Tag:ryder cup
Posted on: February 28, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 3:19 pm

Has Tiger earned his U.S. stripes already?

By Steve Elling

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- In case you were wondering what it would take for Tiger Woods to be bypassed as a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team later this season, you have your answer.

Courtesy of U.S. captain Davis Love, the guy who makes the final call.

Love indicated Tuesday at the Honda Classic that unless Woods is dead, dismembered or has the small pox, he will be a member of the American side.

OK, so that's not the exact quote, but it's close. Love didn’t go quite as far as Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, who last summer gave Woods a spot on the team even though he had not earned it with his play, Love gave every assurance that the striped one will play at Medinah.

In fact, when asked what scenario it would take for Woods to be left at home, Love gave a very narrow definition.

"If he was hurt or didn't play a full season," Love said. "But if he plays and he's healthy, again, I would have a hard time seeing him not making the team one way or another."

Woods has been added to the last two international cup teams as a captain's pick as he tries to patch together his game after his well-chronicled personal and professional issues. The last time Woods didn’t play on one of the annual cup teams was at the Ryder Cup in 2008, which the U.S. won without him in Louisville.

The U.S. Ryder points list is compiled by using PGA Tour earnings from the past two seasons, but is heavily tilted toward money list for 2012. Woods has played twice, with mixed results, and is buried at No. 32 at the moment, though this early in the year, one good week puts him back near the top of the chart.

When Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan won, they jumped into the top five. The top eight in points are automatic picks, while gets to use discretionary picks on the other four.

"Well, how many tournaments has he played?" he said of Woods' position. "I think like Phil, or like Hunter, all it takes is one week, you know.  I think if he plays a full schedule, he's going to be right in there.  I just keep saying if he's healthy, he's going to make the team.

"I think that's what Fred, what anybody, would think. If he's healthy, he's going to be on the team one way or another."

Sounds pretty close to a guarantee to us, no?

"II love the way he's played," Love said of Woods' recent uptick. "He had really one bad day since the [Frys.com Open last fall], he's had one bad round, really."

In a controversial move, Woods was added to the Presidents Cup team as a captain's selection last fall and went 2-3, though he scored what proved to be the clinching point. He hasn't won an official event on the PGA Tour in nearly 30 months.

Love is feeling pretty confident about his troops at the moment. American players have claimed the first nine PGA Tour-sanctioned events this year, the longest streak to open a year since Yanks won 12 in succession to start the 1991 season.

"It's been very exciting for me, and I know for the American golf fans, to see them playing well," Love said.

The complete list of U.S. Ryder Cup points through the Mayakoba and match play events last week: http://www.rydercup.com/2012/usa/te

Posted on: March 25, 2011 6:33 pm

Improved Laird guns for the biggest cup of all

ORLANDO, Fla. -- After 11 years of living in the United States and mostly dismissing his chances as remote, if not implausible, Scotland's Martin Laird is taking a different look as it relates to playing in the biggest event in golf.

Darned rightfully so, too.

After the last seven or eight months, the Ryder Cup is no longer a vague notion that isn't within his reach.

The former Colorado State player, who came to the States at age 17 to play college golf, said the way he's played since last summer has given him hope that he can crack the loaded squad the next time around, in 2012.

Now that he's leading the Arnold Palmer Invitational after a second-round 65 on Friday, who can argue? He already has moved up to 40th in the world and a top finish this week would give him another huge jolt, given the strength of the field. Sure, we're 18 months away from the next matches, but he's surely solidifying his position as a big-league player.

"It's gone from being kind of an outside shot to definitely being on the radar," he said.

After making the FedEx Cup finale last fall, assuring him of a spot in the Masters, he finished second in Las Vegas and T3 in Malaysia. Earlier, he lost in a sudden-death playoff to Matt Kuchar at the FedEx series opener, The Barclays.

Not much has changed this year, either. He already has three top-10 finishes, including two in succession at Doral and Tampa, heading into this week's event at Bay Hill.

"To make that team would mean everything to me," Laird said. "Next year, I'm going to do everything I can to get on that team.  Especially the way my game's improved the last four or five, six months."

