Even with a 10-6 lead, Europe can't get complacent

By Jason SobelSeptember 27, 2014, 7:35 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Throughout this week, Europe captain Paul McGinley has spoken about the template he’s employed toward managing his team. He’s insisted that there exists a prevalent philosophy within his roster. He’s even suggested that there’s a secret formula which he’ll reveal when – not if – the team wins on Sunday night.

It’s taken some dutiful undercover work and hours of eavesdropping with an ear to the door of the European team room, but I think I’ve finally figured it out. I believe I’ve stolen the plan. And I can now reveal the confidential information.

Drumroll please …

… and the answer is …

Play much better golf than the United States team.

How else to explain Europe’s commanding 10-6 lead entering the final session? How else to explain how the team has once again looked dominant in the team matches? How else to explain how McGinley’s squad seems prepared to win the Ryder Cup for the seventh time in the last eight editions of the event?

Alright, so maybe it goes deeper than simply outplaying the opponent.

Maybe the secret formula also consists of accurate driving off the tee. Consistently hitting clutch approach shots. Often chipping to within gimme range. And – this is an important one – making just about every putt between here and Glasgow.

That must be it, right? Isn’t that all there is to the game?

Well, not if you’re McGinley. Not if you’re building yet another Ryder Cup champion.

“When you're a captain, you go in with a plan,” he explained Saturday evening after his team posted a 3-0-1 record in the final foursomes session. “You have a skeleton plan. Nothing is written in stone. You don't ever write things in stone and you have to react and if you're not able to react, you've got a problem. And me as captain, what I've done, and what I've been planning all week long is this is why you don't see a lot of me on the golf course. I'm plotting our next move.”

Every single player on the roster has bought into the captain’s concepts.

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Justin Rose is one of the world’s best players, a major champion who’s good for a couple of worldwide wins each year. Get him between the ropes at this event, though, and it’s as if he’s armed with Ben Hogan’s swing and Bobby Jones’ putting stroke. So far this week, he’s undefeated in four matches. If there was such a thing as Ryder Cup MVP, they’d be engraving his name already.

Lee Westwood is, to put it bluntly, a fairly mediocre putter when compared with his peers for 103 weeks. Every two years, though, it’s as if his ball is magnetized to the bottom of the cup. He simply wills himself into being better on the greens during these weeks.

Sergio Garcia has been known to sulk at times. He can be pouty when things aren’t going his way. And then he arrives here and he’s smiling and back-slapping and shot-making like the second coming of Seve Ballesteros.

Henrik Stenson hasn’t played in this competition since 2008. In the time since, his game hit rock-bottom, only to rise from the abyss. There have been no signs of those struggles this week, though. Even slightly hampered by a balky back, he’s won each of his three team matches so far.

Victor Dubuisson may not become a superstar, but he will be the latest young European to be labeled a budding superstar for the way he played in this event. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be the next Colin Montgomerie or Nicolas Colsaerts, but the guy called “enigmatic” entering this week has been nothing but consistently impressive.

That list isn’t even including world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who’s only looked very good instead of his usual great this week. Or Ian Poulter, who has played just two matches and only given his best crazy-eyed Poulter reaction a couple of times. Or Graeme McDowell, or Jamie Donaldson, or Martin Kaymer, or Thomas Bjorn, each of whom has made important contributions during the first four sessions of the week.

During this entire week – and, really, even before this week started – McGinley’s theme has centered around complacency. More to the point, trying to keep from a lack of complacency. The team is playing on home turf, it’s gotten used to winning and it has a handful of team members who have already enjoyed bountiful individual campaigns this year.

With one session remaining, McGinley still has to keep his players from getting too relaxed. They already know all too well that a 10-6 lead isn’t insurmountable, because that’s the exact deficit they overcame two years ago.

And so they understand what the captain is preaching.

“We were there two years ago,” McDowell said. “We know what can happen. Complacency is a word that's been the buzzword in our team room this week. We've worked hard to avoid complacency, and believe us, we'll be working hard on that tonight again.”

That could be the secret to winning the Ryder Cup once again. And hey, it doesn’t hurt to play much better golf than the United States team, too.

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Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 2:46 pm

Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.

Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.

Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

"I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"

Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.

But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.

"What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."

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Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

And now, Greg Norman.

Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.


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DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

(All Times Local)

Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.