"How a TV argument led to David Duval’s new leadership role with Team USA"

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Good read here from Golf World’s Dave Shedloski on how David Duval is trading in his pancake for a cart this week at the Ryder Cup. Good news, his IFB will come in handy for the Vice Captain channel this week in France.

Duval’s late addition to the vast coaching squad stems from his on-air debate with Brandel Chamblee during the 2016 Ryder Cup. Chamblee questioned the effectiveness and play of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and Captain Davis Love’s players took heart back at the team hotel.

“He comes in, tie untied, hanging around his neck, carrying his briefcase from the set,” Love said. “He launched into this very passionate speech, how playing in the Ryder Cup was one of the biggest accomplishments of his career. But it was more [about the fact that] the David Duval that they just saw defending them on TV had walked into the room and was still fired up. We asked him to come back and hang out with us every night.”

Also worth a chuckle is Shedloski’s review of Duval’s place in Ryder Cup history as one of the players wanting to see some form of compensation for players. He calls it an initiative now.

“I don’t know the exact numbers, but it’s probably over $20 million now going to designated charities. It’s made a difference,” Duval said by telephone from his home in Denver. “I’m happy to have been a part of that initiative. I don’t know if this is me coming full circle, if you will, but I can see how you might think that. There’s no doubt that there’s a different environment now, that players have a much greater role in the direction of the U.S. team.”

The 2016 Ryder Cup Has Not Aged Well To Thomas Pieters

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A breakout star for Europe in 2016 who made a late, unsuccessful bid to make the 2018 team, does not have fond memories of the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National.

Snippets of a full length interview slated for Bunkered magazine, include his views on American fans and their inability to handle alcohol that is sold by the PGA of America starting at 7 am.

Pieters was particularly concerned by fan comments directed at Rory McIlroy.

“They shouted stuff at him that you shouldn’t shout at anybody anywhere. Maybe that’s because they sell beer at 7am and Americans can’t drink. 

“But to be honest, you don’t really hear the words most of the time. It’s just a big wall of noise.” 

Pieters called the setup a one-dimensional putting contest and without question, the placement of nearly all hole locations the final day in the green centers stripped a course already devoid of much strategy and made it…a putting contest.

This will be fun at the next Callaway group ad shoot!

“The set-up of the course was ridiculous. You could hit it anywhere."

Citing Phil Mickelson as an example, Pieters added: “He was sometimes hitting it, like, six fairways left or right but was still able to get it on the green and then make a 40-footer. I didn’t think it was a great Ryder Cup set-up, to be honest.” 

PGA Of America Gives Us A Decade To Ponder Why We're Playing Another Ryder Cup At Hazeltine National

Let's forget that the PGA of America is bringing the Ryder Cup back to Hazeltine National just a dozen years after it last hosted, or that the course in question isn't particularly memorable, lovable or likely to be pursued by other organizations for a championship. The course was beautifully conditioned and in its defense, tainted by Team USA's dreadful Sunday singles placement of nearly all hole locations in the green centers.

According to the announcement...

Hazeltine -- site of the U.S. Ryder Cup Team’s 17-11 victory in 2016 -- will become the first American venue to host a second Ryder Cup. Four English courses have hosted multiple Ryder Cups: The Belfry (1985, ’89, ‘93, 2002); Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club (1961, ‘77); Royal Birkdale Golf Club (1965, ’69) and Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club (1933, ’37). 

So let's ask as we always do with these silly announcements: why lock in venues that aren't in demand so far down the line? What is the incentive? Because the news value tends to range from "who cares" to "I just hope to be alive in 2028", instead of, "boy I can't wait!"

Maybe the PGA of America just wanted to piggyback on the far more popular Gold Medal winning U.S. Men's Curling team, and for that, I can't blame them:

Roundup 2016: Year In Review Stories And A Few Thoughts

I've been taking in and enjoying the year-end golf summaries, mostly to shield myself from news that makes me want to have John Oliver's '16 tribute on a running loop. As is always the golf media custom, various writers emptied their notebooks and recalled moments that resonated long after they packed up their laptops. While taking in their thoughts I drew a few conclusions, which, if you'll indulge, I'll share before throwing a few good year-end links your way.

