Five predictions for the 2014 Ryder Cup

By Jason SobelSeptember 22, 2014, 7:30 pm

Last week, the PGA of America issued some propaganda that perfectly exemplified the recent struggles of the U.S. Ryder Cup team – even if it was clearly unintentional.

The organization began circulating movie-type posters featuring captain Tom Watson and the names of his assistants and 12-man roster, hailing them as "The Redeem Team."

Nice thought, but just like so many other well intentioned ideas for the team over the past decade-and-half, something was destined to go wrong.

And there it was, over in the bottom right corner of the poster. Continuing with the movie theme, the Ryder Cup team was rated "Extreme Drama" – and shortened to "ED."

All that was missing was a tagline: “If your match lasts longer than four hours, consult your physician.”

Here’s guessing the 65-year-old Watson didn’t get too excited about that one.

And here are five more bold predictions entering this year’s edition of the Ryder Cup.


Tiger Woods

1. Tiger Woods’ absence will mean the U.S. team wins – or maybe loses.

Those who regularly pray at the altar of Tiger Woods Is The Worst Person Ever have readily kept this statistic handy for daily message board comments in caps lock, oozing with vitriol: Since the turn of the century, the U.S. has only won one Ryder Cup – and that was the only one that didn’t include Woods.

The unsubtle points here? Tiger is a me-first guy who couldn’t care less about the team; he’d rather hang with his buddies in Europe’s team room; he chokes in big-time competitions and – quite possibly – he hates America.

Just because none of those things are true doesn’t keep people from using these assumptions to back their own story.

OK, so Tiger’s 13-17-3 overall record isn’t exactly the stuff of Billy Casper or Lanny Wadkins. You know who else has struggled for the U.S. side? Everybody. I suppose it’s human nature to want to place blame on a single individual for a culture of losing, but Tiger couldn’t have done this alone. This isn’t the NBA. His teammates can’t stand around setting picks and hope he puts up a ton of points and sinks the game-winner for good measure.

Woods won’t play this week. If the guys in red, white and blue rekindle the magic of 2008, it will once again send the truthers scurrying to their message boards to connect some dots that shouldn’t be connected. And if they lose again, he’ll somehow be blamed for returning from injury too soon during the summer, getting hurt again, taking himself out of consideration for the Ryder Cup and – yes – screwing over his country.

Talk about your lose-lose, huh?

The simple fact is, the U.S. team can win with Tiger or without him, and it can lose with or without him. That might not be enough of a scolding hot take in today’s sports parlance, but it’s the truth. His absence from this year’s festivities won’t mean the team will win any more than his presence would have meant it would lose. 


Ian Poulter

2. Ian Poulter’s eyes will remain inside his skull this time.

First things first: I’m of the belief that even if Poulter finished DFL at the Lake Nona member-member this summer, he locked up a spot on Europe’s team two years ago. No questions asked, no looking back.

BUT …

I’m still having a hard time buying the narrative that just because Poulter looked like Seve Ballesteros’ spiky-haired second coming at Medinah, he’s going to replicate those magic moments at Gleneagles, too.

Poulter played as if he’d sold his soul to Samuel Ryder last time, his eyes bulging further out of his skull with each birdie celebration. But that doesn’t mean he’ll do it again. That doesn’t mean every putt will drop at this one. That doesn’t mean he’s automatic for five points.

It doesn’t mean anything, really.

What surprises me the most is that it seems like people are fully expecting this. Everyone appears so stuck on the idea that Poulter can simply show up at the Ryder Cup and dominate that they’re forgetting his only top-10s of the year have come in China and Memphis. They’re overlooking that he’s slipped so far in the world ranking that he’s behind Kevin Na. They’re thinking with their memories instead of applying the most logistical strategy possible to analyze upcoming competitions.

Past performance is rarely a predictor of future results.

Just think of the pressure Poulter will be under: He’s playing some of the worst golf of his professional career and he’s being expected to win every match he plays. That’s a dangerous combination. It’s also one that is easy to see not having a happy ending.

If that’s the case, expect the golf world to go into collective shock. When Poulter fails to make everything he looks at on the greens, when his previously bugged-out eyes are being rubbed in disbelief because the birdies are tougher to come by, everyone will insist they didn’t see it coming because it didn’t happen last time. That’s a poor excuse, though, for just failing to see what he’s been doing lately.


Patrick Reed

3. Patrick Reed is going to play better than everyone – except Reed – thinks

People can’t stand Reed. And when I say people, I mostly mean those who don’t know much about him and couldn’t pick him out of a lineup, but remember his “top-five” comment after winning at Doral and take personal offense to a golfer believing in his own abilities.

