Koepka Rises To No. 1 In World Golf Rankings

Brooks Koepka’s four-shot win at the CJ Cup propelled him to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time. It also created a different kind of first in OWGR history.

Koepka kept alive a musical chairs situation in the top spot the likes that has never been seen before. For the first time since the ranking’s inception in 1986, the current top four (Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Justin Thomas) is comprised of players who all made it to No. 1 in the same year.

“It’s amazing to go World No. 1 on a win,” Koepka said after pulling away from the field in South Korea. “I think is something I’ve always wanted to do. I always wanted to earn my way to No. 1 in the world, and I felt like if I played and won, that would be exactly how I could draw it up. To do that this week has been special.”

It’s also just the second time that four different players ascended to No. 1 in the same year. The only other instance occurred in 1997 when Greg Norman, Tom Lehman, Tiger Woods, and Ernie Els all spent time in the top spot.

Overall, Koepka, 28, is the 23rd player to be No. 1 in the OWGR and the 11th in the past eight years.

Source: www.golfdigest.com

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How The ‘Mulligan’ Got Its Name

It is arguably one of the few sports terms believed to be named after a person, and with ramifications beyond the border of a course and into politics and daily life.

You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the benefits of a Mulligan – the term is now widely used to describe any “do-over,” or second chance after initial failure.

Of course, the rules of golf forbid the Mulligan, though it’s become part of the game. Some golfers apply their own “rules” that the Mulligan will be in “play” once per round, or just on the No. 1 tee.

So, where and when did the Mulligan begin in golf? Well, that depends.

The USGA, and supported by research by GriffGolf.com, found the Mulligan became rooted in the game’s lexicon sometime between the late 1920s and mid-1930s. During that period, Canadian-born amateur David Bernard Mulligan had established himself as a prominent member of clubs that included Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

In the late 1920s, Mulligan had a regular club foursome, which he often drove to the course in a 1920s vintage Briscoe, a touring car.

Once on the first tee, the story goes, his partners allowed him to hit a second ball after mishitting his drive. Mulligan complained that his hands were still numb after driving rough roads and a bumpy Queen Victoria Jubilee Bridge (now Victoria Bridge).

Mulligan joined Winged Foot Golf Club sometime between 1932 and 1933. A generation later, in July 1985, journalist Don Mackintosh interviewed Mulligan for a column, “Around the Sport Circuit.”

Said Mulligan: “I was so provoked with myself that, on impulse, I stooped over and put down another ball. The other three looked at me with considerable puzzlement, and one of them asked, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m taking a correction shot,’ I replied.”

His playing partner asked what he called that.

“Thinking fast, I told him that I called it a ‘Mulligan.’ They laughed and let me play a second ball. After the match, which Mulligan and Spindler won by one point, there was considerable discussion in the clubhouse about that free shot.

“It all worked out amicably enough, but after that it became an unwritten rule in our foursome that you could take an extra shot on the first tee if you weren’t satisfied with your original. Naturally, this was always referred to as ‘taking a Mulligan.’ From that beginning, I guess the practice spread, and the name with it.”

Such a tale appears to be on solid footing, though USGA research hints there’s wiggle room for another “Mulligan.”

John A. “Buddy” Mulligan, a locker room attendant in the 1930s at Essex Fells CC, N.J., would finish cleaning the locker room and, if no other members appeared, play a round with assistant professional, Dave O’Connell and a club member, Des Sullivan (later golf editor of The Newark Evening News).

One day, Mulligan’s opening tee shot was bad and he beseeched O’Connell and Sullivan to allow another shot since they “had been practicing all morning,” and he had not. After the round, Mulligan proudly exclaimed to the members in his locker room for months how he received an extra shot.

The members loved it and soon began giving themselves “Mulligans” in honor of Buddy Mulligan. Sullivan began using the term in his golf pieces in The Newark Evening News. NBC’s “Today Show” ran the story in 2005.

Thus, a “Mulligan” found its niche along in our culture. Its popularity thrives because of who we are – lovers of a good story and a term that somehow fits. It thrives as we are reminded in a classic line from the 1962 John Ford Western film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

Source: www.pga.com

Jordan Spieth Commits to First Career PGA Tour Fall Event in the U.S.

Jordan Spieth failed to meet the PGA Tour’s minimum appearance requirement last season when he did not to advance to the Tour Championship. Perhaps making sure he doesn’t fall short of that number again, the three-time major winner has committed to his first career fall event in the United States.

On Friday, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open announced that Spieth would be in this year’s field at the start of November.

“I’m really excited to be playing in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open,” Spieth told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The event has been on my radar for a while, as the course has a great reputation on tour and I absolutely love the affiliation with the hospital. It’s going to be a really fun week in a great city.”

