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Category: Ryder Cup

USA holds narrow lead over Europe as Ryder Cup play ends Friday

Woods_300 A long and frustrating opening day in Ryder Cup golf competition ended with new rain suits Friday for team USA and a precarious 2-1-1 lead over Europe after a partial day of four-ball play. None of those matches was completed.

The teams teed off at 7:45 a.m local time Friday, and were called off the course about two hours later when a steady rain made much of the Twenty Ten course at the Celtic Manor Resort unplayable.

When that stoppage took place, Europe had a 3-1 lead and the only U.S. team on top was the rookie pair of Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton, who birdied the first two holes and were two-up on European veterans Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald. The three other U.S. teams of Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar; Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods; and Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson trailed at that point.

But when play was resumed at 5 p.m. and stopped again at darkness, Cink and Kuchar had rallied to go two-up over the Northern Ireland pair of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, and Stricker and Woods had it back to all-square. Watson and Overton held on for a one-up lead, and Mickelson and Johnson had cut the once three-up lead of Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer to one-up.

The rain prompted a schedule change for the rest of the weekend to finish the competition as planned on Sunday.

Now, Saturday’s matches are to begin with the completion of Friday’s four four-ball matches, followed by six foursome (alternate shot) matches. Then, Sunday’s 12 singles matches will be preceded by two more foursome and four more four-ball matches.

That means after the completion of Friday’s matches, no player from either team will sit out a match. European Captain Colin Montgomerie theorized that that would help his team because he had better alternate-shot players than U.S. Captain Corey Pavin.

But Pavin said the new schedule was fine with him. “They’re all going out both days now,” he said. “I like that.”

The weather forecast was better for Saturday, not quite as good for Sunday. If the event needs to be pushed into Monday, it will have a mandatory ending of 6:43 p.m. Whatever the score is of completed matches at that point will be the final score.

-- Bill Dwyre in Newport, Wales

Photo: Tiger Woods watches his shot during the Ryder Cup on Friday. Credit:  Andy Rain / European Press Agency.

Mickelson-Johnson will lead off for U.S. Ryder Cup


U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin selected Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson as the first pair to play against Europe when the Cup gets underway Friday, and European captain Colin Montgomerie countered with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer in that first group.

The other matchups in the better-ball, or foursomes, format:

--Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar of the U.S. against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

--Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher.

--Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton against Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.

Pavin decided not to play Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson and Rickie Fowler in the morning matches.

--Mike James

 Photo: Phil Mickelson. Credit: Allan Henry / US Presswire.

Ryder Cup: Twitter not really banned for European players

Ryder-europe_400 Hours after a so-called Twitter ban was announced by Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie of Europe and Corey Pavin of the U.S. on Monday, European team member Ian Poulter was tweeting once again.

Poulter, who has more than a million followers, tweeted: "For the record Colin hasn't banned twitter, he has asked to be respectful to the teams privacy. I played 7 holes today course is awesome."

Montgomerie told reporters the same thing after Tuesday's first official team practice.

“Tweeting has not been banned,” said Montgomerie, who claims to have never used Twitter. “Whatever they do [in the posts], whatever they are, respect is shown for what is said within the team room. That's what I have banned. They can do whatever they have to do elsewhere regarding their thoughts.”

Nobody from the U.S. team -- including Stewart Cink, who has even more followers than Poulter -- has tweeted since arriving in Wales.

Tiger_400 In actual golf-related news, Tuesday's practice round may have provided some hints to the pairings for when the tournament starts with Friday's fourball matches. Tiger Woods was paired with Hunter Mahan, although Steve Stricker was also in their group, paired with Zach Johnson. Woods and Stricker paired to go four for four at the President's Cup last year.

Other U.S. pairings Tuesday: Matt Kuchar/Cink, Jim Furyk/Jeff Overton, Phil Mickelson/Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson/Bubba Watson.

For the European team, partners Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy were grouped with brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari. Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were in a group with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Peter Hanson. Luke Donald, Ross Fisher, Padraig Harrington and Poulter were in the final group.

