Sunday, November 26, 2006
|Justin Rose |
©2006 Getty Images
(Reuters) – Justin Rose claimed his first European Tour title in over four years with a two shot triumph in the MasterCard Masters at Huntingdale Golf Club in Melbourne. The Englishman claimed the €170,353 (£115,359) first prize to move to fifth on the Order of Merit and 51st on the Official World Golf Ranking.
The 26 year old broke a drought which dated back to the 2002 Victor Chandler British Masters by posting a final round 73 to finish on 12 under-par 276, two ahead of fellow European Tour Member Richard Green and Green’s fellow Australian Greg Chalmers in the event co-sanctioned with the Australasian Tour.
“I cannot believe it's been four years,” said Rose, who became the first overseas winner of the title since Scotland's Colin Montgomerie in 2001 in this, the first year the tournament has featured fully on The European Tour International Schedule.
“It has been a big week confidence wise for me. I've had a few close calls this season but to win a tournament like this is great for my confidence,” added Rose who became the first sponsor’s invite to win since Craig Stadler lifted the Johnnie Walker Classic in February.
Green and Chalmers finished on ten under par 278, one ahead of 21 year old Australian amateur Aaron Pike, who equalled the course record in the first round with 64 and who led at the halfway stage before eventually running out of steam.
Rose, who went into the final round with a two shot lead, reached the sixth quietly at one under for the day before apparent disaster struck at the long seventh in the shape of a triple bogey eight.
His tee shot found the sand and his second squirted off the face of the trap into an unplayable lie in the bushes. He chipped out before finding the back of the green and three-putting.
However, the Englishman showed great resilience to shake off the disappointment straight away with a birdie at the eighth before reaching the turn in one over par 37.
He was joined in the lead at 11 under par by Pike when the burly Australian holed his bunker shot for eagle three at the par five 14th, but crucial birdies at the 14th and 16th gave Rose breathing space.
He took an iron for safety at the 18th but found trouble on the right, but a brilliant recovery allowed Rose to par and secure his third European Tour title.
Green, the 2004 champion, had surged through the pack as the gusting wind and quickening greens made life difficult on the course in Melbourne's southern suburbs.
He fired a rare bogey-free 69 to set the clubhouse target as Rose and Pike battled for the advantage. Pike's eagle at the 14th brought him back into contention momentarily but he finished bogey-bogey, the latter after his 50-foot putt for birdie trickled into a greenside bunker.
Chalmers would have got closer to Rose but for his own nightmare at the par-four ninth, when he five putted -- four from less than six feet -- for triple bogey seven.
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.
Official On-Line Services Provider of the European Tour.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Tomorrow I plan to be one of the stupid people who are out at 4am to get in line at Walmart for the Black Friday sale. They have 600 threadcount sheet sets on sale.
As for golf going on around the world: Michelle Wie is doing very badly in Japan and some amateur is in the lead in Australia. I saw Justin Rose is doing well there too. Good for him.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
A quote from the book, page 202: "People tend to believe what they hear. Rather than try to find out whether it's true or not, they formulate an opinion that is tough to change." I kept this in mind while reading the rest of the book and remembering what I had read in the first 201 pages. Norman disclosed many interesting facts regarding the PGA Tour's rules and how people interpret those rules. I won't discuss them here because all I know about it is what I've just read in Norman's book and I would feel more comfortable learning other people's points of view on all of it before saying anything. Will I learn any other points of view? Probably not. I don't really have that kind of burning desire to drown myself in PGA Tour bureaucracy. I get enough bureaucracy in my real life with my real job.
I will say this for the book: Once you get to about chapter 33, you think every chapter is the last chapter. The last sentence of each of the chapters sounds like a wrap it up book ender. Then you turn the page, and on we go to another chapter.
All in all, it's a good book, well written, and full of interesting stories. One personal comment based on what I've read: If the comments about the PGA Tour's rules and the officials' interpretations of those rules are accurate, then I think it's really funny that Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods take full advantage of the 'independent contractor' phrase to take weeks or months off and not play.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Cosmonaut prepares for golf stunt
Nasa says the golf shot does not threaten the ISS
Flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin will knock a lightweight ball off a tee above the ISS's Russian docking port.