Although not meeting the 25-event perquisite is subject to a “major penalty” and fine, Andy Pazder, the chief of operations for the PGA Tour, said in Atlanta last month that the tour and Spieth had “come to a resolution” regarding the provision and promised, “I’m not going to be able to share the details of that, [but] I will say the result is something that you will see next season. It’s resolved in a way that’s going to be a win for our tournaments, our fans and golf in general.”

Other commits to the Shriners include Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Patrick Cantlay (who is the defending champion). The Shriners begins on November 1 at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.

Source: golfdigest.com

Improve Your Game From Tee To Green With These Easy Tweaks

Everybody wants to improve their skills. You want a better swing, the ability to hit more short-game shots and a pretty putting stroke—I get it. But if I was riding in your cart and coaching you the next time you played, I’d cut at least five shots off your score by fixing things that don’t have all that much to do with your swing mechanics. I’d focus on simpler stuff—the things that cause most players to bleed strokes over and over. I’d help you make better decisions off the tee, show you how to get out of trouble on the approach, and take a bunch of risk out of your short game. With those tweaks, you’ll be playing much closer to your potential with the game you have on the day you’re teeing it up—which should be your goal whether you’re a 20-handicapper or a tour player. Heck, if your course has a brutal starting hole like mine does, you might even save five shots by the time you get to the second tee! — With Matthew Rudy

DRIVER

Here are two ways to save strokes off the tee, because the driver can do damage to your scorecard by slicing shots, or using it when another club would be a better choice. If you slice, it’s probably because you’re body is moving too fast in relation to your arms. Change that by slowing down your body’s rotation toward the target while speeding up your arm swing. If you keep your arms moving fast, you’ll close the clubface before impact and start hitting that draw everybody wants. The other stroke saver is to use your 3-wood off the tee (below). It has more loft than the driver, making it more forgiving by reducing sidespin. And many 3-woods are adjustable like drivers, so you can tune in the ball flight you want while sacrificing only a little distance. Fifteen less yards in the fairway is preferable to hitting it longer but into somebody’s back yard.

IRONS

The secret to saving strokes is controlling the ball better. That means avoiding the grounders that don’t advance it very far and successfully getting out of trouble in one shot. Curving the ball intentionally around an obstacle is useful but hard to execute without the right plan. Start with club selection. To play a hook, use clubs with more loft (6-iron or shorter). A club with too little loft will likely drill the ball into the ground. Conversely, to hit a slice, you’ll want to use a club with less loft (hybrids and long irons). Extra loft tends to reduce the spin you need to slice a ball around trouble. As far as technique, keep it simple. The club should be open in relation to your swing path at impact to slice it and closed to hook it. The more open or closed it is in relation to the path, the more it will curve. That means you don’t have to do anything funky with your swing to curve it.

CHIPPING

You might laugh when you hear this, but my best advice about chipping from a good lie can be summed up in one word: don’t. If you’re in fairway grass with an open line to the flag, use your putter instead of a wedge. Modern agronomy has made this shot the no-brainer choice. Why risk chunking or skulling a wedge off the tightly manicured grass many courses now have. The only reason most players aren’t good at putting from off the green is because they don’t practice it, and they do a poor job getting the ball near the hole. To improve your distance control, make two practice swings—one much bigger than you think you need, and one less than you think you need—and then make your real stroke a size in between. You’ll quickly start calibrating the speed, and I can promise you that your worst putt will be way better than your worst chip.

BUNKER

The irons you play probably aren’t the same ones tour players use. Neither is the shaft in your driver. Those players use specialized equipment for their skills, including wedges with less bounce designed to take advantage of their precision in the sand. You, on the other hand, need to use a wedge in the bunker that will let you expand your margin for error. Go with one that has lots of bounce—12 degrees or more. Bounce is the feature that keeps the club from digging too deeply in the sand. You want to skim right through it. When you get the right club in your hands, make a swing concentrating on throwing a six-inch circle of sand around the ball out of the bunker. If you don’t swing very fast, the extra bounce will give you the forgiveness to strike the sand several inches behind the ball and still hit a good bunker shot. Think of how many shots that could save you.

 

Source: golfdigest.com

Kevin Tway takes Safeway Open in a playoff!

To earn his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday at the Safeway Open, Kevin Tway had an uphill battle, entering the final round three shots back of leader Brandt Snedeker. After bogeying two of his first four holes, the task became virtually impossible.

But Tway remained steady, slowly creeping his way back up the leader board and getting some much needed help from Snedeker, who looked completely lost down the stretch. By the time Tway had reached the 17th tee, even without his A-game, the 30-year-old son of eight-time PGA Tour winner and major champion Bob Tway, still had an opportunity to win the tournament. Two clutch birdies on the 17th and 18th holes gave him a one-under 71, enough to get into a three-way playoff with Snedeker and Ryan Moore at 14-under 274. Tway kept it rolling in sudden death, making birdie on all three playoff holes to claim his maiden tour title.

