Fading Stars

By Randall MellOctober 3, 2010, 11:30 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – It's too late to bench them now.

American captain Corey Pavin had no choice going into Monday’s singles at the Ryder Cup.

He had to put Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the lineup.

The only question to ponder: Where should he hide them?

Yeah, that’s ridiculously over the top, but a European reporter actually asked Pavin where he was going to hide Mickelson moments before the singles lineup was released. It’s no stretch to imagine European golf fans having some fun over a lager or two tonight at the expense of the United States’ best players.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is 2-1 this week, but thanks to a lot of help from Steve Stricker. (Getty Images)
Actually, Woods and Mickelson are the planet’s best players at Nos. 1 and 2 in the world rankings, but those are lame-duck designations now.

That’s not over the top. That’s almost a certainty.

Mickelson will lose his No. 2 spot in Monday’s newest world rankings. Lee Westwood is guaranteed to move up with Mickelson falling to No. 3. Woods won’t be far behind. European Tour officials project that Westwood need only finish top-20 in next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links and again at the following week’s Portugal Masters to take the No. 1 ranking.

The lousy Ryder Cup Sunday Woods and Mickelson endured was confirmation of what all the signs have pointed to this summer. Woods and Mickelson are fading together. That’s not to say they won’t fight their way back into winning form. That’s not to say they won’t win more majors and big events, but there’s enough wrong with their games, their bodies or their spirits to wonder if they’ll ever be at the top of the world rankings together again.

Woods, 34, is putting his life back together, searching for old confidence and overhauling his swing for the third time in his career. Mickelson is still dealing with his wife’s health issues and his own recent diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. He turned 40 this year.

Of course, this Ryder Cup isn’t over.

Woods and Mickelson have to be highly motivated to make statements Monday. That’s part of the fun in the challenge the Americans face in trying to come back from a formidable 9½-6 ½ deficit.

Notably, as much as the Americans need to mount an early charge to build momentum, Woods and Mickelson were not front loaded in the lineup to get the team off to a fast start. Woods will go off in the eighth slot against Francesco Molinari, Mickelson in the 10th slot against Peter Hanson.

What final statement will Woods and Mickelson make? Will they be instrumental in another remarkable American rally like they were in 1999 at Brookline when they both won their singles matches in helping the United States mount the largest final-day comeback in Ryder Cup history? Or will they be instrumental in an American swoon as they were Sunday at Celtic Manor?

Woods got throttled in his foursomes match Sunday.

He endured the worst pummeling of his Ryder Cup career in the 6-and-5 rout that Westwood and Luke Donald put on Steve Stricker and him.

It was the worst thrashing any American Ryder Cup duo has experienced in 15 years. Yeah, Woods won two matches with Stricker, but if you watched, you saw how Woods struggled. When the duo birdied four of the final seven holes to win their opening fourballs match, Stricker made every birdie.

Mickelson’s misery Sunday was extended late into his fourballs match with Rickie Fowler, but he left the grounds more bruised than Woods. His defeat was one for the record books. He has now lost more Ryder Cup matches than any American who’s ever played in them. He’s 10-17-2 in Ryder Cups, but here’s the staggering stat. He’s won just two of his last 17 Ryder Cup matches.

Both Woods and Mickelson sound like they’ll come out scrapping Monday.

“I think tomorrow’s singles are going to come down to one of the last few matches,” Mickelson said. “I think we are going to make up some ground early. We are going to try to close the gap and see if we can make a run at this.”

Woods harkened back to Brookline’s comeback.

“We have done it before, so there’s no reason we can’t do it again,” he said.

When that reporter asked Pavin where he was going to hide Mickelson in the singles lineup, Pavin couldn’t have liked it.

“There is nobody to hide,” Pavin said. “But thank you for asking. I appreciate it.”

Pavin did defend Mickelson’s record.

“He's played in the most Ryder Cups in history for us,” Pavin said. “This is his eighth. So he's played a lot of matches.

“I think he's playing hard, he's playing the best he can and he's been in good positions. You know, he's had a few 6-footers that were very key putts, and if he makes those, it's a different result. That's the way match play is, just a little of this or that. I've seen Phil make some pretty important putts in his career. He's won 38 times and four major championships. He's a pretty good player.”

Actually, Mickelson hasn’t played in more Ryder Cup matches than any American, but he’s getting there. Monday will be his 30th Ryder Cup match. Billy Casper played in 37.

Pavin didn’t have to defend Woods. He made him one of his four captain’s picks.

Woods and Mickelson still have chances to change their own momentum and help the Americans win. That’s something they haven’t been very good at either. The Ryder Cup teams they’ve played on together are 1-4.


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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

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Finally got it down lol

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But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

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How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

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If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.