South America should join the Ryder Cup fray
The Americas, of course, is North, Central, and South America and collectively it has a population that is estimated at roughly 910,000,000 people. As varied in ethnicity, cultural diversity, religions and history as any continent on earth, including, Europe.
Europe has a population of roughly 860,000,000 people, conveniently close to that of the Americas. In a certain biannual competition the United States with a population of 308,000,000 goes up against the whole of Europe which outnumbers the U.S. almost 3-to-1.
Now is this a fair fight? From a numerical standpoint, of course not, but let’s take a look at the results to further underscore the obscenity of this lopsided event. In the last 13 times Europe has squared off in this event against the U.S. in the Ryder Cup it has won nine times and six of the last eight. Some of those were by laughably wide margins. It wasn’t that long ago that the red, white and blue enjoyed the same advantages and success in this longstanding competition.
In 1977, Tom Weiskopf famously passed on an opportunity to play for the U.S. in the Ryder Cup because he had a big game hunting trip planned, and was widely criticized even though he shouldn’t have been. It was a lot harder to kill lions and tigers and bears than it was to beat the opposing side of Great Britain and Ireland, as it was back them.
The first year of the Ryder Cup was 1927 and through 1975, a year in which Weiskopf went 4-0 in the Ryder Cup, GB&I had won just three of the 21 competitions. It was not a competition, it was an exhibition and Weiskopf would rather hunt than do what he saw was essentially a waste of time. He had a point.
In 1967, after GB&I captain Dai Rees went through the lengthy list of accomplishments of each one of his players for that year’s Ryder Cup, Ben Hogan, the captain for the U.S. simply stood up, made a wide arc with his arm that encompassed his 12 players and said, “ladies and gentlemen, the 12 best players in the world.” And that team didn’t even include Jack Nicklaus. Hogan was right and his team won 23 ½ to 8 ½, the widest margin of victory in the history of the cup.
The U.S. won 12 ½ to 7 ½ in 1977 without Weiskopf, but what he did by merely going hunting did more to help this competition than anything else in its history. It brought attention to the wart on the nose that no one wanted to talk about. So, in 1979, all of continental Europe was included and then, slowly, this biannual gathering began to turn into a jingoistic, not-to-be-missed brawl. Lately, though, it is the United States that needs help, unless Luke Donald decided to plan a trip to look at art in Paris next fall. It is to that end that I suggest, without my tongue hitting any part of my cheek, that we elicit the help of our neighbors, to the north and to the south, to include all of the Americas, on “our” side to make this a more even competition, numerically speaking, to say nothing of the spirit of the contest.
There are no more ardent sports fans than the Canadians, and of course, the national pride of the various countries of Central and South America are legendary when it comes to fallowing their soccer teams. The recent successes of Camilo Villeagas in Columbia, Jhonattan Vegas in Venezuela and Angel Cabrera in Argentina would be a big draw.
With the Olympics going to Brazil in 2016 and the inclusion of golf in those Olympics, golf has potential to grow as never before. Just imagine what including all of the Americas in the Ryder Cup would do for the event and for the game. At the very least, we would hear a better variety of songs from the gallery. If I hear the same incessant chant of “USA, USA, USA” again I’m going to pull my hair out, and then, Charlie Rymer, and so many others wouldn’t have near as much to tease me about.
The Ryder Cup needs to be changed to the Americas vs. Europe. Then, for that week, let all the commentators say with absolute accuracy that so-and-so is from “America.”
Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson
On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:
Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)
What it means: This is Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.
Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.
Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.
Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.
Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than drop a shot, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.
Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise
Otaegui wins Belgian Knockout by two
ANTWERP, Belgium – Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final of the Belgian Knockout to win his second European Tour title.
The hybrid format opened with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, before the leading 64 players competed in nine-hole knockout stroke play matches.
Otaegui and Hebert both finished three shots off the lead at 5 under after the first two days and worked their way through five matches on the weekend to set up Sunday's final at the Rinkven International Golf Club.
