On the golf course, a man may be the dogged victim of inexorable fate, be struck down by an appalling stroke of tragedy, become the hero of an unbelievable melodrama, or the clown in a side-splitting comedy--any of these within a few hours, and all without having to bury a corpse or repair a tangled personality. BOBBY JONES
"I always compare the PGA Tour with Tiger," he muses. "The second you realise he is what he is, that's the time you can start competing with him. If you run around thinking you can beat this guy, he's going to keep knocking you down. And it's the same with the PGA Tour. If the European Tour thinks it can be as big and powerful as they are, then it isn't ever going to happen. But if we accept that they are there and that they do what they do, then we can start managing our own affairs to the best of our ability."
Since, after all, the matches are pretty much done. Sheesh, Jimmy Roberts tried to get golf's version of Norman Vincent Peale to offer encouraging words, and even the sunny Gary Player couldn't muster up much with a camera in his face or in a post round chat with the assembled inkslingers.
"It's not over," International captain Gary Player said. "But things don't look too good. The egg is not sunny-side up."
Meanwhile, if you are touched by the historic insignificance of the Weir-Tiger singles pairing, you can read all about how it came to fruition.
Here are the other pairings.
He's older, wiser, grayer, paler but nonetheless able to Captain at a team tournament where people show up. Yet how can he be considered when he still won'tfess up to his hand in the single worst pre-tournament renovation and setup in golf history: Valderamma's 17th.
Paul Forsyth reports:
The man who led them to victory at Valderrama in 1997 has been having such a ball at the Seve Trophy, where his European team lead Great Britain & Ireland 9½-8½, that he fancies himself to succeed Nick Faldo at Celtic Manor in 2010. “I was thinking about it out on the course,” he says. “I was having such a good time. If the players want me, I would be happy to do it again.”
Ballesteros, who retired from competitive golf earlier this year, has relished his captain’s role at the Heritage, careering his buggy over the humps and hollows of County Laois, dishing out legs of Iberian ham to anyone with an appetite, and adopting the hands-on approach for which he was famous at Valderrama. The man who said he would never return to the Ryder Cup is having second thoughts. “In life, you say certain things and then change your mind.
Everybody does that. I have no doubts that I would be a better captain now, although it would be difficult because I won. I have learnt a lot of things. I know how to treat players, how to make the team play together, how to keep everybody happy. I have a very good relationship with the players,” he said.
Maybe, but his relationship with the European Tour is so uneasy that he will have a hard job persuading them this event deserves to keep its slot on the schedule, never mind that he should be installed as their next Ryder Cup captain. Yesterday’s marginal increase in crowds at least ensured there were more bodies behind the ropes than there were inside them.
And, of course, what can you say about Woody Austin, having set the world butterfly record in the lake on the 14th hole and then birdieing three of the last four holes to gain a halve? Maybe they should add the dunking stool to the team room. The Christmas list is no doubt already being compiled on the U.S. team bus for their Rookie of the Year. Flippers and mask. Wet suit. Spear gun. Styrofoam noodles. Life vest. A professional will often try a risky play from a hazard but rarely do they wind up fully submerged. Captain Jack is already calling him Jacques.
At least Woody will never again have to look at the video clip of him beating himself over the head with his putter at Hilton Head. They've got something much, much better now.
"Put the two together," said his playing partner David Toms, "and you'd be, 'What's this guy all about?' But, I'll tell you what, he's a heckuva golfer."
Meanwhile, at least golf.com has the sequence from Getty Images' Timothy Clary, including the shot seen above.
Scottish golfer Marc Warren was back playing at the Seve Trophy in Ireland today after what was literally a shattering experience at the team hotel.Sounds like he was lucky to not lose his who-ha.
Practising his swing in his room after losing his opening match with Colin Montgomerie, last season's European Tour Rookie of the Year smashed a chandelier above him.
The glass showering down on him cut his head, both arms and, most worrying of all, caused a nasty deep gash across his stomach requiring a trip to hospital.