At age 28, he's certainly looking good over the long term, too, which is terrific news for Scottish golf fans. After all, the Ryder Cup is set for Scotland at Gleneagles in 2014, the next time Europe will host the event.

Category: Golf
Posted on: November 11, 2010 3:30 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2010 3:31 pm

Cink: Ryder peanut butter putt not gamesmanship

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ryder Cup veteran Stewart Cink would like to correct a lingering, sticky Ryder Cup misconception.

He is not the iceman.

Cink drew plenty of chuckles in the States last month during his Ryder team match against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell when NBC Sports essentially accused him of slow-playing the Europeans on the 17th hole of a key match in the second session at Celtic Manor.

Unbeknownst to anybody in Wales at the time, NBC went on and on during the broadcast about how long it took Cink to eat a peanut butter sandwich while walking to the 17th green, where he faced a 25-footer for birdie and McIlroy had a five-footer to win the hole and give Europe a 1-up lead.

At that point, Cink began munching the sandwich and moving at roughly the pace of a glacier. After he admitted to some sneaky tactics in his playoff win over Tom Watson in 2009 at the British Open, plenty of folks thought the mild-mannered, yet professionally savvy Cink was trying to put the freeze on McIlroy, 21 and a Ryder rookie.

“I have no tricks in my toolbox, and that wasn't the trick,” Cink said. “I was just trying to get the peanut butter off the roof of my mouth.”

It’s a funny story, really. He got a sandwich from the team's concessions golf cart after the teams teed off on the par-3 hole and playing partner Matt Kuchar had knocked his shot in the middle of the green.

“Walking to the green I was starting to feel hungry, and I know that that's a bad sign,” Cink explained this week at Disney. “You don't want to wait till you feel hungry before you eat something, and my mind was kind of shifted into knowing that I'd be teeing off for my next match in about an hour, because we were going to play more golf that day. So I wanted to -- I knew it was the 17th hole of that match, but it wasn't like the end of the day.

“I knew I had to go ahead and get some fuel in me because I didn't think there was going to be a chance in between. So I went and got that sandwich, and coming up the hill from the cart where it was parked up to the green, you know, I was breathing pretty heavy, nervous; and when you're trying to eat and walk up a hill and you're already kind of got a little elevated heart rate anyway, I just wasn't able to chew very efficiently.

“So that peanut butter and jelly was sticking to the roof of my mouth, and I didn't want to hit that putt, being an important putt, I didn't want to hit that thing with food in my mouth. So I just had to take time and let it wash down.”

Right about then, Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks began to notice that it was taking an awfully long time for Cink to hit his putt in the alternate-shot match. Like, just a shade shy of forever.

“They kind of got on my case on TV about how I was icing the other guys, but first of all, let's just set the record straight right now,” Cink said. “There is no such thing as icing in golf because the longer it takes you to hit your shot, you're icing yourself as much as you're icing anybody. So that's ridiculous.”

Cink had to putt first, in fact. He made the putt, McIlroy missed rather badly, and the Yanks went on to win 1 up in what seemed a huge point at the time.

“I had to go first, so I was just trying to get my mouth cleaned out so I could actually think about what I was doing instead of having peanut butter jammed in the roof of my mouth,” Cink laughed.

The Watson move in 2009, on the other hand, was no accident. He wanted to be the second man to arrive to the playoff tee box so that some people cheered for him. Cink knew that Watson was the overwhelming sentimental favorite.

“That was a more calculated move,” Cink said. “That was my one bag of tricks, my one trick in the bag. That was something I definitely did deliberately because I wanted to be second to the tee. But that was the start of an event, in a way, because it was the start of a playoff.

“This was ongoing play, tee to green, and I just happened to take longer to get to the green because of peanut butter in my mouth.”

Posted on: October 22, 2010 10:38 am
Edited on: October 22, 2010 10:53 am

Poulter takes Ryder Cup for quite a ride

English star Ian Poulter is many things.

