Friday, September 30, 2016

Arnold Palmer remembered at Ryder Cup

The passing of Arnold Palmer this week rocked the golf world, so fittingly the center of the golf world this weekend would pay tribute to Palmer on.

On the first tee at Hazeltine National, where Friday morning the Ryder Cup teed off, sat a bag baring Palmer’s name. According to Golf Digest, the bag is the one Palmer used in the 1975 Ryder Cup.

And the crowd at the first tee paid tribute to Palmer, too.

 

 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Morning foursomes matched announced for Ryder Cup

The first four matches were announced for the Ryder Cuo during Thursday’s opening ceremony. The four matches will be played in the foursomes format, also known as alternate shot.

Let’s take a look at each match.

Match 1: Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed (USA) vs. Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose (EUR) at 7:35 a.m. local

Stenson and Rose led off two years ago, earning the first point to set a tone for a whooping of the U.S. However, Spieth and Reed are the top American duo. They should be pumped up and win.

Match 2: Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler (USA) vs. Rory McIlroy and Andy Sullivan (EUR) at 7:50 a.m.

Mickelson and Fowler have losing Ryder Cup records overall, with Fowler never winning a match. McIlroy is a solid ballstriker and suspect putter. Sullivan, a rookie, is a great putter and OK ballstriker. Expect McIlroy to carry Sullivan to a win.

Match 3: Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker (USA) vs. Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia at 8:05 a.m.

This seems like a European pair that should work well together. Johnson hasn’t played well of late, and Walker was an afterthought at the Tour Championship. Europe should win.

Match 4: Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar (USA) vs. Thomas Pieters and Lee Westwood (EUR) at 8:20 a.m.

Johnson and Kuchar may well be an American powerhouse. They need to figure out how to get in the fairway, then they can take care of business. Thomas Pieters may get too emotional if he plays poorly to start. The U.S. should win.

Heckler shows up Rory McIlroy at Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup is one of the greatest events in sports, and moments like Thursday are the reason why. Unlike at many golf tournaments where fans are expected to remain as immobile as foliage, the Ryder Cup crowds are loud, brash, loud, arrogant, loud, jingoistic, and loud.

Europe’s Rory McIlroy, who’s been through a few of these Ryders before, was struggling on one of the Hazeltine greens, missing a putt six straight times. A fan in the crowd shouted that he could make the putt, and so McIlroy’s teammate Henrik Stenson upped the ante, pulling the fan from the gallery. Justin Rose laid down a crisp $100 bill next to the ball, which lay about 12 feet from the cup.

The fan, a guy by the name of Dave Johnson, settled into his stance, looked over the putt, let it roll, and … USA USA USA USA!

The Ryder Cup begins Friday. This is going to be fun.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Danny Willett apologizes for brother's column dissing U.S. fans

CHASKA, Minn. — Danny Willett had to clean up his brother’s mess late Wednesday, apologizing for his brother P.J.’s characterizations of American golf fans.

Writing a Ryder Cup column for the U.K.’s National Club Golfer, Willett said the European team needed to take the air out of the American fans early in an effort to win at Hazeltine National.

Pete Willett wrote that the European team needs to “silence the pudgy, basement-dwelling irritants, stuffed on cookie dough and pissy beer, pausing between mouthfuls of hotdog so they can scream ‘Baba booey’ until their jelly faces turn red.” He also said the Europeans should “smash the obnoxious dads, with their shiny teeth, Lego man hair, medicated ex-wives, and resentful children.”

His brutal description of American fans — even if biting satire — caused a wave of problems for the Masters champion and captain Darren Clarke.

“It was tough then to kind of get your head around everything,” Willett said in an interview with Golf Channel. “You kind of wanted to get off the golf course and hopefully get it sorted, you know, like I said to Pete today, as quick as possible and, like I said, hopefully draw a line under it and get back to what we’re doing.”

Clarke reacted before Wilett.

“I showed it to Danny, and he’s bitterly disappointed in his brother’s article,” Clarke said. “It is not what Danny thinks. It is not what I think. It is not what Team Europe stands for.”

Danny Willett also spoke to U.S. captain Davis Love III to apologize for his brother.

“He took it very well and I think he’s drawn a line under it obviously for himself and for the team,” Willett said. “So hopefully everyone else can do the same and hopefully we can get on and have a great tournament.”

Mickelson apologizes to Sutton for 2004 Ryder Cup criticism

CHASKA, Minn. — Phil Mickelson apologized to 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton on Thursday for comments he made the day prior that laid blame for the failure of Mickelson’s ill-fated partnership with Tiger Woods when Sutton led the team.