A Canadian golf club maker is paying the Russian space agency an undisclosed sum for Tyurin's time.
Nasa held up the stunt for months while safety experts checked possible flight paths to make sure the ball would not head back towards the space station.
"I play ice hockey and my understanding is that it is very similar," said Mr Tyurin, who has been taking many practice swings to brush up his technique ahead of the shot, which will be carried out during a spacewalk on Wednesday.
Responding to discussion over the safety, the flight engineer replied: "No question it's safe."
Nasa flight director Holly Ridings added: "Of course the crew is taking this very, very seriously so they've been doing a lot of practice."
"There is absolutely no re-contact issue with the space station."
Federal law bars the US space agency from getting any money for its involvement.
Mr Tyurin, who has been aboard the station since September, isn't expected to smack the ball, just tap it with the club. The ball itself weighs just 4.5g (0.16 ounce) instead of the standard-issue 45g (1.6 ounce) ball.
The Russian has to make the shot one-handed because his bulky spacesuit prevents him from bringing his hands together.
Station commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, who is accompanying Tyurin during the spacewalk, will help set up a camera to film the shot for an upcoming television commercial.
Tyurin's drive is expected to be one for the record books, though not everyone agrees on how long the ball will fly. Nasa figures it will fall into Earth's atmosphere and be incinerated within three days.
Toronto-based club maker Element 21 Golf - which is paying for the orbital golf shot - is betting on three years.
During the Apollo 14 moon mission in 1971, US astronaut Alan Shepard hit a golf ball with a six-iron from the lunar surface and boasted that it travelled "miles and miles" in the low-gravity atmosphere.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
- Lara Completes Wire-to-Wire Victory in Hong Kong
19 Nov 2006
|Jose Manuel Lara |
©2006 Getty Images
José Manuel Lara finally delivered his long-awaited maiden European Tour title with a wire-to-wire victory in the UBS Hong Kong Open. A final round of 69 for a 15 under par total of 265 earned the Spaniard one stroke triumph over Filipino Juvic Pagunsan on a thrilling afternoon at Fanling.
Four times Lara has finished runner-up on The European Tour but he shed the bridesmaid tag by winning in the most impressive fashion, from pillar to post. Lara looked in control throughout the tournament in taking a two stroke lead into the final round but rookie Pagunsan almost defied the odds.
Lara had a three stroke advantage after two holes of the final round following a Pagunsan bogey by the jovial Filipino chipped away at Lara’s lead with an outstanding putting display and when Lara bogeyed the seventh and ninth, they were level.
Pagunsan edged ahead with another birdie on the 11th before Lara drew level again with a birdie on the 13th. But another birdie putt dropped for Pagunsan on the 14th and the trophy looked to be within his grasp. The 16th , however, proved pivotal when Pagunsan bogeyed after hooking his drive into trouble and Lara seized the opportunity by making birdie to regain the lead. Two pars later the Spaniard was crowned champion.
“This is my time,” said Lara. “It is a great victory. I lost my lead today but took my chance over the last few holes. Juvic got in front of me. He was a better player than I thought, especially on the greens. He putted so well. I think I was too confident but I got my chance on the 16th and that gave me the trophy but it has been a really tough day.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who ask me when will I win. Now I can say I have. This is a very important moment in my life. Winning and leading every day. I was thinking of my first victory and coming from behind but to lead from the start is fantastic.”
Lara becomes the third Spaniard to win the UBS Hong Kong Open title after José Maria Olazábal and Miguel Angel Jiménez and as the winning putt dropped Jiménez stepped forward to be the first to offer his congratulations.
“Miguel knew today was a tough day for me,” said Lara. “I have been close many times and he knew that. He said to me forget about everything and you are alone on the course. I tried to stay in my bubble and it was a great day.”
Pagunsan delighted the record crowds at Hong Kong Golf Club with an outstanding display on his way to a two under par 68 and especially his demeanour on the course with every shot greeted with a broad smile. Even losing the lead couldn’t wipe the smile from his face.
“I always smile for the crowd, I don’t want to be sad,” he said. “I’m really happy I played well and there are many more tournaments to come for me. This is a good tournament and Lara played really well. But I have a lot of confidence now.”