A designer of clothes, a world-class golfer, a borderline exhibitionist. We can add amateur filmmaker, if not would-be comedian.

Granted, he is no Simon Pegg, but Poulter’s twisted sense of humor has been on full public display since the Ryder Cup showed up at his Orlando home Thursday in a metal shipping case – a development he also filmed and posted on the Internet.

Poulter, arguably the best player on the European team in the past two matches, has been busy posting a series of short videos to his Twitter page ever since the Cup arrived, with the Ryder Cup as the star and son Luke as his sideman.

It’ll be hard to top the one filmed Friday, though, which he dubbed “breakfast with the Ryder Cup.” He filled the Cup with Honey Nut Cheerios, poured in some milk and dived in with spoons and his son, wearing a Tim Tebow jersey, and scarfed away.  http://twitvid.com/V6GEK

Another where he claimed he was headed off to dinner with “the love of my life” wasn’t bad, either. Poulter, seated in his SUV and driving, pans the camera over to the passenger seat, where the Ryder Cup is sitting. http://twitvid.com/DLINM

Not sure if his wife has seen that one.

Poulter even took the cup out in his golf cart Thursday while he practiced and played a few holes at Lake Nona, his home course in the States. In one video, he drained about a 20-footer with the Cup parked right behind the hole.

Small wonder that as of Friday morning, the guy had 1,043,862 Twitter followers.

Maybe it's a good thing he finished second at the British Open two years ago. The things he might have done with the Claret Jug might not have been so amusing to the starched shirts who run the R&A. 

Category: Golf
Posted on: October 4, 2010 2:43 pm

Rookie Rickie proves he's no guppy in Wales

NEWPORT, Wales – Amid the madness, eventual defeat and even a few tears, the United States might have found a player on Monday who can lead the team into the next decade of Ryder Cup competition.

If not carry it.

Staging one of the biggest comebacks under duress of any rookie player in event history, 21-year-old Rickie Fowler birdied the last four holes, rallied from a 4-down deficit and salvage a half point against Europe’s Edoardo Molinari that nearly proved enough to retain the vaunted trophy.

As he did in the second session, Fowler rolled in a clutch birdie on the 18th green to claim a half point, which on Monday seemed like it might spur the American side to an incredible, improbable win. But U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell won the last match and secured a one-point win for the Europeans.

That hardly obscured what Fowler had done. A somewhat controversial wildcard pick because he’s been a professional for all of 13 months and has not won on the PGA Tour, Fowler not only validated his selection, he announced it with blaring horns.

He was 4 down with six to play and his point had almost completely been written off. But two birdies set the stage for another on the 17th, a 15-foot that cut the lead to one.

“What a comeback,” his father Rod said. “He’s always been kind  of a clutch player who feeds off the pressure. I don’t know how he does it.

“When he made that putt on 17, I almost hit the ground.”

Had he missed, the match would have been over. Fowler was dormie and had to win all four closing holes to secure his half-point.

A day earlier, Fowler had knocked in a four-footer for birdie while partnered with Jim Furyk to steal a half-point in an alternate-shot match. Obviously, the way it all played out – a half-point kept the Americans from retaining the trophy in a 14-14 tie – every fraction of a point was huge, too.

“When I played with him in the second session, he showed a lot of guts, a lot of grit,” Furyk said. “He was hitting against Lee Westwood and played him shot for shot. I promise you he had Lee sweating a little bit. Then, just a gutsy finish. He had to make a couple of three- or four-footers out there down the stretch and then I knocked one in there close.”

After he made the putt, Fowler smiled and admitted that it was “just outside my comfort zone.”

“I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to knock that putt in,” Furyk said. “Then to see what he did on 17 and 18 today, incredible. He had a lot of guts and I am really proud of him and what a wonderful pick for the team.”

Fowler played in the Walker Cup, a team event against Great Britain and Ireland for amateur, last year. He’s come a long way in a hurry, obviously, but he never seemed remotely overmatched this week by the players he faced or the arena itself.

“We knew we had a shot, and to have a chance to win, in Europe, which has not been done in a while, is what we came here to do,” Fowler said. “We all felt we could win, and I knew especially today I would have to work hard, especially getting in the position I was in.