2016 lived up to its billing: a stellar-but-bloated schedule, plenty of sensational tournament venues and a continued refinement of course architectural tastes skewing toward the natural. But the sadness of Arnold Palmer's passing, which I'm not sure we got to completely take in quietly, just reinforced the sense that there is too much golf and it all went on way too long.

In spite of the pitiful WD's by Spieth, McIlroy and friends, The Olympics exceeded expectations while The Open Championship will go down as a classic (John Huggan and Dave Shedloski have put together a truncated oral history of Troon 2016).

For Golfweek's Alistair Tait, those were the two biggest takeaways in his eyes and he offers two anecdotes from each.

The women's side keeps producing young talent but now even Lydia Ko is showing signs of impatience that either could propel her to another level, or rapidly add her to a list of almost-legend status. This overall impatience by and for the youth to take center stage should be a more disconcerting sign for golf given how much damage it's done in tennis, but the desperation to ride some under 25-year-old coattails ignores that the average age of the men's major winners in 2016 was..34.

On a grander entertainment scale, fewer players and even fewer fans are clamoring for tournament officials to humiliate players via course setup to compensate for inadequacies in their own golf games. Woohoo! Yes, we still have too many green speed fiascos to mask the distance issue, but we also have fewer four-inch rough weeks and grind-it-out bogey-fests.

This increased clamoring for player-produced drama leads to a more positive energy when we tune in to watch golf. The effect has to seep down to the everyday game, no? 

Consider the incredible outrage over the USGA's difficult-to-rationalize handling of Dustin Johnson and how quickly the public response produced a local rule introduction that will restore some sanity (though it still won't slow down greens). A less cynical, more sensible golfing public should take a bow.

The sport saw minor inroads on the pace-of-play plague and with the greatest single roadblock to progress just a few hours from retirement (woohoo 2!), we may see real reform in 2017. I sense an overall shift in values for the sport: golf is no longer seen by its followers as a sport of inevitable punishment separated by bursts of fun.  It is now expected to be one that aspires to be a lifestyle activity that is fun, sensible and responsible to be part of. Progress!

Obviously this is generational and the infusion of many "millennial" values has meshed nicely with the "artisanal" trends that had already begun to reimagine design and experiential elements that inspire our passion for the sport. However, I can't help but think of 2016 without thinking of the incessant desperation the sport has shown in trying to appeal to a new generation while ignoring an aging demographic that loves the sport. In trying so pathetically to be cool to the kids the sport so often comes off as pathetic to the kids. If there's one thing we know about millennials, it's that we don't know what they really like. But they have shown a love for pursuits with soul, timelessness and some backbone. Golf should act more comfortable in its shoes.

Ultimately the genius of golf is that it can be played and loved by people of all generations. Probably never a huge audience, but one that spans generations. So perhaps the potential for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to duel one more time with a nice mix of young guns and veteran sticks joining the fight, a microcosm of this cross-generational meeting of minds will calm some of this desperation to get younger or die.

On that note...

If you need your memory refreshed, here are GolfChannel.com's newsmakers, with of course, that passing of Arnold Palmer in the top spot. We lost many others in '16 as Cliff Schrock notes at GolfDigest.com, but it was Palmer's death that will forever define the year.

Randall Mell steps back from the raw emotion of the initial coverage to consider what Palmer's passing means to the game. Brandel Chamblee also weighed in with this piece.

Jeff Babineau covered many topics in his year-end Golfweek.com thoughts, including Palmer's funeral. And GolfChannel.com's Mercer Baggs left the service feeling upbeat, thanks in part to the eulogy by Sam Saunders.