But there might be small factions of people who can’t stand Reed that also have to share a team room with him this week. It’s little secret that he isn’t exactly the most popular guy on Tour. As one player whispered recently, “The next time he eats with us in player dining will be the first time.”

Now, we can sit at the local 19th hole for hours and argue whether being an individualistic guy in an individual sport should really be perceived as a negative, but it’s pretty obvious that this is a player with a major chip on his shoulder who prides himself in proving people wrong.

Well, guess what? If I was building my very own successful Ryder Cup prototype, this exact personality trait might be the first thing I downloaded into the microchip in his cerebral cortex.

Reed is a fiery dude who will have absolutely no problem laughing when the European supporters cheer a poor shot and gesticulating toward them when he hits a good one. He’ll be unlike most competitors who have trouble removing the 51-weeks-a-year of “gentlemanliness” from their Ryder Cup emotions.

That won’t be a problem for Reed. He doesn’t care what people think of him. The irony of that mentality? Employing that exact approach to ruffle feathers and play great golf at Gleneagles might very well endear him to American fans who months ago wrote him off as a cocky kid who needs to know his place.

It will just go to prove that attitude is a wonderful thing to have – as long as it’s on your team.


Matt Kuchar and Lance Bennett

4. Lance Bennett will provide the U.S. team with an inspirational rallying cry.

Back in 2006, Darren Clarke served as the heart of the European side, earning three emotion-filled points in the wake of his wife’s death. Two years ago, captain Jose Maria Olazabal invoked the memory of Seve Ballesteros so often that he was in the forefront of each player’s thoughts throughout the week, both on and off the course.

A team doesn’t have to overcome death in order to claim victory, but it has proven to unify players in the team room, bringing a group of individuals closer together for the good of the cause.

Bennett, the longtime caddie for Matt Kuchar, will be making his return to the bag at Gleneagles. On Aug. 27, his wife, Angela, passed away suddenly. Since then, there’s been an outpouring of support – not only from his fellow loopers, but from players, as well.

That support certainly hasn’t been limited to players on this team and not even just Americans, but having Bennett around should provide an extra jolt of inspiration.

I know what you’re probably thinking: These guys shouldn’t need it. Competing for their country should be inspiration enough. They shouldn’t need the death of a caddie’s wife to make them hungrier to play inspired golf.

The whole situation is analogous to the “Think Globally, Act Locally” campaign. Players can’t see millions of Americans huddled around their TV screens rooting them on. They can’t tangibly feel how much this would mean to a nation that couldn’t care less how many Presidents Cup titles it’s won.

But they can look into Bennett’s eyes and understand what it would mean to him – and what it would mean to his family. There’s no telling the importance that type of impact that could have.

Many of the team’s caddies got together a few weeks ago in Denver. When the subject of Bennett came up, they all talked about wanting to carry him around on their shoulders after a U.S. victory. There’s little doubt some of the players would be right there with them, propping up a likeable man who could use a few smiles these days.


Ryder Cup

5. If you’re expecting a blowout, go watch the Presidents Cup.

Since these are bold predictions and the U.S. team is a lowly underdog and – full disclosure – I’m an American-born citizen, this is probably the part where I’m supposed to go full Lee Corso. You know, slip under the desk for a minute, and then emerge in patriotic regalia topped by an Uncle Sam chin beard and top hat while orchestrating the crowd into a hastily contrived version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Not so fast, my friends.

Despite my birthplace allegiances, when it comes to international team competitions, I’m only a fan of the law of averages.

That’s why this missive from former assistant captain Paul Goydos, as part of his keynote address during the recent U.S. Senior Amateur and reported by Sports Illustrated’s Gary Van Sickle, rings so true.

“The Ryder Cup is basically a coin toss,” Goydos told the crowd. “If I tossed a coin 10 times and it came up heads seven times, I wouldn’t immediately think that coin is defective.”

This should come as good news to a U.S. roster which has been accused of being defective pretty frequently over the years.

And really, it’s being accused of this before the first shot is even struck this week. Phil Mickelson gave up on the FedEx Cup. Jim Furyk can’t close on Sundays. Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson are no Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk. Pessimism has reigned supreme in recent weeks.

What I haven’t heard – and again, call it an American bias if you will – is similar worry over the state of the European team. Martin Kaymer has looked eminently mediocre since the U.S. Open. Lee Westwood has looked that way since the last Ryder Cup. Stephen Gallacher and Jamie Donaldson are unproven on this stage. Victor Dubuisson is a wildcard in every sense of the word.

So, why is Europe considered such a heavy favorite? Beats me. I think it’s some combination of the fact that Rory McIlroy looked unbeatable for a month, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia have looked unbeatable in this competition before, and they’re playing a home game.

