Ryder Cup is Too Good Not to Want More

By John HawkinsOctober 6, 2010, 5:22 pm

Ryder CupA lot of serious golf fans who work for a living still don’t know how close it really was. Twenty-eight matches, somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 golf shots, and for the first time since 1991, it all came down to the final pairing. This wasn’t quite the War on the Shore, but it wasn’t the Debacle in Detroit or the Dud in the Irish Mud, either.

Hunter Mahan, a terrific ballstriker whose short game has given him problems over the years, chunked a chip with the Ryder Cup on the line. It brought an unsightly end to a singles session that was otherwise an immense pleasure to watch – two teams locked in a fierce tussle for all the right reasons against a backdrop of blue sky and hot-blooded emotion. The United States’ comeback was valiant, heroes galore on both sides, but with Mahan struggling all day to make a putt, with Stewart Cink failing to take advantage of excellent scoring opportunities on the 17th and 18th greens, the Yanks came up a day late and a birdie short.

So Europe regains Sam Ryder’s chalice, and everybody wins. Not even a Monday finish could spoil the notion that professional golf needed a thrilling, memorable outcome. As resilient as Team America proved to be in singles, this cup was lost in the six-match “makeup” session that began Saturday afternoon and ended almost 24 hours later. When it rains, it pours, and if you claim a mere half-point with all 12 guys on the golf course, you’re standing in the middle of a monsoon without an umbrella.

Other than the weather, there was a lot to like about the 38th edition of this great event. Both skippers got huge production from their most controversial captain’s picks. I was among those who thought Colin Montgomerie made a mistake when he added Luke Donald over Paul Casey or Justin Rose, but Donald turned out to be Europe’s best performer, and amazingly, he remains unbeaten in six career foursomes matches.

Rickie Fowler, meanwhile, already had made Corey Pavin’s gamble look brilliant before holing one of the biggest putts by an American at a Ryder Cup over the last decade. His 18-footer for birdie at the par-5 18th regained the half-point lost when Cink missed from four feet at the 17th, and if Fowler’s composure in big moments is as admirable as his ability to handle that pressure, the two qualities obviously are related. The little fella has big balatas, and when a 21-year-old rising star thrives in situations that cause others to wilt, it’s hard not to envision good things for Team America in the future.

Another shout-out goes to the British PGA and PGA of America for reacting to the onslaught of lousy weather with a revised competitive format – a schedule to ensure all 28 matches would be played. Not that what they did was rocket science, but progressive thinking can get buried beneath two tons of tradition, especially in a game that leans so hard on its old-world sensibilities. The fact of the matter is the Ryder Cup was tweaked constantly in its first 50 years, the biggest change occurring with the inclusion of continental Europe in 1979, an expansion that has gone a long way toward defining the event as we know it today.

The time has come to consider more alterations. Adding a fourth day of matches would alleviate the problems that arise from cramming 28 tilts into three days. Both teams are on site by Monday morning. Why wait until Friday to start keeping score? The Ryder Cup has become a victim of all the wrong excesses – too much pregame shenanigans, not enough golf that matters. Spread things out, give the participants more time to breathe.

If each match was worth two points instead of one, you would impart a slightly greater importance on winning matches without compromising the Ryder Cup’s credibility or integrity. The pace-of-play issue needs to be addressed, especially in the fourballs, which often take more than five hours to play. Get them started on a single-session Thursday with all 24 players involved: six bouts for a total of 12 points.

Friday, meanwhile, becomes a test of strategic guile. By mixing three singles matches and three alternate-shot deals in both the morning and afternoon, the captains and their personnel decisions would have a greater effect on the overall ebb and flow. Again everybody plays in at least one of the Friday sessions. Those who compete in the morning singles cannot be used for singles in the afternoon. We’re looking to test the depth of both squads here, not some rookie’s ability to ride in a cart and wave pom-poms.

Another combo platter is served up Saturday: three fourballs, three foursomes, which gives the players a little break before Sunday, which doesn’t change. The singles finale amounts to the best six hours in golf, and when rain pushes it into Monday, as was the case at Celtic Manor, you counter an unfortunate situation with some pragmatic measures that make those occurrences very avoidable.

Honestly? The Ryder Cup is too good an event to not want more. All within reason, of course, which is reason enough.

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High school seniors win U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 1:44 am

TEQUESTA, Fla. - The 18-year-old Hammer, from Houston, is set to play at Texas next fall. Barber, from Stuart, Fla., also is 18. He's headed to LSU.

''Growing up watching U.S. Opens and U.S. Amateurs on TV, I just knew being a USGA champion is something that I desperately wanted,'' said Hammer, who qualified for a U.S. Open three years ago at 15. ''And to finally do it, it feels incredible. It feels as good, if not better, than I thought it would. And especially being able to do it with Garrett. It's really cool to share this moment.''

Hammer and Cole won the par-4 eighth with a birdie to take a 2-up lead. They took the par-4 10th with a par, won the par-5 13th with an eagle - Barber hit a 4-iron from 235 yards to 3 feet - and halved the next two holes to end the match.

''Cole didn't want me to hit 4-iron,'' Barber said. ''He didn't think I could get it there. I was like, 'I got it.' So I hit it hard, hit pretty much a perfect shot. It was a crazy shot.''

The 32-year-old Dull is from Winter Park, Fla., and the 42-year-old Brooke from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

''Cole Hammer is a special player,'' Brooke said. ''Obviously, he's going to Texas (and) I'm not saying he is Jordan Spieth, but there are certain things that he does.''

In the morning semifinals, Hammer and Barber beat Idaho high school teammates Carson Barry and Sam Tidd, 5 and 4, and Brooke and Dull topped former Seattle University teammates Kyle Cornett and Patrick Sato, 4 and 3.

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Arizona captures NCAA DI Women's Championship

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 11:56 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – Turns out this match play format provides fireworks. Almost always.

In the four years since the women’s NCAA Championship has switched from the stale, 72-hole stroke-play format the championship matches have been pure magic.

This year, again, the title came down to the last match and Arizona took home its third title with a 3-2 victory over Alabama when Haley Moore defeated Lakareber Abe by making a birdie on the 19th hole. The last time the Wildcats won the NCAA Championship was in 2000, when coach Laura Ianello was on the team.

Arizona def. Alabama, 3-2

Yu-Sang Hou (AZ) def. Lauren Stephenson (AL), 4 and 3

Kristen Gillman (AL) def. Gigi Stoll (AZ), 4 and 3

Cheyenne Knight (AL) def. Bianca Pagdanganan, 4 and 2

Sandra Nordaas (AZ) def. Angelica Moresco (AL), 1 up

Haley Moore (AZ) def. Lakareber Abe (AL), 19th hole

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''