Doug Ferguson uses up his notes that weren't technically newsworthy, just entertaining. And while this Wayne Gretzky item is the best, the theme here is Palmer and he included this one:

The day after the U.S. Open, Arnold Palmer drove his cart to the back entrance of his office in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

It had been a rough year. Palmer declined to a do his news conference or a TV interview at Bay Hill, instead taping an interview for the NBC telecast. For the first time, he did not hit a ceremonial tee shot at the start of the Masters the following month.

But he was sharp on this day. Dustin Johnson had won the U.S. Open, but only after playing the final seven holes not knowing if the USGA was going to penalize him one shot for his ball moving on the fifth green.

"What did you think of the Open?" Palmer said.

"Interesting," came the fence-sitting reply.

Palmer grinned and, as always, got straight to the point.

"The USGA really (messed) this one up, didn't they?" he said.

Beth Ann Baldry filed her favorite memories from a year on the road covering amateur and women's golf, with the NCAA's in Eugene still resonating strongly. For Mell, Se Ri Pak's emotional retirement cameo was the memory he won't soon forget.

Off the course, the equipment and business side proved fascinating, with more news soon on the way for 2017. David Dusek at Golfweek.com summed it up this way:

Where would you start in a year that included Jordan Spieth cracking the face of his driver on the eve of the Masters, Adidas announcing that it wants to sell TaylorMade, Adams and Ashworth and the USGA and R&A reporting that they don’t feel driving distance is a problem in professional golf?

Which brings us back to the proverbial question that inspired the start of this website 13 years ago and saw it morph into a blog 11 years ago. Will 2017 be the year anything is done? Probably not. But I'm encouraged enough by too many other big picture trends to never rule out some action. Shoot, we might even see a slow play penalty on the West Coast swing. Strap, it's going to be a wild year ahead.

Until then, Happy New Year,
Geoff

Q&A With Ted Bishop, Author Of Unfriended

Ted Bishop's Unfriended opens like a media crisis thriller, but ultimately is worth reading because of the gentle way the former PGA of America president shows how golf's five families work and takes you behind the scenes of Tom Watson's Ryder Cup captaincy. While serving as a golf tell-all that only genuinely exposes a few PGA of America officers as short-sighted given the absurdity of his offense, the book never makes you want to run for the shower. In fact, it's often hard to put down thanks to Bishop's brisk, breezy style that only occasionally slows down.

The book documents Bishop's extraordinarily productive two years as PGA President, which saw the organization's profile raised and the membership defended by Bishop. Things have flat-lined since with the PGA and it's little wonder that the downward trend coincides with Bishop's removal with 28-days to go.

Ted answers a few questions via email below. You can buy Unfriended here at Amazon that includes a Kindle edition, or should you support non-Amazon retailers and want a signed copy from Ted, visit this page.

Also, Ted recently joined us on ShackHouse pre-Ryder Cup. Here is The Ringer's page for the show.

GS: What was your goal in writing this book?

TB: My departure as the President of the PGA of America is unprecedented and historic. Political correctness has taken on a life of its own with the 2016 Presidential election and it makes my impeachment look even more bizarre. Unfriended was simply an opportunity for me to tell my side of the story with no filters from anyone, including the media. It was also a chance for me to share some of the great stories and memories that I have been privileged to be part of in golf.    

GS: Did the PGA Of America attempt to stop the book from being published?

TB: The PGA made it difficult to write and publish my book. Ultimately, I had to seek the services of Levine, Koch, Sullivan & Schulz, one of the top First Amendment firms in the U.S. My lawyers determined that I had not violated any of my confidentiality or fiduciary duties to the PGA. That allowed me to press on with the book. I was fortunate that Classics of Golf publishing stuck with me through the PGA threats. In the end, I allowed the PGA to preview the book before it was published. In my opinion, that validates the integrity of the content in Unfriended.  

GS: What’s the feedback been like since you published?

TB: People tell me the book is extremely interesting, entertaining and easy to read. They enjoy being "inside the ropes" on things such as the Ryder Cup plus getting to know the biggest names in golf like Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Tim Finchem, Donald Trump, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Golfweek said that the book "raises the curtain on the insular world of those who rule the game and offers rare insights." 

