Blog Faldo can hide rookies Azinger cant

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder Cup GolfChannel.com will be filing daily blogs for the 37th Ryder Cup Matches. Follow along and chime in with your thoughts and opinions.
 
Sept. 18, 2008
by: Mercer Baggs,
Editorial Manager, GolfChannel.com

 
The first set of match-ups has been made public, but just as intriguing as whos playing whom Thursday morning, is who is not playing at all in the opening foursomes.
 
U.S. captain Paul Azinger elected to throw a couple of his rookies, Hunter Mahan and Anthony Kim, into the maelstrom, while European skipper Nick Faldo is tossing in just one of his, Justin Rose.
 
Azinger has to use at least two rookies per session. Hes got six of them on his 12-man team, three by his own selection. There are two positives to this, however: 1) His veterans havent been a source for too many points in the past. 2) The first-timers will be fairly seasoned come the Sunday singles.
 
On the other hand, Faldo has but four rookies on his squad (and none by his own choosing). He didnt have to use any of them at all until the singles, if he so desired. While Rose got the early call, I wouldnt expect to see much of Soren Hansen, Oliver Wilson or Graeme McDowell over the first two days. Hell likely play each of them at least once, just to get them a little experience before the determining day, but hes going to win or lose with his veterans.
 
If Europe builds and early lead Faldo will employ his veterans to increase the advantage; if they get behind hell use them to make up the deficit.
 
Expect Faldo ' even the Maverick that he is ' to follow the beat of his European captain predecessors: shield the rookies; work the veterans like rented mules.
 
That philosophy has worked quite well recently.
 
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Sept. 17, 2008
by: Mercer Baggs,
Editorial Manager, GolfChannel.com

 
Waiting for Azinger to Explode
 
Paul Azinger needs to have more press conferences, because its just a matter of time before he completely blows his top and starts breaking tables and bashing media members with steel chairs like hes in the WWE.
 
Give him credit: hes trying really, really hard to lay on the charm, but its just not thick enough to cover up his competitive, temperamental side ' particularly regarding this competition.
 
Take this exchange during Azingers Tuesday presser:
 
Q. Nick Faldo said that you had regretted your choice of vice captains. I just wonder, is that true?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: That he said it?
 
Q. Well, no (laughter). I know it's true that he said it.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Do you think it's true that he said it?
 
Q. I think it is.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Did you hear him say it?
 
Q. I did, actually.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Did you ask him?
 
Q. No.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Who asked him? Did someone hear him say it?
 
Q. Yeah, people heard him say it and reported it.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Did you hear him say it?
 
Q. People heard him say it and reported it.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Did you hear him say it? I question whether he said it, and if he did say it, it's completely not true.
 
Q. So why would he say it?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Go ask him.
 
Or this response to a question about the Americans performance in the last three Ryder Cup Matches:
 
Yeah, you know what, the past is the past. What difference does the past make to us? Those are different teams, different players, different course(s), different years, different times. We're looking now to the future. I don't care about the past. We know what the past is.
 
Sometimes the written word doesnt do justice the emotion in a persons voice. Such is the case with the aforementioned.
 
Just image what its going to be like if Europe is leading 6-2 after Fridays opening session, or 10-6 entering singles.
 
While Ben Crenshaw came into his Saturday press conference in 1999 all sappy and crying about fate, Azinger may come looking like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, with a Crew cut; black, horn-rimmed glasses; white short-sleeved shirt and tie; and an I-just-cant-take-it-anymore attitude.
 
Im not one to really root for either side (I dont consider giving up my citizenship when the U.S. loses an international competition). Usually, I just want a close contest ' something to keep me interested over the weekend.
 
This year, though, Ill be just as intrigued if the Europeans turn it into another rout. Ive never seen spontaneous combustion, but Ive heard its possible.
 
I thought it might happen to Hal Sutton. I think it could happen to Azinger.
 
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Sept. 16, 2008
by: Jay Coffin,
Editorial Director, GolfChannel.com

 
Should Have Gone With Daly and Rocco
 
So, the thought all along was that since Paul Azinger changed the U.S. Ryder Cup selection process, and awarded himself four captains picks, that at least one of those picks would come from way outside the proverbial box. Chad Campbell fit that scenario as he was selected from outside the top 20 in Ryder Cup points.
 
Now that Ryder Cup week is upon us, my theory from a couple weeks ago makes more sense. Azingers four picks should have been Steve Stricker, J.B. Holmes, Rocco Mediate and John Daly. Campbell and Hunter Mahan should have been replaced with Mediate and Daly.
 
