The Only Option

By John HawkinsAugust 11, 2010, 3:58 pm

The TV producer and one of his lieutenants argued about it for most of Tuesday afternoon. Tiger Woods hasn’t earned a berth on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, said the guy in charge. Not only has he played poorly in 2010, his record in the event is mediocre, especially for a man with 71 PGA Tour victories and 14 major titles. Besides, the U.S. won at Valhalla without Woods, whose past greatness isn’t a sufficient reason to award him a captain’s pick over somebody who is playing better now.

Hold on a minute, said the associate producer. Are you telling me Woods isn’t one of America’s 12 best golfers? That’s what this is all about – finding the best mix of talent, experience and current form. Sure, Tiger chopped it up last week at Firestone, but the matches against Europe are still seven weeks away. If anyone is capable of picking up two or three victories between now and then, it’s the Dude in the Red Shirt.

Back and forth they went. Point versus counterpoint, past versus present, logic versus fact. When Golf Channel contributor Jim Gray asked U.S. captain Corey Pavin if he would add Woods to his squad – provided Tiger doesn’t qualify with a decent showing at this week’s PGA Championship – the skipper left no doubt where he stood on the matter. Yes, Pavin told Gray, he would give Woods a spot, and if there were any questions regarding Tiger’s willingness to accept such an invitation, the Embattled One laid them to rest at his pre-tournament news conference by saying he would take the offer.

Despite compelling evidence for and against Woods’ worthiness as a selection, Pavin really has no choice but to make room for him on the roster. Winning in Kentucky is one thing. To do it again in Wales will require premium performances from players with gigantic upsides, and the last time anyone checked, the upsides don’t come any bigger than that of the most dominant golfer ever.

Secondly, Woods has been an effective contributor on U.S. teams in recent years, most notably while winning all five of his matches at the Presidents Cup last October. There were some legitimate questions about his interest level in the early stages of his career, and in that context, that negative perception have lingered somewhat unfairly. Attempts to find Tiger a compatible partner seemed to go on forever, but from his short-lived success with childhood pal Chris Reilly to the infamous bust with fellow superstar Phil Mickelson, Woods’ recent success with Steve Stricker appears to have finally resolved that problem.

John Hawkins appears on Golf Central every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and on the Grey Goose 19th Hole every Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

From a purely pragmatic standpoint, Pavin knows his team is better with Woods than, say, Jeff Overton. More imposing and a lot more reliable – an overseas Ryder Cup is not the time or place to be experimenting with unproven commodities. Tiger may not be the rah-rah type when it comes to leadership skills, but when he walks into the team room, there isn’t a player on the American side who doesn’t feel his presence, greatness, and penchant for reaching into his pocket for an occasional miracle.

That said, there isn’t a player on the European side who doesn’t feel a little more pressure when Eldrick Almighty strides to the first tee. The results haven’t always been there, but overall, Woods has been an asset to the U.S. cause, which is why Pavin has done the right thing by eliminating the suspense and adding Tiger to the squad despite his recent woes. For all the emphasis we impart on who’s playing well and who’s not, seven weeks is an eternity in the world of competitive golf.

He’ll figure it out. This is a deeper hole than any Woods has gotten himself into, but as risks go, Pavin’s so-called leap of faith hardly qualifies. Even if Tiger doesn’t.

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.