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and the Indian pair of Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa shared third place on 12 under par 268. That was good enough to seal the Asian Tour UBS Order of Merit for Singh before the season’s finale next month.
China’s Liang Wen-chong was also celebrating after winning a 1kg bar of golf, courtesy of sponsors UBS for his hole-in-one on the 12th. Liang holed from 140 yards with a nine iron to claim the prize worth US$20,000.
Sun Nov 19, 2006 10:32 AM GMT
By Alastair Himmer
MIYAZAKI, Japan (Reuters) - Ireland's Padraig Harrington upset Tiger Woods to win the Dunlop Phoenix tournament after an astonishing birdie on the second playoff hole on Sunday.
Harrington, the 2006 European Order of Merit winner, courageously blasted his second shot through a perilously narrow gap in a Y-shaped tree after hooking his tee shot left.
His ball caught the base of the gap and ricocheted upwards, advancing the Irishman 120 yards. Harrington then produced a superb pitch to within two feet to set up an easy birdie.
Woods, who was bidding from a third straight title in Miyazaki, missed a 12-foot birdie putt and Harrington completed a simple tap-in to win the $1.7 million tournament.
"When you come up against Tiger you've got to take whatever opportunities are presented," Harrington said of his risky second through the split trunks of the tree.
"I saw it as a great chance of hitting a spectacular shot to win the playoff and it came off.
"I definitely got lucky but sometimes fortune favours the brave."
World number one Woods began the final round tied with Harrington for the lead but the American looked to be cruising to his 10th victory of the year after three early birdies.
However, the momentum shifted suddenly when Harrington holed a long birdie putt on the par-four 16th and then Woods amazingly missed a three-foot par putt to leave them level.
Both men holed parred 17 and sank short birdie putts on the 18th to card rounds of three-under-par 67 and finish at nine-under 271.
After matching birdies on the last at the first playoff hole, the players returned to the 18th where Harrington went for broke after a poor tee shot to triumph against the odds.
Woods had a daunting 38-3 record going into the final round of tournaments with at least a share of the lead and also a 14-1 playoff record in official events.
However, the 12-times major winner could not shake off a determined Harrington despite leading by two strokes with three holes of regulation left.
"The great thing about stats is that they've got to fall sometimes," Harrington said after claiming his second victory of the year and avoiding a 31st career runner-up finish.
"Sooner or later a stat like that is going to break so just be there to be the one to break it."
Woods was left to rue his costly missed putt on 16.
"I had my opportunities today," he said. "I had a two-shot lead with three to go and missed a short one there at 16.
"If I made that putt it forced Paddy (Harrington) to have to birdie one of the last two holes to get into a playoff. It was a poor putt. It probably cost me the tournament."
Japan's Keiichiro Fukabori crept under the radar to claim third on eight under after the day's best round of 64 had given him the clubhouse lead until Woods and Harrington birdied 18.
Britain's Justin Rose shot a fine 66 to finish tied for fourth on six under with Japan's Shingo Katayama, who closed with a 68.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The PGA TOUR Tuesday announced that it will modify the original proposal for field sizes in next year’s inaugural PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. This modification follows significant input and discussion during the meeting of the PGA TOUR Policy Board in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on Nov. 13.
Specifically, the fields in the 2007 Playoff events will be reduced from week-to-week as follows:
Barclays Classic -- 144 players
Deutsche Bank Championship -- 120 players
BMW Championship -- 70 players
THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola -- 30 players
After ongoing feedback from players, tournaments, television partners and sponsors, the Policy Board concluded that a reduction in the fields of the PGA TOUR Playoffs from week-to-week offered the best opportunity for the events to feature a true playoff atmosphere evident in other sports.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said, “I’m delighted with this direction, and believe it represents an important improvement in our Playoff structure. I had recently indicated we would not be recommending any changes in our Playoff structure given that we had preliminarily announced the format earlier this year. However, the TOUR and a number of our players had heard from several sponsors and tournaments that going in the direction of a field size reduction was the right thing to do for the success of the FedExCup. The Player Directors and the full Policy Board were in unanimous agreement.
“Not only am I pleased but am impressed that our sponsors and television partners felt strongly enough to communicate their views on making the FedExCup as good as it can be,” Finchem said.
