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

    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

    Getty Images

    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

    Getty Images

    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

    Getty Images

    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.