by Jeff Skinner
Their past history was that of picking players just slightly removed from PGA Tour action. But Watson is decades removed from winning on the PGA Tour so it signaled a bit of a culture change at PGA of America headquarters.
Now, in that same vein Watson himself is faced with the real possibility of a significant change to the Ryder Cup team: that being a team without Tiger Woods.
Woods’ back surgery and less than stellar play has left him well down the Ryder Cup points list. He currently sits at 70th on the Ryder Cup Points list well out of the top nine automatic berths.
The points qualification end with the PGA Championship and Woods only has two events (WGC, PGA) left on his schedule to either win or impress Watson enough to select him with one of his three captain’s picks.
Woods has said he wants to be on the team and says he can contribute to the team. Watson on the other hand has said he needs to step up his game to earn one of his captain’s picks.
Originally Watson had said that a healthy Tiger would be on the team. Then it was a healthy Tiger that is playing well. Then it was a healthy Tiger, playing well with good results. Now it’s a healthy Tiger, playing well, with good results that makes the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It appears that Captain Tom is hedging his bets.
It’s not an unusual request for a captain to want his potential players to play well, to show him something, to give him a reason to just have to select him. But Woods has shown zero to Watson this season and the real possibility exists that a healthy Woods would miss his first Ryder Cup since turning professional. He missed 2008 due to injury.
Captain Tom, a historic choice as captain at 64 years old may just have to make a historic decision and leave Woods off the team. The times are changing in golf and after all isn’t that why the PGA tabbed Watson as captain anyway…to change things.
Tiger and Phil Mickelson have been the biggest names in American golf for years but all good things come to an end. Maybe 2014 is the year that truly signals that change.
After all, does the team really need Woods? In seven appearances in the Ryder Cup Woods has been on one winning team, 1999 at Brookline. He missed Paul Azinger’s win in 2008 and has played mediocre golf at best when he is on the team.
He has a 13-17-3 all time record and the USA blew a huge lead last year at Medinah with him going 0-3-1 and earning just half a point for the week. Is that contributing?
I am sure that the PGA, Watson, NBC and most of the fans want Tiger on the team. But in selecting Watson the PGA may have done themselves a huge favor. If they had selected a forty-something, player still with close ties to the tour it may have been more difficult to leave a poor playing Woods off the team. Tom Watson won’t have that problem.
Watson is his own man and big enough to first of all, make such a tough decision and second, handle the fallout. And there will be fallout.
Watson won’t have a problem fielding a team without Woods. After all the USA has one win in the past six events and Tiger was on the couch for that one. They can lose in Gleneagles without him just as easily as they can with him.
Cultural change comes slowly and sometimes painfully. A Tiger-less Ryder Cup Team was only a matter of time. Whether it comes this year or in 2016 or whenever the fact is no one stays on top forever.
Watson may be faced with the toughest decision a captain has had in decades. But isn’t that why he was selected in the first place: to change things up. This may just be the year.
by Jeff Skinner
The times there are a changing. Two big announcements in the world of golf reflect the ever changing landscape in the business of golf.
First, after 67 years of print publication Golf World has announced that they are discontinuing their printed magazine and will be going to an all digital format.
It’s no secret that all print media is under tremendous pressure and with less golfers and even less subscribers Golf World has decided to forsake the medium it has used since 1947. Golf World was losing print subscribers and its ad revenue was down over 28% this year.
I can certainly understand how they needed to make a change. I had been complaining for years that by the time my copy showed up in the mailbox the next week’s tournaments were already over. But there was always a special column or piece that we couldn’t get online to make that hard copy issue worthwhile.
From Golf World.com: As part of the new strategic vision for Golf Digest and Golf World that began this spring with the introduction of the Golf Digest video channel, the relaunch of GolfDigest.com and the redesign of Golf Digest magazine, Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde and President Peter Hunsinger announce today a news division that combines the best of both Golf Digest and Golf World to expand our collective digital presence. With the sports news cycle demanding immediate access to quality content, we now will offer more of what our audience wants, when they want it and where they want to get it. To that end, beginning July 28, we’ll be making the following enhancements to both our golf brands.
