Golf Films' "Famous 5" details how five Europeans reinvigorated the Ryder Cup
Premiering Monday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel, Film Details How Ballesteros, Faldo, Langer, Lyle & Woosnam Helped Establish Competitive Spirit Synonymous with Modern-Day Ryder Cup
“Seve came in [the team room] and said ‘We must celebrate, we must celebrate! This is a victory for us, we can do this!’” – Nick Faldo on the ‘83 loss (14½-13½)
VIDEO: Famous 5 Trailer
In anticipation of the biennial Ryder Cup next week outside of Paris, Golf Channel will showcase its latest Golf Films project, Famous 5, outlining how five European golfers – born within 11 months of one another – collectively helped revitalize the international competition and redefine the professional golf landscape. The film will premiere on Monday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. ET to kick off NBC Sports Group’s Ryder Cup week programming.
The five(Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam) each were adorned with their own unique personality and style of play, but together, in many ways were responsible for injecting much-needed relevance into the (at the time) overwhelmingly one-sided Ryder Cup. The film will examine how – after a 1977 rule began allowing players from throughout continental Europe – they would go on to collectively help erase a more than 50-year drought of losing to the United States.
“Famous 5 provides a unique look at Ryder Cup history from a European perspective,” said Molly Solomon, Golf Channel executive producer. “The film highlights how these influential stars helped elevate the Ryder Cup to become one of sports’ preeminent spectacles.”
Famous 5 will detail how each found the game of golf, with footage of their childhood surroundings and insight from those whom experienced first-hand the beginning stages of what would amount to World Golf Hall of Fame careers, led by 16 major championships and a No. 1 ranking in the world (for all but Lyle). Included are a visit to Welwyn Garden City Golf Club in England where Faldo took up the game; a conversation with Ballesteros’ brother in Pedrena, Spain and with Langer’s brother in Anhauser, Germany; a trip to Lyle’s childhood bedroom in England overlooking the 18th green at Hawkstone Park golf course; and a journey to the cowshed in Wales where Woosnam honed his game.
Despite a common pride for their modest, yet unique origins in both life and golf, in many ways the fact that they weren’t all from the same place was overshadowed by their stature as the nucleus of a European professional golf insurgence indelibly bound together to reverse the Ryder Cup narrative. Ballesteros breaking through to win The Open in 1979 and the Masters in 1980 was a monumental step in the right direction. It also signaled to Faldo and Langer – both of whom were keeping pace with and at times beating Ballesteros on the European Tour – that they too could compete with the world’s best players.
In addition to the five, Tony Jacklin is remembered as another principal figure in both the film and in rectifying the European’s fate. After suffering yet another lopsided defeat in the 1981 Ryder Cup (despite Faldo, Langer and Lyle’s presence) when Jacklin and Ballesteros were unceremoniously left off the roster, former European Tour executive director Ken Schofield turned to Jacklin (just six months prior to the 1983 competition) to serve as captain. Jacklin only agreed after earning assurances from Schofield of first-class support, and in the process also convinced Ballesteros to re-join the team.
“Americans were flying on Concorde (airplane). We’re flying in the back of the bus on British Airways not knowing who is buying the drinks. We couldn’t take our caddies with us. We didn’t have a team room. We were wearing anything anybody would give us. There was no structure.” – Tony Jacklin on the European Ryder Cup experience prior to 1983
The result was a one-point loss to the United States – one that Ballesteros implored should be celebrated – and it offered the confidence that propelled Europe’s success in the coming years. When they won the 1985 Ryder Cup at The Belfry with (for the first time) each of the Famous 5 on the team, it was Europe’s first victory in the competition since 1957, the year that commenced the 11-month span in which all five were born. From 1977-2008 (with 1999 the lone exception), at least one member of the Famous 5 contributed to the European Ryder Cup team, either as a player, captain, or vice captain. Their influence led to the Europeans capturing three straight Ryder Cups in the 1980s, and inspired the subsequent European teams to win eight of the next 13 meetings to-date.
Famous 5 is being produced by Golf Films, led by 13-time Emmy Award-winning coordinating producer Israel DeHerrera, who has served as the lead producer for several award-winning projects, including the three-part Arnie (2014) and Jack (2017) films on Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Other critically acclaimed Golf Films productions include Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys (2018), executive produced by Rickie Fowler; the Emmy-nominated Payne (2014), on the late Payne Stewart; Go Down Swinging (2018), reliving the unforgettable conclusion to the 1999 Open; Summer of ’76 (2017), recounting the 1976 Open at Royal Birkdale; Arnie & Me (2015), a follow-up, fourth installment of Arnie; ’86 (2016), a chronicle of Nicklaus’ final major championship win at the 1986 Masters that aired to coincide with the 30th anniversary of his iconic win; and Ben Crenshaw: A Walk Through Augusta (2015), on the two-time Masters champion’s special relationship with the tournament.
