No matter context, Love's comments motivate Euros

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 27, 2016, 9:30 pm

CHASKA, Minn. – Did you hear last week, when U.S. captain Davis Love III made the eyebrow-raising comment that his U.S. Ryder Cup team was “the best golf team maybe ever assembled.” Of course you did. It was everywhere.

“It raised some eyebrows around our team, too,” Love said Tuesday, while the best golf team maybe ever assembled practiced at Hazeltine. But only because he believes his remarks were taken out of context.

And he might have a point.

Anyone who knows the difference between a Titleist and a TaylorMade can look at this roster and determine that it isn’t the best ever. (1981, anyone?) Dustin Johnson is the presumptive Player of the Year. Jordan Spieth added two more titles to his growing collection. But other than that? The Americans have combined for just three wins this year. This probably isn’t even the best team this decade.

So, yes, Love’s comment was brash, bordering on arrogant. It was probably unwise, too, given the Americans’ recent history in this event. But it also was misinterpreted.

Listen to the full interview, Love said Tuesday. And so we did. Again.

This was the question posed by “Fairways of Life” host Matt Adams, in a final sendoff before Love headed to Minnesota for this week’s matches: What is your counsel to your team coming in?

Love began by saying that the Americans put too much pressure on themselves and tend to panic when things start poorly, that they play defensively. Then he told a story about Tom Kite, his captain in 1997. The Ryder Cup is all about an attitude, a mindset, a swagger, and Kite told him if you’re 2 up, push it to 3 up. Try to crush your opponent.

“If we go out with that attitude, like he was saying, “Love said, “we are the better team. Let’s show them. Let’s go out there and show off. That’s a big part of it.

“And then just having confidence. We don’t have to do anything superhuman. We’re a great golf team. This is the best golf team maybe ever assembled. If we just go play our game – like coach (Bill) Belichick told us a few weeks ago – ignore the noise, work hard, do your job, everything else will take care of itself.”

Listen to the clip quickly, and it’s easy to conclude that Love believes this might be the best 12-man roster in history. He did say that, after all.

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But the original question was not: Where does this team stack up all time? No, it was: What is your counsel to your team coming in?

And so, he says, he plans to tell those 12 players that they’re the best team maybe ever assembled. He already has, apparently. “Captain told us he believes – as anybody should tell their team – that we’re the best team in the world,” Spieth said. “And we believe that, as well.”

It’s the same speech that’s been delivered in every locker room and clubhouse, in every sport, at every level, for decades.

“That’s what Nick Saban would tell his team when they’re getting ready to go play Ole Miss,” Love said of the famously intense Alabama football coach. “He wouldn’t say, ‘You guys have done a pretty good job this week, and you’re a pretty average team, let’s go out there and just give it a good shot.’ No, he’s going to say, ‘You guys have worked hard, you’re the best team I’ve ever seen, so let’s go crush these guys.’”

Somewhere along the way, though, that context was lost – not that the Europeans minded the easy bulletin-board material.

Rather than ignore the noise, as Belichick suggested, the typically mild-mannered Love instead turned up the volume.

And the Europeans heard it loud and clear.

Lee Westwood poked fun at Love’s bravado on Twitter. Last week, Rory McIlroy sent his own zinger: “They’ve definitely assembled the best task force ever, that’s for sure.”

Added Sergio Garcia: “You don’t win Ryder Cups with your mouth. You win them out there on the golf course.”

And so Love might as well have walked into the media tent Tuesday with an extinguisher, prepared to snuff out any of the simmering controversy.

“It’s just unfortunate that, in that nice conversation, it got misconstrued,” Love said. “Obviously that comment, and to the other extreme, the comment about the European team” – NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller said the Europeans have the worst team they’ve had in years – “is not what this is all about.” 

Love said he has talked to Clarke about both remarks and that there were no hard feelings. Nor should there have been.

It’s all in good fun. The light ribbing is part of what makes the Ryder Cup so spirited. It’s not war – it’s a three-day exhibition with nothing at stake but pride and bragging rights.

But while Love clarifies – or, to some, backtracks – the Europeans have gladly accepted the free motivation.

“I don’t think it’s hard for us to find motivation,” McIlroy said, “because anywhere you look, whether it be the sea of red you see on the golf course, or the comments that are made in the media by the U.S. team or by the captain, that gives us so much motivation already.”

And here he got a bit cheeky.

“Whenever we are going up against one of the greatest teams ever assembled,” he said, “that’s motivation enough.”

Sorry, Davis, but it’s clear that the one-liners are just beginning – win or lose.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.

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''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.

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The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.

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Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

"Obviously the wind didn't blow. It was a different golf course than it was yesterday, you were able to take advantage of these par 5s," said Koepka, who opened in 71 on Day 1. "Felt like it was a lot more gettable. I putted so well, great ball-striking day, great putting day and very pleased with it."

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

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That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"Just keep doing what I'm doing," Koepka said of his plan for the final two rounds. "I'm hitting it well and making putts. I felt like I probably could have shot about 7, 8 under on the front side there, missed a couple. You know, doing everything right and that's what you've got to do and hopefully this wind stays away."

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

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'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.