Hooks Cuts from the K Club

By Rich LernerSeptember 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • Watch Darren Clarke break down, watch the Europeans celebrate, and wonder no more why they consider this more important than a major.
  • Early in the day, the morning air filled with a damp rain and throaty chants from the wild Irish fans, it felt like a Big Ten college football game. Except this was Ohio State against Akron and Akrons not in the Big Ten, just as America hasnt been in the last two Ryder Cup matches.
  • Tom Lehman sought advice from Dukes Coach K. and UCLAs John Wooden. He had two former Presidents, Bush and Clinton, plus the greatest athlete ever on the grounds in Michael Jordan. Power and fame, though, were no match for heart and soul.
  • Darren Clarke could win a handful of green jackets, but its doubtful anything will ever supplant what happened here when he adds up the meaningful moments at the end of his career.
  • It may be true that Tiger enjoys winning majors on his own more than competing in the Ryder Cup with 11 others, a competitive lone wolf forced to hunt with the pack. But to question his desire to win or his commitment to his teammates is disrespectful to the greatest player in the game.
  • Paul Casey once broke Tigers college records in the Pac 10. He's now looking ready to challenge Woods on occasion at a major. Hes explosive, maturing, and growing in confidence.
  • Phil Mickelson to his credit carried the PGA TOUR through the first half of the season, but seemed to be a shell of that player after Winged Foot.
  • Any team needs a collection of good characters and offbeat personalities to go with the great talent, but there seems to be a dearth of those types these days in the head down, straight ahead world of the PGA TOUR.
  • The Ryder Cup remains an undeniable failing for a generation of American golfers whove otherwise amassed impressive individual records; fair or not, Americans love winners, and in any team event where country is represented, the public's disappointment deepens with a loss.
  • Even if you bleed red, white and blue, you had to be stone hearted not to cheer for Darren Clarke and applaud Paul Casey and Lee Westwood and yes, even the irrepressible Monty. Theres an awful lot to like about the Europeans.
  • Remember the PGA TOUR slogan: 'These guys are good'? The European team is better.

  • The U.S. suffers a bit because it has to do this every year with The Presidents Cup, while the Europeans can ramp up only once every two years.
  • Another indicator of the size of the modern Ryder Cup is this: for the 2010 spectacle at Celtic Manor in Wales there will be 24 players and 7000 in staff.
  • By then the $40 hats in the bustling merchandise tent will be $60. The players who were highly criticized for wanting a piece of the pie simply for a charity of their choice back in 1999 dont look so bad, do they?
  • Dont for a moment think the Americans are the only ones living the high life on tour. A blurb in the Sunday Telegraph related that Lee Westwood enjoys joint ownership of a private jet with Clarke. Westwood recently went on vacation with his family and flew commercially. His 5-year-old son, Sam, boarded the plane and asked: Daddy, what are all these people doing on our airplane?
  • Anyone longing for the days when the U.S. won by 40 points in basketball and by seven in The Ryder Cup?
  • If you have the answer as to whats ailing the American Ryder Cup effort, you might also know the radius of Mars.
  • For what its worth, I asked Westwood after the matches, how often he goes out to dinner with his European Tour brethren. Every single week, he said, drenched in champagne and with tears in his eyes. Colleague Steve Sands has covered the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone two of the last three years and says that every night a handful of European players gather at a round table at Ken Stewarts in Akron for dinner and drinks.
  • Oscar Wilde, a low handicap Irishman in the literary department, leaves us with this in closing: Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

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    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

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    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

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    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”