Still missing the PLAYOFF part of the playoffs
The PGA Tour huddled for 3 ½ years, consulted with the geniuses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ran countless simulations for its strokes-based system.
It still didn’t get it right.
In a move that surely will alienate many of its hardcore fans, the Tour on Tuesday unveiled its new format for the Tour Championship. Beginning next year, players will begin the week at East Lake with a predetermined total based on their position on the points list, the leader starting at 10 under par.
In an age of points and projections, the Tour’s desire for simplicity is understandable – RIP, Steve Sands’ whiteboard – but its new-look finale violates the spirit of competitive sports.
There are no head starts in sports. That’s the beauty of them.
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots don’t open the Super Bowl with a 7-0 lead.
Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors don’t start the best-of-7 NBA Finals with a one-game advantage.
Lindsey Vonn doesn’t begin the Olympics with a three-second lead.
Roger Federer doesn’t automatically take a 1-0 lead on his Wimbledon opponent.
But the PGA Tour has essentially created a handicapped tournament for its grand finale, for the 30 best players of the season.
What a missed opportunity.
No system is perfect, but this is exactly the kind of contrived idea that emerges when the Tour continually tries to conflate season-long performance with a season-ending “playoffs.”
It’s messy and unnecessary.
The most common criticism of the current FedExCup model is that the best players are rarely rewarded for season-long success. (Example: Brooks Koepka, a two-time major winner this season, starts this week as the No. 7 seed.) That’s taken care of with the new Wyndham Rewards Top 10, which will pay out $10 million in bonus money, including $2 million to the top points-earner, after the regular-season finale at the Wyndham Championship.
End it there.
Celebrate Dustin Johnson or Justin Thomas or Bryson DeChambeau for their season-long excellence.
Then start the playoffs – a real playoff – where everyone starts at zero and where past performance guarantees nothing but a spot in the elimination tournament.
Only those who make the cut in the 100- or 125-man Northern Trust advance to the 70-player BMW Championship. If Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth play poorly and miss out, well, tough luck. Play better. Survive and advance.
At the BMW Championship, it’ll be a fight to finish inside the top 30 on the leaderboard, and it’s easy to imagine a 5-for-2 playoff at the conclusion of play for those attempting to crack the Tour Championship field.
Once the top 30 is finalized, there’s no need for a staggered stroke start.
Play a three-round stroke-play qualifier (Wednesday-Friday), then cut to the low 16 players and have a knockout match-play bracket over the weekend for $15 million.
Sure, some of the stars will have been cut in the previous two playoff events.
Others will fail to make the top 16 at East Lake.
But even if the final is whittled down to Kyle Stanley vs. Patton Kizzire, how cool would it be to watch two players go head to head for the richest prize in all of sports?
At least they’d have earned their spot in the championship.
At least the event would have stayed true to what it really is – a well-run tournament at the end of a long season that is a glorified cash grab.
The Tour wanted to create a unique end to the season, but that shouldn’t mean turning its big-money finale into a net tournament.
Spieth's schedule violation 'resolved' and a 'win' for fans
ATLANTA – For the first time in his career Jordan Spieth failed to qualify for this week’s Tour Championship, an unexpected turn that also found him on the wrong side of a new PGA Tour regulation.
Under the circuit’s strength-of-field requirement, which began last season, a player must add an event to their schedule that they haven’t played the last four years if they didn’t play at least 25 events in the previous or current seasons.
Since he didn’t qualify for the finale, Spieth will finish the season with 24 events (including the Ryder Cup) and under the policy he “shall be subject to a major penalty,” which is a fine of at least $20,000 or even suspension.
What that means specifically for Spieth remains unclear, but on Tuesday at East Lake Andy Pazder, the Tour’s chief of operations, said the matter has been addressed.
“I have talked to Jordan and we’ve resolved it,” Pazder said. “We have come to a resolution. I’m not going to be able to share the details of that, [but] I will say the result is something that you will see next season. It’s resolved in a way that’s going to be a win for our tournaments, our fans and golf in general.”
Pazder’s response suggests that Spieth will likely add at least one new event to his schedule next year.
Spieth was not the only player to violate the policy the season. Ian Poulter only played 20 events in 2018, the same as he played last season, and he did not add a new event to his schedule. Pazder said that after the Englishman won the Houston Open in April he justifiably shifted his focus to qualifying for the European Ryder Cup team and played five events this summer in Europe, which kept him from reaching his 25-event minimum or adding an new event.
“We’ve come to a resolution on how he is going to address that,” Pazder said.
Spieth and Poulter are the first players to violate the policy.