That is outside the box.
 
Think about the excitement, think about the atmosphere, think about the Kentucky galleries ' which already will be going berserk with home state boys Holmes and Kenny Perry. With Rocco and JD in the mix there would be more hysteria than there would be if Tiger Woods was playing.
 
Take playing ability out of it for the moment. Its already been proven that people love Rocco and that the only thing they love more than Rocco is yelling the name Rocco. The U.S. Open is overwhelming proof of that. JD is a draw wherever he goes and nowhere else would he bond with the people more than in Kentucky, which is not too terribly far from his native Arkansas.
 
Take the atmosphere, add their personalities to the U.S. team room and it would justify the selections.
 
Neither Rocco nor Daly are slouches with clubs in their hands either. Mediate was considered for a pick as it was so his selection wouldnt be a stretch. He did, afterall, go toe-to-toe with Tiger at Torrey Pines.
 
Obviously, Daly comes with more baggage than a 747. But all Azinger would have to do is put him in a position to thrive, meaning leave him out of both foursomes sessions (alternate-shot and JD would be a terrible marriage), put him in both fourball sessions so he can play his own ball, then put him out first in Sunday singles to set the pace and rally the troops.
 
Who knows? Perhaps putting Daly in a team environment where he knows people are depending on him to produce would work better than the week-to-week individuality of playing the Tour.
 
There are four European rookies this year who seemingly will be in situations where theyll battle nerves. Who would be a more intimidating force to see on the first tee wearing the stars and stripes ' Hunter Mahan, Chad Campbell or John Daly?
 
John Daly, he would scare the lights out of half a dozen of the 12 players on our team, Padraig Harrington said earlier this year, just before he went on his major championship run.
 
Still think Im crazy?
 
Related Links:
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  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    U.S. Open purse payout: Koepka clears $2 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 12:09 pm

    Brooks Koepka successfully defended his title at the U.S. Open and he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Shinnecock Hills.

    1 Brooks Koepka +1 $2,160,000
    2 Tommy Fleetwood +2 $1,296,000
    3 Dustin Johnson +3 $812,927
    4 Patrick Reed +4 $569,884
    5 Tony Finau +5 $474,659
    T6 Daniel Berger +6 $361,923
    T6 Henrik Stenson +6 $361,923
    T6 Tyrrell Hatton +6 $361,923
    T6 Xander Schauffele +6 $361,923
    T10 Justin Rose +7 $270,151
    T10 Webb Simpson +7 $270,151
    T12 Matthew Fitzpatrick +8 $221,825
    T12 Zach Johnson +8 $221,825
    T12 Russell Knox +8 $221,825
    15 Kiradech Aphibarnrat +9 $190,328
    T16 Paul Casey +10 $163,438
    T16 Haotong Li +10 $163,438
    T16 Hideki Matsuyama +10 $163,438
    T16 Louis Oosthuizen +10 $163,438
    T20 Rickie Fowler +11 $122,387
    T20 Brian Gay +11 $122,387
    T20 Charley Hoffman +11 $122,387
    T20 Dylan Meyer +11 $122,387
    T20 Steve Stricker +11 $122,387
    T25 Aaron Baddeley +12 $79,200
    T25 Bryson DeChambeau +12 $79,200
    T25 Jason Dufner +12 $79,200
    T25 Branden Grace +12 $79,200
    T25 Russell Henley +12 $79,200
    T25 Charles Howell III +12 $79,200
    T25 Francesco Molinari +12 $79,200
    T25 Alex Noren +12 $79,200
    T25 Matthieu Pavon +12 $79,200
    T25 Ian Poulter +12 $79,200
    T25 Justin Thomas +12 $79,200
    T36 Rafa Cabrera Bello +13 $54,054
    T36 Bill Haas +13 $54,054
    T36 Brian Harman +13 $54,054
    T36 Pat Perez +13 $54,054
    T36 Gary Woodland +13 $54,054
    T41 Sam Burns +14 $43,028
    T41 Ryan Fox +14 $43,028
    T41 Patrick Rodgers +14 $43,028
    T41 Jhonattan Vegas +14 $43,028
    T45 Patrick Cantlay +15 $34,716
    T45 Marc Leishman +15 $34,716
    T45 Scott Piercy +15 $34,716
    T48 Ross Fisher +16 $27,952
    T48 Jim Furyk +16 $27,952
    T48 Luis Gagne (a) +16 $0
    T48 Phil Mickelson +16 $27,952
    T48 Matt Parziale (a) +16 $0
    T48 Brandt Snedeker +16 $27,952
    T48 Peter Uihlein +16 $27,952
    T48 Tim Wilkinson +16 $27,952
    T56 Dean Burmester +17 $25,426
    T56 Mickey DeMorat +17 $25,426
    T56 Tyler Duncan +17 $25,426
    T56 Chris Naegel +17 $25,426
    T56 Jimmy Walker +17 $25,426
    61 Calum Hill +18 $24,629
    62 Andrew Johnston +19 $24,448
    63 Brendan Steele +20 $24,203
    64 Cameron Wilson +21 $23,959
    65 Kevin Chappell +22 $23,714
    66 Will Grimmer (a) +23 $0
    67 Byeong Hun An +26 $23,470
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    What's in the bag: U.S. Open winner Koepka