"It was about a centimetre wide and looked about a centimetre deep," said Warren. "I looked in the mirror and I was covered in blood.
"I rang Bradley Dredge because I was supposed to be having dinner with him, then Monty came along and (captain) Nick Faldo called.
"A car took me to hospital, although the driver stalled three times, and I had butterfly stitches in my cuts and had it dressed and covered."
Returning to the hotel around 10pm, Warren found he had fused the lights and so had to pack his things in the dark before being transferred to another room.
Unsure how sore he would be on waking up this morning, the 26-year-old was relieved to discover he was not too bad and even began with two birdies against French pair Raphael Jacquelin and Gregory Havret.
However, after five holes mostly played in rain and in front of another tiny crowd, Warren and Montgomerie were two down.
Before teeing off, Warren was even able to joke about what he called "an adventurous evening", saying: "I was using a five-iron - it should have been a six because I would have missed it."
Lawrence Donegan writes about the galleries--can you call 250 a gallery!?--present for day one of the Seve Trophy.
Europe took a one-point lead over a team from Great Britain and Ireland after day one of the Seve Trophy but in the battle for the hearts and minds of the Irish public between the Royal & Ancient game and the national ploughing championships, it was a complete walkover.
The result: golf - approximately 250 paying customers wandering forlornly around the vast expanse of the Heritage resort; ploughing - 80,000 crammed into the Annaharvey Farm, 20 miles away, for one of Ireland's great cultural events.
"The atmosphere was limited," said Colin Montgomerie after he and his partner, Marc Warren, lost 3&1 in the opening fourball of the day to Europe's Peter Hanson and Robert Karlsson - a match that attracted around two dozen spectators as it headed off into the back nine. "The ploughing championships need to finish, and the sooner that happens the better. The farmers need to bring their wellies and get over here because the quality of golf is excellent."
Leaving aside the stereotyping of farmers and their footwear, the Scotsman had an excellent point.
The Principal also shares a story of getting to watch great golf with unobstructed views.
From Doug Ferguson's story on Royal Melbourne landing the 2011 Presidents Cup:
Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson, captain of that International team who famously introduced the American team at opening ceremonies as “the greatest collection of golfers in the world,” said he was not interested in returning as captain.
“I’m a has-been and I’m happy to be that, instead of a could-have-been,” Thomson said.
But he said he would favor Greg Norman leading the International team, especially with the matches being held in Australia. Norman, perhaps the most popular golfer to emerge from Down Under, played on that ‘98 and lost a singles match against Tiger Woods.
Norman and Finchem have been at odds for much of the last decade, however, and it was not clear if he would be interested.
“I hope one day he will be captain,” Thomson said. “He was a giant figure in the game for so long, I think it’s appropriate that if he wants to be, he should be captain of this team.”
Doug Ferguson on the most "poignant" moment of the U.S. domination on day one of the President's Cup, when Captain Jack Nicklaus intervened:
Despite a leaderboard covered with American red numbers, perhaps the most poignant moment of a gray afternoon was Nicklaus instructing Phil Mickelson and Woody Austin to concede a 3½-foot par putt on the 18th hole that assured Mike Weir of Canada and his International team its only point of the opening session.
In a tense battle with only six holes halved, the match was all square going to the 18th when both sides missed the green. Mickelson blasted out to 12 feet, while Weir chipped to 3½ feet above the hole. Austin made the par putt, and before Vijay Singh spot his ball, the match was conceded.
“Captain Nicklaus was right. It was the right thing to do,” Mickelson said.
And he followed up, saying, "If it was anyone other than Vijay, I would have thought to do the same thing myself."
Steve Elling breaks down the conceded putt and Nicklaus's reasoning. (Warning for those who should not be rolling their eyes: it was for Canada and Mike Weir).
It's no Royal Montreal, but it'll work...
