18 Things I Think…Ryder Cup Style

September 30th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

1.  I think the European Team certainly played like the favorites they were going into the Ryder Cup. They were sharp, motivated and overpowered an outmanned US Team.

2.  They also really know how to celebrate and they have plenty of experience.  That champagne spraying scene never gets old, no matter what team is holding the bottle.Singles Matches - 2014 Ryder Cup

3.  There were some new stars that introduced themselves to the world and none more so that Frenchman Victor Dubuisson. He played like the old Poulter and acted like Miguel Angel Jimenez. He was a cutup in the team room and looks to be another of the motivated Euros that play for all the right reasons.

4.  All hope is not lost for the Americans as there were a few bright spots on the team. Patrick Reed whose boasting during the regular season seemed out of place has found a perfect home at the Ryder Cup. His bold confidence is a perfect fit and his “shushing” moment was one of the few highlights the Americans had.

5.  Jordan Spieth at 21 should be around for many more Ryder Cups. He was solid and teaming with Reed the two were unstoppable. Maybe this is the team that could be the heart of future American Teams.

6.  Captain Paul McGinley’s cool and meticulously well planned captaincy reaped the highest of rewards this week. He did what a leader needs to do: put his people in the best position to succeed. He did and they won. Simple.

7.  In contrast to McGinley, our dear Tom Watson was outdone by a man who idolizes him. His plan, if he had one, was all in his head and it failed. Where McGinley spent two years spending time with the players, caddies, handlers and their families Tom just told his players to go play. No one could have imagined that Watson would be so unprepared for this Ryder Cup.

8.  As an avid golf fan who was watching on television I found myself praying for a few less commercials. Please, show more golf shots. The Masters has it right, “limited commercials” and that’s what the PGA of America should strive for.  mcginely pour

9.  That being said, I tried out the Golf Channel’s Alternate Shot broadcast and found too many talking head and no “shots” at all. How can I say this….it stunk.

10.  Talk about career rejuvenation…I will, by the way…Colin Montgomerie has turned into a joy on the set of the Golf Channel/NBC. He was even cheering for shots from both teams! I find Monty very watchable on the set something I couldn’t do when he was on the course. Now if the Golf Channel could just get Peter Alliss.

11.  Darren Clarke was not only sounding good on the broadcast he was looking great. The slimmed down Clarke was insightful and funny. I guess we can consider this the official start of his campaign for the 2016 captain’s spot.

12.  All season we hear GMac and Rory saying all the right things about their lawsuit but the previously imposing Ryder Cup pairing did not play together all week at Gleneagles. It did work out great for Team Europe as GMac’s mentoring of VDub was critical and Rory paired well with others but actions speak louder than words. There is definitely some friction there.

13.  It was the same old outcome for the US but a very different finish…Phil Mickelson saw to that. Philly Mick’s trashing of Watson and the current “process” left a cloud over Team USA. Many agree that something needs to be done with the way things happen at The PGA of America but sitting in the press conference wasn’t the proper forum.

14.  That being said…Phil is right on. The PGA of America has no formal, defined way of selecting the captain. It is left to one man, the PGA president. And once the captain is selected it is left up to him to formulate a plan…if he makes one at all. Contrast that with the European team.. They utilize the three past captains, the European Tour, The European PGA and the players to select the captain. The role of assistant captain is critical in evaluating candidates and they don’t care if he ever won a major. It works.   GOLF-RYDER

15.  We didn’t see much of it on Sunday but the assistants on the European Team kept things real loose on the first tee. Sam Torrance told a few jokes. Jose Maria Olazabal did his victory dance and Miguel Angel Jimenez did his world famous “stretching” routine. And fun was had by all.

16.  As usual the crew on The Golf Channel did their usual great job on their Live From the Ryder Cup show. Rich Lerner is great and Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo are the best in the business. Both of them took Phil to the woodshed immediately after watching the press conference. Chamblee’s line on Phil that he “corrupted the experience” was classic.

17.  It was strange as we hear Paul Azinger’s name as much as anyone else in the aftermath of this whole thing. Azinger had a winning formula but he faced an unprepared captain in Nick Faldo that performed much like Watson did this year.

18.  Is Zinger or his Pod System the answer? I don’t know but we all know the current system is broken. Maybe Phil’s rant will be the spark that lights the fuse to blow this thing up. The system needs change, in a big way. Maybe Zinger is the answer but the first place to look should be at those guys in blue spraying champagne all over the place. Their system works, and they prove it every two years.

