Road Underdogs

By Randall MellSeptember 28, 2010, 10:39 pm

Ryder Cup

Phil Mickelson is the only member of this year’s American Ryder Cup team who was even playing on the PGA Tour when the United States last won the cup on foreign soil.

Tiger Woods was a senior in high school at the time.

Rickie Fowler was barely out of diapers.

It was 1993.

With Tom Watson as captain, with 51-year-old Raymond Floyd winning three matches, the United States defeated Europe 15-13 at The Belfry in England.

“Listen for the quiet,” Watson told his team before that victory.

Team USA bag
Team USA heads into the 2010 Ryder Cup with the odds stacked against them. (Getty Images)
Basically, Watson was telling his players to revel in the power they possessed to shut up opposing crowds with good shots and good putts.

“When you don’t hear those big roars, and it’s quiet for a few holes, you’re thinking this is pretty good,” American Jim Furyk said of playing a Ryder Cup on foreign soil. “But when their putts go in, you’re going to hear some big roars.”

While Furyk expects a respectful crowd, he’s also preparing for something you don’t hear week in and week out on the PGA Tour. He’s preparing to hear cheers when Americans miss putts.

“When you are standing over a 10-foot putt to halve a match and the ball lips out and everyone cheers, it’s not the greatest feeling in the world,” Furyk said. “But I think it’s great. When you hear people cheer when you miss, it’s a learning experience, but I love it. I think it’s the greatest. I think their fans are fantastic, and I enjoy that part of it. If you compete, you appreciate it.”

Americans haven’t had much luck keeping the volume down in Europe since that last American victory over there 17 years ago. And it promises to be loud at Celtic Manor in Wales this week if Europe gets on a roll. Ryder Cup officials are expecting to break the European attendance records set at the K Club in Ireland four years ago, when more than 45,000 fans per day came to see the matches. More than 260,000 fans are expected to attend for the week, twice the population of Newport, the Welsh host of to these matches.

“It’s a huge advantage to have your fans,” Furyk said. “When we were in Kentucky two years ago, those people were going insane. Our fans were going crazy. When you are playing around Valhalla, and you hear the big roars going up, you know the U.S. is doing good. You don’t know what’s happened, but you know someone from the U.S. knocked in a big putt. That’s what the big roar is for. Same thing over there. You hear that, and you get that feeling, they’re coming.”

The power a home crowd possesses to ignite momentum wasn’t lost on Paul Azinger at Valhalla. Someone should have given the American captain a pair of of pompoms. He raced his golf cart just ahead of key matches to whip up the crowds waiting for the action. He’s lucky he didn’t blow out a rotator cuff or two the way he waved his arms and exhorted the fans as he motored around the course there.

With those large European crowds expected this week, with typical cool and wet Welsh weather forecast and with the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor familiar to European players, Ladbrokes sets the odds at 4-to-7 in favor of Europe extending its winning streak at home to four.

Europe’s won the last three competitions on its home turf by a cumulative score of 48½ to 35½ with victories at Valderrama in Spain, The Belfry in England and the K Club.

The Americans got squashed 18 ½ to 9 ½ at the K Club in that last venture overseas.

“I’ve never won a Ryder Cup over there,” Mickelson said. “This will be my eighth team, my fourth opportunity [on foreign soil], and I think it would be very cool if we were able to do that.”

Mickelson was 0-4-1 at the K Club. Overall, he is 3-7-4 playing away games in Ryder Cups, but he isn’t alone in his futility on the road. Woods is 6-7-2 and Furyk 4-7-2.

Europe’s Ian Poulter is a road warrior. He has played in two Ryder Cups, both on the road, but boasts a 6-1 Ryder Cup record.

“Pulse rate was pretty high, to be honest,” Poulter said of plugging his ball on a tee at the first hole of his first Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills outside Detroit in ’04. “It was interesting getting the ball on the tee. Silly as that may sound, if you get up close to some of those guys when they’re trying to put the ball on the tee peg, you will see their hands shaking. 

'You’re fired up. Your adrenaline is rushing, and your nerves are going and that first tee shot is not very nice. So just get up and hit it really hard. It’s amazing. There’s no experience like it.”

Steve Stricker made his Ryder Cup debut two years ago at Valhalla but will be making his first road debut this week.

“I was definitely more nervous at the Ryder Cup than the Presidents Cup, for whatever reason,” Stricker said. “You just feel that sense of history, I guess, at a Ryder Cup, that you’re at something a bit more important. It’s a situation where you get to really learn about yourself, learn how to handle the pressure, and you find an inner strength most times where you can deal with it and hit the shots that are called for. You find yourself feeding off that pressure.”

Europe features six Ryder Cup rookies, the Americans five, but there’s clearly an advantage making your debut in front of a home crowd. Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton won’t have that advantage in their first Ryder Cups.

“It’s a little bit of the unknown, like going to Tour school for the first time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” Furyk said. “It’s our job to let those guys know what to expect. But you have some brash guys. Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, they don’t seem to be fazed by much. Bubba, Overton, Kuchar, too.”

Tom Lehman was captain of that American team that got crushed in Ireland. He’s an assistant captain in a return overseas this year.

“It’s about mental toughness, who is not going to be intimidated,” Lehman told reporters Monday upon the Americans' arrival in Wales. “In Europe, it’s almost like a soccer experience in some ways.

“One of the mindsets we were looking for is those who can say they are going to take a crowd that is very vocal and partisan and try to prove to them what they are capable of and shut them up. Some personalities are very good at that. Some are not.”

Lehman said Tiger Woods is very good at that.

American captain Corey Pavin played on the last American team to win on foreign soil. He was an assistant captain under Lehman in Ireland. He doesn’t expect the crowds in Wales to be anything like soccer crowds.

“I don't see a situation happening out there that people will applaud for bad shots or missed putts,” Pavin said. “The way it's happened the last few Ryder Cups, and being over at The K Club in '06, there's a nice pause if an American misses a putt or hits a bad shot. There's a nice, polite pause before there's applause. And I think that's the way it should be. There might be a comment here and there that somebody makes, but it's few and far between, and I think the fans out there are very respectful of both sides, and I expect the same to happen here.”

Pavin hopes it ends up being a quieter battle than the Europeans hoped it would be.

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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 “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.