Royal Melbourne Golf Club to host The Presidents Cup in 2011You don't say! Who knew?!
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada – Just prior to the start of the seventh Presidents Cup this afternoon at Royal Montreal Golf Club in Canada, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem announced that another “Royal” venue – Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia – has been named host site of the event in 2011.
Royal Melbourne Golf Club becomes the first golf course outside of the United States to host the prestigious match-play competition more than once, as the 1998 event was also held there. In April, the PGA TOUR announced that the ninth staging of The Presidents Cup, which is slated forNov. 14-20, 2011, would be held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, but a host course was not named until today.
“I’d like to congratulate and thank Peter Sutherland and the leadership and membership of Royal Melbourne Golf Club on the return of The Presidents Cup in 2011,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “As we saw in 1998, Australia has some of the best golf fans and best courses in the world. The selection of Royal Melbourne as the site of the next international Presidents Cup is affirmation of what the golf club has meant to thehistory of The Cup.”
The Royal Melbourne Golf Club, which has existed continuously since 1891,is one of the most highly regarded golf clubs in Australia.
“Royal Melbourne is both pleased and excited to have been awarded the 2011 Presidents Cup,” said Peter Sutherland, captain, Royal Melbourne Golf Club. “Having hosted the event in 1998, we believe it will once again be an outstanding venue for what has now become a much bigger and internationally recognized competition. We are proud that Australia has a number of golf clubs which would well have staged The Presidents Cup, and look forward to welcoming the players, their families, guests of the TOUR and fans in 2011.”
And because those two quotes weren't enough...
“We are obviously delighted that The Presidents Cup will be returning to Australia in 2011 and certain that Royal Melbourne will once again be an outstanding venue for the world’s best players ” said Ben Sellenger, Chief Executive Officer, PGA TOUR of Australasia. “The excitement and anticipation for this event will build exponentially over the next four years, and the PGA TOUR of Australasia looks forward to supporting the return of The Presidents Cup in 2011.”
“I’m thrilled to see The Presidents Cup return to Melbourne, which is my hometown,” said Peter Thomson, who captained the International Presidents Cup Team in 1996, 1998 and 2000. “The 1998 event was so successful, and The Presidents Cup has only grown in stature and importance since then. I have no doubt that it will be another fantastic competition.”
Nothing from Greg Norman?
The European Tour's George O'Grady held court at Royal Montreal and dazzled writers with some prime one-liners on various issues, including the performance enhancing drug issue. Steve Elling reports:
O'Grady estimated that drug tests will cost $1,000 per player, which makes the possibility of testing an entire European Tour field all but impossible. The PGA Tour will have that luxury, conversely, if it elects to head in that direction. Many of the particulars on testing and penalties are still in flux and financials will doubtlessly play a huge role in how much urinalysis is done on the various worldwide circuits.And this beauty...
"So it's not so simple as pissing into a pot and moving on," O'Grady said. "We cannot write off a million pounds. We don't have that kind of money."
Prodded by a reporter, O'Grady also unleashed a half-serious zinger with regard to the drug testing program, which is being initiated as much to protect the sport's reputation as it is to catch what's assumed to be a tiny handful of cheaters, if any.
Just test Tiger Woods and be done with it.
"From what I understand, he would be the first in line to volunteer for testing," O'Grady said. "If Tiger Woods' test comes back negative, what does it matter what the rest of them are on?
Can you imagine the notoriously cautious and professionally stiff Finchem uttering any of the above? Didn't think so.
Take that Faldo and McGinley!
Talk about a juicy Ryder Cup story on the even of the President's Cup. Steve Elling explains.
The game's most revered figure was shooting the breeze with a handful of writers when the subject of future captaincies was broached. Nicklaus has served as the American captain of the past three Presidents Cup teams, but hasn't so much as attended a Ryder Cup in years. He last captained a Ryder team in 1987. For the past few years, the Americans have gushed about how Nicklaus' managerial style keeps them loose but focused on the task at hand, vs. the micro-managing of other captains. So maybe the best way for the Ryder Cup to move forward after absorbing consecutive losses by record margins to Europe is to move backward first.
