certain that the Presidents Cup theory is the real reason for the losses that had piled up in a depressing succession. He cant be certain that one week a year is too much ' unless your opponent isnt expected to do the same thing.
BUT ' I keep going back to the fact of, When did we start getting beat? Prior to that time it was a pretty even competition. You had the Fab Five over there in Europe from 83 and to about 91 or 93.
When did we start getting it handed to us on a platter? In 95. When did the Presidents Cup start? In 94.
In 95, the steady drumbeat of losses began. Last weeks setback ran Europes winning ratio to four in five, with the only American success coming in 1999 at Brookline after the U.S. rallied on Sunday to take the singles competition, 8 - 3 . It came that close to being five European victories over the last five Ryder Cups.

Of course, that is around the time that the Ryder Cup became profitable. For decades it had been a losing proposition for America. But when Europe began to win from time to time in the 80s that began to change. And the PGA of America found it had a huge cash cow on its hands.
Rather by coincidence or not, the PGA Tour ' certainly no dummy when it comes to great money-making ideas ' decided that the rest of the world was entitled to play the U.S., also. Ergo - the Presidents Cup. And that idea has proven to be extremely profitable, as well.
The suggestion has been made that there be three teams ' the U.S., Europe, and the Internationals ' and that the winners of the competition be matched the following year. But its difficult to see that happening.
Why? Because if the U.S. is not involved, the event wont be nearly as profitable. A Europe vs. the Internationals match might sound like an excellent idea, but it wouldnt bring nearly the television revenue that a matchup involving the United States would. Its just that simple. And ' money is a powerful persuader.
There is one thing that may trump the dollar, though. Kite sees it happening someday, and it may be the one thing that will cause the interested parties to all sit up and take notice.
There may come a time when one of the top players stands up and says, No, Im not going to do that. I need a break, said Kite. That, he believes, will finally get the attention of all the participants.
And I hope that if and when that happens, you guys (in the media) are sensitive enough to whats going on and aware enough that you wont barbecue him.
Its going to be difficult for someone to do it for that reason alone.
Until then, he feels, get accustomed to a steady succession of Euro victories. This steady diet of end-of-year international competitions is just too much.
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Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

“Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”

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Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

“Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

“Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

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Only putting is holding McIlroy back

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.

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“I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

“I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

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Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

“It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.

Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida

“This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

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Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.

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“I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

“So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

“For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”