Moore came up big late in his round as well, grabbing birdies on three of his final four holes to put him in position for a sixth career victory. But his birdie effort on the third playoff hole stopped inches short of the cup, opening the door for Tway to win with a birdie. The T-2 finish is Moore’s first since the 2016 Tour Championship, where he also lost in a playoff just six weeks after winning the John Deere Classic.

As for Snedeker, this loss will sting, especially considering he had lead the tournament by five strokes at one point on Sunday. His T-2 finish is his fifth inside the top eight in his last 11 events.

Source: golfdigest.com

2018 Ryder Cup: Anatomy Of A Breakdown

It’s back to the drawing borad for the U.S. Ryder Cup contingent after another miserable effort in Europe. Maybe they should throw out the drawing board, too.

The United States was no match for Europe in the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, losing 17½-10½, the second largest setback for the Americans in the history of the matches. The loss was even bigger than the supposed train wreck Tom Watson oversaw in 2014 at Gleneagles, in Scotland. That squad, without Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson, lost 16½-11½, a defeat so dyspeptic that the PGA of America convened a special Task Force to address U.S. shortcomings in the biennial competition that Europe now has won nine of the last 12 times.

Of course, there no longer is a Task Force; decisions run through a Ryder Cup Committee. It’s difficult to figure out what decisions they could have made differently that would have changed this outcome. Europe’s dozen players outplayed their American counterparts, hitting more fairways, making more putts, converting more birdies.

“At the end of the day I tip my cap to the European side,” said U.S. captain Jim Furyk. “My team fought hard. I’m proud of them. I would take these 12 guys back into this tournament at any time. It’s just that their team played great. Every time we tried to put a little pressure on them, they responded.”

Conversely, the U.S. did not respond. It never seemed in sync, even when winning three out of four matches in the opening four-ball session. It just appeared to be hard work for three days, and in the end, the Americans had no answers to a spirited European defense of its home soil, extending America’s frustrations abroad for at least another four years.

What went wrong? Why did America, which has lost six straight times in Europe dating back to 1997, fall so far short? A few clues:

The Fatigue Factor: Eleven Americans competed in the Tour Championship in Atlanta. Europe had five. While this is not anything new for the United States—it sure didn’t affect the squad in 2016—it made a difference this week when they had to travel abroad. It appeared to be especially hard on 40-somethings Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, the latter who won the season finale, always a draining enterprise. The two captain’s picks, 48 and 42 years old, respectively, went a combined 0-6 this week, leading to a seventh team loss in eight Ryder Cups as teammates. Both looked sluggish and out of sorts. They just didn’t have it after playing seven of the last nine weeks.

“I think the fatigue would be making an excuse, and we’re not making excuses,” Furyk said.

“It’s disappointing, because I went 0-4, and that’s four points to the European Team,” said Woods, who was competing in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2012. “And I’m one of the contributing factors to why we lost the Cup, and it’s not a lot of fun.”

He’s a big reason, though more because of things out of his control. See the next two items.

The Tiger Effect on Team USA: It continues to be a net negative when he plays. Woods can’t seem to bring his A-game to these matches, and after an 0-4 record at Le Golf National, he slipped to 13-21-3 overall. His two partners this week, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau, were of little help in the team games. He now has had 14 different partners in Ryder Cup four-ball and foursomes competition and is 9-19-1. He is the sun burning up those closest to his orbit.

The Tiger Effect on Team Europe: Woods isn’t currently No. 1 in the world like he had been many times in earlier Ryder Cup appearances, but he remains the man everyone wants to beat. And when Europe beats him, the satisfaction is unmistakable. Look at the emotion Jon Rahm exhibited after closing out Woods, 2 and 1, in singles. It appeared over the top. It was just an honest, visceral reaction that meant plenty to a player who has been influenced by the 14-time major winner. A Tiger scalp is a memory to savor. In the case of this Ryder Cup, it also was the catalyst to Europe’s comeback after losing the first three four-ball matches on Friday. When Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood rallied to beat Woods and Reed, it sparked a run of eight straight European wins, which is a record. The U.S. never recovered.

Putting: It always seems to come down to putting. The Europeans enjoyed a massive advantage in familiarization with the greens. USA came into the week with seven of their 12 players ranked among the top 44 this season in strokes gained/putting: Webb Simpson (sixth), Mickelson (10), Dustin Johnson (30), Woods (39), Rickie Fowler (40), Bryson DeChambeau (41) and Justin Thomas (44). Europe had one, Justin Rose at No. 17, and only four of the top 100 starting with Rory McIlroy at 85, Paul Casey (89) and Ian Poulter (97). Francesco Molinari was a staggering 181st in the statistic. And yet Europe dominated on the greens. Alex Noren, who won the 2018 French Open at Le Golf National, capped off this Ryder Cup, appropriately, by sinking a monster birdie putt at the last to beat DeChambeau, 1 up.

