Captain's picks will be a challenge for Love

By Rex HoggardJuly 31, 2012, 8:10 pm

Dear captain Davis Love III,

So, you’re going with the “wait and see” thing the next two weeks, confident in your side’s ability to let this play out according to the preordained script.

Let the chips and Ryder Cup points fall where they may, make sure the rain gear is actually, well, rainproof and get your dozen on the charter to Medinah in time for this year’s matches.

What could go wrong?

Paul Azinger had a similar idea way back in the summer of 2008. He’d picked apart the Ryder Cup selection process like few could or would, put a “corporate team builder” on retainer and turned his west Florida home into a makeshift “war room” filled with personality profiles and ShotLink data.

Yet as Valhalla inched closer and his teamed failed to materialize as expected ’Zinger was haunted by an unnerving thought, “If I was looking for a hot hand, I wasn't finding it among the Americans on the tour,” Captain America wrote in his post-Ryder Cup book “Cracking the Code.”

At the end of the day, to use a worn-out Tour axiom, it was ’Zinger’s team who decided who would land at least three of the four coveted captain’s pick, and at the rate the U.S. team is shaping up this year you may be thinking of a similar populist strategy.

With a fortnight remaining to grab one of the eight qualifying spots you likely awoke Monday morning to a list that has changed little the last few weeks and doesn’t exactly have that “it’ll all work out” feel to it.

Nos. 1 through 8 seem rather straightforward, starting with Tiger Woods, who will not need to be a captain’s pick for the first time in three years, followed by Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan.

But like it was for Azinger, the automatic qualifiers aren’t the problem. It’s the next half dozen or so names that will likely keep you up late the next few weeks until you announce your picks on Sept. 4 in New York City.

Among those hopefuls are reigning PGA champion Keegan Bradley (ninth), Rickie Fowler (10th), Brandt Snedeker (11th), Dustin Johnson (12th), Steve Stricker (13th) and Jim Furyk (15th).

The line in press circles is that you have four captain’s picks and would rather have none, while European skipper Jose Maria Olazabal has two picks and would rather have 12. One man digs true-false exams; the other is all about multiple choice. Neither option is wrong; it’s simply a personality deal.

We know that given the choice you’d rather pick Nos. 9-12 and be done with it. It’s clean and controversy-free, but unless that list gets an ultimate makeover the next few weeks there will be hard decisions to make.

Without Stricker, for example, who will be Woods’ go-to partner? Without Furyk, a seven-time Ryder Cup player who hasn’t missed a match since 1997, who will be the calming force in the locker room? Who will be your utility man?

Do you pass over potential Ryder Cup rookies Bradley and Snedeker, a major champion and arguably the Tour’s best putter, respectively? Both were overlooked for last year’s Presidents Cup at Nos. 11 and 20, respectively, and it wasn’t pretty.

Or are Johnson, who missed much of this season with injury, and Fowler, whose breakthrough this year at Quail Hollow was impressive but who has broken 70 just once in his last dozen rounds on Tour, the odd men out?

There are no easy answers, but you knew that when you took the gig.

Like ’Zinger, you seem inclined to a captain-by-committee approach, at least as it applies to your four picks.

“It's going to be the U.S. team and not going to necessarily be my team, and I'm going to try to get everybody together on the same page, on the same team,” you said earlier this summer.

But the decision, ultimately, will be yours, it’s why you get the colorful golf cart and walkie-talkie; and why – as hopeful as you may be – the wait-and-see approach may not work out.

When the last putt drops next week at Kiawah all the pieces may, in fact, fall neatly into place. But if history is any guide, you may want to have a “plan B.”

The best,

Your unsolicited advisor

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Romo turns in even in PGA Tour debut

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 3:00 pm

After stumbling out of the gates, Tony Romo has found his footing in his PGA Tour debut.

Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption, Romo shot an even-par 36 for his opening nine holes in the Dominican Republic. The former NFL quarterback bogeyed his first two holes, but steadied the ship with three birdies from Nos. 4-8 while playing alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

The early highlight of the round came at the par-4 fifth hole, where Romo drained a putt from across the green for his second straight birdie:

Romo has played as an amateur partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and has played individually in U.S. Open local qualifiers and mini-tour events as an amateur. But this marks his first attempt to gauge his game against the best players in the world who are not in Austin for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Romo, who plays to a plus-0.3 handicap, said earlier in the week that he expected some jitters once it came time to put a tee in the ground.

"You'll be nervous on Thursday on the first tee. Just going to be," Romo said. "I've got to get through the first three or four holes. If I can handle the nerves on the first three or four holes, I think that I'll settle in and hopefully just play the way I've been playing."

Click here to watch live first-round action on Golf Channel.

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Kim's missing clubs show up at sporting goods store

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

More than a month after they were lost on an American Airlines flight, the clubs I.K. Kim used to win last year's Ricoh Women's British Open turned up on the sale rack of a California sporting goods store.

Kim's clubs became lost in late January when she flew from Miami to San Diego, with the airline suggesting she simply rent a new set. A few weeks later, Kim shot a "What's in the bag" television segment which according to a Golfweek report caught the eye of three good samaritans in the San Diego area.

The three men recognized Kim's clubs for sale at a local Play It Again Sports, with the major winner's tools listed at $60 each. The store even had Kim's tour bag, complete with her LPGA player badge. Kim filmed the reunion with her bag - containing wedges and a few hybrids, minus the head covers - at the Carlsbad police station:

Kim was back in southern California this week for the Kia Classic, where she'll begin play Thursday morning at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

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New dad Garcia removes shoes, wins match

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 12:48 am

AUSTIN, Texas – In one of the day’s most explosive matches, Sergio Garcia rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at the 18th hole to defeat Shubhankar Sharma, 1 up, at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The duo halved just nine holes on Day 1 at Austin Country Club, with Garcia going from 2 up through four holes to 1 down with five holes to play.

But the Spaniard rallied with five birdies over his final eight holes and pushed his record to 20-17-1 in the Match Play. He also gave himself his best chance to advance out of pool play since the format began in 2015.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

The victory continued what has already been a memorable week for Garcia, whose wife, Angela, gave birth to the couple’s first child last Wednesday.

“I already feel like I’m a winner after what happened on Wednesday,” Garcia said. “Obviously, it's something that we're so, so happy and proud of and enjoying it as much as possible.”

The highlight of Garcia’s round on Wednesday came at the 12th hole when he took a drop on a cart path. After considering his options, he removed his shoes and hit his approach from 212 yards to 29 feet for a two-putt birdie to halve the hole.

“I have spikes. So if I don't take my shoes off, I'm going to slip. It's not the kind of shot that you want to slip,” Garcia said. “I had tried it a couple of times on practice swings and I was already slipping a little bit. So I thought I would just take my shoes off, try to get a little bit in front of the hole and it came out great.”