“We are now well positioned to offer PGA TOUR players, along with other important TOUR constituents, a more compelling finish to our season,” Finchem said. “With this step, PGA TOUR players, sponsors and fans can look forward to the inaugural FedExCup Season and the exciting drama of the 2007 PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.”
My Say: You have to wonder just how smart these people are to have come up with this Fed Ex Cup thing back whenever they did and not thought to reduce the fields in the 'playoff' part of the Cup. I personally didn't care and didn't know enough about how it was originally designed. But Brandel Chamblee said there was a playoff aspect to it.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
2. Kelly and other golfers are working with the USO and traveling to the Persian Gulf to work with the troops. One of the other golfers is Frank Licklighter. I believe he's a big time hunter. I wonder how smart it is to put him that close to military hardware. On second thought, Jerry Kelly around military hardware gives me pause for concern too. LOL.
LPGA - Lorena Ochoa blew away the rest of the field and won the Tournament of Champions by 10 shots and captured the Player of the Year title. Good for her.
Nationwide - Matt Kuchar had a chance to win but didn't get it done today. He did get his card though which is good.
My Say: So much for the alleged intimidation factor that Tiger has. LOLOL. And so much for that so-called win streak. However, the media will still say he has one because this wasn't an official PGA tour event. The media and Tiger fanatics will cling to any little thread to make excuses for him. And skipping the Tour Championship did such great things for Tiger's game for the 2007 season - Not. However, I'm sure his appearance on the Tonight Show during his break went a long way to honing his game. It's hard to call Tiger the #1 player in the world when he's lost to David Howell last year, lost to Yang Young-eun this year, sucked at the Ryder Cup - proves that the World Ranking Points system needs overhauled.
Korean Yang Young-eun upstaged the biggest names in world golf to win the HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in China, standing firm on athrilling final day against the combined challenges from Major Champions Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell.
A final round of three under par 69 gave Yang a winning 14 under par total of 274, two ahead of World Number One Woods, who battled bravely with a five under par 67 in his attempt to win a seventh successive strokeplay event but simply had too much ground to make up.
Campbell, in stark contrast to his third round 77, equalled the course record of 64 with some stunning golf to share third place but, like Woods, the 2005 US Open Champion had left himself with too much to do.
Overnight leader Goosen looked to have the title within his grasp when he birdied the second and third to pull two strokes clear but the Korean edged ahead with three birdies from the sixth and when Goosen bogeyed both the tenth and 11th holes, the Korean turned the screw with a birdie two on the 12th to move four strokes ahead. With winning line in sight, Yang could allow himself the luxury to two late bogeys and still claim the €655,883 first prize.
“This is such a big thing that's happening to me right now, such a big moment in my life right now, that it's really hard for me to explain in words how I feel right now,” said Yang.
“At the start of this week, I noticed that this tournament has a great field and if I were to win it, it would have been worth a lot of World Ranking points. So now that I've won, I expect to play a lot of tournaments. I want to play a lot of tournaments overseas, both Europe and the United States and Japan. I just want to be able to compete with the best players in the word, and I think this win has given me that chance.”
Woods got his challenge going with a burst of three birdies before the turn but his momentum faltered with a bogey on the 11th. Although he birdied three more coming home it was not enough.
“I had my chances,” said Woods. “Yesterday was the day, if I could have hung in there, I could have been a challenge for tournament today but I was too far back and Yang just went on and played some great holes. He just went off and it was basically out of reach, and I was just trying to get as many birdies as I can and maybe get second.”
Goosen’s challenge faltered over the back nine as he ran up four bogeys coming in to come home in 39 for a round of 73.
“On the back nine, I hit a couple of bad shots off the tee and didn't really give myself any birdie chances,” said the World Number Six. “I struggled with my swing out there so I didn't hit it as good as I would have liked to have hit it. Yang played very well, consistent. He made those good run of birdies there on. I hit a lot of good putts, just didn't make things.”
After the disappointment of a third round 77, Campbell roared back to life with stunning eight under par 64 to claim a share of third place, giving the New Zealander plenty of confidence going into his next run of three events.
“I basically said to myself just think positive,” he said. “That’s it really. Simple stuff. Yesterday I was unlucky on a lot of occasions with wind swirling around and gusting and blowing my putts off line, bad lies. I hope I have had all my bad luck for the year in one day.
