All Montys Men
“I have a good feeling about tomorrow. That's all I'm gonna say.”
In retrospect, if Gentle Ben knew a secret it was that the European lineup, a group that had built a commanding 10-6 lead through team play at the 1999 Ryder Cup, had more holes in its bullpen than the Pittsburgh Pirates.
For two days European captain Mark James had deftly played around what some considered his liabilities in the team portion of the competition, but in Sunday singles there was no protection for the likes of Jean Van de Velde, Jarmo Sandelin and Andrew Coltart.
All three went out early on Sunday at Brookline having watched from the sidelines for two days and suffered convincing losses that helped spur the American side to the greatest comeback in the history of the matches.
Brookline was hardly an aberration. The theory went that after the European stalwarts of Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal and Lee Westwood the bench was thin. In short, Europe was top heavy.
It’s a problem with which current captain Colin Montgomerie is utterly unfamiliar. How far has the pendulum swung for the Europeans? Consider that if Monty had to pick his team today he would have to split his three captain’s picks between the likes of Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Padraig Harrington, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia.
All total, there are nine Europeans in the top 50 in the World Ranking who are not currently on the team via two separate points lists, including three in the top 20 (Casey No. 8, Harrington No. 17 and Rose No. 18). And that equation ignores Welshman Rhys Davis, who at 50th in the World Ranking is a statistical long shot but would be a sentimental favorite considering the site of this year’s matches at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.
“I could pick two teams that could beat each other on any given day,” Montgomerie boasted on Tuesday. “Our players have performed brilliantly worldwide, so much so that there are a number of issues that have to be addressed in the fact that these picks, right now, you'll see there's a number of world stars, and I mean world stars, that aren't already qualified within that team.”
It is a measure of Monty’s depth that Harrington, a team staple since 1999 who has a 7-11-3 record in 21 matches, is not only on the wrong side of cut line with one major to play but is something of a long shot based on his current form.
“It just depends how (Harrington is) playing at the time. On current form, maybe not,” Graeme McDowell said. “There's a lot of players needing a pick. Paul Casey obviously could get himself on the side, and there's a lot of top, top players, Henrik Stenson. So there's a lot of stuff to happen between now and the picks, and I'm sure Monty was wishing maybe he had an extra pick at the minute.”
The current European team would include Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, McDowell, a four-ball and foursomes dream pairing for Monty, and Luke Donald from a list based on the World Ranking; and Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ross McGowen off a list based on the Race for Dubai points list.
Fortunately Monty has over a month before he must make any decisions and a major and a World Golf Championship that could help simplify his choices. But right now that does little to solve a puzzle that currently has far too many pieces.
As unthinkable as a European Ryder Cup team without the likes of Garcia or Harrington may seem – Europe has not fielded a side without the two in more than a decade – the current structure of the points system and landscape may require that Monty make some difficult decisions.
“Those picks right now are the biggest headache we have, but a very positive headache at the same time, a very positive one,” Montgomerie said. “We have never had so many champions, world stars, top 20 players in the world, that aren't on the Ryder Cup team and that proves how strong we are.”
But then Monty’s woes are trivial by comparison to the angina that American captain Corey Pavin must be having as the matches inch closer. Sunday’s leaderboard at St. Andrews was dominated by Europeans, with the continent taking six of the top 10 spots, and the final tally at the U.S. Open – four Europeans among the top 10 – was almost as dominant.
Individual accomplishments mean little when the independent contractors take the pitch to play for country and points (see Woods, Tiger), but following his disappointing loss to Louis Oosthuizen on Sunday at the Open Championship it was impossible for Casey to hide his optimism about the home side’s chances in October.
“We're already going to have an unbelievable team. We're going to have a great team. It doesn't guarantee a victory, but I think we'll be pretty good,” said Casey with a knowing smile that, like Gentle Ben in 1999, suggested he knew the answer to a question most of us haven’t even asked.
Trail date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena
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
LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:
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.
If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.
Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'
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.
Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR
Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.
Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.
It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.
Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.
There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.
Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.
With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.