But those things should hardly spell doom and gloom for their counterparts.

Think about it: For years, the American side was a prohibitive favorite “on paper” and yet those plucky Europeans would look like the dominant team once it started.

There are a few logical conclusions here. One is that it’s brutally difficult to play with a target on your back, especially on home turf. The other is that a coin which lands on heads seven times out of 10 is likely to come up tails at some point.

This will be that point.

Even though they’re not supposed to win, even though Europe is the favorite and the U.S. is without some prominent potential team members, even though pessimism has reigned throughout the 50 states, this column is about bold predictions, so here it comes:

The U.S. will win the Ryder Cup.

Somebody pass me that Uncle Sam top hat.

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

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John Deere purse payout: Kim wins a million

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:07 am

Michael Kim won his first PGA Tour event, and with it, over $1 million. Here's how the purse was paid out at the John Deere Classic.

1 Michael Kim -27 $1,044,000
T2 Francesco Molinari -19 $382,800
T2 Joel Dahmen -19 $382,800
T2 Sam Ryder -19 $382,800
T2 Bronson Burgoon -19 $382,800
6 Harold Varner, III -18 $208,800
T7 Kevin Streelman -16 $168,780
T7 John Huh -16 $168,780
T7 Chad Campbell -16 $168,780
T7 Keith Mitchell -16 $168,780
T7 Andres Romero -16 $168,780
T12 Scott Brown -15 $117,450
T12 Steve Wheatcroft -15 $117,450
T12 Tyler Duncan -15 $117,450
T12 Matt Jones -15 $117,450
T16 Zach Johnson -14 $81,366
T16 Mackenzie Hughes -14 $81,366
T16 Whee Kim -14 $81,366
T16 Parker McLachlin -14 $81,366
T16 Seamus Power -14 $81,366
T16 David Hearn -14 $81,366
T16 Johnson Wagner -14 $81,366
T23 Dominic Bozzelli -13 $48,886
T23 Joaquin Niemann -13 $48,886
T23 John Merrick -13 $48,886
T23 Chris Kirk -13 $48,886
T23 Richy Werenski -13 $48,886
T23 Derek Fathauer -13 $48,886
T23 Fabian Gomez -13 $48,886
T30 Patton Kizzire -12 $36,830
T30 Jason Bohn -12 $36,830
T30 Chris Stroud -12 $36,830
T30 Robert Garrigus -12 $36,830
T34 Hunter Mahan -11 $27,453
T34 C.T. Pan -11 $27,453
T34 John Senden -11 $27,453
T34 Vaughn Taylor -11 $27,453
T34 Austin Cook -11 $27,453
T34 J.J. Henry -11 $27,453
T34 Nick Taylor -11 $27,453
T34 Cody Gribble -11 $27,453
T34 Denny McCarthy -11 $27,453
T43 Nick Hardy -10 $18,096
T43 Dylan Meyer -10 $18,096
T43 Troy Merritt -10 $18,096
T43 Steve Stricker -10 $18,096
T43 Patrick Rodgers -10 $18,096
T43 Ricky Barnes -10 $18,096
T43 Blayne Barber -10 $18,096
T50 Tom Lovelady -9 $13,990
T50 Kevin Tway -9 $13,990
T50 Hudson Swafford -9 $13,990
T50 Stuart Appleby -9 $13,990
T50 Corey Conners -9 $13,990
T55 Conrad Shindler -8 $13,108
T55 Ryan Moore -8 $13,108
T55 Ryan Blaum -8 $13,108
T55 Andrew Landry -8 $13,108
T55 Matt Atkins -8 $13,108
T60 Nick Watney -7 $12,644
T60 Lanto Griffin -7 $12,644
T60 Sam Saunders -7 $12,644
T63 Mark Wilson -6 $12,354
T63 Kelly Kraft -6 $12,354
T65 Benjamin Silverman -4 $12,006
T65 Arjun Atwal -4 $12,006
T65 Brett Stegmaier -4 $12,006
T65 J.T. Poston -4 $12,006
T69 Nicholas Lindheim -3 $11,658
T69 Tommy Gainey -3 $11,658
71 Kris Blanks -2 $11,484
MDF Chesson Hadley -3 $11,136
MDF Bill Haas -3 $11,136
MDF David Lingmerth -3 $11,136
MDF George McNeill -3 $11,136
MDF Martin Flores -3 $11,136
MDF Ryan Palmer -2 $10,730
MDF Sean McCarty -2 $10,730
MDF Andrew Putnam -1 $10,556
MDF D.J. Trahan E $10,440
MDF Brian Stuard 1 $10,324
MDF Brendon de Jonge 3 $10,208
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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:00 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.


Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''