“Today was completely different. Everything was great. Missed two fairways all day and hit it close. I believe if you fill your mind with positives thoughts it will help you perform well.”
Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Marc Warren of Scotland claimed fifth place with a one under par 71 to finish on ten under par while Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington and Paul Casey, three of the main protagonists during the 2006 season, also made strong starts to their 2007 campaigns in sharing sixth place on eight under par 280.
But it was Yang’s week and as a result Europe has a new Number One golfer with Yang immediately taking up the opportunity of European Tour Membership and going straight to the top of The 2007 European Tour Order of Merit.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Sergio fell out of the lead over in Japan. I hope he can rebound in his final round. Hopefully he just had his bad round in the third round instead of the final round, which is what some 2006 stats suggested.
The HSBC thing: The Sprint Post Game did a spot about how carhorns went off while Tiger was trying to play. The Post Game people thought this was just horrible and poor Tiger had to deal with all these distractions. As if he was the only one playing over there. Every other golfer in the event had to deal with the same distractions. It isn't just poor Tiger. And quite frankly, if he wanted to play a sport that didn't come with distractions, maybe he should have become a professional chess player. It isn't like he didn't know that golf is played outdoors where Mother Nature and all of Earth's inhabitants can't be controlled. Talk about spoiled.
LPGA - Lorena Ochoa had a really scored a really low round today and takes a 5 shot lead into the final round. This too will be an exciting event to watch.
Nationwide - I hope they find new singers to feature next year. I'm tired of Pat Green. I didn't like him before I started watching the nationwide tour.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Just a note about the other golf: Sergio is in a tie for the lead at the tournament he's playing in Japan. Hopefully this won't be yet another runner-up finish for him. He needs to take that one extra step and get a win. I watched some of the nationwide tour event today, but as I don't watch it regularly I don't have much of an opinion on it. Except to say that it looks like Matt Kuchar has lost some weight recently. And it appears that I've scooped USA's Sunday Golf Show regarding the Steve Azar country music video featuring John Daly. I posted about it a while back, and just now, the USA network is talking about it. Finally, I'm hoping Lorena Ochoa plays well this week and takes another step closer to clinching the Player of the Year title.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I saw on tv and read on google news that Tiger says they should pick all 12 participants in the Ryder Cup if they want the best players. Well, that is 180 degrees opposite of what a rankings system is used for. The rankings system is supposed to determine your best players. If you could pick all 12 of them, then you'd be picking friends, and players who played well 15 years ago. The players who are actually playing better than everyone else wouldn't get to play and you'd never get new players in the event which means when the old and tired players move on to the Senior tour, there wouldn't be any players with Ryder Cup experience to carry on.
For Tiger to say that all the players need to be picked, it sounds like he's trying to blame the newbies on the 2006 team for the loss of the cup. Also, if the players didn't have a spot to earn like they do with the current system or the former systems of top 8 or top 10, then the captain wouldn't be able to tell who fights for the spots and who wants to be on the team more. But, all that being said, and Tiger's opinions aside, the bottom line is, no matter how the players are chosen, the players have to play well with each other. None of the top players are friends, spend free time together or anything like that. You can't manufacture relationships for one week every two years. And I don't see Tiger, Furyk, Phil forming the bonds necessary to put together a winning round.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
By John Kim
Special to PGATOUR.com
ATLANTA -- Many people take a break from work and go play golf. But what do the best golfers in the world do when their work is over?
“We have a new house,” says Stewart Cink. “I’ve got some work to do there. I doubt I’ll have much time for golf.”
“I’m teeing off tomorrow morning at 7:30,” Brett Quigley said. “I plan on playing every day I can.”
As the 2006 PGA TOUR season comes to an end, the players’ plans for the off-season are as diverse as the swings that propelled their success throughout the year.
Some will be playing in Challenge Season events such as the Merrill Lynch Shootout or the Target World Challenge presented by Countrywide. Others will play tournaments in Asia, Australia and South Africa. Still more will concentrate on practice.
Almost all of them agree, though, that there is one uniform goal before the 2007 season begins: Relax.
Asked what he’ll be doing, Chad Campbell’s answer was quick and honest. “Not much of anything,” he said. “Maybe get out to the Mercedes(-Benz Championships) early, but I’m really going to try and rest up.”
