Azinger said 'not yet' to joining Ryder Cup task force

By Ryan LavnerOctober 15, 2014, 1:27 pm

When the PGA of America announced the formation of the 11-man Ryder Cup task force, one name was notably absent: Paul Azinger, the only victorious U.S. captain since 1999.

Instead, the organization tabbed a combination of current players (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler), former captains (Davis Love III, Raymond Floyd and Tom Lehman) and PGA officials (Derek Sprague, Pete Bevacqua and Paul Levy). 

Azinger said Wednesday that he declined an invitation to immediately join the task force, but also left open the possibility that he could be a part of the process in the future.

“I didn’t say no,” he said on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive”, “I said not yet. I think everything is going too fast. It’s just too soon to make that kind of decision when emotions are involved.”

Azinger said that he hasn’t yet met Sprague, the incoming PGA president, and has only spoken on the phone with Bevacqua, the PGA’s CEO. The 2008 captain said that he was hesitant to initially be part of a task force when he didn’t know the structure of the group. 

“I just didn’t want to jump on a task force right away,” he said. “Let’s just slow down a Mach.”

Video: Azinger discusses Ryder Cup task force on 'Morning Drive'

Azinger, however, said that he is scheduled to meet with PGA of America officials in early November and hopes that he’ll be able to provide a “bridge” between the organization and the players. Unlike in Europe, in which the 12-man roster competes for the European Tour, Azinger said there is a “disconnect” between the PGA and the modern pro – one of the many criticisms in the wake of Tom Watson’s recent captaincy.

Surprisingly, Azinger also said that he hasn’t been consulted by the PGA following his team’s victory in 2008. 

“Not really, no,” he said. “No, they haven’t. That’s part of the problem, I feel, is that we have guys coming in individually every couple of years and the players who are repeat players have to adjust to a new guy’s leadership style.”

That’s not the case in Europe. Paul McGinley, for example, apprenticed under Jose Maria Olazabal in 2012 at Medinah before accepting the captain’s gig two years later. Olazabal, in turn, was an assistant under McGinley. Many believe that continuity is a significant reason why Europe has won six of the past seven Ryder Cups, and eight of the last 10.

“I love the idea of the task force addressing these problems,” Azinger said. “I think it’s a great way for players to have an actual voice. … I haven’t said no to the task force. I just said not yet.” 

Getty Images

Watch: Hahn slam-dunks ace on 11th hole

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:20 pm

There are aces, and there are slam-dunk aces. No question which one this one by James Hahn on the 154-yard 11th hole was.

Getty Images

Els' nephew Rebula wins Amateur Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:05 pm

Ernie Els is one proud uncle.

His nephew, Jovan Rebula, won the Amateur Championship on Saturday at Royal Aberdeen to become the first South African to capture the title since Bobby Cole in 1966.

Rebula, a junior at Auburn, will join his famous uncle in Carnoustie next month for The Open. He also will get invites to the 2019 Masters and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Rebula defeated Ireland's Robin Dawson, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final.

"It’s unreal," Rebula said. "It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but it’s an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different."

Rebula received plenty of texts from Els throughout the week, and the encouragement paid off. Rebula opened a 1-up lead after 18 holes, and he extended his advantage by winning the 26th and 27th holes. He was 5 up with six to play before finally closing out Dawson on the 16th hole with an up-and-down from the bunker.

"It’s been a long week and especially today," Rebula said. "I should have finished maybe a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. A very tiring week. I’m standing here right now and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through me."

Getty Images

Squirrel gets Rory's round off to a rocky start

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 6:42 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy’s third round at the Travelers Championship got off to a peculiar start before he even hit a shot.

McIlroy had just been introduced on the first tee at TPC River Highlands and was ready to unload on his opening drive of the day when a squirrel ran across the tee box a few feet in front of him.

McIlroy stopped his swing and laughed it off, but the squirrel continued to linger for several seconds, criss-crossing from one side of the packed tee box to the other. And while this was no black cat, the pump-fake to start his round didn’t exactly help the Ulsterman.

McIlroy ultimately blocked his drive into the right rough after enduring his brief rodent delay en route to an opening bogey, and amid soft conditions at TPC River Highlands he played his first five holes in 2 over. McIlroy started the day at 7 under, three shots behind leader Brian Harman.

Getty Images

Kaymer in six-way tie for BMW International lead

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 5:29 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - Danish golfer Lucas Bjerregaard shot a 5-under 67 to equal the week's lowest round for a six-way share of the lead after the third round of the BMW International Open on Saturday.

Bjerregaard had eight birdies, a double bogey and a bogey to finish on 5-under 211 - jumping 23 places and joining local favorites Martin Kaymer and Maximilian Kieffer, England's Chris Paisley and Aaron Rai, and Australia's Scott Hend at the top of the leaderboard.

Bjerregaard was fortunate to play before the wind picked up again later in the afternoon.

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Kaymer, the 2008 champion, delighted the home supporters with two birdies in his last three holes for a 71.

Finland's Mikko Korhonen and Chile's Nico Geyger were one shot off the lead after rounds of 69 and 73, respectively.

Defending champion Andres Romero equaled the week's best round (67) to be among a large group two shots off the lead going into Sunday, including three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.

Romero is bidding to be the first player to retain the title.