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A Very Healthy European Report Card

September 29th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

ryder cup 14 logo troRumor has it the champagne and beer are still flowing as a most happy European Team basks in their glorious victory at the 40th Ryder Cup.

It’s an old but valid axiom, “players play and coaches coach.” The Europeans players certainly played this week at Gleneagles.

They continued their mastery of the team game to claim their third straight Ryder Cup win.

Justin Rose 4.0 points A++ : Rose was the stud of the week as he outplayed everyone on both teams. His putter was hotter than everyone this week and except for a brief spell in Saturday Foursomes he made every putt he looked at.

Graeme McDowell 3.0 points A: GMac went undefeated in his three sessions and he served as an effective mentor for Victor Dubuisson. And true to his bulldog nature he fought back from an early 3 down deficit in singles to beat Jordan Spieth in a critical opening match on Sunday.

Jamie Donaldson 3.0 points A- : Three points from Donaldson had to be a pleasant surprise for McGinley. His only loss was in Saturday’s Fourball and he had the honor of earning the clinching point on Sunday.

Henrik Stenson 3.0 points B+: Stenson played well all week and the Rose Stenson team won all three of their matches. His Sunday loss to an animated Patrick Reed was his only blemish.

Rory McIlroy 3.0 points B: The world number one played like it, especially in Singles when he sent Rickie Fowler to the sidelines early with a huge 5 & 4 win to earn the first point on Sunday. His lone loss was with Sergio Garcia in Friday Fourballs.

Victor Dubuisson 3.0 points B: He came in as an “unknown” and left a star. GMac called him “swashbuckling” as he mentored him around the course. They teamed for two huge wins and his only slip up was a meaningless half on Sunday when the Cup was already decided.

Sergio Garcia 2.5 points B-: He teamed with McIlroy on day one in what looked like a Dream Team but fell to Mickelson and Bradley. But that was his only loss and he had a solid come from behind win on Sunday.

Lee Westwood 2.0 points B: The passionate Ryder Cupper served as one of McGinley’s playing coaches. He was critical in keeping the team relaxed and motivated and despite his two losses was very valuable to the team.

Martin Kaymer 2.0 points B: His lone win came against a sloppy Bubba Watson in Sunday Singles but two halves against the toughest of American teams earned him plenty of credit.

Ian Poulter 1.0 points D: Poulter tarnished his Ryder Cup legend with a surprisingly lackluster week. A loss and a half in Fourballs and a half in Singles against an equally weak Webb Simpson completed a painful week for this former Ryder Cup hero.

Thomas Bjorn 0.5 points D: It was a tough week for the future Ryder Cup Captain who earned his only half point way back in the opening session on Friday and had his clock cleaned by Matt Kuchar on Sunday with a 4 & 3 loss.

Stephen Gallacher 0.0 points F: It was a tough week on the course for the hometown Scot who was the only Euro not to earn any points.

Paul McGinley A: When your team gets to Saturday night with a 10-6 lead you have done your job extremely well. McGinley spent the past two years in the shadow of his idol and opposing captain Tom Watson. He’ll spend the rest of his life as a winning Ryder Cup Captain. To a player they said his leadership and preparation made their win possible.

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Fallout From Far and Wide on Phil’s Callout of Watson

September 29th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The day after the 2014 Ryder Cup couldn’t be more different for the two teams. The European Team is most likely nursing the remnants of some heavy duty celebration. The Euros played exquisitely and deserve any and all tributes thrown their way.

The Americans on the other hand have to asking themselves a painfully familiar question: Why do we keep losing at the Ryder Cup? Team USA has lost in eight of the last ten matches and from the look of the current state of the “team” the answer isn’t within anyone’s grasp.

Phil Mickelson’s public and crude lambasting of Captain Tom Watson has put the American Team and The PGA of America into a most embarrassing situation.

As more details come to light it appears that Mickelson was not the only player that felt disenfranchised by Watson’s captaincy.  Phil-Mickelson-Ryder-Cup

But there is a time and a place for critiques and complaining and the Ryder Cup Press Conference isn’t the correct time or place for such an uncivilized display by men who are regarded as gentleman.

Now the United States Ryder Cup team, its captain, the PGA of America and the entire American Ryder Cup team and captain selection process has become a joke among many in the sport.

Karen Crouse in the New York Times noticed a distance between Watson and the team this week and tells us how uncomfortable the atmosphere was at the press conference. 

Watson, 65, had come across all week as estranged from his team, and as he joined his players for the final time, just how great the divide was became painfully clear. The airing of the team-room toxins started innocently enough, with a question posed to Mickelson, who had been on the last victorious American team, in 2008.

