10 Reasons Captain Hal Has America on Track

By Kraig KannSeptember 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Hes the right man for the job. I didnt have many doubts coming into this weeks Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills. Now, after sitting in on Suttons Tuesday news conference, I have absolutely none.
 
For the record, Sutton is a man of four previous Ryder Cups with a record of 7-5-4. This week, his line of thinking and his point of direction might lead to 12 men walking off the course come Sunday as winners. His sense of direction appears that strong.
 
Hal Sutton, he of 14 career wins and more than 15 million dollars in earnings, is a man of strong desire and a tremendous belief that winning comes from believing. And this week Sutton, for all his speeches and pep talks, is finding it within himself to leave his troops to themselves in search of their own self-motivation. In other words, keep em guessing but keep em focused. And at all times, keep a belief in the plan.
 
Example #1: Bernhard Langer chose to present his players with Rolex watches as gifts before the matches begin. Suttons response ' He put a lot of pressure right off the bat, didnt he? Yes, we bought gifts, but Im not going to give it to the players until a little later on in the week. I want it to be a surprise.

Example #2: Suttons team dinner on Monday night upon arriving at Oakland Hills was a held at a restaurant chosen by Suttons wife Ashley. The special guest ' Michael Jordan. Jordan was called in for a quick speech and a lengthy appearance. The NBA legend has a fond affection for golf and a good deal of experience in handling pressure at its highest level. As Sutton told it, Jordans zest for the Ryder Cup and the American Ryder Cup team made him the prefect man to make each and every player feel special about just being a part of it.
 
Example #3: Langer actually had masseuses on board the European team flight to Detroit in an effort to get his team relaxed. When asked about how he will try to keep his team loose with such lofty expectations and a recent record in International team competition that isnt exactly glittering, Sutton responded, Not through masseuses. I think weve got a comedian coming in a little bit later or a trickster of something like that.
 
Example #4: Sutton shot back at a perception that the Americans havent displayed a strong sign of nationalism, patriotism or whatever it takes. And when asked if he was summoning things to convince his team that it has to care as much as the Europeans, Sutton simply turned around in his chair and pointed to the back of his powder blue shirt. Do you see whats on my back? Sutton asked. Yall see that flag? Anything I can summon up, thats what were going to do.
 
Hal Sutton gets it. Period. Thats not to say that Lanny Wadkins didnt. Or that Tom Kite wasnt a good leader, or that Curtis Strange wasnt passionate enough, or that Ben Crenshaw, despite winning, wasnt just perfect.
 
I just see something different in Sutton. And I have from the get-go. He seems to push all the right buttons and SAY all the right things.
 
Example #5: When asked about possible stylistic differences between the Americans and Europeans, Sutton fired off one of his best lines of the day. Theres always that perception that the Americans play the ball in the air and the Europeans play it on the ground, Sutton said. I think, as a matter of fact, if you go out there, (Tuesdays practice round) they dont have any trouble getting it in the air.
 
For all his quick-witted thinking and quips made in media news conferences, Sutton has made it clear that this is HIS team, and it will be left up to him and ultimately only him as to how to send it on its way.
 
Example #6: When asked about possible pairings for Fridays morning fourball matches, Sutton didnt tip his hand. In fact, hes told his team the same thing hes told the media. Hell let them know sometime around the noon hour. I told them last night that I wasnt going to set the pairings for the practice rounds. Dont read anything into anybody youre playing with. Be prepared to beat the other two guys by yourself and if I give you a little help, then thats a bonus.
 
Suttons two assistant captains Steve Jones (winner of the U.S. Open in 1996 at Oakland Hills) and Jackie Burke (7-1-0 in five Ryder Cup appearances in the 1950s) have been tossing around ideas about certain things. Some have been received well. Others as Sutton put it are not negotiable. And Sutton is a man who wants no confusion about where he stands on his decision making.
 
Example #7: Sutton in response to questions about how hes handling his own expectations thus far went like this: Probably yall are not going to write one article at the end of this week that said Jackie Burke made some decision that cost the American team from winning, or youre not going to say the same thing about Steve Jones, BUT, that is a possibility where Hal Sutton is concerned. So, I will be decisive and assertive with what I think is in the best interests of the team.
 
And you know what? The players like that from a Captainat least this captain.
 
Example #8: Jim Furyk was asked about Suttons tactics thus far. Hes a guy I played along side of, Furyk said. Hes got a lot of spirit.