“I felt the point that turned around in my match or got me pumped up again was, I saw Tiger [Woods] make a putt on 13 from about 50 feet and that kind of gave me a little extra life. I went on to win the hole with a par, and that kept me moving those last four where I made a little run.

“I just want to say, it's been an awesome week for me. At 21, playing Walker Cup last year, and to come and play Ryder Cup this year, it's been pretty cool to be on a team with all of these guys.”

“Cool” is a word often used in association with Fowler, too.

Category: Golf
Posted on: October 3, 2010 4:29 pm

Singles session looks like dating match game

NEWPORT, Wales – For those who have scrutinized the Ryder Cup leadership over the years, there have been a few various tactics used with mixed success relating to the employment of star players in the event’s final session.

Certain captaincy theories apply when trailing, others when leading. None are exactly foolproof.

This time around, the captains doubled up on their singles plan.

“It’s funny,” U.S. captain Corey Pavin said. “We're in exact-opposite situations, and we did the same thing.”

Well, funny as in hmmm, not funny as in ha, ha, ha. At least, not for the American team.

After taking the worst one-day beating since mainland Europe was added to the competitive mix, securing a half-point out of the six available on the board Sunday, the Yanks stumble into Monday’s rain-delayed singles matches in serious need of a fast start and climactic finish.

So Pavin frontloaded three of his most experienced players at the top of his lineup card in Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink and Jim Furyk. Trouble is, counterpart Colin Montgomerie did the same thing.

“It is kind of interesting, isn't it?” Pavin said.

Whether the matches will turn out likewise, he can only hope. Monty is rolling out Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald at the top, and they are a combined 5-2-2 this week. The Yank trio is 3-2-3.

It didn’t take long for Monty to field a semi-snarky question about where world Nos. 1-2, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, turned up on the American card, though neither has played remotely close to their best this week. The two are in the eighth and 10th spots, buried in the middle of the lineup.

“I'm trying to be as diplomatic as possible throughout this week and I continue to be that way,” Monty smirked. “It does surprise me that match eight and match 10 contain 1 and 2 in the world, but at the same time, let me say this, [it’s a] very strong American lineup, same as ours.”

Woods and Mickelson won’t have Francesco Molinaro or Peter Hanson quaking in their spikes. Woods is 2-1, but was greatly assisted by the putting brilliance of Stricker, his partner in all three matches. Mickelson, who is 2-12-3 in his last four Ryders, on Sunday set a new mark for most losses in American history with 17.

Pavin defended his placement of Woods, whom he selected as a wildcard. Batting fourth in the American card, for instance, is Dustin Johnson, who is 0-3 and hasn’t had a match make last to the 18th hole.

“I think that's a great spot for him,” Pavin said of Woods’ curious position. “You know, if the matches go well, to start off, I think the eighth slot is a very important slot.  I mean, they are all going to be important slots tomorrow.  But I think having Tiger there gives someone that I can put in that spot that I feel like is going to have a great chance to win his match, and end up being an important spot possibly.”

Well, now that we have cleared up that issue ....

Perhaps the best match, based on their performances so far, is between English standout Ian Poulter and American Matt Kuchar, who drew the fifth spot. They are a combined 3-1-2 this week and Kuchar hasn’t lost a match.

On the chance that the Americans actually take the reins early, Mickelson leads a group of three experienced Ryder veterans in the last three slots. He is followed by Zach Johnson, who faces sputtering Irishman Padraig Harrington, and Hunter Mahan, who will face U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell in the last pairing of the 2010 matches.

“I finished off with I thought guys that can handle pressure of a Ryder Cup win on their shoulders,” Pavin said. “The last three spots in particular, 10, 11, 12, I feel that Phil, Zach and Hunter are good people to have in a very high-pressure situation that could develop in those slots.”

Given the way Sunday’s disaster played out, it’s a mile from certain that the trio will get to find out.
Posted on: October 3, 2010 5:52 am
Edited on: October 3, 2010 5:55 am

Worst Ryder muck could come Monday night

NEWPORT, Wales -- Call it the nuclear winter provision.

