Momentum is a Fickle Master

By Randall MellOctober 2, 2010, 1:51 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – The United States looked like it was going to lose another Ryder Cup before the first shot was struck.

You wondered Friday at Celtic Manor if another debacle engineered by an American captain had sealed his team’s fate long before his players arrived for the matches.

Six years ago, you could argue the American team was destined to lose in that record rout at Oakland Hills the moment captain Hal Sutton chose to pair Phil Mickelson with Tiger Woods and send them out for the opening fourballs.

You wondered Friday if something equally perplexing was going to doom this year’s team.

You wondered after you saw Tiger Woods peel off the top of his rain suit to hit his opening tee shot with a chilling rain blowing sideways. You wondered when you heard American players and caddies were griping because the rain gear issued to them was leaking, water logged and handicapping their chances of winning in Wales’ foul weather. You wondered when you heard the PGA of America made an emergency run to the merchandise center in a long rain delay to purchase 20 new rain suits to replace the ones the American captain and his wife handpicked for the team to wear. 

Ian Poulter
Momentum swung both ways on Day 1. (Getty Images)

You wondered if the soggy Sun Mountain rain gear had unforgivingly tilted this event Europe’s way in this nasty Welsh weather.

Wonder, though, took some wild turns in a long, miserable opening day to this Ryder Cup.

Momentum is the Ryder Cup’s magical ingredient, a phenomenon that packs this event with more dizzying blows than you’ll see in any other golf competition.

It’s a mystical force that can turn goats into golf heroes and dunces into geniuses.

Because that’s the course American Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin is wildly riding. He seems destined to be momentum’s darling this week, to be remembered in the most dramatically diverse terms because the decisions he has made have thrust him so far into the heart of this competition. If he isn’t the goat at week’s end, he’s got to be the genius.

Pavin is the man who bungled his team’s introduction at the opening ceremony, where he forgot Stewart Cink. He’s the guy who sent out rookies Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton in the final game in the opening fourballs. And he’s the husband who let his wife choose the malfunctioning rain gear that was so important under these dour, wet Welsh skies.

That’s the hole Pavin was perceived to have dug before these matches even began, but he left the course on a swift climb upwards.

Momentum is having its way with both teams.

You saw it belting both the Americans and Europeans in haymaker fashion even on a day so limited by bad weather than no team finished more than 13 holes.

With the Welsh skies opened and rain pelting the Usk Valley home of Celtic Manor at morning’s start, the Europeans struck quickly.

They seized leads in three of the four fourball matches when the rain finally got so heavy play was suspended.

“Our team room’s obviously happier than our opponents right now,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said in a suspension of play that would last 7 hours and 18 minutes.

Through the delay, European players could be seen giddily bouncing in and out of the clubhouse, mingling with fans and beaming with confidence in Sky Sports TV interviews over their fast start. Confidence was so high, they practically mocked the Americans upon hearing their opponents were abandoning their rain gear.

“Just have to say our waterproofs are performing well,” Europe’s Rory McIlroy tweeted during the rain delay.

Ryder Cup momentum, though, is a cruel and fickle master of this event.

When the rains subsided, and play finally resumed, a drier American team that didn’t even need its rain suits regained some form, found some rhythm and made a hard charge with the sun setting.

A flurry of terrific shots put Europe on its heels.

“The way the U.S. team came back and performed, I’m very proud of them,” Pavin said.

Stewart Cink holed a 20-foot birdie at the seventh hole to give himself and Matt Kuchar their first lead against the Northern Ireland tandem of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell. It was one of three monster putts he holed on the day.

Phil Mickelson made three birdies in a row before dark in teaming with Dustin Johnson to cut Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer’s 3-up advantage to 1 up.

Woods got up and down for birdie at the ninth hole with partner Steve Stricker watching to give the Americans their first lead in that match against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher.

The blows were dizzying in that finish at dusk but Poulter got in the last to prevent the Americans from taking a lead in three of the four matches to bed before Saturday’s resumption of play. Poulter holed a 20-foot birdie to square the match.

Pavin’s much scrutinized rookie tandem of Overton and Watson were making him look good clinging to a surprising 1-up lead against Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.

With the sun sinking over these suspended matches, the bounce was gone in Europe’s step with the Americans leading in two matches, all square in one and down in just one.

You could see the change in Montgomerie’s face when he met the media afterward. He looked like he was wearing a leaking rain suit.

“This will ebb and flow for the next two days,” Montgomerie said. “You’ll see 20 minutes of good from Europe and 20 minutes of good from the USA. I always said this was going to be close, and I don’t think anything less right now.”

It will likely come down to who commands momentum’s last favor.

Getty Images

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 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:

View this post on Instagram

Finally got it down lol

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

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

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

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

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Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

“Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).

And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 


Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 


Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 


Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.