But, I would also say that the politics in golf have worked against Unfriended to some degree. There is no question that certain media outlets won't touch the book because they don't want to get sideways with the PGA of America. That's too bad because the book does not reflect poorly on the PGA. People need to give Unfriended a chance. I suppose the title might have given some readers the wrong impression about the book's message, but Unfriended is a pretty fitting way to describe what happened to me.   

GS: The book opens as a firsthand account of how not to handle a modern media crisis, which you openly share. Was this a bit of therapeutic writing or your effort to help someone down the road in a similar situation?

TB: It was definitely therapeutic to a degree, but the first couple of chapters were also very painful for me because I had to relive the events when I wrote about my departure. You are absolutely correct about helping other people out. Unfriended is far more than a golf book. It's a case study on corporate media relations, political correctness and social media usage. I would like to use the book as a spring board to speak at the corporate level about the responsibilities of leadership in the 21st Century. There are many valuable lessons that I can share and they are very interesting given the people that I associated with in golf.     

GS: The account of the 2014 Ryder Cup is particularly interesting and puts the U.S. performance in good perspective. You also detail the beginnings of the Task Force concept, but now in hindsight you think it was unnecessary?

TB: The Ryder Cup Task Force was absolutely necessary. We had to change our approach and it obviously paid off with a U.S. victory this year. PGA Tour players are A-3 members of the PGA of America and they deserved a greater voice when it came to the Ryder Cup. That being said, I will always defend the PGA of America on its choice of past Ryder Cup Captains. However, Larry Nelson and Hale Irwin are certainly glaring omissions from several decades ago.  

GS: Have you gotten a thank you from the Task Force you helped start, post-2016 Ryder Cup?  

TB: Phil Mickelson left me a voice mail after Hazeltine and said, "I like the fact that you went out on a limb and brought the Task Force together even though you are not getting a lot of credit for that. It's a whole different feel than I have ever experienced before in my 20 years prior. l will never forget that first call I had from you about it. It's just one Ryder Cup, but we have something to build on now thanks to you." I appreciated that from Phil.  

GS: You dealt with Donald Trump quite a bit during your tenure as President and speak highly of the interactions you had with him. What should the USGA and PGA of America do, if anything, with regard to events hosted at his courses? I was disappointed when the PGA chose not to play the Grand Slam at Trump LA.

TB: At the time, I thought that was a mistake.

It has been surprising to me that more of the media are not asking the PGA questions about the 2017 Senior PGA at Trump D.C. and the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster in 2022 given his past comments that are certainly degrading to women. As the guy who was exiled from the PGA for calling Poulter a 'lil girl, I have been surprised that the PGA has softened its stance on political correctness with Mr. Trump.

But, like Mr. Trump, we have all done things or said things that we certainly would not want the public to know about. Trump has great courses and is a great host- so I say play on!

Inevitable: Europe May Take Task Force Inspiration!

As the timeline takes shape for Europe to select its next Ryder Cup captain--Paul McGinley says Christmastime for the Thomas Bjorn to likely get the job according to G.C. Digital--the 17-11 losers at Hazeltine may be taking inspiration from the vaunted American Task Force.

Derek Lawrenson writes for the Daily Mail about Europe realizing it may not be fielding its best team, with Alex Noren serving as the latest reminder by winning his third European Tour title.

Though the discussion could get awkward...

Barring last-minute manoeuvrings, expect them to appoint Thomas Bjorn — and if anyone should know the time is right for change, it is the Dane.

Bjorn benefited from the failings of the current qualifying system when he made the team at Gleneagles.

He won the first qualifying event in Switzerland, then the Nedbank Challenge at the back end of 2013 - and was still hanging on to a place despite a single top-three finish over the next 10 months.

He then struggled in Scotland, contributing a half-point. Yes, it is true the Americans putted far better than the Europeans at Hazeltine and that is why they won. But it is also true that players bang in form invariably do.