“I think the Europeans definitely did a good job on the golf course. They know it pretty well,” Furyk said. “It was set up well, they thought, in their favor. It was a tight golf course. Their players played very well. We’ve just got to tip our caps.”

The Buy-In Factor: This wasn’t supposed to be an issue. But it still is. The U.S. commissioned a Ryder Cup Task Force to get the players more involved in the process of how the team is assembled and organized, and it seemed to work well at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn. But if the U.S. Ryder Cup Committee and the players were fully invested, then more than six of the 12 players on the team should have seen Le Golf National’s Albatros Course before Tuesday. The U.S. was outplayed because it was out-prepared. In an era when most players either use NetJets or have their own airplanes, there’s no excuse to not make a scouting trip sometime in the last two years. Is it any surprise that rookie Justin Thomas was the leading U.S. scorer with four points when he was the only player who competed this year here in the French Open?

Picks: Furyk’s choices for his captain’s picks—Woods, Mickelson, DeChambeau and Tony Finau—scored two points, both by Finau. It was hard to argue against any of the choices, even Mickelson who deserved to be here after nearly qualifying automatically. Still, that doesn’t mean that Furyk should have selected his good friend. Ryder Cup, with five pressure-packed sessions compacted into three days, is a young man’s game; there’s simply no other way around it, and it’s been proven time and again. Mickelson’s experience counts for plenty, but the young legs of Xander Schauffele or Kyle Stanley, the latter who ranked sixth in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour this season and would have been well suited for the narrow course setup, almost assuredly would have counted for more.

Furyk said he looks forward to meeting with the Ryder Cup Committee soon to discuss next steps and review the factors that contributed to the thorough U.S. defeat. “I hope it’s as soon as possible,” he said. “I’ll definitely kind of go through some things in my head and probably work with the PGA of America and our Ryder Cup Committee, and we’ll move forward.”

Forward would be ideal—after at least two steps back.

Source: www.golfidgest.com

Tiger Woods Caps 2018 Season With Win at Tour Championship

ATLANTA – When the last chapter is penned in the groundbreaking and infinitely complicated life of Tiger Woods, Sept. 23, 2018, may get lost in the details.

His two-stroke victory at the Tour Championship on Sunday was impressive by any measure, but it wouldn’t qualify as his most dominant or his most clinical performance. If we’re being honest, his 80th PGA Tour bottle cap was like so many others, a battle of attrition that never allowed for a modicum of doubt.

There was a three-stroke lead to start the day, a birdie at the first to pad his advantage and a parade of nondescript pars that gave the season’s final round a marching band to nowhere feel. Given the gravity of what was a seminal moment in his career it felt so mundane, but then that’s always been the hallmark of his greatness.

After four back surgeries, four knee surgeries, an arrest for driving under the influence and more cringe moments than an episode of “America’s Got Talent,” this victory was so much more than the sum of its parts.

Social media was abuzz in the aftermath of Woods’ walk-off. From the depths of pain, pedestrian performances and poor choices Tiger put an exclamation point on what was already a successful return.

It had some calling this the greatest comeback in the history of sports, but then the car Woods was driving last Memorial Day only bounced off a few curbs, not a bus.

To be historically aware, Ben Hogan’s comeback after nearly dying in a car crash in 1949, a horrific event that was followed by a run that included eight major victories, should be considered the category leader on this front.

But as Tiger whipped a day’s worth of sweat from his face and considered his answer the more relevant question is where the 2018 Tour Championship ranks on his own lifetime resume.

“It’s certainly up there with obviously all the major championships I’ve won, Players, World Golf Championships. But this is under different circumstances,” said Woods, who closed with a 71 at East Lake for his first Tour victory since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. “I just didn’t know whether this would ever happen again.”

Woods is normally averse to this type of nostalgia, but even if he wanted to take a deeper dive it’s not a debate that lends itself to instant analysis. When your career has been a nonstop highlight reel of fist pumps and unforgettable moments there’s no easy way to rank greatness.

For some, the 1997 Masters, his first major championship, stands alone as a career high-water mark; while others may lean toward the 2000 U.S. Open where he lapped the field by 15 strokes.

“Those were special because of the way he did it,” said Butch Harmon, Tiger’s swing coach from August 1993 to August 2002. But for Harmon the Tour Championship was different. “He had a chance to win the last two majors. It’s impressive that just two years ago he couldn’t pitch the ball on the green. It’s not exactly Ben Hogan, but it’s along those lines.”