How the new Tour Championship format would look this year and last
The PGA Tour announced on Tuesday plans to change the FedExCup format for the 2018-19 season. Part of that plan is to assign pre-tournament strokes to players in the Tour Championship based on their playoff standings in the first two events.
Per GolfChannel.com senior writer Rex Hoggard:
The No. 1 player on the post-season points list will begin the finale at 10 under par. The next four players will start at 8 under through 5 under, respectively, while Nos. 6-10 will begin the tournament at 4 under par with the total regressing by one stroke every five players with those ranked 26th through 30thstarting at even par. The winner at East Lake will also claim the FedExCup.
Here's a look at where players would start this year's Tour Championship under the new format (through the three events already contested):
|1||Bryson DeChambeau||10 under|
|2||Justin Rose||8 under|
|3||Tony Finau||7 under|
|4||Dustin Johnson||6 under|
|5||Justin Thomas||5 under|
|T-6||Keegan Bradley||4 under|
|T-6||Brooks Koepka||4 under|
|T-6||Bubba Watson||4 under|
|T-6||Billy Horschel||4 under|
|T-6||Cameron Smith||4 under|
|T-11||Webb Simpson||3 under|
|T-11||Jason Day||3 under|
|T-11||Francesco Molinari||3 under|
|T-11||Phil Mickelson||3 under|
|T-11||Patrick Reed||3 under|
|T-16||Patrick Cantlay||2 under|
|T-16||Rory McIlroy||2 under|
|T-16||Xander Schauffele||2 under|
|T-16||Tommy Fleetwood||2 under|
|T-16||Tiger Woods||2 under|
|T-21||Aaron Wise||1 under|
|T-21||Kevin Na||1 under|
|T-21||Rickie Fowler||1 under|
|T-21||Jon Rahm||1 under|
|T-21||Kyle Stanley||1 under|
|T-26||Paul Casey||Even par|
|T-26||Hideki Matsuyama||Even par|
|T-26||Gary Woodland||Even par|
|T-26||Marc Leishman||Even par|
|T-26||Patton Kizzire||Even par|
Here's a look at how last year's Tour Championship played out, with Xander Schauffele winning the event and Justin Thomas claiming the overall FedExCup title, and how it would have looked, all things equal, under the new system (in which Jordan Spieth began the finale as the No. 1 seed and would have started the event at 10 under par). In the new system, Thomas would have been the FedExCup champion.
|2017 Tour Championship||Player||Final score||2017 in new system||Player||Final score|
|1||Xander Schauffele||-12||1||Justin Thomas||-19|
|2||Justin Thomas||-11||2||Jordan Spieth||-17|
|T-3||Russell Henley||-10||3||Paul Casey||-13|
|T-3||Kevin Kisner||-10||T-4||Jon Rahm||-12|
|5||Paul Casey||-9||T-4||Brooks Koepka||-12|
|6||Brooks Koepka||-8||T-4||Kevin Kisner||-12|
|T-7||Tony Finau||-7||T-4||Xander Schauffele||-12|
|T-7||Jon Rahm||-7||T-8||Justin Rose||-10|
|T-7||Jordan Spieth||-7||T-8||Russell Henley||-10|
|T-10||Sergio Garcia||-6||T-10||Dustin Johnson||-9|
|T-10||Matt Kuchar||-6||T-10||Matt Kuchar||-9|
|T-10||Justin Rose||-6||12||Tony Finau||-8|
|T-13||Patrick Reed||-5||T-13||Daniel Berger||-7|
|T-13||Webb Simpson||-5||T-13||Webb Simpson||-7|
|15||Daniel Berger||-4||T-13||Sergio Garcia||-7|
|16||Pat Perez||-3||T-16||Pat Perez||-6|
|T-17||Jason Day||-2||T-16||Patrick Reed||-6|
|T-17||Dustin Johnson||-2||18||Marc Leishman||-3|
|19||Gary Woodland||-1||T-19||Kyle Stanley||-1|
|T-20||Patrick Cantlay||E||T-19||Gary Woodland||-1|
|T-20||Jason Dufner||E||T-21||Jason Day||E|
|T-20||Kyle Stanley||E||T-21||Adam Hadwin||E|
|23||Adam Hadwin||+1||T-21||Patrick Cantlay||E|
|T-24||Brian Harman||+3||T-21||Jason Dufner||E|
|T-24||Marc Leishman||+3||25||Brian Harman||+1|
|T-26||Rickie Fowler||+6||T-26||Rickie Fowler||+2|
|T-26||Hideki Matsuyama||+6||T-26||Hideki Matsuyama||+2|
|T-28||Kevin Chappell||+9||28||Charley Hoffman||+6|
|T-28||Charley Hoffman||+9||29||Kevin Chappell||+7|
|30||Jnonattan Vegas||+10||30||Jhonattan Vegas||+8|