Random Lessons From The 2016 Ryder Cup

--Match play is more interesting than stroke play. Particulary when we have so few matches and can focus on the dynamics of a match. Couple that with a team component and the Ryder Cup continues to be golf's most engaging, thrilling and fascinating event. Which is why most folks running the game wants to give us more stroke play.

--This was another reminder that team match play must be contested in Tokyo 2020. As nice as the Olympic golf turned out, Rio's individual stroke play's dramatic ending paled in comparison to the Ryder Cup.

--Experience does not necessarily matter. Darren Clarke's two experience picks were 1-6. Thomas Pieters, selected only because he forced the Captain's hand, was 4-1. Rookies on a squad that won 11 points were 7-9-1. American rookies Ryan Moore and Brooks Koepka earned five points for USA.

--The PGA of America badly oversold the event, just as it did at Medinah. Throw in no cut-off for alcohol sales, leading to angry fans who couldn't see the already limited action. This led to terrible treatment of our guests and an embarrassing international narrative that required a (way too late) admonishment which helped matters Sunday.

--No one should Tweet after 11 p.m. and a few consoling beverages. Especially when you've had a week like he had.

--Course setup is not easy. But 18 center-cut holes? Strange.

--Hazeltine's membership sacrificed their club and hosted to perfection. Every member encountered could not have been nicer or more welcoming. The members hit shots off of mats in August and closed the course on Labor Day so that Chris Tritabaugh could present conditions so good, no match would ever be impacted by faulty turf.

Handicapping The Next Ryder Cup Captain's Race

Sadly for admirers of petty politicking and backstabbing the races look to have 1/5 favorites. Bust we mustn't give up hope.

According to Golfweek's Alistair Tait, the oddsmakers will install Thomas Bjorn as the overwhelming favorite.

A separate committee consisting of the three immediate past captains, a player from the tournament committee and the European Tour chief executive now decides who leads Europe’s Ryder Cup charge. That committee will lean heavily toward Bjorn.

Clarke, Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal are the committee’s three immediate past captains. Bjorn, 45, served as a vice captain under all three. He’s also played on three winning teams (1997, 2002 and 2014), compiling a 3-4-2 record.

I'll pause for a moment to let the goosebumps subside.

As we know, the Europeans have had their share of captaincy drama and sought to stabilize the system. But a resounding 17-11 loss might just handicap Bjorn.

Andrew Coltart makes a case for Ian Poulter, who will be 42 in 2018, to bring his unique blend of Ryder Cup passion and success to the proceedings. Poulter became a 2016 driver vice captain after a season-ending injury and successfully got through the week at Hazeltine without running over a spectator. 

Poulter is 80-1, perhaps because Derek Lawrenson quotes him in a Daily Mail wrap of the Cup's performers as saying he's eager to get back to his playing career. The rest:

On the U.S. side, Kevin Van Valkenburg at ESPN.com considers how Jim Furyk struck all of the right notes and it became clear that the next U.S.A. captain in Paris 2018 was at Hazeltine. Task force honcho Phil Mickelson was already plotting strategy for the captain, according to Love.

In the post-match celebration, Love said while the win obviously meant a great deal to him, one of the things he was most proud of this year was developing (with Woods and Mickelson and other titans of American golf) an approach the U.S. can use going forward, for years to come.

"We started this process well over a year and a half ago," Love said. "And we're sitting there on the 18th green watching the last few matches come in, and Phil is already explaining what's going to happen in Paris."

Only the task force knows who will get to spend a lot of time in Paris, but in ESPN's four-ball, Bob Harig mentions this.

Harig: If you go by how the task force laid out the plan for the future, it will be Furyk. He was a Presidents Cup assistant last year as well as an assistant at the Ryder Cup. You can expect him to be an assistant for Stricker at the Presidents Cup next year. Furyk has played on numerous U.S. teams. It sets him up to get the gig in France.

Task Force, we are living in your world. Just let us know who you annoint the next captain.