As far as clinical brilliance, most would say the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool is the benchmark. It was Tiger’s first victory after his father, Earl, died following a brutal bout with cancer and was nothing short of a ball-striking show.

“That was his best ball-striking tournament he’s ever had. That’s a different deal,” said Hank Haney, who served as Tiger’s second set of eyes from March 2004 to May 2010.

But it’s the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines that may stand as the competitive and physical pinnacle of Tiger’s career. On a broken leg with a torn ACL he endured 72 grueling holes to finish tied with Rocco Mediate and eventually prevailed on the first hole of a sudden death playoff after 18 holes on Monday.

“That’s No. 1, it’s not even close,” Haney said. “He didn’t win [at East Lake] with a broken leg. At the U.S. Open he won on one leg. It is unbelievable that he came back from four back operations, but once you’ve established that you’re back and you’re healthy you knew he’s going to win. A lot of things had to happen, he got off the prescription drugs and got his back healthy. But I felt like this was going to happen and he’s not done.”

But if the ’08 U.S. Open is the standard by which Tiger’s career will always be measured, his performance at East Lake deserves to be considered with a wider lens. This wasn’t about fairways hit or birdies made, this was about rounding a corner many never imagined he could.

At his darkest moments last year there was doubt he’d ever be able to swing a golf club again, never mind throw an 11-under total at the world’s best. The game had passed him by the critics claimed and even if he did find his way off the surgeon’s table the current cast and crew were a different breed who would be immune to his dominant ways and the aura he once held over the game.

This wasn’t Hoylake in ’06 or Pebble Beach in ’00, but in many ways it was better. There’s nothing better in sports than a comeback story and Tiger’s journey from a broken and burdened man to beaming on a final green is nothing short of a reinvention.

“The world is full of people who want to see a comeback story. We’re all coming back from something, so when you see someone do it inspires people to fight through it,” said Sean Foley, who stepped in for Haney in August 2010 and served as Woods’ swing coach until August 2014.

It was only last summer that the most common image of Tiger was a mug shot taken after his DUI arrest. The grainy image looking back at the world was a testament to how far he’d fallen, an unshaven and blurry-eyed shadow of the player who once seemed so untouchable. He couldn’t play golf, he couldn’t even ride in a golf cart his back hurt so bad, and his inability to do the one thing he was truly great at left Tiger to his own devices.

As he recovered from fusion surgery on his lower back he began to miss the game and the things that he’d done to transform it. As he returned, slowly at first before picking up the pace this summer, he allowed the world to see a different side, a player who was appreciative of what amounted to a final chance to be great.

There was emotion on Sunday and unbridled joy. His first victory in five years may defy assessment, but for Tiger there was so much more to his week in Atlanta than the history books could ever reveal.

“It’s totally different because of what he’s been through, but I’d have to put [his victory at East Lake] up there with one of his greatest victories ever because of what he’s been through, the mental and physical, the disgrace,” Harmon said.

Maybe the 2018 Tour Championship won’t go down as Tiger’s masterpiece when he hangs up his Nikes. Maybe what awaits will be the true measure of his genius.

“The greatest accomplishment in sports is going to be when he’s No. 1 again and that’s going to be pretty soon,” Haney said. “When he returns to No. 1 it won’t be a debate.”

With fans stacked five and six rows deep along every fairway, probably the biggest crowd East Lake has seen since Bobby Jones was stalking the rolling hills, Tiger played the script he invented, a bullish version of what Stewart Cink once called a prevent defense.

The only change to this all-too-familiar routine was the pregnant pause he allowed himself after putting out on the 18th hole, slamming his putter into the ground and raising his arms in triumph.

In a historic twist it was the same green where Jones, who pulled off an impressive comeback of his own once, ended his golf career. It was only apropos that Tiger would complete his comeback and restart his career on the same spot.

By: Rex Hoggard | Source: golfchannel.com

2018 Ryder Cup: The perfect player pairings for Paris

Now that the Ryder Cup teams are set, it’s time for captains Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn to finalize who will pair with whom?

There’s a lot that goes into finding the perfect pairings in these team events. Captains must consider playing styles, personalities and a variety of other factors. And while everyone would be interested to see a Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pairing, that’s probably not the most effective option for the U.S.

Now, we understand that both Ryder Cup teams have plenty of resources to help them formulate the perfect combinations. But just in case the captains are looking for some extra advice, here’s our recommendations on which players should pair up in Paris, and why.

Brentley Romine

U.S.

Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed: This is probably the easiest decision that Furyk has to make. This duo is 4-1-2 in the past two Ryder Cups, so even though Spieth might want to switch things up and partner with, say, Justin Thomas or Rickie Fowler, it’s best if he keeps his partnership with Reed. They are just too good together.

