U.S. should take a page from European captain's selection process

By Rex HoggardJanuary 16, 2013, 12:37 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – It wasn’t pretty or even particularly civil, but when the European Tour’s brain trust marched into the makeshift media center deep within the bowels of the sprawling St. Regis Hotel well past the dinner hour on Tuesday there was no question they had chosen the right man.

Paul McGinley, for those who don’t know, is a 5-foot-nothing ball of European energy, enthusiasm and understated class. Everything else you need to know about the Continent’s newest captain will have to wait until the 2014 Ryder Cup is played in Scotland.

The more relevant question American fans should have been asking is what kind of selection process delivers the 46-year-old Irishman to one of the game’s most high-profile posts?

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“My career is quite modest compared to previous captains, but I did play extremely well when I played team golf,” McGinley said late Tuesday.

To put McGinley’s career in context, it would be akin to the U.S. tabbing Chad Campbell to skipper a Ryder Cup squad. Outlandish? They both have the same amount of victories on the respective tours (four) and similar Ryder Cup records (2-2-5 for McGinley, 2-5-2 for Campbell).

The only thing Campbell is missing is a system that eschews the status quo and secrecy and puts the decision in the hands of the people that matter the most at the biennial slugfest – the players.

To be fair, McGinley is also undefeated in team play in three turns as a Ryder Cup player, two as a vice-captain, two more as a Seve Trophy skipper and holds the distinction of holing the winning putt at the 2002 matches, but the comparison is no less valid.

Make no mistake, the European process for selecting captains is like sausage; you love the product but you just don’t want to know what went into it.

Feelings were hurt, fences were erected and a feverish media wallowed in a very public show of partisan politicking, but just past 10 p.m. on Tuesday night a haggard Thomas Bjorn announced the European Tour’s Tournament Committee had selected McGinley to face Tom Watson in ’14 at Gleneagles.

By comparison, the PGA of America’s selection of Watson has a distinct skull and crossbones feel to it. As best, anyone can tell phone calls were made and discussions were held in hushed tones among a handful of principles but little else is known about the process that delivered us Watson.

Although former American captains are included in the process, the truth is we don’t know who actually votes for U.S. captains. In fact, other than David Toms, who sent a letter of interest to the association, even the list of potential candidates for the U.S. gig remains a well-guarded secret.

The European process, however, is bathed in sunshine. These are the facts according to Bjorn, the chairman of the Tournament Committee: the debate lasted nearly an hour and included five candidates (McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul Lawrie) and 10 players voted unanimously for the Irishman.

We know that world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter publically and emphatically voiced their support for McGinley on Twitter and in traditional media.

McGinley joked that the episode taught him the importance of Twitter, although he admits to not being a “twit.” Yet by any other name his ascension to the captain’s post was democracy in action.

“The committee is 100 percent behind this captain and that was obvious early in the meeting,” Bjorn said. “We listen to our players.”

As one Tournament Committee member explained Tuesday afternoon before the meeting, “the Ryder Cup is about the players and in the end you have to pick someone they are going to be comfortable with.”

Watson, a legend whose record as a player and captain is beyond reproach, may turn out to be the tonic the U.S. side needs to wrest itself off a schneid that has featured American losses in seven of the last nine matches. But that same record is why the U.S. should consider adopting a system similar to Europe’s.

Even in the face of growing public support, to name Montgomerie to his second term as captain – a move viewed by many players as reactionary following Watson’s appointment last year – was stymied by a system that builds consensus not secrets.

“I said this week that the Ryder Cup captaincy is an honor and it should be a one-time shot,” said McIlroy, who slipped into Tuesday’s news conference to congratulate McGinley. “When Watson was named the U.S. captain I didn’t think we needed to react to that.”

It’s hard to imagine Tiger Woods or Jim Furyk or even Jason Dufner publically campaigning for the next American captain. Even Dufner found that scenario hard to wrap his head around on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.

“That’s not really my nature or style. I’m kind of a fall-in-line type of guy,” said Dufner, who made an impressive debut in last fall’s matches.

That doesn’t mean, however, he would be against a system that would give current players a little more say in the issue. “It’s definitely a hard decision and maybe some players’ input would help,” he said.

As America’s record in the matches suggests it couldn’t hurt.

Tuesday’s drama, and the contentious buildup to the announcement, wasn’t pretty or perfect, but for those that matter, the players, it was the proper outcome and for the reeling American side it provided a blueprint that may be worth emulating.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”