Another Flop at Ryder Cup Keeps US Searching

By Sports NetworkSeptember 25, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesAmericans keep looking for a quick fix in the Ryder Cup.
 
After watching the Europeans post their biggest blowout in 2004 and capture the cup for the seventh time in 10 tries, the PGA of America revamped the qualification process by stacking the deck in favor of the hottest players, no matter who they were.
 
And who were they, anyway?
 
The bottom four players who earned a spot on this U.S. team - Vaughn Taylor, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich - have a combined five victories on the PGA Tour, and only Wetterich (Byron Nelson Championship) won a tournament against a decent field.
 
Nothing changed.
 
Europe won by the same score Sunday, 18 1/2-9 1/2, leaving the Americans searching for a new fix.
 
'Everyone wants answers out there,' Jim Furyk said. 'What happened? Why? What's the difference between 18 1/2 and 9 1/2? And I don't think there's a guy up here that can give you that answer.'
 
Joe Steranka, the PGA of America's chief executive, already was trying to figure what to do next.
 
'We'll start talking about it on the way home,' Steranka said.
 
What the PGA of America thought was reconstructive surgery was nothing more than taping an ankle.
 
Those four unheralded rookies were not the problem. In fact, they contributed more points than four of the veterans ranked ahead of them. Phil Mickelson, Chad Campbell, David Toms and Chris DiMarco didn't win a single match among them over three days at The K Club.
 
So what went wrong?
 
U.S. captain Tom Lehman said the Europeans made more putts. But that's true every week at any golf tournament.
 
The cheap explanation is that the Americans don't care, which is an insult. They cared enough to take a two-day trip to Ireland for practice three weeks before the matches. And if they don't care about team events, how did they win the lesser Presidents Cup against a team that was every bit as strong as Europe, one that didn't even include Geoff Ogilvy?
 
It's not the money and the exorbitant lifestyle, either, because half of Europe's team has taken up PGA Tour membership, and most of the other half also fly in corporate jets, drive courtesy cars and get everything handed to them.
 
And please stop with the notion that Europe gets along better than the Americans.
 
If anything, the Americans might be guilty of liking each other too much. A couple of Europeans still don't like Colin Montgomerie for that illegal drop he took in the Indonesian Open a few years ago, especially when they thought he was let off the hook. Jose Maria Olazabal has kept his distance from Sergio Garcia, his fellow Spaniard, the past several years.
 
For one week, they manage to put that aside and build each other up.
 
Sure, there were some problems with this U.S. team, same as always.
 
Mickelson likely will take the brunt of the criticism.
 
He has won only one match in the last two Ryder Cups and is 1-9-1 dating to Saturday afternoon at The Belfry in 2002. Lefty shuts it down after the PGA Championship in August, which is a problem because the Ryder Cup is played in September.
 
Mickelson was asked if he was shocked at how the Ryder Cup unfolded and if he felt he played well.
 
'I don't know what to say. That's a tough, tough question,' Mickelson said. 'Obviously, I expected to get more points than a half. But I felt like we were in every match. Things just didn't go our way.'
 
Mickelson played 86 holes, but with Americans desperate to see their red scores on the board, he led a total of four holes all week. Of the five matches he played, only two reached the 18th green.
 
Lehman deserves some criticism, too, at least as much as Hal Sutton in 2004 considering the score was the same.
 
Sutton's biggest error was sending Woods and Mickelson out a second time. Lehman spent a captain's pick on Scott Verplank, then used him only twice (both wins, by the way). He failed to recognize that neither Mickelson nor Chris DiMarco was playing well, yet he left them together for three matches (0-2-1). He twice sat Henry in the afternoon after the rookie had given the U.S. team a spark.
 
Lehman spent time with basketball coaches John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski, but apparently they didn't tell him about making adjustments. He had his pairings set before he arrived in Dublin, while Ian Woosnam waited until watching his boys practice before coming up with teams that not even the British press saw coming.
 
Even if the Americans find their answers, it might not be enough.
 
Perhaps the most troubling trend for the United States is that there doesn't appear to be any help on the way. The youngest player on this team was Taylor (30), who is about three months younger than Woods.
 
Europe had the players in their 20s - Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Paul Casey - and 30-year-old Henrik Stenson finished first in its Ryder Cup standings.
 
The Europeans are so strong that Woosnam thought he could have fielded a capable team by taking the next 12 guys in line.
 
'I'm not saying that we would have gotten this result,' he said. 'But it just goes to show the potential of European golf. We've got strength and depth for a long time to come.'
 
Perhaps the European Tour can borrow the slogan from their peers across the pond: These guys are good.
 
And maybe it's time to lower expectations of the Americans in the Ryder Cup.
 
Europe had a better team and played better. This time, it was the Americans who spend the first two days trying to hide its weaker players. The outrage comes from fans who expect the United States to own every sport, whether its basketball in the Olympics for the World Baseball Classic.
 
Keep in mind, though, Americans didn't invent golf.
 
And they sure don't own it anymore.
 
Related Links:
  • Ryder Cup Scoring
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.



    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

    Getty Images

    Wallace holds off Olesen to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''


    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open


    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

    Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

    Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

    Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

    Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

    This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

    Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

    Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

    Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

    “I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

    “It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

    The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

    The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

    Getty Images

    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.