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 18, 2018, 11:24 am

    Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills. Here's a look inside the winner's bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX shaft

    Fairway woods: TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5 degrees), with  Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 TX shaft

    Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3), with Fujikura Pro 95 Tour Spec shaft; Mizuno JPX-900 Tour (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts, PW with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shaft

    Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM7 Raw (52, 56 degrees), SM7 Raw TVD (60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron T10 Select Newport 2 prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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    Repeat U.S. Open win gives Koepka credit he deserves

    By Ryan LavnerJune 18, 2018, 2:08 am

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In an ironic twist Sunday, the last man to win consecutive U.S. Opens was tasked with chronicling Brooks Koepka’s final round at Shinnecock Hills.

    Carrying a microphone for Fox Sports, Curtis Strange kept his composure as the on-course reporter. He didn’t cough in Koepka’s downswing. Didn’t step on his ball in the fescue. Didn’t talk too loudly while Koepka lined up a putt.

    Instead, Strange stood off to the side, clipboard covering his mouth, and watched in awe as Koepka stamped himself as the best U.S. Open player of this next generation.

    And so after Koepka became the first player in 29 years to take consecutive Opens, Strange found himself fourth in the greeting line near the 18th green. He was behind Koepka’s playing competitor, Dustin Johnson. And he was behind Koepka’s father, Bob. And he was behind Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott.

    But there Strange was, standing on a sandy path leading to the clubhouse, ready to formally welcome Koepka into one of the most exclusive clubs in golf.

    “Hell of a job, bud,” Strange barked in his ear, above the din. “Incredible.”

    That Koepka prevailed on two wildly different layouts, and in totally different conditions, was even more satisfying.

    Erin Hills, in Middle of Nowhere, Wis., was unlike any U.S. Open venue in recent memory. The wide-open fairways were lined with thick, deep fescue, but heavy rain early in the week and the absence of any significant wind turned golf’s toughest test into the Greater Milwaukee Open. Koepka bashed his way to a record-tying score (16 under par) and over the past year has never felt fully appreciated, in large part because of the weirdness of the USGA setup.   


    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


    Koepka doesn’t concern himself with that type of noise, of course, but when he arrived at Shinnecock earlier this week he felt a sense of familiarity. The generous fairways. The punishing venue. The premium on iron play.

    “It’s a similar feel,” Elliott said. “We said it all week.”

    A new, quirky venue like Erin Hills might not have been held in high regard, but the rich history of Shinnecock? It demanded respect.

    “He’s some player,” Strange said, “and I’m proud of him because there was some talk last year of Erin Hills not being the Open that is supposed to be an Open. But he won on a classic, so he’s an Open player.”

    “This one is a lot sweeter,” Koepka said.

    Those around the 28-year-old were shocked that he even had a chance to defend his title.

    Last fall Koepka began feeling discomfort in his left wrist. He finished last in consecutive tournaments around the holidays, then underwent an MRI that showed he had a torn ligament in his left wrist.

    Koepka takes immense pride in having a life outside of golf – he never watches Tour coverage on off-weeks – but he was downright miserable during his indefinite stint on the sidelines. He said it was the lowest point of his career, as he sat in a soft cast up to his elbow, binge-watching TV shows and gaining 15 pounds. The only players he heard from during his hiatus: Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

    “You just feel like you get forgotten,” Koepka said.

    During the spring, Elliott would occasionally drive from Orlando to Jupiter, Fla., to check on his boss. “He was down in the dumps,” he said. “That sort of injury he had, it didn’t seem like there was going to be an end. There was no timeframe on it, and that was the most frustrating thing.”

    After the Masters, Koepka told Elliott that his wrist was feeling better and that he was going to start hitting balls. Elliott brought his clubs to South Florida, and they played a few holes at The Floridian.

