Twitter helps pave McGinley's way to Ryder Cup captaincy

By Jason SobelJanuary 15, 2013, 7:01 pm

As every fan of the United States team has understood for the past couple decades, the Ryder Cup isn’t played on paper. If it was, the stars and stripes would likely have a few more wins, its roster biennially displaying better talent top-to-bottom than its European counterpart until just recently.

Then again, in today’s digital age, no games are played on paper anymore. An entire generation will forever believe that crossword puzzles were invented on an iPad. Instead, games are now played in cyberspace, with social media serving as the arena in which every person either competes or spectates.

What it means is that even the old joke about games being played on paper is not only still untrue, but equally untimely. Such competitions will now be played on Twitter, along with just about everything else in the world.

OK, so maybe not the swings and putts and jangling of coins gamesmanship, but at least part of Samuel Ryder’s vision from long ago is being played out on computer screens and phones around the world.

Don’t believe it? Then you clearly haven’t checked your timeline lately.

After all, Twitter could serve to explain just why the European Tour’s Tournament Committee named Paul McGinley on Tuesday as its next captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup – and just as importantly, why it didn’t choose anybody else.

In the 48 hours prior to the announcement, three members of Europe’s team – the three most vital members of the team, it could be argued – publicly voiced their support for McGinley through social media.

First it was Rory McIlroy, who without naming names clearly disapproved of Colin Montgomerie getting a second turn in the skipper’s seat:

“RC captaincy should be a 1 time thing... Everybody deserving gets their chance and moves on... Would love to play under Paul McGinley in '14”

Luke Donald then followed by throwing his weight in the same direction:

“I hope Paul McGinley gets his chance, he's been an amazing Vice Captain and deserves an opportunity #2014RyderCup

And in response to that tweet, Ian Poulter sounded off:

“Darren has taken his name out of the running for Ryder cup captaincy. It would be fantastic to have Paul Mcginley as the 2014 captain.”

Individually, none of these three players – not the No. 1 player in the world, nor the No. 3, nor the one who was the unanimous man of the match at last year’s edition of the event – wields enough power to persuade the committee to choose his man over all other contenders. Even collectively, they must understand that while their opinions may help rock the vote, they only comprise a small state in this Electoral College.

So how did they get their way? Why did their words even matter?

Whether it was a calculated maneuver to sway the resolution or an innocent statement of opinion, it should be noted that McIlroy, Donald and Poulter chose not to make their feelings known behind closed doors – well, at least not only behind closed doors – but instead went public with them in the most obvious way. These weren’t words sought by media or uttered during a practice round. They were carefully typed out and distributed worldwide, public messages to those meeting privately about the next captain.

Sure, others have voiced support for McGinley, as well – Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose, to name a few – but answering a question is different than going out of your way to make intentions known to the entire world, especially in the waning moments before such a decision is being made.

Of course, it wasn’t so much what they said as what they didn’t say that really mattered.

By supporting McGinley, all three were in effect voting against Monty, who by all accounts was the next closest competitor in the race for the position. For a team with such strong ties, one which has prided itself in teamwork and camaraderie over the years, beginning the two-year journey to retain the title in controversial style wouldn’t have been conducive to achieving the end result.

Going against the wishes of three players could serve as potentially combustible, possibly causing a rift when each is being asked endlessly about playing for a man he didn’t want in the position in the first place. Meanwhile, the second guessing wouldn’t cease until after Europe retained the hardware – and if the team didn’t, then it probably never would.

That’s not to suggest that McGinley was the “safe” pick, but there were certainly fewer pratfalls than opting for a man who wasn’t wanted by important members of the team.

Even McGinley acknowledged that social media may have played a pivotal role in his appointment.

Upon being named to the position, he admitted: 'One thing I have learned from this is the power of Twitter.'

The next Ryder Cup – just like each before it – won’t be played on paper. It may not be contested in the grand expanse of cyberspace necessarily, either, but there’s little doubt it played some factor in the selection of one captain. With just a few keystrokes, McIlroy, Donald and Poulter may have ensured that they got their wish for 2014, whether that was part of their plan or not.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

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

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”