“Pretty boring,” Dean Wilson said as he packed up. “I’m going to take a break. Relax a little, try to get excited about ’07.”
“Go home and relax,” David Toms agreed. “I’m playing in the Target World Challenge, but I’m going to spend some time at the house, for sure.”
|Maybe Stuart Appleby will play some cricket this offseason. (Getty Images)|
Of course, family plans are prominent for many of the players as they conclude the season.
“We have a young son at home … I can’t wait to go and spend some time with him,” Ben Curtis said. “I’ll focus on him and the family, and then get ready for Maui.”
J.J. Henry, will have to balance some golf with his desire to spend time with his family.
“It’s such a great time for me right now,” he beamed. “I’ll be at the (Merrill-Lynch) Shootout, the Target World Challenge, and the (Barbados) World Cup with Stewart Cink. I also have a 2-year-old son at home and he’s such a blast. I want to spend some time with him, watch football and basketball, and just hang with my family and friends.”
Geoff Ogilvy, who won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and U.S. Open last year, laughed when asked what his plans for the off-season were.
“Whatever I did last year,” he cracked. “It seemed to work out pretty well. I’ll play some events back home, spend some time on the beach. I’ll get to Maui early, spend some time out there on the beach as well.”
“The year went too quick,” said Appleby, who had two wins on the PGA TOUR this past year. “I hate to see it go, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to ’07.”
Perhaps the golfer most bothered to see the season end is Durant. In the last two months of the season, Durant placed in the top six in the five events, winning more than $2 million plus another $500,000 for the Fall Finish presented by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m pretty tired right now,” Durant stated. “I hate to see it end, but yet, hopefully, I can kind of pick up where I’m leaving off when we go out to Mercedes.”
A little R&R balanced against practice, family time and professional obligations seem to be the consensus.
Of all the players’ plans, Sweden's Carl Pettersson seemed to have the best perspective.
“I want to get in better shape, to really concentrate of fitness,” the husky Pettersson said, adding, “but of course, I say that every year.”
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
“There’s no captain that’s going to make the difference,” Sutton said with a tinge of resignation. Of course now, the phone call was no longer about Azinger.
“We’re in a vacuum in golf in America,” Sutton began, and I knew I was about to experience a strong Texas wind.
“We’re consumed by the almighty dollar,” he said. “We’ve forgotten that we all play the game because we love it. Greatness doesn’t worry about money. Greatness worries about bein’ great.”
“We’re a product of our environment,” he explained. “We’re playing a game that requires us to hit it high and long. In the old days we had to do more with different golf shots.”
Sutton emphasized that it’s not necessarily the fault of the players. “We got too many people in leadership capacities that don’t understand the game at its core,” he said. “We’re conforming to what they say the market wants and what manufacturers are giving us and it’s weakening our players.”
...............Click here to read the whole interview................
My Say: It seems like a lot of golfers are saying the same thing about US Golf but is anyone listening?
Monday, November 06, 2006
Ian Woosnam (click here to find the whole article):
"In Europe, Ryder Cup points are based on prize-money and world ranking points and you get points wherever you finish.
"In America, only the top-ten get Ryder Cup points and you get more points winning a small event than being top five in a major. That's ridiculous."
America's bizarre Ryder Cup points system was highlighted when John Rollins earned more points for winning the B.C Open than Chris Di Marco did for being runner-up to Woods at The Open the same weekend - and bear in mind, all America's top stars were at Royal Liverpool.
"Their system is all wrong," said 1991 Masters champ Woosie. "I can't understand why they don't have the same system as us."
My Say: If the European points system was so great, then why did Woosnam have to skip several players, such as Thomas Bjorn, to select Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood? You'd think the man would practice what he preaches or else think a little more before he speaks.
By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press
— Paul Azinger took over the U.S. Ryder Cup team in more ways than one, persuading the PGA of America to give him four captain's picks and revamping the criteria so that money and majors determine who makes the team.
"I'm going to get the blame if it doesn't work," Azinger said Monday. "I would like some of the credit if it does."
Azinger, a former PGA champion and cancer survivor, was introduced as the next U.S. captain at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., where the 2008 matches will be played.