NBC's Ryder Cup Final Round Rating: 3.4, Peaks At 6.4 Million

The Ryder Cup ratings news is mixed, with Golf Channel enjoying a historic day on Friday, while the weekend was down a bit since 2012 at Medinah. The reasons? It could be that these matches were without Tiger, with  sooner ending and with millions of cords cut in the four years since the last domestic Cup.

According to SBD, the 3.4 rating was down 17% from 2012's 4.1 rating. That puts the Ryder Cup behind the U.S. Open final round rating (3.8), and just barely ahead of The Open Championship among the big events. The Open aired much earlier in the day than the Ryder Cup.

The full release and overnight numbers:

NBC Sports’ Coverage of 2016 Ryder Cup Sunday Garners 4.3 Million Average Viewers, Peaking at 6.4 Million as U.S. Team Clinched a Decisive 17-11 Victory
 
Golf Channel Posts Most-Watched Day Ever with Coverage of Day 1 of Ryder Cup on Friday, Sept. 30
 
NBC Sports Group’s comprehensive coverage of the U.S. Team’s decisive 17-11 victory at the 2016 Ryder Cup concluded Sunday on NBC with 4.3 million average viewers and a 2.72 U.S. household rating (Noon-6 p.m. ET) according to Nielsen Fast Nationals.  For average viewers, the 2016 Ryder Cup Sunday at Hazeltine National Golf Club outside Minneapolis was +95% vs. 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland (7 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. ET); -22% vs. 2012 at Medinah outside Chicago (Noon-6:33 p.m. ET); and +2% vs. 2008 at Valhalla outside Louisville (12:30-6:07 p.m. ET), the last time the United States won the Ryder Cup.
 
Viewership on Sunday peaked with 6.4 Million average viewers from 5-5:15 p.m. ET as Ryan Moore clinched the winning point in Match 7 of 12 at approximately 5:12 p.m. ET, 45 minutes before the conclusion of coverage. In comparison, 2012 at Medinah peaked between 6-6:15 p.m. ET as Europe’s Martin Kaymer capped one of the greatest comebacks in Ryder Cup history by winning the 11th match of 12 to win 14 ½ - 13 ½.
 
Additional NBC Sports Ryder Cup highlights:

·       Across all three days, the 2016 Ryder Cup totaled 35.1 million live minutes, 487,000 unique devices, and an average minute audience of 22,000 across all digital platforms.  The average minute audience of 22,000 users ranks as the highest for any NBC and Golf Channel event on record (NBC’s inaugural coverage of The Open had an average minute audience of 18,000).

·       Golf Channel’s Live From the Ryder Cup on Sunday evening following play posted a .31 overnight rating (6-9:15 p.m. ET), +121% vs. 2014 at Gleneagles and +82% vs. 2012 at Medinah.

·       On Friday with Day 1 of the Ryder Cup, Golf Channel posted its most-watched day in history, since the network was founded by Arnold Palmer more than 21 years ago, with 673,000 average viewers. Golf Channel was the No. 1 cable sports network by 319% in Total Day.

No Win: Setting Up A Ryder Cup Course

Cara Robinson and I summed up the Justin Rose/course setup comments on Morning Drive today if you want the quick version.

However, the subject is worth delving into on multiple fronts:

A) how setup effects matches

B) the entertainment side

C) how hole locations are used to thwart distance

We knew from 2012 post-mortems that Team USA lamented a 17th hole pin placement that favored Europe. So this time around the task force Task Force "Task Force" 2016 Ryder Cup winning-TASK FORCE set parameters (low rough, fast greens) and left the rest to the PGA of America's Kerry Haigh.

While Hazeltine is strategically no Old Course, it was shocking Sunday to see almost no interesting hole locations. Nearly were all centered and whatever angles of importance there are at Hazeltine were rendered useless.

Rees Jones' par-3 17th features a strange, clumsily-constructed green complex with almost no character, only a few intriguing hole locations and zero interest if it were not set by a lake. Yet, somehow Sunday, the hole location induced zero risk-reward element in flirting with the water.