There has been a smattering of discussion this week, albeit in largely hushed tones given the remote chance that it seemed possible, about the doomsday scenario in which the rain-plagued Ryder Cup might end in complete chaos, controversy and contempt.

Now, with foul weather having officially pushed the singles matches into Monday for the first time in 38 iterations of the event, here are the details of the agreement signed by both captains, and the punchline at the end regarding any incompleted matches carries a helluva whallop.

Excerpted verbatim from the captain’s agreement:

Any hole on which play has commenced by 20 minutes before sunset on Monday (6:23 p.m.) must be completed.

Any hole on which play commences between 19 minutes before sunset and 7 minutes before sunset (6:24 and 6:36 p.m.) on Monday must be completed, unless both sides agree not to complete it.

Play will not commence on any hole after 6 minutes prior to sunset (6:37 p.m.) on Monday unless both sides agree to complete such hole. Once agreement has been made, this match must stand until the hole has been completed.

If all matches cannot be completed on Monday, the results of any completed matches will stand and any match not completed at the time of termination of play will be considered a halved match.

In other words, if there any further delays on Monday, where moderate weather is currently forecast, matches still on the course at 6:37 would be halved no matter what the score might be, which could create the most embarrassing episode in golf history.

Assuming Sunday's third session is complete and the captains are given the evening to mull their options, will Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie frontload their Monday singles lineups in an attempt to start fast and secure points, just in case bad weather is again visited upon soggy Celtic Manor?

If one team is ahead in the clubhouse, but trailing in matches halted and unceremoniously declared halved at 6:37, will they accept the trophy nonetheless? Doesn't sound very sporting, does it? It's a potentially horrible, lose-lose scenario. As if Celtic Mudder wasn't already messy enough.

Posted on: October 2, 2010 6:34 am

Fans get fast taste of final Ryder drama

NEWPORT, Wales – If the first match to reach the 18th hole at Celtic Manor gave any indication of what’s to follow the rest of the way at the 38th Ryder Cup, then hold on tight to your bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

Might want to consider drinking a Maalox chaser, too.

With their match tied, the American duo of Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar fought to make a par on the hole to halve their duel with Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, but there was plenty of carnage on the hole.

The 575-yard par 5 is a pivotal hole on the course, which was built for this event and for match play in particular. Ringed by a natural amphitheater, the estimated 20,000 fans got a glimpse of what is likely in the offing the rest of the way as the tension and stakes continue to mount.

All four players drove their balls in the fairway, and Kuchar and McDowell, the shorter-hitting pair of their respective teams, laid up short of the pond fronting the green. However, at 250 yards out and with Kuchar safely in play, Cink pulled out a 3-wood and gave the green a go.

The ball landed just short of the green and rolled painfully down a steep slope into the pond, the crowd cheering when the ball got wet. Any ball that doesn’t make it to the putting surface is going to be dead all week – the grass is shaved from the edge of the green all the way to the waterline.

If Cink’s ball had flown another 5-10 feet, it would have likely won the match. He thought he had hit the perfect hero shot.

“I didn’t think there was any doubt [it would reach] when it was in the air,” Cink told CBSSports.com after the round. “The ball just doesn’t go very far here with the heavy air.

"I thought being pumped up would make up for it. Maybe I should have hit driver? I hit it as good as I could.”

McIlroy then followed with an awful shot from a similar distance that splashed into the middle of the pond, some 30 or 40 yards short of the flag. Cink and McIlroy took their penalty drops in the designated fairway zone, then watched as their wedge shots spun backward off the rain-soaked, soft greens and down the slopes into the water.

In other words, the first group deposited four balls in the drink.

The match with Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker also went to the 18th, and Woods badly hooked his approach shot into the gallery, but avoided the water. He and Stricker improved to 5-0 as a pairing, dating to their Presidents Cup mark last fall, when Stricker was conceded a birdie to beat Englishmen Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher, 2 up.

Category: Golf
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