• Golf World will now be available exclusively on digital platforms. Instead of 31 times a year delivered in print, a week after tournaments are completed, Golf World will be delivered 50 times a year on Mondays at 7 a.m. EST, accessible on all digital devices.
• Readers of Golf World will receive the quality content free of charge, and we will honor the value of their current Golf World print subscription with Golf Digest.
• Golf World Editor-in-Chief Jaime Diaz will lead the new news-division team that will encompass contributors from both Golf Digest and GolfDigest.com. Video reports will be added to our coverage, including “The Rosaforte Report” in video with chief correspondent and columnist Tim Rosaforte. Golf World content will feature weekly bonus “Long Reads” as well as “10 Things We’re Talking About,” stats packages, and Mike Johnson’s exclusive equipment coverage from the pro tours.
I understand the move, absolutely but I’ll miss the magazine for sure. But at least we still get the brilliance of Jaime Diaz and the inside connections of Tim Rosaforte.
It’s still a shame to see something that’s been such an intricate part of the fabric of golf journalism succumb to modern day issues.
At the same time we are watching Dick’s Sporting Goods fire 560 PGA Professionals from their golf sections. Dick’s informed their PGA Pros on Tuesday that they were done and gave them a severance package.
Dick’s is the nation’s largest sports retailer and sells more TaylorMade and Callaway than anyone in the United States.
With the poor economy, less golfers playing the game and a flood of products still sitting on the floor Dick’s has missed its revenue targets and felt compelled to ax their pros. Part of this may be their too close relationship with some of their suppliers.
In the past year TaylorMade had four different new drivers and Dick’s stocked them all. And guess what? They didn’t sell. Here’s CEO Ed Stack’s take on the glut of merchandize sitting unsold on the racks in their stores.”We are selling drivers in our stores this spring for $99 that were approximately $299 20 months ago.”
To that I say whose fault is that? Certainly not the PGA Professional who had no input into what or how many items their store stocks. I remember talking to the guys at the Dick’s near me this spring and commenting on how many TaylorMade drivers were sitting there all nice and shiny. Well guess what? They are still there.
Did the buyers at Dick’s not realize the economy is in the tank? Are they out of touch with the recent golfing demographics? Or are they in bed with TaylorMade, Callaway and the rest.
These PGA Pros aren’t pulling down big bucks at Dick’s but they did have benefits and some needed the security of a situation like Dick’s. But now they are all out looking for jobs in the middle of the golf season and for no fault of their own.
It’s strange because Dick’s had promoted and used the fact that you would be serviced by a PGA Professional at all their stores. These pros were giving you the expertise you can’t get online. The pros set Dick’s apart. Now, Dick’s is going to be a driving range where customers go and try out their clubs and go home and order it online.
Ted Bishop, President of the PGA of America said in a statement, “The PGA of America is aware of the decision made today by Dick’s Sporting Goods that affects the livelihoods of many PGA professionals who have been employed at Dick’s.”
“We are extremely disappointed by the news, as any time even one PGA member loses a job we are extremely sensitive to such matters. … While we are sincerely disappointed with this news, we continue to support our PGA professionals who are extremely dedicated to share, teach and grow the game of golf.”
It looks like a bit of cutting off the nose routine. I bet they will sell less equipment now without the PGA Professional to help that customer with the sale.
It’s a sad day…in more ways than one.
by Jeff Skinner
As it should The Open Championship dominated the golf pages, both electronic and print around the world with so many wonderful pieces by numerous scribes. Here are some great reads. Take some time to check them out.
In another major lacking tension over the final hour, what brought The Open to life was the potential of its champion.
After nearly two years of turmoil, McIlroy looked like the kid who shattered scoring records to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and who won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight shots a year later. The Boy Wonder is back. Or maybe he’s just getting started again.
The ‘new’ Rory McIlroy lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake and became Ireland’s fourth winner of the British Open, golf’s oldest and greatest Major, in eight glorious years.
McIlroy remains outrageously gifted. Yet over four days at Royal Liverpool, the 2014 Open Champion gave a performance of greater depth, serenity and substance than the uninhibited, tousle-haired ‘kid’ who ripped up the Major Championship record books at the 2010 US Open and the 2012 US PGA.