Mickelson explained Wednesday why he thought the duo of the then world Nos. 1 and 2 lost in both matches that Friday near Detroit. Mickelson laid the blame at Sutton’s feet for the losses, saying he wasn’t given enough notice — just 2 days — to prepare to use Woods’ ball in their foursomes match. He then said the distraction with the ball took him off his game.

Sutton, who was on site as an invited guest of current captain Davis Love III, fired back at Mickelson on Wednesday afternoon after hearing the comments.

“The thing the Ryder Cup doesn’t need is drama. It creates enough drama on its own. Phil created a lot of drama that week, if we remember, because he switched his clubs and his ball prior to that week,” Sutton said, according to multiple reports.

“It was very self-serving for him to do that prior to the Ryder Cup in 2004. So, if he needs me to shoulder the blame for his poor play, I can do that.”

Mickelson, who left out in his retelling that he had just switched to new equipment ahead of the Ryder Cup and practiced off-site one day that week, felt blowback not only from Sutton but from pockets of golf that saw Mickelson again criticizing an American captain. Mickelson’s public admonishment of 2014 captain Tom Watson led to the creation of the Ryder Cup Task Force and set into motion the second-chance captaincy of Love.

“I was totally in the wrong,” Mickelson said, according to Golf Channel. “I never should have brought that up. I used an extreme example the way decisions can affect play, and I never should have done that because it affected Hal.”

Sutton reportedly threatened to leave Hazeltine National in response and did, only to return for a former captain’s match Thursday. Mickelson’s apology, in part, is an effort to smooth over the verbal boxing match, hoping Sutton will still feel welcome in the American team room.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Woods, Mickelson taking the helm as Ryder Cup leaders

CHASKA, Minn. — Twelve years ago, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton had an idea to get his side’s engine revving at Oakland Hills outside of Detroit.

Sutton would pair Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the two best American players of the last 30 years, as a team in the opening match of the Ryder Cup. They’d play in a better-ball match against Colin Montgomerie — at the time, the European stud — and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Mickelson and Woods were too big to fail. And they failed.

The duo played terribly together, losing by a 2-and-1 count in the first match that proved an embarrassment for the American side. Perhaps not getting the hint, Sutton sent them out again in the afternoon alternate-shot session and got the same result: another L.

The American team lost by a record 18.5-9.5 margin that weekend, managing to duplicate the feat two years later at a road game in Ireland.

At the time, and even to this day, there has been a lot of conjecture about just why Mickelson and Woods didn’t work together. On Wednesday, Mickelson laid it out clear as day.

“We were told two days before that we were playing together,” Mickelson said. “And that gave us no time to work together and prepare.”

Mickelson prefers a low-spin golf ball. Even to this day, Woods prefers a high-spin ball. They were incompatible in alternate shot solely on that basis. Mickelson tried to figure out how to play Woods’ ball in two days, even practicing off property to solve the riddle. It didn’t work, and that distraction kept Mickelson from otherwise staying sharp. Both their games suffered. Mickelson went 1-3 that week, while Woods went 2-3, only because he managed to win his singles match on Sunday.

It’s those types of things the Mickelson has experienced over two decades as an American Ryder Cup player that, he believes, explains why the U.S. has lost eight of the last 10 biennial matches against Europe.

“When players are put in a position to succeed, often times, more often than not, they tend to succeed and when they are put in positions to fail, most of the time they tend to fail,” he said Wednesday.

So, when Mickelson and his peers were smoked by Europe again two years ago by a five-point margin (at least it wasn’t nine!), he spoke up. He was fed up of not having more of a say in the Ryder Cup. From the PGA of America dictating captains, to dictating captains not listening, Mickelson had enough. In front of captain Tom Watson, brought back to reinvigorate the American spirit of winning, Mickelson said he longed for the style of the one guy who has led the U.S. to a Ryder Cup victory this century: Paul Azinger in 2008.

And from that outburst at Gleneagles was born the Ryder Cup Task Force, of which Mickelson and Woods became part, as well others spanning theirs 20s to 50s in age. The Task Force became the Ryder Cup Committee, which decided to give Davis Love III a chance to avenge the U.S. choke job at Medinah in 2012.

However, if you’ve read the tea leaves, you know that Love’s name might be atop the masthead, but Mickelson and Woods have been calling the shots going into this Ryder Cup.

Love has praised Woods vociferously for his pre-event work, calling him the American “tactician.” Woods sent Love his captain’s picks almost a month before the first three wild-card players — Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar — were named to the team. Mickelson suggested that there would be no drama, no sudden switch in the picks. It wasn’t that the fix was in, it was that Mickelson, Woods and company knew who would fit their team the best. Sorry, Bubba.