He has a formula for what he wants to do. Not all of it (pairings) has been conveyed yet. Were getting bits and pieces every day. And hes letting us be individuals as well as being part of a team.
 
Hal Sutton has made things perfectly clear about preparation. Do it on their own. Do what they do. They know how to do it. Sutton said that if a player knows who his partner might be he might start worrying about his partners game instead of their own.
 
And as for Tiger Woodsleave no doubt about his form coming in and what impact that might have on his role on this team. And if this quote wont get Tiger to jump in step, then what will?
 
Example #9: Sutton on Woods. I dont think hes in any sort of slump right now. I mean, I aspire to be in his slumps!
 
So, no, no dont be worried about Tiger Woods. If thats your only worry, you have no worries.
 
I think yall might see some of Tigers greatest golf this week, so buckle your chin straps.

One final message was sent Tuesday by Sutton. He was baited by a European journalist on the topic of ambition on both sides of the
Atlantic leading to emotions that have spilled over that some felt were not in the spirit of golf. Brookline specifically was mentioned, and Sutton fired one last parting shot.
 
Example #10: Sutton to the journalist. Look, yall have been kind of like a bad marriage partner. Weve apologized for five years for what happened in 1999. So yall need to forget about that. If we had it to do over again, we would not have run out on the green. But the truth of the matter is, were going to be ourselves. So we are going out there and were going to be ourselves. No more apologies or anything else.
 
And thats how Suttons news conference ended. And for me, thats all I needed to hear. Hal Suttons team might not win back the Ryder Cup this week. But Sutton is proving to be a winner of a Captain already. At least thats how I see it.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
 
Related Links:
  • Photo Gallery

  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team

  • European Ryder Cup Team

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup
  • Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: Woods' message to young rivals: Bring it on!

    By Randall MellAugust 13, 2018, 11:24 pm

    Bring it on!

    OK, I’m not fluent in body language, and maybe that’s not exactly what Tiger Woods was communicating with his exuberant fist pump after closing out a 64 Sunday at the PGA Championship, but there was so much hope in the excitement he let loose with his closing birdie.

    Hope beyond what was still going on behind him at Bellerive.

    Hope in what lies ahead.

    Bring it on!

    You know Woods wanted Brooks Koepka to hear his legion roar, to let Koepka know he better not stumble back there behind him. You know he also wanted Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and all today’s stars to hear all those roars, to let them know he’s finally fit for a fight again.

    Bring it on!

    Yes, Koepka refused to flinch, and Woods ultimately finished second, but that rollicking last fist pump told you what Sunday’s finish meant to Woods.

    He’s going to win again.

    That’s the confidence won closing the way he did, celebrating at the 72nd hole in a way we’ve only ever seen him do on his way to hoisting a trophy.

    Because that’s where he is headed again.

    He can and will win again.

    Bring it on!

    That’s the thrilling promise Sunday brought to all of golf.

    Koepka wasn’t about to get out of Woods’ way, in the fashion the players of another era seemed to do when weekend roars preceded a Woods stampede. Koepka did today’s players a favor sending his own message. He was a rock. He didn’t flinch and didn’t fold in the wake of all those deafening Tiger roars.


    PGA Championship: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


    If Koepka flinches Sunday, it sends the wrong message to all these other young guys. It gives them all pause. It makes them all wonder if Tiger’s aura really does come with some unfair advantage, with a one- or two-shot advantage in his ability to ride the noisy chaos to heights they can’t. We heard more than one young star complain this spring about the boisterous crowds that followed Woods.

    These young guys don’t need that in their heads.

    So Koepka didn’t back down, and Johnson, Thomas, McIlroy, Spieth, Day, Fowler and Rahm aren’t likely to, either.

    That’s the great fun Woods’ comeback brings. The battles all these young guys say they want with the legend are real possibilities now, with all those Tiger birdies and Tiger roars confirming Sunday that he is ready to begin giving them what they want.

    “I’ve always wanted to battle it out in a major with Tiger,” Jordan Spieth said during The Open last month. “Who hasn’t? It’s kind of a dream come true, just to have the opportunity.”

    The wonder in Sunday’s finish is that Woods was so good spraying his driver all over the place early in the round. Back in the day, he would have said he shot that 64 with his “B” game. You won’t hear him say things like that now, but the beauty in the round was knowing how he may have turned a 70 into a 64. It was in knowing how much better he still might get on these old legs.