-- Chuck Schilken

Top photo: Luke Donald, left, vice-captain Paul McGinley, Ross Fisher and Ian Poulter of the European team. Credit: Glyn Kirk / AFP/Getty Images

Bottom photo: Tiger Woods is surrounded by autograph hunters during Tuesday's practice session. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images

Ryder Cup captains ban players from tweeting while in Wales

In case anyone was wondering how seriously the U.S. and Europe teams are taking this year's Ryder Cup, here's your answer: Both teams' captains have banned their players from using Twitter while in Wales for the tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday this week.

For many of today's professional athletes, that amounts to a tremendous sacrifice.

"I think it's important to focus on the Ryder Cup and playing the matches and just enjoying camaraderie with the team itself," U.S. captain Corey Pavin said in a press conference Monday from Wales. "So we have decided as a whole to not Tweet this week."

European captain Colin Montgomerie added: " ... On Monday the 4th of October, yes, you'll find the team probably on social network sites, but not until then."

Several of the U.S. team members had a bit of trouble saying goodbye to their Twitter followers, posting more than one farewell message Monday morning:

Stewart Cink: "We're finally off to Wales!! Won't be tweeting until we get back. I guess I'll have to pass the down time actually reading or something." One minute later, he added: "Okay I lied. Go USA y'all pull hard for us thanks!!! ... see you in a week!"

Rickie Fowler: "Guys I'm sorry to inform you but the news is true...we will not be allowed to tweet while we are in Wales...Cpt's orders!!" Several hours (and tweets) later, he tweeted: "IT'S GO TIME!!! GO USA!!!"

Bubba Watson: "This is last tweet till I get back from Wales!! Cheer hard for USA!!" After a personal note to someone, he wrote: "Ok this is it, GO USA!!!"

Zach Johnson: "I have an unfortuante bit of news...I will not be able to tweet across the pond in Wales...capt's orders! Sorry. I appreciate the support!" An hour later, he was still tweeting about it: "I know it's hard to believe, but yes @RickieFowlerPGA and @bubbawatson will not be able to tweet either! Nor @stewartcink!"

But the Ryder Cup teams won't be completely shut off from the social networking world. The teams themselves can be followed on both Twitter and Facebook.

-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: European captain Colin Montgomerie, left, and U.S. captain Corey Pavin speak to the press Monday. Credit: Andrew Redington / Getty Images

Tiger Woods could have a reduced role in Ryder Cup play


Tiger Woods might have a reduced role when the United States takes on Europe in the Ryder Cup on Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor in Wales. U.S. Captain Corey Pavin understands Woods' passion for the game and competition, but said the world's top-ranked player, who has a losing record in the Ryder Cup, was willing to do what was best for the American team.

"We've talked about how many times he wants to play,"  Pavin said Friday during a news conference in Los Angeles. "He said, 'I want to play five matches.' We talked about him not playing as many, and he said, 'Whatever's best for the team.' "

Pavin_200Pavin chose Woods as a captain's pick after he failed to earn one of the eight automatic berths onto the team. Woods, who missed the 2008 Ryder Cup as he recuperated from knee surgery, could be motivated to play well as he tries to rebound from a mediocre 2010 season and his highly publicized marital problems, which recently ended in divorce, that began to unfold in public last Thanksgiving weekend when he crashed his vehicle outside his home.

"He's more than ready," Pavin said of Woods. "When he's there, he's 100% there. I think people maybe look at his record and come to some conclusion from that. Just because he doesn't have a winning record in the Ryder Cup doesn't mean he's not fully committed to it."

Pavin said the Europeans should be considered the favorites, especially since the team is more familiar with the Celtic Manor course, which was built specifically for the Ryder Cup and has been the site of the European Tour's Wales Open for the last three years.