Tiger Woods-Bryson DeChambeau: While everyone on the U.S. team would love to pair with Woods, it seems as if DeChambeau, a three-time winner this season, will get the honor. The two have developed some chemistry this year through practice rounds and such. If there is anyone on the team as competitive as Woods, it’s DeChambeau, who had an excellent match-play record as an amateur, winning the 2015 U.S. Amateur and playing well for his country at the Walker Cup, Palmer Cup and World Amateur Team Championship.

Dustin Johnson-Brooks Koepka: The two gym buddies didn’t pair up until the final team session at Hazeltine. They lost to Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters in four-ball, 3 and 1, but showed some promise as a pairing. Johnson hasn’t played particularly well in Ryder Cups. Maybe competing alongside Koepka will spark something.

Phil Mickelson-Tony Finau: This will be Mickelson’s 12th straight Ryder Cup and at 48 years old, he doesn’t appear to have many more left as a player. He’s never won overseas, so he’ll be as motivated as ever to finally check that box off. Pairing him with the young and powerful Finau makes a lot of sense. The two played together at the Northern Trust a few weeks ago and Mickelson raved about Finau’s potential. Mickelson is also coming off a strong performance two years ago at Hazeltine, where he went 2-1-1.

Rickie Fowler-Justin Thomas: This is Thomas’ first Ryder Cup, but he isn’t the typical rookie, ranked fourth in the world and the defending PGA Tour Player of the Year. It’s no secret that he and Fowler are close, and their chemistry should produce results, especially in foursomes. They are similar players, possessing all-around games and gaining the most shots with their irons and putter.

Bubba Watson-Webb Simpson: This pairing worked very well in 2012 at Medinah, where the two went 2-1. They lost their opening session in 2014 and Simpson didn’t play again until singles. But Simpson is having his best season since 2012 – by a mile – and Watson, who has won three times this season, has regained some momentum of late. They could surprise in Paris.

EUROPE

Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose: Played three of four sessions together in 2016 – each of them opposite Spieth and Reed – and went 1-2, though their 5-and-4 Friday afternoon four-ball victory was mighty impressive. Also, they went 3-0 together at Gleneagles. This pairing is as safe a bet as any.

Rory McIlroy-Jon Rahm: McIlroy has seemed to embrace the role of taking a rookie under his wing after going 3-0 with Thomas Pieters at Hazeltine. Rahm is similar to Pieters on the course and McIlroy could help Rahm channel that passion into points.

Paul Casey-Tommy Fleetwood: Both players had some fun with the story of Fleetwood wanting to buy Casey’s extra set of Nike irons. And while it doesn’t look like Casey will loan the set to Fleetwood in Paris like he had joked about doing, the two Englishmen would make a nice pairing. Both are great iron players and similar personality types.

Ian Poulter-Tyrrell Hatton: Poulter’s great 2012 Ryder Cup showing came when he paired with Rose and McIlroy. However, after an 0-1-1 team performance in 2014 and not qualifying in 2016, Poulter likely needs a fresh partner. How about the fiery Hatton? The two teamed up to break a world record in a European Tour social video last year, and I could see Poulter as a perfect Ryder Cup role model for the emotional Hatton.

Alex Noren-Thorbjorn Olesen: I initially had Noren and Molinari teaming up, but felt that Sergio Garcia needed Molinari the most. Noren is a guy who could play with anyone. You never have to question his work ethic and though he and Olesen are rookies, they aren’t strangers to big moments. They also have similar games – Noren is a better driver of the golf ball, but they are pretty equal in other facets. Both putt it well, too.

Sergio Garcia-Francesco Molinari: Many of Garcia’s recent partners – Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Rafa Cabrera Bello – did not qualify. And while he paired with McIlroy three times in 2014, it seems as if McIlroy will again be tasked with motivating a rookie. Assuming that, it makes most sense to pair the struggling Garcia with a consistent presence like Molinari, who is a strong tee-to-green guy and proven on the Ryder Cup stage.

Kevin Casey

U.S.

Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed: What, I’m going to suggest breaking up this pair?? In seven Ryder Cup matches as a duo, Spieth and Reed have lost once – when the opposing team made nine birdies in 14 holes, no less. We know how electric and efficient this pairing is. No need to overthink this one.

Tiger Woods-Brooks Koepka: Look, I’m in no way against the TW-Bryson pairing that the vast majority are pointing toward (see above). Clearly the duo has rapport. But part of Woods’ surprisingly mediocre Ryder Cup record outside of singles is that it’s long been difficult to find him a comfortable partner. Partners being some form of intimidated or awestruck has played a role in that, in my opinion. DeChambeau would probably fall in the awestruck category. But Koepka wouldn’t. The evidence is right there from last month when Brooks was unfazed by a charging Tiger and won the PGA Championship. Koepka and Woods clearly have rapport as well (See: post-round greeting at the PGA) and man would their power, steely demeanors and games make up an intimidating pair for any European squad to come up against. This seems like a winning team on swagger alone.