    It’s a shame we have to wait eight months for the Masters to see if his run of T-6 at The Open and 2nd at the PGA Championship continues on a majestic trajectory, because the message I heard in his last fist pump is still ringing in my ears.

    Bring it on!

    Getty Images

    Eight Men, Four Women Advance to "Tennessee Big Shots," Airing Monday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. ET Live on Golf Channel

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsAugust 13, 2018, 7:25 pm

    Airing Live on Golf Channel, Fourth Televised Event of 2018 is Final Tour Stop Prior to Season-Culminating Volvik World Long Drive Championship

    Field Boasts Six of Top-10 in World Led by No. 1 Justin James, Three-Time 2018 Winner Will Hogue; & Two-time World Champion Phillis Meti

    The World Long Drive Association (WLDA) season continues tonight with the Tennessee Big Shots benefiting Niswonger Children’s Hospital, airing live at 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. The live telecast will showcase the eight men and four women having advanced from preliminary rounds where they’ll compete in single-elimination matches until respective champions are crowned. The Open (Men’s) Division field will feature six of the top-nine competitors in the World Long Drive rankings, including No. 1 Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.) along with Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.), who has accumulated three wins to-date in 2018. The Women’s Division will feature two-time world champion Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand) and Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.,) who won the Clash in the Canyon earlier this year. Chloe Garner (Johnson City, Tenn.,) also is returning from injury in her first competition of 2018 in what will be a de-facto “home game,” while LPGA Tour player Emily Tubert (Burbank, Calif.) is the fourth semifinalist, competing in her first-ever WLDA competition.

    “We’ve finally reached the home stretch of the season,” said Jonathan Coachman, play-by-play host for World Long Drive Association events on Golf Channel. “With the World Championship only weeks away, the competitors understand the need to be on their game. I’ve always said that champions show up anytime, anywhere, for anything. They better have that mind-set, beginning with tonight’s Tennessee Big Shots.

     

    OPEN DIVISION QUARTERFINAL MATCHES (Seeded by world ranking):

    (1) Justin James (Jacksonville, Fla.) vs. (25) Wes Patterson (St Louis, Mo.)

    (5) Ryan Steenberg (Rochester, N.Y.) vs. (8) Paul Howell (Wilson, N.C.)

    (4) Ryan Reisbeck (Layton, Utah) vs. (9) Kyle Berkshire (Orlando, Fla.)

    (2) Will Hogue (Memphis, Tenn.) vs. (24) Stephen Kois (Wheaton, Ill.)

     

    WOMEN’S DIVISION SEMIFINAL MATCHES:

    Alexis Belton (Ruston, La.) vs. Phillis Meti (Auckland, New Zealand)

    Chloe Garner (Johnson City, Tenn.) vs. Emily Tubert (Burbank, Calif.)

     

    Being staged from Cattails at Meadowview Golf Course in Kingsport, Tenn., the inaugural event – in partnership with Ballad Health’s Niswonger Children’s Hospital – is the fourth WLDA event of 2018 scheduled to air live on Golf Channel. Tennessee Big Shots is being contested in association with the Niswonger Children’s Hospital Classic. The eventalso marks the penultimate WLDA competition of the year, with the season-culminating Volvik World Long Drive Championship taking place Aug. 30-Sept. 5.

    COVERAGE: Live coverage of the Tennessee Big Shots will air on Golf Channel from 6-8 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 13, with Golf Central previewing the event from 5-6 p.m. ET. Encore showings of the competition are scheduled to air on Golf Channel following the live telecast, from 10 p.m.-Midnight ET and 12:30-2:30 a.m. ET.

    The production centering around live coverage of the competition will utilize six dedicated cameras, capturing all angles from the hitting platform and the landing grid, including a SuperMo camera as well as two craned-positioned cameras that will track the ball in flight once it leaves the competitor’s clubface. An overlaid graphic line on the grid, the “DXL Big Drive to Beat,” (similar to the “1st & 10 line” made popular in football) will display the longest drive during a given match to signify the driving distance an opposing competitor will need to surpass to take the lead. The telecast also will feature a custom graphics package suited to the anomalous swing data typically generated by Long Drive competitors, tracking club speed, ball speed and apex in real-time via Trackman. Trackman technology also will provide viewers with a sense of ball flight, tracing the arc of each drive from the moment of impact.