"If I happened to get asked, would I do it again, sure," Nicklaus said. "It's very flattering. I didn't expect to do it again this time (at the Presidents Cup), as you know."
After winning the Presidents Cup in Washington, D.C., in 2005, the U.S. players practically insisted that he return.
"I love being involved in the game of golf," Nicklaus said. "I love being around these young guys. That's something money cannot buy."
I guess that pretty much rules out Larry Nelson for consideration in 2010 at that dreadful course in Wales.
Though as Mike Aitken's piece suggests, it's not clear why they are playing the Open in England two straight years other than they were anxious to not stay away from Lytham for too long.
Not just a question of serendipity, David Hill, the R&A's director of championships, explained how the impact of the London Olympics in 2012 had forced a break with tradition. "It wasn't just coincidence that the Open will be in England two years running," he acknowledged. "We didn't want to hold the championship at Royal St George's in 2012, the year of the Olympics in London, and didn't think going there the year after was a particularly good idea either."
One of the most popular venues on the rota - 183,000 spectators came through the gates when Ben Curtis thwarted Thomas Bjorn in 2003 - Sandwich is the only links in the south east of England which stages golf's most venerable event. Drawing spectators from London as well as Kent and the surrounding area, St George's was a hugely successful Open four years ago and the R&A didn't want to cloak it's appeal in the shadow of the Olympics.
Bearing in mind that Lytham last held the Open in 2001 when David Duval was in his pomp, the Lancashire venue will have had to wait 11 years for the championship to return by the time the event goes back to St Anne's in 2012.
As expected, England's finest pounced on the Paul McGinley Vice Captain resignation story with glee. Really, anything to not have to pen a Seve Trophy preview story.
McGinley assuredly wrapped up some sort of media relations award for this act of kindness.
Faldo became dead meat in Ireland from the moment he overlooked their sporting hero Paul McGinley for one of his Seve wild cards. With Padraig Harrington having withdrawn, it meant no Irishman in the team.
'Eiregate' duly escalated yesterday when McGinley, privately furious at not being chosen, announced his resignation as one of Faldo's vice-captains for next year's Ryder Cup at Valhalla, Kentucky.
Wisely, the Dubliner chose not to make it personal in his official statement, saying: 'It was a great honour to be chosen by Nick but, on reflection and after careful consideration, I feel it is in my best interests to concentrate on playing my way into the team.'
McGinley will be a great asset if he can find his true form once more. But, equally, Faldo can hardly be blamed — outside Ireland, anyway — for feeling that he knows everything about the 40-year-old's estimable qualities and plumping instead for two young guns in form in Simon Dyson and Marc Warren, recent winner of the Johnnie Walker Championship.
And Lawrence Donegan weighed in with this...
The timing was also curious, coming as it did on the eve of the Seve Trophy match between a team from Great Britain and Ireland, captained by Faldo, and a European squad led by Seve Ballesteros. There have been suggestions in golfing circles that McGinley was bemused by Faldo's decision not to select him as a wild-card pick for his squad, especially as it would have given the Irishman some valuable insight into the European captain's thinking on team matters before next year's Ryder Cup.
For all his greatness as a golfer, Faldo has long had a reputation for being a high-handicapper when it comes to personal relations. McGinley's departure in such circumstances will have done little to change the mind of those who suspect there will more upheaval within European ranks before a ball is struck in anger in Kentucky.
BusinessWeek and ESPN the magazine got together to determine the most powerful figures in sport. Golf's four contributions to the list:
2. Tiger Woods
34. Tim Finchem
74. Mark Steinberg
76. Arnold Palmer
Shockingly, the list includes four ESPN VP's, ESPN EVP's and of course, an ESPN SVP.