The changes were bold, and Azinger feels the Americans have nothing to lose. Europe has captured the Ryder Cup eight of the last 11 times, winning by its largest margin _ 18 1/2-9 1/2 _ the last two times. Two months ago at The K Club, Europe became the first team to capture all five sets of matches.
Azinger wanted a qualifying process that would give him the best players, and it reflects his personality. He has often said during his 20-plus years on the PGA Tour that he got nervous only when cash or prestige were on the line.
"I just felt like it was time for money to be the barometer," Azinger said.
Under the new system, one point will be awarded for every $1,000 a player earns in the 2007 majors, and in regular PGA Tour events in 2008. Two points will be given for every $1,000 earned at the 2008 majors.
The PGA of America took care of one arguments _ tournaments held opposite majors _ by offering only a half-point per $1,000 at those events. Last time, John Rollins nearly made the U.S. team by winning the B.C. Open, which was held the same week as the British Open.
Because the Ryder Cup points system was to begin after the PGA Championship in August, PGA president Roger Warren said players would be awarded one-fourth of a point for every $1,000 earned over the last 11 weeks.
The new system eliminates some glaring problems under the old criteria, when points were based on top-10 finishes.
Several players complained that they could finish 11th at the Masters and get nothing, while someone could finish ninth at the Houston Open and earn points. And with so many international players on the PGA Tour, there were some weeks when only a couple of U.S. players earned points.
Warren said only 58 percent of the Ryder Cup points were distributed last time.
Plus, it distinguishes between strong and weak events on the PGA Tour. Previously, a player earned as much from The Players Championship as he did an opposite-field event.
"The goal is to try to get to the point where Paul feels that he has the players that he needs to come to ... win the Ryder Cup," Warren said.
Azinger said no one would be assured of making the team starting the 2008 season because points will have been awarded only during the majors the first year. He thought that would make players feel as though they earned a spot on the team, instead of coasting for the final few months.
"That's better than what we had," said Scott Verplank, a captain's pick in 2002 and 2006 and one of the few Americans with a winning record. "Apparently, they spent some time on this and I commend them for trying to fix it. But I don't think anything is going to matter until we figure out how to play that game as a team."
"Zinger is a strong personality, somewhat of a free thinker," he added. "I think he'll be super."
Still to be decided is when Azinger will make his captain's picks.
The United States has never had more than two picks since 1989, and they were announced the morning after the PGA Championship.
Warren said the qualifying process again will end at the '08 PGA Championship, but that Azinger would have until Monday a week before the Ryder Cup to make his four picks.
Part of that is a massive change in the PGA Tour schedule. Starting next year with the new FedExCup competition, a "playoff" series begins two weeks after the PGA Championship, with three big tournaments leading to the Tour Championship. In 2008, the Ryder Cup will be held the week after the Tour Championship.
"I like the idea of being able to pick four players," Azinger said. "I like the idea that I don't have to pick them immediately after the PGA Championship. I have an opportunity that no other Ryder Cup captain has had, and I really appreciate that."
Azinger also said he was "awe-struck" to get the job. He played on four Ryder Cup teams and was 5-7-3, going 2-0-2 in singles while usually taking on Europe's best.
His counterpart at Valhalla will be six-time major winner Nick Faldo, who has earned more Ryder Cup points than any other European. Faldo and Azinger were golf analysts for ABC Sports the last two years, and they have a rivalry in the Ryder Cup, battling to a draw in a 1993 singles match that had no bearing on the outcome.
He was diagnosed with lymphoma in his shoulder after the Ryder Cup, and won only one more time on the PGA Tour the rest of his career.
Azinger said Faldo will be under more pressure trying to follow after Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, all of whom guided Europe to victory.
"I've got more of an everything-to-gain situation," Azinger said. "There's going to be a little more heat on Nick to get it right, and I think a little more of the microscope will on Nick if he gets it wrong."
