Ryder Cup System Check

By Mercer BaggsAugust 10, 2006, 4:00 pm
Tom Lehman spent the first few months of this year talking about the possibility of being a player-captain at the 36th Ryder Cup. Hes spent the last few months discussing the merits of the reformed U.S. points system and the impact its having on his team.
 
At least he hasnt had to talk ad nausea about the butt-whipping the Europeans handed the Americans on their own soil two years ago ' at least not yet.
 
Tom Lehman
Tom Lehman can still qualify for his own U.S. Ryder Cup team despite no top-10s since February.
That will happen after his team is finalized, after the conclusion of next weeks PGA Championship. Then Lehman will have to talk until hes literally red, white and blue in the face about what he and his are going to do to avoid another embarrassment.
 
The thing is, though, Lehman doesnt yet know who will be his.' Of course, this is always the case leading up to the seasons final major, but usually there are only a couple of players on shaky ground.
 
At the moment, the final four spots are up for grabs. And it just so happens that all four spots are currently occupied by players who have neither Ryder Cup nor Presidents Cup experience.
 
To make matters more perplexing for Captain America, Nos. 11, 12 and 13 in the current standings have combined to compete in all of one team event ' Jerry Kelly in the 2003 Presidents Cup.
 
These are strange times under a strange system.
 
The points system was revised in the aftermath of the 2004 Ryder Cup, in which the U.S. lost at Oakland Hills outside of Detroit, 18 - 9 . The new system is supposed to better reward recent performance. And it does; though, a little too much so.
 
Before, players who finished in the top 10 were rewarded double points during a Ryder Cup year at regular tournaments. They now receive four times as many during a Ryder Cup year, and five times as many for a victory in said season.
 
Points awarded during major championships have also been increased exponentially, from 300 points for a victory in 2004 to 675 points this time around.
 
Now, a player can do squat for most of the year, have one great week, and earn a ticket to Dublin, Ireland in late September.
 
Take, for instance, Lehman. He could still qualify for his own team ' and he hasnt earned a single point since the Match Play in February.
 
Should he somehow win this weeks International, he would garner 375 points and could move from 29th to seventh in the standings.
 
That might seem like an unlikely scenario, but then again, John Rollins won the B.C. Open a few weeks ago and jumped from 29th to 10th.
 
The PGA of America altered the points scale in order to try and provide the U.S. with the hottest players leading up to the Ryder Cup, not the most consistent over a longer stretch of time. They wanted to make sure that they were stacked with players who were playing well at the moment; not players who had played exceptionally well in March and April, but were now struggling.
 
It was a move made to make the Yanks, who have won only one of these things since 93, more competitive. Something had to be done, and this was it. And its not all that bad. It just needs a little tweaking ' like possibly handing out points to the top 10 Americans each week as opposed to the top 10 finishers who may or may not be Statesmen. Or, perhaps not allotting quite as many points for a victory (Rollins shouldnt jump 19 spots by winning an event held opposite the British Open).
 
But having the likes of Vaughn Taylor, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson, Brett Wetterich, or even Rollins on the team isnt all that bad either. They are all in their early 30s, and some stand a chance to be on more Cup teams to come.
 
The fact is, up to this point, veterans like Davis Love III, Fred Couples and Stewart Cink havent done enough to earn their way onto the team.
 
And, unfortunately, neither has anyone in their 20s.
 
Glover, at 26, is the only player under 30 in the top 35 on the current points list. That, in and of itself, should give Lehman serious pause to consider him as one of his two captains selections should he not move up the necessary three spots from 13th.
 
But with all the greenhorns likely to comprise his team, Lehman will likely use his discretion on experience ' on players like the aforementioned Cink and Love, who finished runner-up at this years Match Play. Or maybe Scott Verplank, who went 2-1-0 as a captains pick in 2002.
 
Glover will have a chance this week to take his name out of Lehmans hat and earn his way outright onto the team. Hes one of nine players from positions 7-20 who are in the field at Castle Pines: Henry (No. 8), Johnson (9), Rollins (11), Glover (13), Love (14), Couples (15), Tom Pernice (17), Arron Oberholser (19) and Cink (20).
 
Taylor (7), Wetterich (10), Kelly (12), Tim Herron (16) and Verplank (18) are apparently saving themselves for one final push next week at Medinah.
 
The PGA Championship will be the defining event for the U.S. Ryder Cup team (the European squad wont be finalized until three weeks thereafter). As previously mentioned, a victory will be worth 675 points. Thats a hefty load considering that Wetterich, the man currently on the bubble, has accrued 746 points over the last two years. A runner-up finish will net 360, almost as much as a victory at a regular event.
 
Does the new system work? Well find out in just over a month. Like most everything else in sports, if victory is achieved then everythings A-OK. If not, then its not.
 
The one thing that we do know: its not like the Americans ' whoever is on their team ' are going to be any worse off than they were two years ago.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Points List
  • European Points List
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
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    How to watch The Open on TV and online

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

    You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

    Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

    In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

    Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

    (All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

    Monday, July 16

    GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Tuesday, July 17

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Wednesday, July 18

    GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Thursday, July 19

    GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

    GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Friday, July 20

    GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Saturday, July 21

    GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


    Sunday, July 22

    GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

    GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

    GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

    Getty Images

    The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

    Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

    What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

    What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

    How old is it?

    It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

    Where is it played?

    There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

    Where will it be played this year?

    At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

    Who has won The Open on that course?

    Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

    Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

    Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

    Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

    This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

    Who has won this event the most?

    Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

    What about the Morrises?

    Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

    Have players from any particular country dominated?

    In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

    Who is this year's defending champion?

    That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

    What is the trophy called?

    The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

    Which Opens have been the most memorable?

    Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

    When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

    Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.

    Getty Images

    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.