Of course, he is still his mother’s son. Very much so! McIlroy revealed he was afraid even to look in Rosie’s direction as she stood by the 18th green for fear he might burst into tears before putting-out for par and the 71 that sealed his two-shot victory at the British Open.
McIlroy may never match the breadth and depth of Nicklaus’s and Woods’s achievements; this is an era brimming with global talent in which domination has proved elusive. But McIlroy made his intentions clear on Sunday.
“Golf is looking to someone to put their hand up and try,” he said. “I want to be the guy that goes on and wins majors and wins majors regularly.”
McIlroy is clearly a better and more resilient player at this stage of his career, if not yet a consistently brilliant one.
As Rickie Fowler was walking beside Rory McIlroy up the 18th hole Sunday at the British Open, the tournament’s final group playing the final hole, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were flying over the Atlantic after frustrating weeks. That could lead many to think the torch has been passed to a new generation. Not so says British Open runner-up.
“I don’t see Tiger and Phil and some of those guys running off anywhere,” Fowler commented after the round. “We’re ready to go to battle against them, though.”
“It was close, it was close,” said García. “At least I’m proud of the way I played. I wanted to at least make him [McIlroy] feel a little bit and see how he would respond. He obviously responded well. I got within two but every time I got closer he kept making one birdie and not letting me get any closer than that. Overall I thought it was a great week.
“Everybody looks at you as second and they want to make it a negative. Not at all. I felt like I played well, I felt like I did almost everything I could. There was a better player, it’s as simple as that. You don’t have to look at other things, it’s just that simple.”
by Jeff Skinner
Rory McIlroy sat in the locker room at Royal Liverpool spying his name on the Claret Jug just below that of Phil Mickelson. And when he looked further he saw Tiger Woods’ name in three spots and the names of all the greats that have survived and won the Open Championship.
But while he appreciated the past winners this was a day to live in the present and look to his future. And the future for Rory is more than bright, it’s brilliant.
McIlroy’s third major championship leaves him just a Masters victory short of the career grand slam. Immortals Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the only golfers to achieve that at a younger age than the 25 year old Rory and that is the rarest of company.
We’ve heard the cry of a youth movement before. Somewhere there was going to be the next golfer to take over the game. And when Rory came on to the scene and won in Dubai in 2009 he was crowned as the next Tiger. Even Tiger’s good friend Mark O’Meara compared Rory’s game to the 14 time major winner.
It didn’t take Rory long to start racking up majors but first he had to blow one. After self destructing at the 2011 Masters he came back to blow away the field at the U.S. Open and he did the same the following year at the 2012 PGA Championship.
With this Open Championship he now has three majors and he will move to second in the world rankings. He puts to rest any debate who is the best young golfer in the world. Adam Scott may have the top spot but it won’t be long before Rory is back at the top.
Rory’s game was in full bloom at Hoylake yesterday and when his game is on no one can touch him. The Tiger Woods of 2000 had a game so great, so much better than his competitors he won the U.S. Open by fifteen strokes…fifteen strokes.
The tide has changed in golf with Tiger and Phil and Ernie being upstaged by Adam and Martin and Rory.
The likable Northern Irishman knows where he stands in the history of golf and can’t wait for the next step. “I’m immensely proud of myself,” McIlroy said. “To sit here, 25 years of age, and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam … yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly.”
“I just want to be the best golfer that I can be,” McIlroy added. “I know if I can do that, then trophies like this are within my capability.”
His career is back on track and on a historic trajectory and he’s up for the challenge.”I’d love to win a lot more of them and, even though there’s one left this year that I desperately want to try and win, I’m looking forward to next April and trying to complete the career Grand Slam.”
So now, much like Phil Mickelson had done with the U.S. Open, Rory has set his sights and his focus on that one particular major that has eluded him. He’s 25 with three majors and another probable 20 years of attempts at The Masters. I think its money in the bank.
It’s Rory’s world and we are lucky to be living in it.
Rory McIlroy: three quarters of the way to the career grand slam. Only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have reached that point any quicker than Rory. That tells you what kind of company this kid is in.
Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia did just about all they could to pressure Rory. They needed some help from Rory but he wasn’t in a cooperative mood. When he needed to he made all the shots he had to. It was his Open for sure.
The look on Rory’s face when they introduced him as “Champion Golfer of the Year” said it all. He cherishes this major like no other.
If you notice there was no Beatle music played all week on ESPN. A bit odd considering the Beatles were Liverpool’s most famous citizens. The issue was money. Supposedly the Michael Jackson estate that owns the Beatles Library wanted serious bucks, like half a million to release any tunes to ESPN. That’s just crazy money.
Just in case you haven’t heard Caroline Wozniacki wins in Turkey on the same day Rory wins the Open. I guess we call that ironic.
Talk about having confidence in your kid. Rory’s dad, Gerry and three friends put down $700 on Rory about ten years ago. The bet: Rory will win the Open before he was 26. The odds? 500-1. Gerry and the boys stand to cash in for about $340,000. Now that’s believing in your kid.
We had heard that the wind and the bunkers were Royal Liverpool’s main defense. But with little wind the bunkers were left to challenge the pros. Those bunkers gather in shots that came within five yards of them. The only thing that impressed me more about the depth and difficulty of those bunkers was the amazing skills the pros displayed when they got out of them. That is some serious game.
Three cheers for Robert Karlsson who two years ago pulled out of the Open because of a case of the “Full Swing Yips.” He couldn’t even pull the club back to start a swing. He shot 69 today and finished T12. Bravo Robert.
I may be a bit too old school but what is it with that neon stuff those players were wearing all week. Nike had Rory and Tiger with plenty of neon pink, red and yellow. Puma had Rickie rocking the neon too. For me it’s a bit much. Bright I can handle but neon? Not my cup of tea.
Four players all shot 65 today to tie the course record. Shane Lowry, Chris Wood, Marc Leishman and Jim Furyk. That’s great shooting but all were way too far off the lead to have any chance at catching Rory.
Everyone wanted some drama on Sunday and Rory accommodated, well a little bit anyway. But I will say this: It’s amazing to watch a player play so well. I saw it with Martin Kaymer at the U.S. Open and this week with Rory. A pro playing with all aspects of his game under control is a beautiful thing to watch.
Sergio Garcia’s welcome by the fans as he walked up eighteen today was heartwarming. I think it’s their way of saying they approve of the New Sergio and find him an easy player to cheer for now. It wasn’t always that way. Sergio was gracious in his acknowledgement of the fans show of affection.
Speaking of that walk up eighteen they say those stands hold over 7,000 fans. That’s some stadium effect and has to really get to those players.
Tom Watson got a great sendoff by the fans as he birdied the last to shoot 68 and finish T51. Tom’s career at the Open: 37 Opens, 15 top 25’s, 11 missed cuts, 5 wins and the most heartbreaking playoff loss in Open history. In Scotland they call him “Our Tom.” Enough said.
You know Tiger Woods is upset at his finish, 69th and 23 strokes off Rory’s winning total. But do you think it bothers him that his 64 year old (potential) Ryder Cup Captain whipped his ass this week?
Watching the three main combatants today was wonderful. Rory, Rickie and Sergio all represented the Open and the game well. The level of play was high and the mutual respect each player had for the others was impressive. Simply put, it was a great day for golf.
by Jeff Skinner
Rory McIlroy is the Champion Golfer of the Year and a grand champion he is. His final eighteen holes around Royal Liverpool wasn’t a coronation or a victory lap as many had proposed. The day certainly had its share of drama as Rory was nearly chased down by Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.
Playing with a big lead on the final day of a major championship isn’t as easy as one may think. Sergio (66) and Rickie (67) did all they could to try and over take Rory but his lead was too great. Rory’s one under 71 was more than enough to claim his third major championship.
When he needed to hit a fairway he did. When he needed to hit a recovery shot he did. And when he needed to sink a putt he did. Rory looked calm and collected all day even when he hit the rare wayward shot.
Rory goes by the nickname “Rors” and is called the “Celtic Tiger” by the Irish press but today he earned the moniker “BMW” as in he is the Ultimate Driving Machine. He drove it far and true and used his big stick to capture his most beloved major.