    “He was hitting it right on the button,” Elliott said. “I said, ‘Are you sure you haven’t been practicing?’ He hadn’t missed a beat. I have no idea how he does it. He’s just a tremendously talented guy.”

    In limited action before the Open, Koepka fired a trio of 63s, at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial. He’s never been short on confidence – as a 12-year-old he once told his dad that he was going to drop out of school in four years and turn pro – and he recently woofed to swing coach Claude Harmon III that he was primed to win sometime in May or June.

    “I said to him on the range this morning, ‘You were on your couch in January and February, not really knowing if you were going to be able to play here,’” Harmon said. “I think that’s why it means so much to him. That’s one of the reasons that he kept saying no one was more confident than him, because to get this opportunity to come back and play and have a chance to win back-to-back U.S. Opens, he was going to take advantage of it as best he could.”

    Koepka carded a second-round 66 to put himself in the mix, then survived a hellacious third-round setup to join a four-way tie for the lead, along with Johnson, the world No. 1 and his fellow Bash Brother.

    As much as Johnson is praised for his resilience, Koepka has proven to be equally tough in crunch time, especially in this major. There’s no better stage for Koepka to showcase his immense gifts than the Open, an examination that tests players physically, mentally and even spiritually. But Koepka, like Johnson, never joined the growing chorus of complainers at Shinnecock. The closest he came to criticizing the setup was this: “I think the course is very close.”

    Rather than whine, he said that he relished the challenge of firing away from flags. He accepted bad shots. He tried to eliminate double bogeys. Even after his wrist injury, Koepka showed no hesitation gouging out of the deep fescue, his ferocious clubhead speed allowing him to escape the rough and chase approach shots near the green, where he could rely on his sneaky-good short game.

    “He has the perfect game to play in majors,” Harmon said. “He probably plays more conservatively in majors. We’re always joking that we wish he would play the way he does in majors every week. I just think he knows how important pars and bogeys are. It says a lot about him as a player.”

    Johnson has many of the same physical and mental attributes, and they’ve each benefited from the other’s intense focus and discipline. They both adhere to a strict diet and are frequent workout partners, which even included a gym session on Sunday morning, before their penultimate pairing. They made small talk, chatting about lifting and how many of the Sunday pins were located in the middle of the green, but after they arrived at the course they barely said two words to each other.

    “They’re good friends on and off the course,” Harmon said, “but they definitely want to kick the s--- out of each other.”

    “That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Strange said. “If they’re best buddies, well, you’re standing between me and the trophy. You don’t care much for him for 4 1/2 hours.”

    There was much at stake Sunday, but none more significant than Koepka’s march on history. Squaring off head-to-head against the game’s best player, Koepka outplayed Johnson from the outset, going 3 under for the first 10 holes to open up a two-shot lead. And unlike at Erin Hills, where he pulled away late with birdies, it was his par (and bogey) saves that kept Koepka afloat on Nos. 11, 12 and 14.  

    In the end, he clipped Fleetwood (who shot a record-tying 63) by one and Johnson by two.

    “You’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Strange said, shaking his head. “He’s got a lot of guts.”

    As Koepka marched away to sign his card, Strange was asked if it was bittersweet to know that he’s no longer the answer to the trivia question, the last guy to go back-to-back at the Open.

    “Heck no!” he said. “What are they going to do, take one away? I’m a part of a group. And it’s a good group. I hope it means as much to him as it has to me.”

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    This time, Dad gets to enjoy Koepka's Father's Day win

    By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2018, 1:39 am

    SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – When Brooks Koepka won his first U.S. Open last year at Erin Hills the celebration was relatively subdued.

    His family didn’t attend the ’17 championship, but there was no way they were missing this year’s U.S. Open.

    “This year we booked something about five miles away [from Shinnecock Hills]," said Koepka’s father, Bob. "We weren’t going to miss it and I’m so glad we’re here.”

    The family was treated to a show, with Koepka closing with a 68 for a one-stroke victory to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens.


    U.S. Open: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


    Koepka called his father early Sunday to wish him a happy Father’s Day, and Bob Koepka said he noticed a similar confidence in his son’s voice to the way he sounded when they spoke on Sunday of last year’s championship.

    There was also one other similarity.

    “Two years in a row, I haven't gotten him anything [for Father’s Day],” Brooks Koepka laughed. “Next year, I'm not going to get him anything either. It might bring some good luck.

    “It's incredible to have my family here, and my dad loves golf. To be here, he loves watching. To share it with him this time, it will be a little bit sweeter.”