Punch Shot: Predictions for 41st Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 29, 2016, 8:13 pm

CHASKA, Minn. – We’re on the eve of the 41st Ryder Cup, where Europe is looking to win for a record fourth consecutive time. The red, white and blue are just hoping to stop the bleeding and would love to do so on home soil.

With that, our team at Hazeltine weighs in with answers to three questions.


Rex Hoggard: Dustin Johnson. Expectations at the Ryder Cup are always tough to fulfill, but it is difficult to imagine how DJ doesn’t emerge as the U.S. team’s man of the match. No one has the ability to overpower courses, particularly sprawling courses like Hazeltine National, and compartmentalize setbacks better than DJ, which might be the best recipe for match-play success.

Randall Mell: Patrick Reed. The American will thrive wearing red, white and blue again, but this time he won’t be admonishing the crowd to be silent like he did at Gleneagles. He’ll be exhorting the home crowd to make a lot of noise. He’ll be giving them reason to do so as he further develops his image as the American Ian Poulter.

Ryan Lavner: Patrick Reed. Pumping his fist, shushing the crowd, he went 3-0-1 in a road Ryder Cup. He was so fired up Thursday that he was practically bouncing in his seat. Reed and Jordan Spieth will have the biggest target on their backs for the Americans, but that’s a spot both relish. Reed has played some terrific golf this season, and there’s no reason to expect any different in the event he loves most.

Jay Coffin: Rory McIlroy. He’s riding high after that huge payday last Sunday and will play lights-out for three days. Sure, his putting was spotty at the BMW Championship, but it’s the Ryder Cup and I expect to see his top form with every club in the bag. If Europe has any hope, Rory has to be its top dog.


Hoggard: Ryan Moore. He may have been a last-minute edition to the team and something of an unknown element to fans and even a few members of the U.S. team, but Moore will emerge from the 41st matches as the American team’s surprise star. He’s neither flashy nor powerful, but Moore enjoys that unknown quality that makes for a truly special match play and Ryder Cup player.

Mell: Thomas Pieters. Seems like everyone’s predicting stardom for this young Belgian. There’s no better place to launch that new arc to his career than in a Ryder Cup.

Lavner: Thomas Pieters. He may have been the last pick for the Europeans, but he’s still one of their best players. The big-hitting Belgian has three wins in the past year, and if given the chance by captain Darren Clarke, he’ll shine on the big stage. He has a history of giant slaying, whether it was winning the individual title at the 2012 NCAAs or providing a clinching point again at the NCAAs a year later. This kid’s the real deal and has immense skills.

Coffin: Rafael Cabrera Bello. It’s already been the most successful year of his career (he’s up to No. 30 in the world ranking) and that trend will continue here this week. At some point he’ll be paired with countryman Sergio Garcia and that Spanish Ryder Cup magic will continue just as it has the past three decades.


Hoggard: United States. Europeans light up whenever someone mentions the task force, which to those from the Continent was a silly waste of time. But if the American makeover has done anything it’s given the U.S. players ownership of an event that had become a party where they never seemed entirely welcome. Despite Europe’s dominance of late, most have been decided by the slimmest of margins, and the task force will prove to be the winning edge.

Mell: United States. The Euros finally seem ripe for the taking. With the Euros on foreign soil with six Ryder Cup rookies on their roster, the Americans really are the favorites. After all the task force invested in overhauling the U.S. Ryder Cup effort, the Americans better win.

Lavner: United States. Lee Westwood said it best Thursday: “You form a task force and it doesn’t go right this week, where do you go from there?” Put simply, the Americans HAVE to win this week. They have the home crowd. They have the better team. (Don’t they always?) They have strong, confident pairings. But now comes the hard part – executing when everyone expects them to excel. Europe will keep it close, but the home crowd gives the Americans the 1 1/2-point bump they need.

Coffin: Europe. The Americans should win, they do have the better collection of players. But do they have the better team? The Americans always have more talent, but we all know how that has played out over the last two decades. Until the U.S. finally wins one, I’ll pick Europe.

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”