Miller weighs in on Watson-Mickelson flap

By Will GrayOctober 8, 2014, 11:14 pm

NAPA, Calif. – With the PGA Tour set to start a new season this week, much of the focus at Silverado Resort & Spa remains on the Ryder Cup.

Johnny Miller watched the American loss firsthand in Scotland as a commentator for Golf Channel and NBC Sports. This week he is serving as tournament host. A longtime Napa resident and co-owner of Silverado, Miller was instrumental in bringing the PGA Tour back to the Napa Valley for the first time since 1980.

While Miller, 67, is eager to watch a PGA Tour event on a layout where he won twice in his heyday, witnessing another U.S. Ryder Cup loss remains fresh in his memory.

“It was sort of like a snowball running down the hill,” he told on Wednesday.

The American effort at Gleneagles left a trail of finger-pointing, but the most-discussed comments have been those of Phil Mickelson, who used the team’s Sunday news conference to lobby for the system put into place in 2008 by Paul Azinger, the only time the U.S. has won the event since 1999.

According to Miller, Mickelson’s comments should not have been offered for public consumption.

“That could have stayed within the walls of the PGA [of America], so to speak,” Miller said. “I guess he was a big fan of Azinger’s pod system, but that didn’t need to come out necessarily. Watson, he didn’t miss all those putts.” Open: Articles, videos and photos

That’s not to say that Miller was a fan of Tom Watson’s captaincy. While he stopped short of placing further blame at the feet of his contemporary – “I can’t say he did a bad job,” he added – Miller did strongly question Watson’s decision to sit Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for the entire day Saturday.

“That, I’d like to hear that from Watson, because that was pretty weird,” he said. “I could see them not playing in foursomes, alternate shot, because they weren’t driving it very good, but fourball you have to go with that team. So that was very strange.”

Miller also was quick to credit the performance by the Europeans, who now have lifted the cup eight times in the last 10 contests.

“The Euros are just good. That’s all there is to it,” he said. “Those guys are just dang good players.”

The notion that the cup was won by Paul McGinley’s European side, rather than lost by the Watson’s American contingent, was echoed by Lee Westwood, one of four Ryder Cup players teeing it up this week.

“Yeah, maybe Tom got a few things wrong. Maybe the U.S. team just didn’t quite play well enough in general,” Westwood said. “You know, if the other team plays well, you’re going to lose.”

Still, the U.S. has now won just one Ryder Cup since the Clinton administration, and there remains plenty of blame to be shared. Miller believes that in recent years, the players most at fault are the ones with the most experience.

“Unfortunately, our veterans including Phil and Tiger, [Jim] Furyk, [Steve] Stricker and all these guys, they have just played very poorly in the Ryder Cup,” Miller said. “Those guys are barely batting .500. If they would have played better, there would have been more wins by the U.S.”

Much of the criticism surrounding Watson’s tenure focused on his three captain’s picks, which he used on Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson – all with previous Ryder Cup experience  – while leaving potential rookies like Chris Kirk, Bill Haas and Billy Horschel on the sideline.

The three picks combined for a 2-5-2 record, and Miller believes the selections would have been better spent on some of the game’s rising stars.

“If I was captain, my three captain’s picks would have been young players,” he said. “I figure the veterans have had their chance, they haven’t delivered, so give the young guys a chance.”

In the wake of the American loss, PGA of America president Ted Bishop announced this week that a task force will be organized to take a look at the entire U.S. Ryder Cup process, including how the captain's are selected. While Miller downplayed the value of the captain – “It’s up to the players, I think, to go out and win,” – he feels the best man for the job might be the only successful American captain this century.

“’Zinger probably should get another shot at it, possibly, if they really are that desperate for a win,” he said. “At least they think maybe what he did creates a win, so if I was the PGA of America, I would probably give it back to ’Zinger.”

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Lewis says she's expecting first child in November

By Randall MellApril 27, 2018, 2:18 am

Stacy Lewis is pregnant.

The 12-time LPGA winner confirmed after Thursday’s first round of the Mediheal Championship that she and her husband, University of Houston women’s golf coach Gerrod Chadwell, are expecting their first child on Nov. 3.

Lewis learned she was pregnant after returning home to Houston in late February following her withdrawal from the HSBC Women’s World Championship with a strained oblique muscle.

“We're obviously really excited,” Lewis said. “It wasn't nice I was hurt, but it was nice that I was home when I found out with [Gerrod]. We're just really excited to start a family.”

Lewis is the third big-name LPGA player preparing this year to become a mother for the first time. Suzann Pettersen announced last month that she’s pregnant, due in the fall. Gerina Piller is due any day.

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Piller’s husband, PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, withdrew from the Zurich Classic on Thursday to be with her. Piller and Lewis have been U.S. Solheim Cup partners the last two times the event has been played.

“It's going to be fun raising kids together,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, they're best friends and they hang out. But just excited about the next few months and what it's going to bring.”

Lewis, a former Rolex world No. 1 and two-time major championship winner, plans to play through the middle of July, with the Marathon Classic her last event of the year. She will be looking to return for the start of the 2019 season. The LPGA’s maternity leave policy allows her to come back next year with her status intact.

“This year, the golf might not be great, but I've got better things coming in my life than a golf score.” Lewis said. “I plan on coming back and traveling on the road with the baby, and we'll figure it out as we go.”

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Coach scores in NFL Draft and on golf course

By Grill Room TeamApril 27, 2018, 1:47 am

To say that Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had a good day Thursday would be an understatement. Not only did his team snag one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft - Georgia outside linebacker Roquan Smith, who the Bears took with the eighth pick of the first round - but earlier in the day Fangio, 59, made a hole-in-one, sinking a 9-iron shot from 125 yards at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis.

Perhaps the ace isn't so surprising, though. In late May 2017, Fangio made another hole-in-one, according to a tweet from the Bears. The only information supplied on that one was the distance - 116 yards.

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Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

“It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.

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“I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

“I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

“It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

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Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

“It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”

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The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”