It sounds like Woods and Mickelson have really enjoyed working together.

“It’s been great,” said Mickelson. “The last few weeks, we’ve been talking on the phone multiple times a day. It’s been really exciting for us because we’ve been on so many teams for so many years, and to have this much input and involvement in the process, the way Davis has implemented everybody’s input, the way he’s brought everybody together and their ideas, has been truly an inclusive process and it’s been fun for Tiger and I to be a part of something like that.”

Woods has so embraced his leadership role — maybe the Dick Chaney to Love’s George W. Bush — that he’s spooked out a few of his own players, including Brandt Snedeker.

“He called me two weeks ago, you know, and started talking to me then,” Snedeker said. “We were on the phone for an hour and a half.”

Snedeker added, “Got to the point where I was joking around, like you’re calling me more than my wife is right now, we need to figure something out. But it’s great to have that kind of commitment and that kind of passion from a guy like Tiger. I think that’s something that gets lost.”

The Ryder Cup is the glaring failure of both Woods’ and Mickelson’s all-time-great careers. Between them, they’ve made 17 Ryder Cup teams before this week. They’ve won three times — both in 1999 and just Mickelson in 2008 when Woods was recovering from blowing out his knee to win the U.S. Open that June.

Woods can only play human Stratego this week, moving pieces in place, hoping the American number beats whatever the Europeans bring to each meeting. Mickelson, however, is a de facto playing captain on this team. In what is likely the 46-year-old’s final Ryder Cup on home soil, Mickelson has more control over the outcome this week than he ever has.

Fittingly, the last man to officially hold that role in this series is Arnold Palmer, who did the double en route to victory in 1963 at what is now known as East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, site of the Tour Championship. That week, the Americans thrashed Great Britain and Ireland by a 23-9 mark, never losing a match in any of the three afternoon sessions. Things were different then — the format and common outcome among them.

This week, the heirs apparent to Palmer in popularity and potency get their chance to do something they felt was so rarely done for them the last 20 years: put their peers in a position to win.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.


LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Assessing the 2016 Ryder Cup teams


_

Woods, Mickelson taking the helm as Ryder Cup leaders

CHASKA, Minn. — Twelve years ago, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton had an idea to get his side’s engine revving at Oakland Hills outside of Detroit.

Sutton would pair Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the two best American players of the last 30 years, as a team in the opening match of the Ryder Cup. They’d play in a better-ball match against Colin Montgomerie — at the time, the European stud — and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Mickelson and Woods were too big to fail. And they failed.

The duo played terribly together, losing by a 2-and-1 count in the first match that proved an embarrassment for the American side. Perhaps not getting the hint, Sutton sent them out again in the afternoon alternate-shot session and got the same result: another L.

The American team lost by a record 18.5-9.5 margin that weekend, managing to duplicate the feat two years later at a road game in Ireland.

At the time, and even to this day, there has been a lot of conjecture about just why Mickelson and Woods didn’t work together. On Wednesday, Mickelson laid it out clear as day.

“We were told two days before that we were playing together,” Mickelson said. “And that gave us no time to work together and prepare.”

Mickelson prefers a low-spin golf ball. Even to this day, Woods prefers a high-spin ball. They were incompatible in alternate shot solely on that basis. Mickelson tried to figure out how to play Woods’ ball in two days, even practicing off property to solve the riddle. It didn’t work, and that distraction kept Mickelson from otherwise staying sharp. Both their games suffered. Mickelson went 1-3 that week, while Woods went 2-3, only because he managed to win his singles match on Sunday.

It’s those types of things the Mickelson has experienced over two decades as an American Ryder Cup player that, he believes, explains why the U.S. has lost eight of the last 10 biennial matches against Europe.

“When players are put in a position to succeed, often times, more often than not, they tend to succeed and when they are put in positions to fail, most of the time they tend to fail,” he said Wednesday.

So, when Mickelson and his peers were smoked by Europe again two years ago by a five-point margin (at least it wasn’t nine!), he spoke up. He was fed up of not having more of a say in the Ryder Cup. From the PGA of America dictating captains, to dictating captains not listening, Mickelson had enough. In front of captain Tom Watson, brought back to reinvigorate the American spirit of winning, Mickelson said he longed for the style of the one guy who has led the U.S. to a Ryder Cup victory this century: Paul Azinger in 2008.