Bryson DeChambeau-Webb Simpson: This would be a pairing that could sneak up on the Europeans and lull them into a false sense of security. Neither player flashes with booming drives, but both are incredibly efficient. I especially like them as a foursomes pairing, as DeChambeau is a supreme ball-striker and Simpson boasts an excellent short game.

Dustin Johnson-Justin Thomas: Yes, I’m breaking up “the gym buddies” pairing of DJ and Koepka. But I don’t see this as controversial in the least considering that pairing lost 3 and 1 (and it could’ve been easily worse) in their only Ryder Cup grouping. They did go 2-0 together at the Presidents Cup, but these two don’t have any semblance of the Spieth-Reed dominance in its results. Substituting Thomas in here keeps this as a fierce pairing of huge power hitters, so the intimidation is still real. Just have a feeling, too, that DJ and JT could mesh well as partners.

Phil Mickelson-Tony Finau: Who better to pair a Ryder Cup rookie bursting with talent than Lefty? Mickelson certainly knows what it’s like to be a hotshot young gun and has vast Ryder Cup experience, so he could serve as an extremely useful advisor in this pairing. I also think these two have like temperaments in that they like to think and play aggressive. They should fuel off each other, and with both in good form that is very dangerous for any opponent.

Bubba Watson-Rickie Fowler: You want Watson to feel comfortable, and he should with a friend and cool customer in Fowler. This group would have great chemistry, and if both are on form there may not be a team in this event that makes as many birdies.

EUROPE

Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose: That pairing that defeated Reed and Spieth with nine birdies in 14 holes? That would be Stenson and Rose, who demolished the pair 5 and 4 in that 2016 match. Overall, they are 4-2 together in the last two Ryder Cups and are as reliable a pair as any outside Spieth/Reed.

Rory McIlroy-Ian Poulter: This pairing has gone 1-0-1 in Ryder Cup competition. That win, if you recall, was the one that catalyzed the Miracle at Medinah in 2012, as Poulter birdied the final five holes in a Saturday afternoon four-ball match to give him and McIlroy a comeback 1-up win, cut the deficit to 10-6 and energize the Euros. McIlroy has really embraced playing the Ryder Cup with an outpouring of emotion and starred doing so in 2016. It’d be tough to find a more perfect pairing in that regard.

Paul Casey-Tommy Fleetwood: This would be similar to Stenson and Rose in the all-reliable mold. Fleetwood may be a rookie, but he has shown he can quickly get on track on big stages. Casey obviously has plenty of previous pedigree. This is not a duo you can fall asleep on for one second.

Jon Rahm-Tyrrell Hatton: This is probably my riskiest pairing choice, but it has high potential. These are both highly emotional young stars who could build off each others’ histrionics in the charged Ryder Cup atmosphere. Of course, there’s also the chance their incredible combination of emotion could lead to combustion. But it’s the Ryder Cup, go big or go home.

Alex Noren-Francesco Molinari: On the other side, this is the mellow pairing. Both players are stoic, like to play precise golf and tend to sneak under the radar. Together they make a dangerous and dangerously overlooked pairing.

Sergio Garcia-Thorbjorn Olesen: Remember when Garcia was a young up and comer who dominated in the Ryder Cup thanks in part to his incredible energy? Probably a good idea to pair the struggling Masters champion with someone who can bring back memories of that youthful exuberance. Rahm is a good candidate here then, but I like Olesen a little better. Rahm can get a little hard on himself, whereas Olesen can better provide that uplifting youthful energy that can help elevate Garcia. You also need someone in form here considering Garcia’s struggles, and Olesen is certainly that as he has four top-12 finishes in his last six starts.

SOURCE:  MSN

 

THERE ARE REASONS TO LOVE ALL 3 OF JIM FURYK’S RYDER CUP CAPTAIN’S PICKS

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. – Naming three of his four captain’s selections to round out his 2018 Ryder Cup squad, U.S. Captain Jim Furyk early Tuesday evening called upon the game’s hottest performer, the No. 2 putter on the PGA Tour this season and a 14-time major winner who has been the most dominant golfer of his generation.

Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were selected by Furyk as additions to the U.S. team that will compete in the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National outside Paris Sept. 28-30.

Woods, 42, didn’t know if he’d even compete again a year ago at this time, and now he’s headed to Paris to play in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2012. It will be his eighth Ryder Cup (he is 13-17-3 overall). Woods was asked if this could potentially be his most memorable of all.