    BROADCAST TEAM: Veteran sports broadcaster Jonathan Coachman will conduct play-by-play alongside Art Sellinger, World Long Drive pioneer and two-time world champion (1986, ’91). Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz will offer reports from the teeing platform and conduct interviews with competitors in the field.

    DIGITAL & SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Fans can stay up-to-date on all of the action surrounding the Tennessee Big Shots by following @GolfChannel and @WorldLongDrive on social media. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will be on-site contributing to the social conversation as the event unfolds, and, the telecast will integrate social media-generated content during live coverage using the hashtag, #WorldLongDrive.

    Golf Channel Digital also will feature content from the Tennessee Big Shots leading up to and immediately following the live telecast.

     

    2018 WORLD LONG DRIVE ASSOCIATION SCHEDULE:

    DATE

    EVENT

    LOCATION

    WINNER(S) / DEFENDING CHAMP

    March 15-17

    East Coast Classic

    West Columbia, S.C.

    Justin Moose

    April 21-24

    Clash in the Canyon (*Golf Channel*)

    Mesquite, Nev.

    Alexis Belton, Will Hogue

    May 11-15

    Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun (*Golf Channel*)

    Maricopa, Ariz.

    Phillis Meti, Will Hogue

    June 4-5

    Atlantic City Boardwalk Bash (*Golf Channel*)

    Atlantic City, N.J.

    Sandra Carlborg, Mark Costello

    June 21-23

    Bluff City Shootout

    Memphis, Tenn.

    Will Hogue

    July 6-8

    Bash For Cash

    Port Rowan, Ont., Canada

    Ryan Steenberg

    August 2-4

    WinStar Midwest Slam

    Thackerville, Okla.

    Kyle Berkshire

    August 12-13

    Tennessee Big Shots benefitting Niswonger Children’s Hospital (*Golf Channel*)

    Kingsport, Tenn.

    (New Event)

    September 1-5

    Volvik World Long Drive Championship (*Golf Channel*)

    Thackerville, Okla.

    Sandra Carlborg, Justin James

    Showcasing the truly global nature of World Long Drive, several events throughout 2018 are staged through officially sanctioned WLDA international partners, including stops in Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom, along with an all-encompassing international qualifier for the Open Division of the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in September.

    Getty Images

    Making Ryder Cup picks: Furyk begins his toughest task

    By Rex HoggardAugust 13, 2018, 6:41 pm

    ST. LOUIS – By the time Brooks Koepka teed off for the final round of the PGA Championship, Jim Furyk was already back at his rental house and settled in to watch what would be an eventful final round.

    Furyk's day was just getting started.

    Although he’d been up since dawn and had already put in a full day at Bellerive with a 7:56 a.m. tee time, Sunday began a process the U.S. Ryder Cup captain has prepared for and anticipated for two years.

    “I didn’t get a lot of sleep this week,” Furyk conceded on Sunday following a closing 71 at Bellerive. “At times I found myself with my mind wandering. The afternoon tee times I’m sitting around in the morning and my mind starts wandering and I start looking at stats and start thinking about the Ryder Cup. There’s a million things going on.”

    The American captain is officially on the clock. The final round of the year’s final major was the deadline to qualify for this year’s Ryder Cup team, and Furyk now begins the process of narrowing the list of potential captain’s picks.

    Davis Love III, who took two turns in the captain’s chair, will tell you this is the toughest part of the gig. Forget about pairings and course setup and vice captains - getting the picks right is what separates a good captain from a great one.

    “I saw him around this week kind of frazzled like I was; they are pulling him everywhere,” Love said. “Now it’s a tough couple of weeks. At dinner the other night we were talking about what we were going to do [regarding picks] and I was like, ‘Well, you have to wait for [Sunday] and you’ll get a better idea.”

    On that front, the wait is over. The top eight players on the U.S. point list are now locked in and Furyk and his vice captains – Love, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods – can begin the artful process of creating a list of possible picks based on a wide variety of criteria.


    PGA Championship: Scores | Live blog | Full coverage


    The automatic qualifiers are Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson, who held on to the final spot thanks to his tie for 19th at the PGA.

    “For some guys we’re going to look at the body of work for a year, for some players we’re going to look at a hot player right now, some guys we’re going to look at pairings and how they fit into the team we have right now,” Furyk said.

    Furyk will make three of his captain’s picks on Sept. 3 following the Dell Technologies Championship and his final selection a week later after the BMW Championship.

    The short list of possible picks would include Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Woods, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner and Tony Finau, Nos. 9 through 15, respectively, on the final point list.