Pavin, who said he has consulted with a variety of people -- including former Lakers great Jerry West and UCLA basketball Coach Ben Howland -- has spent time poring over possible pairings but wasn't revealing any of his decisions. He said each player had listed three potential partners. And Pavin said he is aware of Woods' past success playing with Steve Stricker, who teamed with Woods to win all four of their team segments least year in the Presidents Cup in San Francisco, and Jim Furyk, the only other player on the U.S. roster who has a winning record as Woods' partner.

"I did notice that," Pavin said coyly of Woods' success with Stricker and Furyk. "I noticed a lot of things. It's important to look back at the history of who has played where, but it's not the only factor."

--Dan Loumena

Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photos: (Top) Tiger Woods tees off during the BMW Championship last week. Credit: Frank Polich / Reuters. (Inset) Corey Pavin meets with the media on Friday. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press.

Corey Pavin: Tiger Woods 'high on my list' for U.S. Ryder Cup spot

Pavin_400U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin told reporters at a news conference in downtown Milwaukee on Monday that Tiger Woods is still "high on my list" for one of four wild card spots on the team.

Players have been accumulating points over a two-year period and the top eight (Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar) have earned a spot on the team that will represent the United States at the 38th Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales, on Oct. 1-3.

Woods is still the No. 1 player in the world but is No. 12 in the U.S. Ryder Cup points standings. He and several others -- including Anthony Kim, Lucas Glover and Zach Johnson -- will have to rely on a nod from Pavin to receive one of the four remaining spots on the team.

“He played better last week,” Pavin said of Woods, who has struggled all year. “He's working on some things that seem to be improving his game.  So I was obviously pleased to see that happen last week. His comments to the press and the media are very positive.  He wants to play and he wants to be on the team. Again, he's high on my list.  He's certainly a big consideration, no doubt.”

Pavin added: “Come Sept. 7, I will let you guys know who those four are going to be. But [Tiger] and a lot of other guys are up on my list, and probably that list will grow in the next three weeks.”

-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Corey Pavin attends a news conference Monday in Milwaukee. Credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images


Question of the day: Should Tiger Woods be named to the Ryder Cup team?

Question of the day: Should Tiger Woods be named to the Ryder Cup team? [Updated]

Woods_400 Reporters from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant

As much as I hate to disappoint Jim “You’re Going Down” Gray, U.S. captain Corey Pavin should not select Tiger Woods.

Pavin’s picks should be for those players who merit the honor and can help the U.S. team the most in Wales.

Woods isn’t in that class.

Yes, he played better at the PGA Championship, a tie for 28th, compared to the week before at the Bridgestone Invitational, where he beat one player in the field of 80. And yes, he’s still No. 1 in the world rankings.

But he ranked last in driving accuracy (21 of 56 fairways) at the PGA Championship. That’s not what you want in Ryder Cup match play, especially in the alternate-shot format. And his putting -- an essential for Ryder Cup birdies and success -- has been substandard.

Yes, Woods is No. 12 in Ryder Cup points, so it could follow that he’ll be one of Pavin’s final four picks.  But most of Woods’ points came last year.

This year he’s not the same Woods and not Ryder Cup-worthy.

[Updated at 11:17 a.m.:

Mark Wogenrich, the Morning Call

As most Ryder Cup captains do, Corey Pavin is turning his ceremonial position into a job that requires a Situation Room. He consulted UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland on team-building and contracted wife Lisa to organize the team room in Wales. Besides a ping-pong table, Wii consoles and a freshly tapped keg, what more do the players need?

Agonizing over Tiger Woods will be high atop Pavin’s list. "I don’t think there’s any cons," Pavin said Monday, ignoring Woods’ 2010 season, his 10-13-2 Ryder Cup record and his potential unpopularity with the WAGs (wives and girlfriends) at Celtic Manor. But if Pavin allows any of that to influence him negatively, he’s employing a management style that makes Tony La Russa look cavalier.

If he had two picks, perhaps Pavin could make fair justification for not selecting Woods. But not with four. Woods has lost one singles match in five Cups and is the quintessential match-play competitor of his generation.]