Justin Rose summed all of this up in his post-round comments:

Setup-wise, this course can be as tough as you want it to be, there's no doubt about it. I think today, I think if we were all to be honest about it, I thought the setup was incredibly weak. I thought it was very much a Pro-Am feel in terms of the pin placements. They were all middle of the green.

I don't quite understand that to be honest with you, world-class players, 12 world-class players here and 12 world-class players here in 30 minutes time, and we want to showcase our skills. We want to be tested. For example, the water holes out there, all the pins were as far away from the water as possible.

I mean, the pin on 17 is an absolute, you know, a joke. It's a 9-iron into the middle of the green and you stiff it. So with a match on the line, you kind of feel like you want to have something -- you want a player to step up a little bit more than they have to.

Even 18, if you hit a good drive down there, you've got a wedge into the green, and if you hit a wedge to the middle of the green, you're within 12-foot of the pin. So I just felt coming down the stretch, it was a little soft.

Some saw this as sour grapes, but Rose seemed to be speaking as a veteran of match play who understands what kind of dynamics might be introduced when the course is a third element.

Rory McIlroy is quoted by GolfDigest.com's Brian Wacker as lamenting the hole locations when combined with this week's low rough, but McIlroy also ultimately chalks up the situation to home field advantage.

“Bad tee shots weren’t getting punished as much as maybe they should have been."

Rickie Fowler, who beat Rose Sunday, defended the setup when asked.

Q. In the European presser a few minutes ago, Justin Rose said that he -- he was very critical of the setup. He said it was weak and considered it to be similar to a Pro-Am. Your thoughts on that? Did you sense that from him? What were your thoughts on the setup?

PHIL MICKELSON: (Laughing).

RICKIE FOWLER: The setup was, I don't think it was easy by any means. Him and I didn't play as well as we would have liked to. We didn't make many birdies on both sides. I felt like it was an even match between the two of us. Obviously, as you could see, no one was ever more than 1-up.

It was easier for some; this guy next to me (turning to Phil) he made a few birdies. He's been playing well all week. I wouldn't say that the setup was easy, by any means.

I thought that the PGA did well all week, Kerry Haigh and the staff. Depending on whether it be a foursomes or a fourball match and then into singles, they did a good job preparing the golf course, getting it in the right condition and with where the hole locations were.

Obviously when it comes down to singles, it's fair. Everyone's playing the same ones. So I thought it was a good setup today and it worked out just fine for us.

And there is the Ryder Cup course setup conundrum. Whether it's the Golf Gods, karma or just simple overanalysis, getting cute with setup can be unproductive. Try to do too much--the USA has tried the high-rough, narrow fairway approach too--it backfires.

Erring on the side of too little means taking the setup role and some strategy out of the equation, which seems like a better way to go than trying to be clever.

On the entertainment front, players were allowed to make a ton of birdies, exciting for fans and interesting to watch on TV. This is, after all, an exhibition. We were entertained.  And unlike in a penal setup, players were winning holes through their play and rarely by the mistakes of their opponent. Easier and more shallow it may be, but also more rewarding to watch.

Finally, and this is in no way to detract from the 63s that Sergio and Phil would have posted in their 19-birdie battle Sunday, but we got to see with a round of golf featuring a bunch of "pro-am" pins on immaculate greens, today's players can render a course harmless. It was a reminder of just how much tucked hole locations are used not to offset distance gains.

So the Ryder Cup proved entertaining because we got to see what today's players could do on a once-massively difficult course without facing pin placements designed to prevent birdies.

Made America Great Again: Team USA Wins The 41st Ryder Cup

My quick take before writing up some thoughts on the epic Phil-Sergio match I was privileged to watch from beginning to end:

--Team USA pulled more correct strings and used its depth to ultimately prevail handily.

--Darren Clarke's strong views on experience backfired with the performances of Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.

--Hazeltine National works very well as a Ryder Cup venue because it lent enough interest to the action and thanks to the amazing conditioning by Chris Tritabaugh's team, never in any way negatively impacted the matches. Kerry Haigh's ultra-safe Sunday holes looked more like a pro-am setup, but were probably almost too bland. Better to err that way than the other way around.

