The Matchmaker

By Rex HoggardSeptember 9, 2010, 12:01 am

Ryder CupNow that Corey Pavin has made his captain’s picks, here comes the hard part.

With apologies to those who got the “It’s not you, it’s me” call from U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin late Monday, the four wildcard picks were largely low-hanging fruit. “Away games” are mean, soul-searching affairs and the U.S. team room already had its quota of rookies.

If Rickie Fowler is an investment in the U.S. side’s future, Pavin’s other three picks are about the here and now. Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink have all weathered the unfriendly confines of overseas Ryder Cups, and when the phone calls had to be made, that mattered.

Now Pavin must play matchmaker if he has any chance to nix an overseas Cup drought that spans nearly two decades. The heroics of Valhalla aside, the last time an American team stole one on Continental turf was in 1993 at The Belfry.

That’s 17 years. Cicadas don’t simmer for that long.

To put the ’93 matches in perspective, Davis Love III, one of Pavin’s assistant captains this time around who is being groomed for his own turn in the big chair, was a Ryder Cup rookie and 51-year-old Raymond Floyd, a captain’s pick and the oldest competitor in match history, helped secure victory with an emotional singles win over José Maria Olazábal.

Corey Pavin
With Corey Pavin's picks made, the American Ryder Cup team is set. (Getty Images)

Outside of Wrigleyville, it may be sport’s most omnipresent schneid.

For those who base their concept of pressure on Saturday afternoons, Celtic Manor is akin to “The Swamp” or “Death Valley” in terms of what Pavin’s dozen can expect, and no one knows the rigors of the away game better than Woods.

Three of Woods’ five Ryder Cups have been played in front of hostile crowds and the American anchor has traditionally pulled the home team’s top player, which only serves to intensify the partisan atmosphere. He knows there’s only one way to survive the European punchbowl.

“You want to play well enough to make the crowd go quiet,” Woods said.

Johnson tried to hush the 13th man at the K Club but had little luck. In his defense Johnson had the misfortune of drawing Darren Clarke, the emotional core of the European team whose wife had recently passed away, in his Sunday singles match in 2006.

“I didn’t know what to expect and when I got to the first tee the crowd went bonkers,” said Johnson, a rookie in ’06 who lost to Clarke, 3 and 2. “When I handed him that putt on the 16th (hole) I got emotional for him. It stunk, I wanted to win the match but the golf gods were not on my side.”

The golf gods, to say nothing of Colin Montgomerie, will have similar options in Wales. Among Monty’s crowd pleasing options will be the all-Northern Irish duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, the all-sibling tandem of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, and the all-England choice of Lee Westwood, who is fresh from a calf injury and will likely play the role of on-course captain for the Euros.

Whether Pavin – whose style so far seems to be twofold: take few risks and say even less – burrows from 2008 captain Paul Azinger’s highly successful “pods” system or plods his own course remains to be seen, but his ability to mix and match his dozen, along with his group’s putting fortunes, will likely decide the outcome.

On Tuesday Pavin said, “nothing is set in stone” as far as possible pairings, but history suggests there are some combinations he’s already penciled into the lineup card.

The 1991 matches at Kiawah were the last time the U.S. won the foursomes frame, going 6-1 on the way to a rousing one-point victory, and the American side has a Mendoza Line-like record since then, going 4-10-4 in alternate shot the last two decades.

To stem that trend Pavin will send Woods and Steve Stricker out early and often. The duo swept foursomes and four-ball play last year at the Presidents Cup, going 2-0 in alternate shot.

A Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler marriage also seems in the cards. Lefty savors youthful projects, teaming well with Anthony Kim in 2008 at Valhalla, another energized cup rookie, and Sean O’Hair last year at Harding Park.

The options become less obvious after that, but Jim Furyk was undefeated in foursomes play in 2008 and would mesh well with the likes of a veteran such as Zach Johnson or Stewart Cink.

In this case less really is more. The danger of over thinking the pairings is what gave us that Woods-Mickelson 0-fer Friday experiment at the 2004 matches.

For Pavin, the heavy lifting has already been done by Azinger in 2008 and Freddie Couples last year at Harding Park. Whether he was paying attention remains to be seen.

Getty Images

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 GolfChannel.com. “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.

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'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:

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.

View this post on Instagram

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.