Ryder Cup Rookies 5 on 5

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupEvery couple of years, one thing is said about the Ryder Cup: the Americans are the favorites ' on paper.
And then the Europeans come in like a paper weight and flatten that figurative piece of paper, stifling the roar of the paper lions.
Europe has won three of the last four Matches, and has walked with Samuel Ryders cup six of the last nine times the biennial competition has been contested.
The Americans still boast many of the top-ranked players in the world ' four of the top 10 on the Official World Golf Ranking; compared to one for their counterparts.
But, this time around, the two sides may match up a little more evenly than in the past. Thats because each team has seven players with Ryder Cup experience and five first-timers.
It could be a European advantage, because they are accustomed to competing with more rookies than the Americans. Over the last three Ryder Cups, the Europeans have had five, seven and five rookies on their teams, respectively; while the Americans have had three, one and four. The time the U.S. had just one (David Duval) was in 1999 ' probably not a coincidence, that is the only time in the last decade the U.S. has won the event.
The last time the Europeans had more experienced players than the U.S. was in 1995, when they had two rookies to the Americans five. Europe won 14 -13 at Oak Hill (theyre playing Oakland Hills this year).
Or, it could be an American advantage, because three of their rookies are not true greenhorns. Kenny Perry, Chris DiMarco and Fred Funk have all played in at least one Presidents Cup ' and all were on the U.S. Presidents Cup team last year. The closest comparison the Europeans can draw is that three of their first-timers (Luke Donald, Paul Casey and David Howell) are Walker Cup veterans.
Its a toss up, said Golf Channel analyst and six-time European Ryder Cup team member Peter Oosterhuis. I think having played in the Presidents Cup is an obvious benefit, but you are comparing experience with youth and talent. Its very close ' but isnt everything in this event?
While both teams have five Ryder Cup rookies, the U.S., in this category, has more experience, in general. Take away the Presidents Cup factor, and the Americans still average 37.4 years of age among their five freshmen. The Europeans average 29 years. None of the five American first-timers are under 30, while four of the five from Europe are in their 20s.
That leads to another question: Who is the future of the Ryder Cup for the U.S.?
Tiger Woods is the youngest Yank, at 28. Meanwhile, five Europeans are in their 20s, including Sergio Garcia, who is 24 and already making his third Ryder Cup appearance.
Including Woods, only three American-born players in their 20s finished inside the top 30 in the final Ryder Cup standings (Charles Howell III and Jonathan Byrd). And Tiger was the only one in the top 20.
There was a time when Europe had many of the top-ranked players in the world ' Seve (Ballesteros), Ollie (Jose Maria Olazabal), Woosie (Ian Woosnam), (Bernhard) Langer, (Sandy) Lyle. Now, its almost a rebuilding. It looks very good for the European future, Oosterhuis said.
It is surprising that Tiger is the youngest player on the U.S. team. But (Chris) Riley is only 30. And so is (Chad) Campbell. So, the Americans have some young talent as well ' just not as young.
Neither U.S. captain Hal Sutton nor European leader Bernhard Langer are overly concerned with the future at this moment. They want to win now. And to do so, both men will stake a large part of their claim for the cup in a quintet of debutantes.
I don't think any team is trying to see any young player so that they can win the Ryder Cup ten years from now. I think every captain is trying to pick the guys and hoping that the guys make the team that can help them win that present Ryder Cup, said Sutton.
I think they (Europe) have got a lot of young, unseasoned players on their team because their older, seasoned players didn't have the type of last two years that they needed in order to be on the team. They do have a changing of the guard. We have a slight changing of the guard right here. That is just the life we live in. We grow older, we don't play as well and somebody else takes over.
Youth has been gradually taking over in Europe. Donald, Casey and Poulter have each recorded a pair of victories over the past two seasons on the European Tour. Levet has also won this year, meaning the five rookies (Howell hasnt won since 1999) have combined for seven tour titles in the last two years.
Perry and Campbell are the only winners during the same time frame for the U.S. Perry won three times a year ago, while Campbell won the 2003 Tour Championship and 2004 Bay Hill Invitational. His Bay Hill triumph means he is the only U.S. Ryder Cup rookie to have a win this season. DiMarco and Riley last won in 2002. Funk hasnt held a trophy in six seasons.
Both sides have their pluses and minuses when it comes to rating their rookies. But, unlike at the Presidents Cup where everyone plays every session, rookies can be sheltered until the final day if the captain so desires.
Ultimately, Ryder Cups are won and lost with the veterans. Thursday, well take an in-depth look at the seven players on each team with Ryder Cup experience.
Related Links:
  • Photo Gallery

  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team

  • European Ryder Cup Team

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup
  • Getty Images

    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

    Getty Images

    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

    Getty Images

    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

    Getty Images

    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”