--The Task Force. Our American heroes!

2016 Ryder Cup Singles Sunday, This And That

The day has arrived and while Team USA's chances look promising for an early win, I think most of us selfishly would love to see this one draw out as long as possible. The players and their team squads have given us all we can ask for from an entertainment perspective, now we just need the fans to only be a story because they are just that loud, and all will be well.

The PGA of America issued this statement at 10:30 am local time regarding the fans:

STATEMENT BY PGA OF AMERICA

This week we’ve seen some of the largest and most exciting Ryder Cup crowds ever.
Minnesota is home to some of the best sports fans in the country and we are so grateful for their enthusiastic support and warm hospitality.
 
Rooted in the ideals of sportsmanship and international goodwill, the Ryder Cup is about having a spirited passion for not only the victory, but for the game of golf.  
 
We are encouraging all spectators on Sunday to be passionate and support their team in a way that is respectful to those around them, the players, and the Ryder Cup.  Our security staff will continue to enforce a zero tolerance policy, removing from the course any fans who are disruptive in any way, including the use of vulgar or profane language directed at the players.
 
We look forward to a strong finish today that reflects the spirit of the Ryder Cup and provides a positive experience for all.

Alex Myers with the sign posting for fans to back up the statement.

Kevin Casey with a roundup of the lowlights from Sergio and Rory.

Bob Harig at ESPN.com is puzzled by the Rory McIlroy vitriol by fans.

Captain Mickelson clutched up Friday and he sure does sounding like he's calling shots, Brian Wacker notes.

Karen Crouse says Thomas Pieters joins the likes of Nicolas Colsaerts, Philip Walton, Phillip Price and Ignacio Garrido in wreaking Ryder Cup havoc, and the Belgian also joins the tradition of another European connecting "effortlessly" with his teammates.

Jaime Diaz sees the Europeans as looking a bit like the San Antonio Spurs.

A recent case was last season’s San Antonio Spurs, so long anchored by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker, getting run out the gym in the NBA playoffs by a younger, faster and ultimately better Oklahoma Thunder team, as the venerable Greg Popovich let the beat down play out as if bound by sacred ritual.

The matchups, which as I noted, Davis Love has had much experience with in situations like we see today.


Follow scoring here.

Captain's Pick Report (Don't Look, Russell Knox)

Of course the Captain's don't hit any of the shots and we have another day to go, but...

Davis Love's captain's picks through two days of the Ryder Cup, with Sunday singles remaining:


Rickie Fowler 1-1
Matt Kuchar 2-1
J.B. Holmes 1-1
Ryan Moore 1-1


Darren Clarke's picks:

Lee Westwood 0-2
Martin Kaymer 0-3
Thomas Pieters 3-1


Do recall that Thomas Pieters was the third choice.

Will A Few Fans Ruin The 2016 Ryder Cup Outcome?

It was a glorious Saturday of Ryder Cup golf. All of the usual ingredients were in action to produce a day of drama unlike anything else in the sport. But the looming sense of an impending debacle can't be ignored.

There is nothing wrong with rooting and cheering after a ball has been struck. Hope for your team. Hope for America!

But then there is what we've seen all too often at Hazeltine during the 2016 Ryder Cup: fans gradually interfering with the competition by (A) making noise or comments as a player is preparing to play, or (B) resorting to vile language and heckling. An example:

 

There were ejections Saturday according to NBC's Dan Hicks, but the mostly-nice people of Minnesota are in danger of having their Ryder Cup tainted by an incident that impacts the matches. The American players and their entourages, who have put themselves in position to win, could have the outcome tainted if the situation is not reigned in.

Cutting off alcohol sales by noon tomorrow would help. The PGA of America undoubtedly has weighed the risk-reward elements, and plans to go for the green no matter how discouraging the signs.

A few Tweets from Sunday, including this from Christine Brennan who filed this story with Martin Rogers about the Rory McIlroy incident. 

A video of the incident as well.