    Schauffele and Finau had something of a playing interview at Bellerive when they were paired with Furyk for Rounds 1 and 2.

    “Tony made a pile of birdies, he’s explosive as far as firepower and how far he hits it but I was impressed with his putting, to be honest with you. I knew he could hit it far and kind of knew how he played, but he really played well,” said Furyk, who also played with Finau on Saturday at the PGA.

    Mickelson will be a particularly interesting option for Furyk. For the first time in his Ryder Cup career, which began in 1995, Lefty failed to qualify for the U.S. side and the de facto team room front man would be tough to pass over.

    “His game has been in a good position all year, he’s putted great, I think Jason Day is the only player with better putting stats this year,” said Furyk, who met with Mickelson after he missed the cut in St. Louis. “He’s working on a couple of things in his game right now that we talked about.”

    Woods also creates some interesting scenarios. His runner-up finish at the PGA vaulted him from 20th to 11th on the final point list and essentially assured what many believed to be a foregone conclusion. Woods will be among Furyk’s captain’s picks, the only real question when it comes to the 14-time major champion is whether he can play and drive a vice captain’s cart.

    “He’s on that list we’ve talked about and I think we still need to hash that out,” Furyk said. “Is it possible [to do both jobs]? Sure, we just need to decide if that’s best for the team.”

    If Woods and Mickelson have already been penciled in as picks, which many believe they have, that essentially leaves a half dozen players vying for the final two spots.

    An 11th-hour charge over the next three weeks could certainly sway Furyk, and he’s made it clear that Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches outside of Paris, favors a certain type of game, think a fairways-and-greens type like Kisner or even Brian Harman, who finished 17th on the point list.

    “I’ve taken a look at the golf course and what I think will really work,” Furyk said.

    There’s also an undercurrent of interest in Furyk going young with his picks to give a player like DeChambeau or Schauffele a chance to experience the unique pressures of a Ryder Cup “road game,” but Furyk didn’t seem as interested in developing future talent as he is in winning.

    “Our goals for long term are important and young blood is a good thing, but I would never sacrifice this team or 2018 for 2022,” he said. “The goal is still to go to Europe and try to retain the cup. That said, having a mix of veteran and young players is a good thing.”

    If Furyk sounds a little vague when it comes to his potential picks it should be no real surprise. Getting the picks right is the most demanding part of any captain’s job and he’s just getting started.

    Getty Images

    Lowry calls out official over drop ruling at PGA

    By Will GrayAugust 13, 2018, 6:00 pm

    Despite the fact that Shane Lowry matched his best worldwide finish of the year at the PGA Championship, the Irishman didn't mince words over a frustrating ruling that played out late in the final round.

    Lowry was 10 under and four shots behind Brooks Koepka when he stepped to the 16th tee, but he sailed his tee shot on the par-3 well right and behind a TV camera tower. What ensued was a lengthy delay as Lowry consulted with rules officials over whether he was entitled to a free drop and where he might take relief.

    According to Lowry, the two officials failed to render a final decision and left it up to the player as to how to proceed. He eventually opted to play the ball from its original position next to the tower, pitching it into some rough in front of him and eventually making bogey. He also bogeyed the 17th, turning a possible top-5 finish into a tie for 12th.

    "I think the referee didn't have the balls to make a decision there, and if he did I would have had an easier shot," Lowry told the Irish Times. "If you put (European Tour official) John Paramor or any of the good referees out there, and he would have given me full relief. But he wasn't giving me full relief, he was telling me to drop it in a tree basically."

    Lowry's discussion with officials dragged on to the point that his playing competitor, Justin Thomas, opted to play out of turn with a pitch shot of his own. He also went on to make a bogey, but after the round told reporters that he didn't blame Lowry for how the situation played out.

    "It had nothing to do with Shane. The rules officials were having a hard time coming up with a ruling," Thomas said. "They were kind of looking at each other and saying, 'Well, what do we do?' And Shane's like, 'Look, just tell me if I get a drop or not.' And I'm a quick player, and that's why I went."

    Lowry's title chances were gone long before the rules fiasco, but his poor close had other ramifications. The 31-year-old's three-year exemption on the PGA Tour for winning the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational expires after this week's Wyndham Championship, and the T-12 finish at Bellerive only moved Lowry from No. 156 to No. 139 in the season-long points race with the top 125 retaining full cards for the 2019 season.