Euro Writers Rejoice: McGinley Resigns As Vice Captain, First '08 Ryder Cup Controversy Will Prevent Having To Cover Seve Trophy
From Reuters, and almost assuredly, with excessive follow ups for weeks to come...
Paul McGinley has resigned as Europe's 2008 Ryder Cup vice-captain, team skipper Nick Faldo said on Wednesday.This is fun...
Faldo denied the Irishman's decision had anything to do with him not being chosen as one of the Britain and Ireland Seve Trophy wildcards by Faldo, who is also the team's skipper this week in Ireland.
"I spoke to Paul last week and he said 'I've got a lot of events coming up'. I can sense the rumblings and then we spoke this morning and he decided to withdraw his position," Faldo told a news conference.
"He told me he was really concerned about the workload that will be involved as vice-captain, because he wants to play himself into the team for Valhalla.
"Good luck to him. The man holed a winning putt on the Ryder Cup and that's the sort of player I want on my team."
Asked if his decision to overlook McGinley for the match against Seve Ballesteros's Europeans might be linked to the Irishman's move, Faldo said: "No, not at all. Playing is his priority. We chatted well together."
There was no fistfight, no name calling. It's all good. Well, almost...
Faldo did admit McGinley had demurred when he asked the Irishman to accompany him this week at the Heritage, where the action gets underway on Thursday.
"When I said to him 'did you want to come?' he said 'No, I'm preparing to play' (in the Dunhill Links Championship).
In a statement, McGinley said: "It was a great honour to be picked by Nick but, after careful consideration, I feel it is in my best interest to concentrate on playing myself into the team.
"I've played the last three matches and I want to play at Valhalla. I want to play for Nick and bring the Cup back to Europe again."
Faldo chose McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal as his vice-captains. Olazabal has indicated that he too wants to play at Valhalla.
"I might be on my own," Faldo joked. "But I've got big enough shoulders."
Steve Mona is leaving the GCSAA to run the World Golf Federation and join the growing list of those in line to take on Tim Finchem's massive salary when the Commish finally decides to spend more time with his family. Meanwhile, David Fay will be the first "CEO" to head the World Golf Federation board and all of it makes for great Presidents Cup cocktail party talk.
And so nice to see Peter Dawson sounding like he just got his MBA:
"The World Golf Foundation is providing a platform to establish an open line of communication that is critical to effectuating meaningful change on a global basis," Dawson said. "It is important that the international golf community come together in a strategic manner to address issues that affect us all and the sport we love."
Except that annoying distance issue.
It's hard to imagine the Golf Channel could pass up on Wednesday's festivities at Royal Montreal in favor of Playing Lessons with Arron Oberholser, but alas, you don't have to set your TiVo's for the big event where Vegas oddsmakers have posted 5-1 odds on a Kenny G cameo, 3-1 on a Celine Dion ear-piercing medley of O Canada and My Heart Will Go On, and 2-1 odds on either one headlining Sunday's Closing Ceremony/site evacuation session.
From The Golf Blogger:
This isn’t to say that even officials of major golf organizations will be welcome everywhere. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be host of a private dinner on Tuesday for the teams, their captains, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, and visiting dignitaries, including PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. Quebec Premier Jean Charest will attend the event.
Wednesday’s entertainment will be rather splashier. The lavish opening ceremony will take place at the Royal Montreal at 4 p.m. The event’s opening gala will occur that evening in the ballroom at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.
Harper and Charest will be on the stage during the opening ceremony, as will Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay and former U.S. president George Bush.
Ward & Ames, a Houston-based company, has choreographed the opening ceremony for the six previous Presidents Cup tournaments and will do so again. Area boys and girls choirs will sing the U.S. and Canadian anthems.
The national anthems of every country with a player will also be played. That evening, at the gala, called Celebration of Nations, food stations representing the cuisine of the various countries will be set up. This means stations representing the United States, Canada, South Africa, Fiji, Australia, Argentina and South Korea.