Bishop admits Ryder Cup changes could be coming

By Rex HoggardSeptember 30, 2014, 8:00 pm

Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, Ted Bishop gathered with a group of PGA of America executives to talk about the 2016 Ryder Cup.

Less than 24 hours after the U.S. team’s eighth defeat in its last 10 tries at the biennial matches, Bishop knows there will be more discussions in the coming weeks, but following the 16 1/2 to 11 1/2  rout at Gleneagles the captivity of the transatlantic chartered flight seemed as good a time as any to start looking for answers.

“We had philosophical conversations on the plane home yesterday, ‘Where do we go next?’” said Bishop, the PGA of America’s president who was back at work at his Legends Golf Club in Indiana on Tuesday morning. “We understand what we have to do and we are not on a serious timeline. We are going to take some time and figure out the best way going forward.”

The good news for Bishop and the PGA is they have time on their side, unlike in 2012 when the association was in the process of selecting Tom Watson as this year’s captain during the build up to the matches at Medinah.

The decision to delay any moves on future captains was intentional.

“We have all collectively said we are going to see where 2014 goes and I think that was prudent,” Bishop told GolfChannel.com.

In the aftermath of another U.S. loss, it makes even more sense for the PGA to move slowly. The criticism reached a crescendo on Monday when many, including your scribe, questioned why the association doesn’t copy the European model when selecting captains.

European captain Paul McGinley, for example, was selected by the European Tour’s tournament committee which is a group that consists of former captains and players, some of whom (like Thomas Bjorn) participated on this year’s team.

Bishop explains, however, that while he and the other officers on the PGA’s executive committee make the final decision on potential captains, there was no shortage of input during that process.

After initially meeting with Watson in Kansas City two weeks after the U.S. loss at Medinah in 2012, the entire PGA delegation returned to Watson’s home in November to make the final decision.

Before that, Bishop said he spoke with many former captains, including Davis Love III, Corey Pavin and Lanny Wadkins. He even reached out to Paul Azinger, the last winning American captain in 2008, but “never heard back from him.”

There was even an interesting conversation with Curtis Strange, who actively lobbied for Larry Nelson to have his turn as captain.

“In that plea he said what this American team needs is someone they look up to and respect. ‘I’m talking about guys like (Arnold) Palmer, (Jack) Nicklaus and Watson,’” Bishop recalled.

While the process, he explained, is not as structured as the European system, Bishop contends it was more inclusive than some may think.

“It’s not like we don’t ask former Ryder Cup captains their opinions. We definitely value their opinions,” he said.

Bishop also explained that he valued current player input throughout the process leading up to last week’s matches.

On Sunday night at Gleneagles, Phil Mickelson seemed to suggest that the current Ryder Cup system is broken and that the U.S. needs to return to the format Azinger used in 2008 at Valhalla.

“There were two things that allowed us to play our best I think that Paul Azinger did,” Mickelson said. “One was he got everybody invested in the process . . . The other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us.

“We use that same process in the Presidents Cup and we do really well. Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula.”

It was the same take Mickelson had in July when he was paired with Bishop during the pro-am at the Scottish Open. When Bishop suggested Lefty share his thoughts with Watson, Mickelson declined.

“He said it wasn’t his place and I said, ‘Phil, that would be a mistake,’” Bishop said. “(Watson) wasn’t as stubborn or bullheaded as people thought he could be. There is a patient side. Unfortunately, Phil didn’t do that. If Phil is going to be a leader on that team or future teams he should take it upon himself to have that conversation with the captain.”

The silver lining for the PGA of America is that the move to make Watson – who didn’t fall into the traditional mold of U.S. captains – this year’s skipper, has opened the door for a new philosophy when it comes to picking captains.

“We are going to be talking going forward about the selection process for captains and the selection of players,” Bishop said.

In 2016, for example, Bishop points out that the PGA Championship, the traditional cutoff date to name the team’s automatic qualifiers, will probably have to be changed. The ’16 PGA is being played July 28-31 instead of early August due to scheduling constraints caused by the Olympics.

“There is no way, in my opinion, you can announce the automatic qualifiers two months before the Ryder Cup,” said Bishop, who suggested a scenario where the automatic qualifiers are named after the Deutsche Bank Championship and the captain’s picks after the Tour Championship.

Finally, Bishop addressed the current elephant in the American team room. In the days since the U.S. loss there has been a chorus of support to bring back Azinger to captain the ’16 team. On Sunday night Azinger told GolfChannel.com’s John Hawkins that he “can’t rule it out.”

Nor does it seem the PGA would be averse to the idea.

“That decision will be made by someone other than me, but at this point the slate is totally clear. Why wouldn’t you consider him?” Bishop said. “A Ryder Cup captain doesn’t have to be a major champion. We have to get over that. We have to look for guys who are not afraid to roll their sleeves up and take a blue collar approach like McGinley did and Azinger did.”

Before Bishop went back to work on Tuesday afternoon, he offered one final thought that seemed apropos considering the criticism Watson and the PGA has received in the aftermath of last week’s blowout.

“I think the PGA of America is willing to change from a certain stand point,” he said. “We are willing to try to put all the appropriate pieces into place to collectively make a good decision going forward.”

Criticism was sure to come, it’s part of the process and Bishop knew that. But never doubt that the PGA wants a winning U.S. team every bit as badly as anyone else.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”