With Rory and Rickie and Sergio trading shots all day it seemed like a prize fight had broken out at Hoylake. We were treated to a wonderful display of golf by a trio of golfers that are as likable as any in the game.
Rickie who finished tied for second in his second straight major is so very easy to like. He’s colorful, honest, fun loving and plays a great game. Beneath that “now generation” flat brim lies an old soul who plays an old school game. He respects the game and everything that goes with being a celebrity.
A few years ago it was difficult to like the Sergio that whined about his poor luck and griped about anything that crept under his thin skin. But now, Sergio is a different golfer and a different man. The whole Tiger/Fried chicken fiasco caused a bit of upheaval in Sergio’s life. And I believe he is a better man for it. He came out of that with a new perspective and has finally matured into a more responsible and accommodating person. It’s easy to cheer for someone who has come out of a difficult time and the fans at Hoylake showed Sergio plenty of love. He returned that in spades with his salute and kisses to the crowd on eighteen.
Rory has been a fan and media favorite from the first time his floppy curls teed it up. Even though he has had some difficulties on and off the course recently Rory has kept his composure for the most part. There was that walk off “tooth ache” episode but we have to remember that he and Rickie are still kids. That being said, Rory is loved worldwide and he himself admits to growing up a lot recently. Living a life in a fishbowl isn’t easy even if it is by choice. Rory is just a very likable guy. He likes to have fun is always candid and embraces his millions of fans. There weren’t many fans rooting against Rory today. He has them all in the palm of his Open Champion hands.
For my money that is what made today’s final round so captivating. We had three appealing players that respected one another and are actually friends going at it in a big way. We cheered for each as they made great shots and felt the pain when they hit a poor one.
This Open Championship may have been all about Rory’s wire to wire win but to me it was so much more. These three guys put on a great show today. There was skilled golf, honest camaraderie and true respect for each other.
Rory leads a generation of twenty-somethings whose time is now. The game couldn’t have a brighter future.
by Jeff Skinner
Rory McIlroy has a six shot lead over Rickie Fowler at the Open Championship and the two will share the day together tomorrow in the final group.
It would have been a bit more interesting if Rory hadn’t unleashed his pet eagle over the last few holes today. But the two very popular and still very young players should have plenty of fun together.
The two do have a bit of history together. They faced off back in 2007 in the Walker Cup at Royal County Down. The U.S. took the competition 12½ to 11½ with Rickie and Billy Horschel defeating Rory and Jonathan Caldwell in a foursomes match.
Here’s a blast from the past. Both have since spent many days in the gym and at least a few at the barber since then. What do you think..maybe the teams could have used a tailor.
by Jeff Skinner
Rory’s buddy Darren Clarke shoots low round of the day with Jordan Spieth both with a five under 67. See what losing fifty pounds can do for a golfer.
The Open Championship has succumbed to technology. Cell phones have been there for awhile but now they have those digital scoreboards all around the course. It’s a great move. Maybe the USGA will take notice.
I, like many were disappointed by the two tee start. It was the first time ever at the Open and the right thing to do. Safety of the fans and the golfers had to be considered. And an additional benefit is I can get on the course a few hours earlier.
The line of the day. Judy Rankin calling notoriously slow Jim Furyk’s putt, “He wasted little time with this one.” Curtis Strange shot back, “That’ so unlike Jim Furyk.”
Fowler will be in the final group of a major for the second straight time. Tied for second at Pinehurst and tied for fifth at Augusta. Butch Harmon is the god of swing coaches.
One side effect of the early start is that I couldn’t get my Guinness on so early. Oh well, I’ll make up for it later.
With no wind at Liverpool the old girl has been defenseless, except for those “vacuum cleaner bunkers.” Vacuum cleaner because they seem to just suck the ball right in.
Someone at ESPN or the BBC or Skysports, whoever was calling the shots deserves some credit for actually not showing Tiger Woods all morning.
Tom Watson isn’t threatening for the lead but the 64 year old icon has amazed us by being around for the weekend. It’s not links golf or the Open without Watson. Maybe there’s still a bit of magic left in him for next year at St. Andrews.