''I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight,'' Otaegui said. ''I'm just very proud about my week.
''I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game.''
Scotland's David Drysdale beat James Heath of England by one shot in the playoff for third spot.
Herbet said he was ''just a little short this week.''
''Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format,'' he said. ''He's already won one tournament in match play last year. This format is fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea.''
Spieth looking forward to Colonial after T-21
DALLAS – Jordan Spieth finally got a few putts to drop at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but after a frustrating week he’s looking forward to heading across town.
Spieth shot a 4-under 67 amid soggy conditions at Trinity Forest Golf Club, his lowest score of the week but one that still left him in a tie for 21st at 11 under par. His frustrations had a common theme throughout the week, as he ranked seventh among the field in strokes gained: tee to green but 72nd in strokes gained: putting.
“Felt like I played better than I scored,” Spieth said. “Just burned the edges or barely missed, and I misread a lot of putts, too. Overall just struggled a little bit matching line and speed and kind of getting it all together out here.”
Spieth remains in search of his first win since The Open in July, but his results in the interim haven’t exactly been a struggle. This marks his seventh top-25 finish in his last nine starts as an individual.
Spieth is in the midst of a busy part of his schedule, and will play his third of four events in a row next week at the Fort Worth Invitational. With runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017 sandwiched around a victory there two years ago, Spieth did little to contain his excitement for a return to venerable Colonial Country Club.
“It’s one of those courses where whether I have my A game or not, I seem to find my way into contention, which is really cool,” Spieth said. “It’s one of four or five places I go into, no matter where the game is at, I’m excited to get started and feel like I have a chance to win.”
Razorbacks, Fassi scrambling to recover in NCAAs
STILLWATER, Okla. – We’re not even halfway through this NCAA Championship, and the top women’s player in the country is already worn out.
Indeed, it’s been three rounds of hard work for Maria Fassi as she tries to claw herself and second-ranked Arkansas back into contention at Karsten Creek.
“I haven’t been able to create momentum of any kind,” she said after a third-round 73 left her at 16-over 232, 23 shots off the individual lead and outside the top 90. “I’ve been fighting every single hole. It’s just been exhausting.”
It’s been that way for her teammates, too.
Arkansas entered nationals as one of the pre-tournament favorites. The Razorbacks won the SEC Championship for the first time. They won seven events, including a regional title in which they shot 26 under par on the University of Texas’ home course. They were comfortable knowing that they not only had Fassi, the top-ranked player and a six-time winner this season, but also a strong supporting cast that includes Baylor transfer Dylan Kim and Alana Uriell.
And then the first two rounds happened. The Razorbacks had shot a team score in the 300s just once all season, but they posted two in a row here at Karsten Creek (308-300).
Fassi’s play has been even more of a mystery. In the opening round she shot 81 – with two birdies. She followed it up with a second-round 78, then birdied her last two holes just to shoot 73 on Sunday. She thought she had a smart game plan – taking fewer drivers, putting the ball in play on arguably the most difficult college course in the country – and it just hasn’t worked out.
“I just need to stay really patient, be true to myself and keep fighting,” she said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, and if I play my game it’s going to be plenty good.”
So what’s been the conversation among teammates the past two nights?
“It involved a lot of cuss words,” Fassi said. “We know this is not Arkansas golf. We know this is not the game that we play.”
The top-15 cut line should have been an afterthought for a team as talented as the Razorbacks, and yet they needed a 1-over 289 just to play Monday’s fourth round of stroke-play qualifying.
“Backs against the wall, they had to go get it done and they did an awesome job,” said Arkansas coach Shauna Taylor. “In our locker room we call it ‘Do the Possible.’ It’s doing what you’re capable of doing.”
And now the Razorbacks sit in 11th place, just six shots off the top-8 cut after their two worst rounds all season. They still have a chance to advance.
“You can’t panic,” Taylor said. “We’ve played great golf all year. We’ve put ourselves in a hole and it was time to go to work and dig yourselves out of it.”