My Say: Only awarding points during the majors in 2007 might not be a good idea. You only have to look at the 2006 US Open to see just how tough these courses are and just how out of it really good US players can be. David Toms hurt his back there I think; Tiger missed the cut; Geoff Ogilvy won. And being able to pick four players might not be a good thing because the players aren't going to feel as though it's something to earn and work for and achieve. They will feel like it's a gift. If this past Ryder Cup was any indicator (both Lehman's and Woosnam's picks) Azinger probably won't pick new guys which means there won't be any cultivating of a new Ryder Cup generation. I liked Verplank's comment that nothing will make a difference until they learn to play as a team. And rather than having 4 picks, Azinger needs a couple of Switcheroos, just in case Tiger's too tired to play or Phil's kids have school plays that week, Zinger can replace them with Brett Quigley, or Dean Wilson, or Tom Pernice Jr, or Jerry Kelly, or Steve Flesch - all of whom have played 30 events or more this year. Whether the points are awarded by this new system that Azinger has proposed or by the system used for the 2006 Cup, you'll still have Woods, Mickelson, Furyk, Toms, Dimarco on the team, and as Verplank said, they need to learn to play as a team. They've been on every Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup team for the last few years. If they haven't learned to play well with others by now, there's no hope for them.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
My vote for the most colorful pairing goes to Retief Goosen and Tom Pernice Jr. Retief wore green and Pernice wore what looked to be pink.
Luke Donald did well as did Brett Quigley. Brett's played something like 33 tournaments this year. That's about 10 more than Tiger and Phil combined. You'd think if anyone was 'tired' it would be Brett. But he went out there and played every time he could, sometimes even with an injury.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
The Associated Press
Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo have competed on the golf course and shared space in a television tower as commentators. The next time they square off will be as Ryder Cup captains in two years at Valhalla.
Azinger, a former U.S. PGA Championship winner and cancer survivor who played in four Ryder Cups without losing a singles match, has been selected the next American captain, according to two people with knowledge of the appointment.
They did not want to be identified because the PGA of America has not announced its selection, which could come as early as next week.
Azinger did not immediately return a phone call.
He will be in charge of a U.S. team that has lost three straight times to Europe, including record margins (18 1/2-9 1/2) in the last two matches. Last month in Ireland, Europe became the first team to win all five sessions of the match.
The PGA of America had talked to Azinger about being captain for the 2004 Ryder Cup — a captaincy that would have gone to his close friend, Payne Stewart, who died in a plane crash in 1999 — but he declined.
Azinger said last week at the Chrysler Championship in Florida that he had spoken to the PGA of America, but stopped short of calling it an interview process.
Given how the Americans have been hammered the last two times, he was asked if wanted the job.
"Well, it's like everything to gain, nothing to lose now," Azinger said last week. "Yes, I would like to do it."
Europe already has announced Faldo, a six-time major winner, as its captain for the 2008 match at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. The appointment of Azinger gives this Ryder Cup a history between the captains.
Perhaps their most famous showdown came in a singles at The Belfry in 1993, played a month before Azinger was diagnosed with lymphoma in his left shoulder. Faldo made a hole-in-one in that match, and even though the U.S. had earned enough points to win the cup, Azinger kept grinding, eventually earning a halve.
When NBC Sports later showed highlights of that match, Azinger quipped, "Look at that. I had cancer and he still couldn't beat me."
Azinger played in four Ryder Cups and had a 5-3-7 record, but he never lost in singles while playing some of Europe's best. Along with his halve against Faldo, he beat Seve Ballesteros in 1989 and Jose Maria Olazabal in 1991. He played his last Ryder Cup at The Belfry in 2002 and holed a bunker shot on the 18th hole to earn a halve against Niclas Fasth.
Azinger played Faldo four times in the Ryder Cup and had a 2-2-0 record. He played on winning teams in 1991 and 1993, and the United States lost in 1989 and 2002.
They moved to the broadcast booth in 2004 with ABC Sports, a deal that ends this week at the U.S. Tour Championship because ABC declined to sign a new TV contract with the U.S. PGA Tour for the next six years. Faldo has signed on with CBS Sports, and Azinger has gone back to golf, narrowly keeping his tour card for 2007.
Now that the PGA of America has a captain, its next step is to decide whether to tweak the points system that decides who plays. It overhauled the system for the '06 matches, allowing four rookies who had strong seasons this year to make the team.
"The bottom line is the players have to perform," Azinger said last week. "And you have to have players that are playing well enough to get it done. If you have a team that's running cold against a team that's running blazing hot, then you have to look at the system to determine how you can change the system to get the best players — the hottest players — on your team at that event."