[Updated at 1:28 p.m.:

Jeff Shain, Orlando Sentinel

It would depend on how Woods performs at the FedEx Cup playoff opener in two weeks. If he can’t play his way into the second event -– he’ll need to make up at least eight places in the standings -– then his troubles are too many for my risk/reward meter.

Woods hasn’t had a top-20 finish since tying for fourth at the U.S. Open. Meanwhile, here’s a list of Americans with at least three top-20s in that span but are not on the Ryder roster: Nick Watney, Sean O’Hair, J.B. Holmes, Ryan Moore, Vaughn Taylor and Matt Bettencourt.

They have results, and we’re discussing Woods?

Yeah, none of them have a major title or have ever been No. 1 in the rankings before. But the Ryder Cup is about who’s playing well now, and Woods has been an average PGA Tour player since Father’s Day. Plus, an early FedEx Cup ouster will mean he’s coming in cold.

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune

One week ago, with Tiger Woods hitting it sideways at Firestone and playing the “I’m-too-cool-for-a-captain’s-pick” game, Corey Pavin had every reason to take a pass. Now? No way.

Woods, who knows something about rehabs, found his game at Whistling Straits. Certainly not his “A” game, and not really his “B.” But even at C-plus, Woods ranks in America’s top 12. And more to the point, Woods actually wants to go to Wales to represent the Red, White and Blue. A week ago it was safe to wonder if he wanted to lock his clubs in his car. (OK, his SUV.)

The final reason for Pavin to select Woods: So the captain won’t get asked about snubbing him. That would get old very quickly.]

Photo: Tiger Woods tips his cap to the gallery after finishing his final round of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on Sunday. Credit: Jeff Haynes / Reuters

Corey Pavin hits into rough with UCLA football coach

Golfer, and UCLA alum, Corey Pavin bagged one UCLA coach, but now has to iron out problems with another.

Pavin appeared at Bruins basketball Coach Ben Howland's weekly news conference Tuesday to be honored, with the two exchanging gifts. Howland gave Pavin a UCLA jersey with his name on it, even though Pavin does not play basketball. Pavin, the Ryder Cup captain, gave Howland an autographed Ryder Cup golf bag, even though he doesn’t play golf.

“Someday I’ll have a use for this,” Howland said. “My friends who play golf are all going to be jealous.”

One was.

Word of the golf gift had apparently made the rounds.

When the news conference was over, UCLA football Coach Rick Neuheisel, an avid golfer, burst into the room shouting, “Pavin you gave Ben a golf bag? He doesn’t even play!”

--Chris Foster

U.S. Ryder Cup team turns to Bulldog Corey Pavin

Corey Pavin shares a laugh with Tiger Woods at the 2006 Ryder Cup

Ever since the European team ended U.S. domination in the Ryder Cup in 1985, the PGA of America has been intent on appointing captains for its teams who take the event seriously.

Paul Azinger did just that effectively in September at Valhalla in Kentucky, when the U.S. team beat Europe for only the second time since 1993.

Now the PGA has turned to Corey Pavin as captain of the 2010 team, which will take on Europe in Wales in two years.

Pavin, nicknamed "Bulldog" while he was on tour for his determined style of play despite small stature, was a member of the U.S. team the last time it won in Europe, in '93. Just how important is the Ryder Cup to the former UCLA player?

"The Ryder Cup is in my blood," he said today. "I think if you cut my arm open, Ryder Cup would just bleed out. It's the greatest event in the world, I think, and certainly the golf world."

There might be some argument about "the greatest event in the world" from a few folks who lean toward, oh, soccer's World Cup ... or the Super Bowl ... or the Olympics ... or the World Series ... or the Masters or U.S. Open, for that matter. But you get the point: Mr. Pavin believes it's a big deal, and that's just fine with the PGA.

--Mike James

Photo: Corey Pavin shares a laugh with Tiger Woods at the 2006 Ryder Cup. Credit: Peter Morrison / AP.