And from that outburst at Gleneagles was born the Ryder Cup Task Force, of which Mickelson and Woods became part, as well others spanning theirs 20s to 50s in age. The Task Force became the Ryder Cup Committee, which decided to give Davis Love III a chance to avenge the U.S. choke job at Medinah in 2012.

However, if you’ve read the tea leaves, you know that Love’s name might be atop the masthead, but Mickelson and Woods have been calling the shots going into this Ryder Cup.

Love has praised Woods vociferously for his pre-event work, calling him the American “tactician.” Woods sent Love his captain’s picks almost a month before the first three wild-card players — Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar — were named to the team. Mickelson suggested that there would be no drama, no sudden switch in the picks. It wasn’t that the fix was in, it was that Mickelson, Woods and company knew who would fit their team the best. Sorry, Bubba.

It sounds like Woods and Mickelson have really enjoyed working together.

“It’s been great,” said Mickelson. “The last few weeks, we’ve been talking on the phone multiple times a day. It’s been really exciting for us because we’ve been on so many teams for so many years, and to have this much input and involvement in the process, the way Davis has implemented everybody’s input, the way he’s brought everybody together and their ideas, has been truly an inclusive process and it’s been fun for Tiger and I to be a part of something like that.”

Woods has so embraced his leadership role — maybe the Dick Chaney to Love’s George W. Bush — that he’s spooked out a few of his own players, including Brandt Snedeker.

“He called me two weeks ago, you know, and started talking to me then,” Snedeker said. “We were on the phone for an hour and a half.”

Snedeker added, “Got to the point where I was joking around, like you’re calling me more than my wife is right now, we need to figure something out. But it’s great to have that kind of commitment and that kind of passion from a guy like Tiger. I think that’s something that gets lost.”

The Ryder Cup is the glaring failure of both Woods’ and Mickelson’s all-time-great careers. Between them, they’ve made 17 Ryder Cup teams before this week. They’ve won three times — both in 1999 and just Mickelson in 2008 when Woods was recovering from blowing out his knee to win the U.S. Open that June.

Woods can only play human Stratego this week, moving pieces in place, hoping the American number beats whatever the Europeans bring to each meeting. Mickelson, however, is a de facto playing captain on this team. In what is likely the 46-year-old’s final Ryder Cup on home soil, Mickelson has more control over the outcome this week than he ever has.

Fittingly, the last man to officially hold that role in this series is Arnold Palmer, who did the double en route to victory in 1963 at what is now known as East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, site of the Tour Championship. That week, the Americans thrashed Great Britain and Ireland by a 23-9 mark, never losing a match in any of the three afternoon sessions. Things were different then — the format and common outcome among them.

This week, the heirs apparent to Palmer in popularity and potency get their chance to do something they felt was so rarely done for them the last 20 years: put their peers in a position to win.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.


LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Assessing the 2016 Ryder Cup teams


_

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tiger Woods gets bounced from Ryder Cup team photo

Think Tiger Woods is itching to get back to playing competitive golf?

Tuesday, the 12 golfers who make up the 2016 United States Ryder Cup roster lined up for the team photo. Sneaking in the back row was a 13th – Woods.

Once a staple on the U.S. side, Woods has missed three of the last five Ryder Cups, mainly do to injury. He is on the grounds in Hazeltine this week, however, serving as a “vice captain,” whatever that means.

Woods, who hasn’t played a competitive round since Aug. 2015, will make his return next month at the SafeWay Open in Napa, Calif. Clearly, though, he’d rather be teeing it up Friday rather than riding around on a golf cart, walkie talkie in hand, doing, well, who knows what.

So there he was, sneaking into the team photo before getting the boot.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sports world reacts to Arnold Palmer's death

The sporting world mourned one of the all-time greats Sunday, as golf legend Arnold Palmer died Sunday. The seven-time major winner was 87.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Phil Mickelson wins closest-to-the-pin contest hitting righty

Lefty can play righty.

Phil Mickelson and the other seven Americans who qualified for the U.S. Ryder Cup team off the points list traveled to Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night to take in the Patriots home park, spend some time with team owner Bob Kraft and a few of the team’s greats, as well captain Davis Love III and the assistant captains.

As part of the visit, the team had a closest-to-the-pin contest. Unfortunately for Mickelson, no one brought a left-handed club for the impromptu contest. So, Mickelson made do with the right-handed club available…and still won the competition.

The video is from the Twitter account of Patriots Hall of Famer Andre Tippett.

Not too shabby, Phil.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.


LISTEN TO OUR WEEKLY GOLF PODCAST! This week: Assessing the 2016 Ryder Cup teams

Friday, September 2, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

!!!!!!!!!!

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