Gusto or Busto for US on Friday

By Kraig KannSeptember 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- As you wake up to the morning four-ball matches on Friday and ready for the potential of a big U.S. lead, slow yourself down. Take your time to think this out rationally, sip your coffee a bit longer, grab an extra bagel to chew on while you think clearly.

Hal Sutton has gone for the gusto with the pairing of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the four-ball format. He's made it clear that this was in the works for the better part of two years since being named captain. He said it was 'good for golf' and 'good for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson' that they join forces to lead the Americans here at Oakland Hills Country Club.

I agree that it is good for the game. I agree that it is good for each of the men that they play together. And I completely agree that it is a good step toward sending a message that his team is just that...a team. Mickelson and Woods are easily the Americans most individualistic players. They do their own thing, at their own pace and have their own game plan for 'the big ones.' Uniting them this week unites the team and unites the American faithful.

BUT...Woods and Mickelson are, in fact, part of a collection of four Americans (Love III and Furyk) to have played in every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup since 1997. And during that time, the U.S. has gone 2-3-1 in those six team competitions. While I like the thinking of Hal Sutton on this one, I'd suggest you brace yourself for the worst possible scenario.

In no way am I suggesting that Woods and Mickelson are a lock to shake hands with Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington as losers in the match. BUTit is quite a gamble should that in fact happen. In this one there is EVERYTHING TO GAIN...but also EVERYTHING TO LOSE.
I firmly believe that a Woods-Mickelson loss to perhaps Europe's best team would send a daunting message to the other 10 members of Team USA. They'd quickly realize once again that World Rankings are worth nothing in a Ryder Cup. And they'd also realize that their collective role in regaining the Ryder Cup had an extra dose of pressure added to it.

And as for Montgomerie and Harrington? Tell me they're NOT ready for the moment and I'll tell you you're crazy. Monty arrives feeling like his importance has never been greater. Currently 62nd in the World Golf Rankings, Montgomerie was selected because Langer knows he's built for moments like this. He's been the 'man of the match' in Ryder Cups gone bye, and he's earned it with huge putts under the greatest of pressure. And in his press conferences Colin has talked like a man gushing with confidence over the fact that Langer has put so much faith in his opportunity to rise to the occasion. As for Harrington...he arrives having just won. And for more good karma, he's playing in the town where his cousin (Joey Harrington) quarterbacks the home team Detroit Lions. He's also Europe's highest ranked player at 8th.

Do the paper math and Woods and Mickelson average out at third in the World. Monty and Harrington combine for 35th. But this is golf, not a computer print-out of what's supposed to happen.
It might go terribly bad for America in Match No. 1, and if I'm right, Woods and Mickelson are still a lock to play again in the afternoon foursomes. After all, how do you tell the World's second and fourth ranked players 'thanks for the effort, sorry I can't give you another chance.' I don't think you can. And I think Woods and Mickelson would be so peeved by the loss that they'd skip lunch all together in order to get back out and beat somebody, anybody. Not to mention, Sutton didn't send Mickelson out to beat Tiger's Nike golf balls for no reason. In fact, given the secrecy of Phil's visit to Oakland Hills' North Course, I'm beginning to think Mickelson's excused absence on Wednesday was a smokescreen for more 'off-site' work for Mickelson with Tiger's golf ball.

Anyway, deemed 'beatable' by Europe after a morning debacle, they could go down again. And then you've got quite a mess on your hands if youre Captain Hal. Two points lost as a team, as opposed to a potential four points gained if they'd been paired with others and played a role in four matches instead of just two. Basically, you're taking your top two guns and firing them at the first thing you see. If they fire blanks, you might see the U.S. ship go down before Day 2.

The flipside of all this is that Woods and Mickelson make the plan work. And then I could see them playing together for four matches. All the more reason that the other 10 men on Hal's squad had better be ready for anything. Who knows? Fred Funk could end up playing a bigger role than he expected, and dealing with a whole lot more pressure to pick up the slack for.....gulp.....Woods and Mickelson.

Sutton said he will play all of his men on Friday. That's great for team morale. But just remember, team morale could and should hinge on the results we see from America's top ammunition. Better have Bob Rotella on stand-by.
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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

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    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

    Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

    Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

    Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

    Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

    This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

    Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

    Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

    Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

    “I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

    “It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

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    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.