NONot Again

By Kraig KannNovember 19, 2004, 5:00 pm
Just when you thought civility and sportsmanship had returned the Ryder Cup to its roots, Luke Donald and Paul Casey visited the media room at the WGC-World Cup.
Now, before I continue, let me say that Ive interviewed both men, and found them just as strong in character as in world class game.
Donald and Casey are teaming at the World Cup this week in Spain, but Tuesday spent time in an interview setting tag-teaming in a rant about Tom Lehman as the chosen Ryder Cup captain, the habits of American players in general, and a general perception of the United States.
Lehmans appointment as captain, by the way, has been a hot topic for many who believe that Lehmans exuberant display (specifically) after Justin Leonards 1999 putt at Brookline was over the top.
ON LEHMAN ' (Casey) If Lehman wins the Ryder Cup back for the Americans, it will be the best captaincy, the best appointment they have ever made. However, I dont think his appointment will be universally accepted on this side of the Atlantic. I dont think a lot of people want to see him as captain. I think a lot of people are just afraid that it might bring up a Brookline-type could be a Brookline-type situation at K Club.
ON LEHMAN ' (Donald) Ive heard reports, you know, about he was the first person to rush on the green at Brookline when Justin Leonard holed that putt. Ive heard a few things that go against what he kind of proclaims as being a very religious and it just seemed a little bit shady to me. I think from what Ive read, the Americans were running out of candidates, and he was kind of a choice that they probably wouldnt have made if a few others had accepted.
ON AMERICANS ' (Donald) I think people who are not Americans can get upset with Americans quite easily. They do seem to be very insular. They make rash comments that are really quite upsetting sometimes. I remember watching Disney and Ryan Palmer said, you know, the Nationwide was the second strongest tour in the world, days after Europe had just thrashed the U.S. 18 to 9 . I guess its a reaction to the Americans way of thinking that they have the best country in the world and they dont really need to leave their country; they have everything there.
ON AMERICANS ' (Casey) I think that, you know, Americans do have a tendency to sort of wind people up. You know, when they are chanting USA, and theres lots of them, it just wants to make you beat them even more, and I think thats the point I was probably trying to get across. They probably failed to realize it really sort of riles us and the rest of the world. I dont hate Americans. I have an American girlfriend, I live in America, I play many events in the U.S. I certainly dont hate them.
OK. If you saw the Sprint Pre-Game Wednesday night, you saw reaction from us, reaction from Colin Montgomerie whos competing at the UBS Cup and some e-mails from viewers.
Heres a sampling of those e-mails sent in to the Sprint Pre-Game that I thought youd like to read.
  • I think its good that there are some early emotions stirring up. Maybe our (U.S.) players will get a little more involved and be ready to win the cup back.
  • Sure, Paul Casey jumps on the anti-U.S. bandwagonbut were everybodys daddy when they need something. What a cheap shot from someone who has reaped the benefits of an education, golf and life here in America.
  • I think Luke Donald has just taken the bullseye off of Montys back and placed it squarely on his own. This is not the first time weve heard these types of comments from foreigners that choose to live in our country for whatever reason. I guess thats the price we pay as Americans for extending our hand to all foreigners from all walks of life.
  • I listened to the show tonight and heard the comments from Luke Donald and Paul Casey. I dont understand there comments being they both lost there singles matches at the Ryder Cup this year and Luke got waxed 5 and 3. So I think he need not talk for his teammates. Please revoke their Visas!
  • You folks just dont get it do you. The comments by these young players were not just about golf but American attitude in general. You are so arrogant it scares the rest of the world you are out of control, the ugly American is well and truly back.
  • Guys, hello! The U.S. is an insular country, no international news, or sports outside of the U.S. All domestic sports finals are called world. Anyway, I think both Lukes and Pauls comments are partly to do with golf and part to do with these other matters. And yes you can live in a country that does have these things that may annoy from time to time..they live here as the PGA is the best tour with the most money. Thats why Im over here - better opportunities and cash! Europeans get frustrated with the general U.S. public that appears to think that the world stops at their border and no other place could possibly compete on comparable levels. I think the younger generation of European players sees this more clearly as now they are competing more and more on the U.S. tour. I can imagine the comments regarding the Nationwide being the No. 2 world tour was the last straw.All this said the comments were not appropriate and I wish Tom Lehman all the best, hes going to need it!
    Ive given this just a days thought, and have some reactions. Lehmans captaincy might be of concern to some, but not to me. His enthusiasm for the Ryder Cup is stronger than most on either side.
    Yes, he jumped for joy on Leonards putt, but hes also one of the most decent, honorable, fair-minded sportsmen that Ive come across ' not just in golf but in any sport. Trust me, he hasnt enjoyed the label hes been tagged with by Europeans after 99, and Im certain he took the job with nothing but the best interests of the Ryder Cup in mind. If anything, its my opinion that hell go overboard with proper political balance during his captaincy.
    I have mixed feelings on the comments by Donald and Casey, which actually furthered a verbal jabbing by Casey in an article in a London paper a few weeks ago. Together the duo is a big part of Europes Ryder Cup future, yet these comments ' attacking in nature ' dont do much for the immediate future of their reputations, or the current state of Ryder Cup fellowship.
    Still, theres always a little shade of harsh reality to any argumentative statements and I find myself actually nodding in agreement that we are a spoiled country to some degree. If people or countries have negative feelings toward America, then there must be some reason for it. And collectively, it never hurts to self-evaluate.
    But if its opportunity that one wants, the United States is as good as it gets. Donald and Casey both chose the United States for college, college golf and a path to future professional success. If I dare to find fault, its about biting the hand that fed you.
    Ive always believed you respect the opportunities given and taken in life, and carefully choose words when talking about them later. A scholarship and a chance to play with the worlds best players is a pretty nice opportunity. Maybe theyve forgotten.
    Nobody has to love the United States. Dont even have to like it. But theres always something positive to take from any experience. Luke and Paul would have been wise to throw in some of the positive along with so much negative.
    Finally, Im worried for the Ryder Cup. I barely had my frequent flyer account updated after the trip to Detroit and now this!
    Hadnt we moved past this? I thought wed kissed and made up. Sutton and Langer talked about mended fences and the renewed priority of sportsmanship for two years prior to an American butt-whoopin by the Europeans. And when it was mercifully over on Sunday, there were no stern words, no quotable lashings to leave us with a bad taste. The score spoke for itself.
    Curtis Strange and Sam Torrance started the difficult process of returning the Ryder Cup to its rightful roots. Sutton and Langer continued it. But suddenly, with comments made by two Ryder Cup rookies, the ego-bruised United States has plenty to rally around and plenty to play for. Brace yourselves; were in for an interesting couple of years.
    But PLEASE.. Lets not go back to where weve been. That wasnt good for anyone.
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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    Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 8:41 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.

    According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.

    Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.

    Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.

    And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.   

    Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.

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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.