Lisa Guerrero: A chat with Jim McMahon and John Daly

John Daly

This Blue State reporter traveled into Red State territory over the last several days and learned a few key things:

  • People really do drink moonshine in Kentucky.
  • Country music when performed live is really quite enjoyable.
  • Folks love Sarah Palin in Tennessee. They really, really love her. Really.
  • One can consume more calories in a single meal in the South than in one week of meals in SoCal. I highly recommend the fried chicken, pulled pork with vinegar-based barbeque sauce, mac and cheese, corn bread, fried green tomatoes and sweet tea. This is followed by a warm pecan pie topped with ice cream and a shot of moonshine swallowed directly from a mason jar. Delicious.

I was told that the batch of moonshine broken out for my enjoyment is called “Gramma’s Apple Pie,”  and is so strong that if you dip a spoon into the stuff and light a match underneath it, the spoon will melt.

Lisa Guerrero Naturally, I had a shot.

It looked a little like a urine test and smelled like cinnamon. The other local “good stuff” is cherry flavored and looks like Tang.

My journey to the Campbell Chevrolet Celebrity Golf Classic hosted by John Daly and (country music artist) Steve Azar included a stop in Nashville with a show at the Grand Ole Opry.

A bunch of folks I’d never heard of sang up a storm for two hours. My favorite was Heidi Newfield, a pretty blonde who kinda looks like the cheerleader from the TV series "Heroes" and has a hit song called, “Johnny and June.” Apparently, female country stars no longer sport sequins, cleavage, blue eye shadow or big hair, which was disappointing, but the dudes mostly still wear cowboy hats, which is good to know. I have no idea why, but it comforts me.

After a couple of days in Music City, the party heads north to Bowling Green, Ky. and The Club at Olde Stone, home of the 2008 Junior Ryder Cup and one of Golf Week’s “Best New Courses” of 2007. The money raised during the Campbell Chevrolet Celebrity Golf Classic was to benefit the fight against autism.

Among the celebrities were lots of country music friends of John Daly’s, including Colt Ford, Julie Roberts, Larry Stewart, Ira Dean and Ray Scott.

They (and a dozen others) played concerts both Monday and Tuesday night and sang lots of songs I’ve never heard of, but enjoyed immensely. My new fave is a little ditty called, “Trash In My Trailer.”

I so enjoyed the music, and was so caught up in the spirit (and frankly, hung over) from my introduction to “Gramma’s Apple Pie”) that I sat down and penned my own country song. It’s called “The Comeback,” and it’s about an aging pitcher who still wants to play (three guesses who I wrote that song about).

Keith Burns of Trick Pony liked it and is going to “lay down a track” for me. Apparently, this means he’s putting it to music. If I get nominated for a Country Music Award I promise you that I’ll show up wearing sequins, cleavage, blue eye shadow and big hair.

Some athletes were in attendance as well, including Super Bowl quarterback Jim McMahon, two-time Olympic gold medalist Steve Lundquist, recent Ryder Cup champion Kenny Perry and five-time Pro Bowl tight end Wesley Walls.

In between rounds of golf and rounds of beer, I sat down with Daly and McMahon and

Continue reading »

Padraig Harrington says Ryder Cup loss wasn't Nick Faldo's fault

Padraig Harrington of Ireland

Padraig Harrington won two major championships this year, but he and his teammates on Team Europe wound up losing a big one when the underdog U.S. team won the Ryder Cup for the first time in nine years.  Nick Faldo took a sound beating in the British press for how he handled his job as captain, but Harrington said to lay off Faldo.

"The captain is always judged on whether his team wins or loses regardless of anything else, and that's always the case at the Ryder Cup," Harrington said during a media conference for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland.  "If it's a losing team, people will find the negative."

So if it wasn't Faldo's fault, whose fault was it?

"It's not what the captain himself does, it's more on the team's performance."

That's probably why U.S. captain Paul Azinger is throwing out the first pitch for the Tampa Rays this week.

-- Thomas Bonk

Photo: Padraig Harrington on the final day of the Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., on Sunday. Credit: Tannen Maury / EPA


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