Sort This Thing Out

By John HawkinsAugust 4, 2010, 5:04 am

As landmark events go, the 2008 Ryder Cup doesn’t register as more than a blip on the outer edge of most radar screens. Boo Weekley’s antics are what I remember most – the mock horse he rode off the first tee Sunday highlighted a week that was improbably fun and wildly successful for the United States. Seeing how he’s 46th in the current Ryder Cup standings, Boo needs to saddle up and get that pony into full gallop immediately, if not sooner.

Every good team can use a comedian. Woody Austin took on the role in 2007, when Jack Nicklaus’ final Presidents Cup squad smashed the Internationals in the first of three consecutive room-to-spare wins for the U.S. It was the ’08 victory, however, that altered the landscape. The Ryder Cup is still a lot bigger and a lot more intense, and in recent years, Europe has been the much tougher foe, although the gap between the Yanks and Euros has never been greater than it is now.

In that context, the U.S. victory at Valhalla two years ago was a big deal. Forced into the ultra-rare role of home underdog, Paul Azinger piloted the Americans past Europe without Tiger Woods. As the series shifts to Wales, however, the visitors look even weaker – with or without Woods – and would seem to have little chance of holding onto the chalice unless we see an American leaderboard invasion in the next two weeks.

Don’t get me wrong. Jeff Overton is a nice player, having piled up three second-place finishes and two thirds since late April, but he’s also fourth in the U.S. standings – fourth and winless, no less – which scares me. Right behind Overton is Anthony Kim, who hasn’t played in 2 ½ months. How can a guy miss that much time in the heart of the season and return to action with a spot all but locked up?

Good question. With Tiger Woods fighting through his issues and Phil Mickelson in the midst of another half-speed summer, the U.S. simply hasn’t had much presence on big-tournament leader boards. The British Open was frightening – not a single American within eight strokes of the lead entering the final round. Overton has made a ton of money, much of it in weak-field events such as last week’s gathering at the Greenbrier, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, and for the most part, Overton has gotten it done.

A fair number of veterans, meanwhile, aren’t making things easy for U.S. skipper Corey Pavin, who will likely to use at least two of his four picks on guys with multi-Ryder Cup experience. Stewart Cink is 13th, Zach Johnson 20th, Kenny Perry 23rd, Scott Verplank 24th, Chad Campbell 29th. Of that bunch, Johnson would seem the closest to must-pick status, but a victory at Colonial remains his only top 10 in 18 starts all year.

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.

Then there are the tweeners: Ricky Barnes, J.B. Holmes, Sean O’Hair. It’s easy to see Pavin choosing one of the three, but a lot depends on whether the Dude in the Red Shirt qualifies. Woods is currently ninth, one spot away from an automatic berth, and though logic tells us Tiger could win at Firestone and Whistling Straits, he could also continue his lackluster play, at which point Pavin would have to burn a pick. Either way, Woods is in if wants to be on the team.

So Pavin may have some tough decisions to make, although the U.S. situation isn’t nearly as convoluted as it is in Europe, where Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson are among those on the outside looking in. Garcia wouldn’t warrant a second thought if he didn’t own such a spectacular record (14-6-4) and the best point percentage in Euro Ryder Cup history. With Luke Donald and at least one of the Molinari brothers in good position to make the roster, skipper Colin Montgomerie has his own issues to deal with.

Does he use a pick on Harrington, a three-time major champion and positive influence who hasn’t contended anywhere since March? What about Martin Kaymer, who can look like the best player in the world one week, then vanish for months on end? At some point, both captains must weigh a man’s past accomplishments with his present value. How seriously, for instance, does Pavin consider Cink, the 2009 British Open champion but largely invisible for all of ’10?

In prior Ryder Cup summers, things had a tendency to shake themselves out. This year, both captains may have little choice but to shake things up.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:50 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Davis: USGA learned from setup errors at Shinnecock

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 4:51 pm

With the U.S. Open set to return to Shinnecock Hills for the first time in 14 years, USGA executive director Mike Davis insists that his organization has learned from the setup mistakes that marred the event the last time it was played on the Southampton, N.Y., layout.

Retief Goosen held off Phil Mickelson to win his second U.S. Open back in 2004, but the lasting image from the tournament may have been tournament officials spraying down the seventh green by hand during the final round after the putting surface had become nearly unplayable. With the course pushed to the brink over the first three days, stiff winds sucked out any remaining moisture and players struggled to stay on the greens with 30-foot putts, let alone approach shots.

Speaking to repoters at U.S. Open media day, Davis offered candid reflections about the missteps that led to the course overshadowing the play during that infamous final round.

"I would just say that it was 14 years ago. It was a different time, it was different people, and we as an organzation, we learned from it," Davis said. "When you set up a U.S. Open, it is golf's ultimate test. It's probably set up closer to the edge than any other event in golf, and I think that the difference then versus now is we have a lot more technology, a lot more data in our hands.

"And frankly, ladies and gentlemen, what really happened then was just a lack of water."

Davis pointed to enhancements like firmness and moisture readings for the greens that weren't available in 2004, and he noted that meterological data has evolved in the years since. With another chance to get his hands on one of the USGA's favorite venues, he remains confident that tournament officials will be able to better navigate the thin line between demanding and impossible this time around.

"There are parts that I think we learned from, and so I think we're happy that we have a mulligan this time," Davis said. "It was certainly a bogey last time. In fact maybe even a double bogey, and equitable stroke control perhaps kicked in."

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UCLA junior Vu named WGCA Player of the Year

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

UCLA junior Lilia Vu was named Player of the Year on Tuesday by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

Vu recorded the lowest full-season scoring average (70.37) in UCLA history. Her four tournament wins tied the school record for most victories in a single season.

Vu was also named to the WGCA All-America first team. Here's a look at the other players who joined her on the prestigious list:

WGCA First Team All-Americans

  • Maria Fassi, Junior, University of Arkansas
  • Kristen Gillman, Sophomore, University of Alabama
  • Jillian Hollis, Junior, University of Georgia
  • Cheyenne Knight, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Jennifer Kupcho, Junior, Wake Forest University
  • Andrea Lee, Sophomore, Stanford University
  • Leona Maguire, Senior, Duke University
  • Sophia Schubert, Senior, University of Texas
  • Lauren Stephenson, Junior, University of Alabama
  • Maddie Szeryk, Senior, Texas A&M University
  • Patty Tavatanakit, Freshman, UCLA
  • Lilia Vu, Junior, UCLA
Chris Stroud and caddie Casey Clendenon Getty Images

Stroud's caddie wins annual PGA Tour caddie tournament

By Rex HoggardMay 22, 2018, 3:15 pm

Casey Clendenon, who caddies for Chris Stroud, won the gross division of the annual PGA Tour caddie tournament on Monday, shooting a 5-under 66 at Trinity Forest Golf Club, site of last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Scott Tway (65), who caddies for Brian Harman, won the net division by two strokes over Wayne Birch, Troy Merritt’s caddie.

Kyle Bradley, Jonathan Byrd’s caddie, took second place with a 71 in the gross division.

The tournament was organized by the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, and proceeds from the event went to two charities. The APTC donated $20,000 to Greg Chalmers’ charity, MAXimumChances.org, which aids families living with autism. The association also donated $10,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.