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Stat's right: How U.S. can snap 25-year losing streak

By Justin RaySeptember 26, 2018, 8:29 pm

Wednesday marks the 25-year anniversary of Davis Love III beating Constantino Rocca in singles, 1 up, to clinch a U.S. Ryder Cup win at The Belfry in England.

Since then, the United States has won the Ryder Cup three times, but never away from home, where the Americans have been outscored by 19 points in five Ryder Cups since held east of the Atlantic.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have combined for 19 major championships and 18 previous Ryder Cup appearances, but neither player has ever been part of a winning U.S. Ryder Cup team on European soil. So how can the Americans break one of the longest road losing streaks in sports?

Importance of the opening match

Call it equal parts math and momentum – the team that wins the opening match of the Ryder Cup has a decided edge. Since 1975, the team to win the first match of the Ryder Cup has a record of 15-4 (twice in that span, the first match was halved). The United States has only won on European soil three times during that span: 1975, 1981 and 1993. The Americans won the opening match in all three instances.

Improved foursomes performance

At the 2016 Ryder Cup, the U.S. outscored Europe in foursomes, 5½ to 2½. The U.S. was a combined 20-under in those eight matches, 20 strokes better than the Europeans. That is a stark difference to the Americans’ foursomes performance on foreign turf in recent years. Since 2002, Europe has a point differential of +9 in that format on their home soil, winning 21 more holes than the U.S. in that span.

In six of the last eight Ryder Cups, the side that won the most foursomes points went on to win the Ryder Cup. A hot start in this format is especially paramount: since 1985, a team that wins the opening hole of a foursomes match goes on to win a full point 68 percent of the time – and wins at least a half of a point 79 percent of the time.

Player history in this format strongly favors the European side, who’s roster has a combined career record of 25-15-6 in foursomes. The United States? 14-21-11.

American rookies rolling

Despite being a major champion, 9-time PGA Tour winner and former PGA Tour Player of the Year, Justin Thomas is a Ryder Cup rookie this week in Paris. JT makes up one-third of the U.S. rookie contingent, joining Tony Finau and Bryson DeChambeau. The American newcomers pack a punch: that trio features a glistening average world rank of 9.3.

Over the last three Ryder Cups, U.S. rookies are a combined 20-10-5. European rookies are 13-15-2 in that span. To pick up a road win, the U.S. will likely need their rookies to continue the recent strong play.

U.S. stars need to perform

Since 2006, the Americans have been outscored by a combined 15 points in the three Ryder Cups contested in Europe. Each side’s star players are the chief reason why. In those three Ryder Cups (2006, 2010 and 2014), European players ranked in the top-ten in the World Ranking have a combined match record of 25-8-9, good for 0.70 points per match. The Americans in the top-ten are 14-27-5 (0.36 points per match) in that same span.

Contrast that to 2016 at Hazeltine, where the American top-ten players (9-6-2) outplayed their European counterparts (5-8-0).

Live up to the Ranking

The 2018 Ryder Cup features each of the top-ten in the World Ranking for the first time (the Ranking began in 1986). The average World Ranking of the two teams is 15.1 – the best in this event’s history. The U.S. team is especially stout, with a roster featuring an average World Ranking of 11.2 – best of any team in the event’s history. Eleven of the top-17 players in the world are on the American side, and the lowest-ranked player, Mickelson (25), is the most experienced player in U.S. Ryder Cup history.

Three members of the U.S. team – DeChambeau, Thomas and Jordan Spieth – were born in 1993, the last time the U.S. earned a road win in golf’s greatest team event. Their two most senior teammates – Mickelson and Woods – will be 50 and 44 the next time they get the chance to end the losing streak.

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.