“Absolutely,” Woods said. “To have an opportunity to go to Europe and to have an opportunity to win a Ryder Cup, and we haven’t done it in 25 years over there, and to be part of this group of guys to have that opportunity to go there, it’s exciting, it really is.”

With his three newest team members, Furyk added 126 PGA Tour victories to his team. Mickelson may be playing in his 12th Ryder Cup, but this was the first time he needed a captain’s pick to be part of it. DeChambeau and Thomas, the 2017 PGA champion and last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year, are the lone rookies on the U.S. team.

“I would have to say I’m extremely happy with the 11 players we have,” Furyk said. “(I’ve) got a lot of confidence in those players. I think we have some great chemistry. I think we have some great pairing opportunities. We’ve got some great veteran leadership and we’ve got some youth. It’s a well-rounded team, and we’ll go to work, get set to go.”

MORE: A look back at Tiger’s journey to captain’s pick

Woods already had been part of this team as a vice-captain, and though he won’t be shy to offer advice on the team and its pairings, he will relinquish that role now that he will be competing. Furyk named his final three assistants to join Davis Love III and Steve Stricker, adding David Duval, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

Furyk will round out his team by naming a 12th player on Monday morning, following the final round of the BMW Championship.

DeChambeau, who turns 25 on Sept. 16, captured The Memorial in June, but missed the cut at last month’s PGA Championship and finished ninth in the final Ryder Cup points standings. Faced with a challenge of showing his captain something special, DeChambeau rebounded with victories at The Northern Trust and Dell Technologies the last two weeks.

“Even after I won at Ridgewood, I still thought, ‘Man, I’ve got to play well at Boston just to show them that, yeah, I’m a contender and I’m going to keep doing the right things to be a valuable asset to the team,’ ” DeChambeau said. “This is about the team, and I wanted to be part of this experience so badly that I worked twice as hard. It showed, and it paid off.”

MORE: Social media reacts to Furyk’s picks

DeChambeau attended the Ryder Cup two years ago at Hazeltine as a spectator, leading then-U.S. Captain Davis Love III to do a double-take when he saw him in the gallery. This year’s captain, Furyk, said he was impressed not only that DeChambeau won back-to-back titles, but by the method in which he won.

“He took control and seized control of those tournaments and took big leads and was able to finish out tournaments,” Furyk said. “So I have to say, I guess, ‘Thanks’ –  you made it really easy on the captain.”

As did the others, really. Woods was second at the PGA Championship, shooting 64 on Sunday. Mickelson, 48, won for the first time since the 2013 Open Championship when he outdueled Thomas in a playoff at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in early March. He hasn’t posted a top-10 finish since the Wells Fargo Championship in May, but his play has been pretty consistent through the year. He has 11 finishes of T-15 or better in his 22 starts. His victory in Mexico was the 43rd of his career.

MORE: 9 final-day comebacks in Ryder Cup history

In addition to an incredible body of experience and his ability to lead, Mickelson can deliver something else this U.S. team could use: Quality putting. Mickelson ranks behind only Australian Jason Day this season in strokes gained: putting. In Monday’s final round of the Dell Technologies Championship, Mickelson holed 129 feet of putts.

Mickelson said he aims to accomplish something he never before has done in this event: Win away from the U.S.

“It’s going to be a great challenge because we know how strong the European side is and how well they play at home, but it’s a wonderful chance, an opportunity for us to do something I haven’t done or been a part of in my career, and would very much like to,” Mickelson said.

The three captain’s selections named by Furyk on Tuesday join eight players named after the PGA Championship who qualified for the team off a two-year points table: Brooks Koepka; Dustin Johnson; Justin Thomas; Patrick Reed; Bubba Watson; Jordan Spieth; Rickie Fowler; and Webb Simpson. Six of the 11 players are in their 20s, and all 11 players rank among the top 26 in the world (Woods is 26th).

One other dose of good news for Furyk on Tuesday was the return of Fowler to the PGA Tour after Fowler missed the first two FedEx Cup Playoffs events with a partial tear in his right oblique, an injury he first felt at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational prior to the PGA Championship. Fowler has been receiving treatment from a spinal neurosurgeon near home in Jupiter, Fla., and returned to practicing and playing at home last week.

The U.S. hasn’t won an away Ryder Cup since 1993, at The Belfry in England. European Captain Thomas Bjorn will round out his team on Wednesday, naming his four captain’s selections, and is expected to lean toward experience. Among his eight automatic qualifiers via two points lists – one a European list, one a World list – Bjorn already counts five rookies: Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen. Also on the team are seasoned Ryder Cup competitors Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy.

Said Furyk, “I have a lot of respect for Thomas and I have a lot of respect for the players that have qualified for the European Team, and I’ll be anxious to see who they pick tomorrow.”

SOURCE:  RyderCup