“So we were invested in the process,” Mickelson said, adding, “Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.”

As Mickelson spoke, Watson stared ahead. The wan smile on his face did not reach his eyes. Hunter Mahan, seated next to Mickelson, looked at him out of the corner of his eye. At the other end of the table, Bubba Watson sat with his arms crossed on his chest. Other players stared at their cuticles or shifted in their seats.

Across the pond Mickelson is being called out for his public attack on his captain.

James Corrigan of The Telegraph details Phil’s attack and Watson’s defense and says the American team left Gleneagles in a shambles. 

Phil Mickelson launched a scathing attack on the captaincy of Tom Watson, the legend who had been entrusted with winning on away soil for the first time in 21 years.  

The left-hander wasted no time in taking apart Watson more emphatically than Europe had taken apart the US. Mickelson began the inquiry immediately in what the many fans of the 65-year-old, and plenty of others besides, will believe to be cruel and bitter fashion.   tom watson press conf 2

The pair tried with little success to keep it dignified. On Saturday, Watson referenced Mickelson being tired and then made what can surely be seen as his own dig. Making the argument for the format being changed so every pro plays in each session, Watson said “Then everybody would know they are going to go 36 holes and then everybody knows that they have to be in shape to play.”

Yes, the US had arrived in Perthshire claiming to be united and had left a rabble, blighted by disagreement, disaffection and, some will feel, disrespect. And all the while, the Europeans were celebrating their 16 1/2 – 11 1/2 win, their largest in eight years.

Andy Bull gives Phil credit for not backstabbing Watson and paints an unflattering but accurate picture of Phil’s delivery. 

Well, no one can accuse Phil Mickelson of knifing Tom Watson in the back. He delivered his stiletto verdict on Watson’s captaincy from front on and in full earshot, while the two of them were sitting six feet apart at the top table in the end-of-tournament press conference. And, being the well-mannered man he is, he did it with a grin, and a charming but utterly insincere insistence that he “really couldn’t understand” why anyone would think he was attacking Watson’s leadership. As for Watson he just had to sit there and listen with a watery grin while Mickelson tore his captaincy into tiny pieces.

And finally Paul Hayward says that’s Phil’s rant shows the difference between the European and American teams.  

Mickelson’s disloyalty in comparing Watson’s ineffective captaincy to Paul Azinger’s stewardship in 2008 here in a packed press conference chamber – rather than the team room, where the grudge might have been aired – was symbolic of the difference between the protagonists.

On the one side: Europe, committed, disciplined, impassioned, blood-brotherly. On the other: USA, fragile, ambivalent, unstructured and willing to knife the captain in front of a bank of cameras. As Mickelson argued for Azinger’s “pod” system and constant dialogue with the players the rookies on Watson’s team looked stunned. Old Jim Furyk’s face darkened into thunder. After another demoralizing defeat, Mickelson had sent a damaging news story spinning round the world; one which every American player will have to deal with when they would rather be pulling the duvet over their head.

From every perspective Mickelson’s public dressing down of Watson has had a negative effect towards Phil and the entire American Ryder Cup system.

Maybe all of Phil’s points are valid and an Azinger Approach is needed for the Americans to succeed but the way it was done was low class and we have come to expect so much more than that from Phil.

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Ryder Cup Bonus Match: Phil Mickelson vs. Tom Watson

September 28th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

ryder cup 14 logo troFresh off the American defeat at Gleneagles Phil Mickelson has stirred up some serious controversy.

Phil rarely says anything without having a reason and usually will diplomatically answer questions that could cause harm or embarrassment to those Phil wants to shelter. But today Phil the Thrill let loose with a barrage of controversial comments that lambasted Captain Tom Watson’s reign as captain.

In the clip below Phil answers a question as to what allowed the US team to win back in 2008 under Paul Azinger. Phil succinctly stated that Zinger’s Pod system allowed the players to bond and also that there was much communication between the players and the captain.

Immediately this all was taken as a slap at Watson despite Phil’s objection. Watson was then asked to counter and he diplomatically said that he had not read Azinger’s book and elected to not implement any official pod system.

When the press went back to Phil he explained this wasn’t an indictment of Watson but rather an answer to a question. True yes, but Phil knew the forum he had and certainly knew that it would be construed as the severest of critiques.

The press even asked veteran Jim Furyk to chime in but he refused, diplomatically saying Phil was his friend and he respected Watson and they should answer any further questions.

Tim Rosaforte has more on Phil’s and other player’s disenchantment with the ’14 Ryder Cup setup in this clip. 

Here’s a link to more Alex Myer’s piece with some of the text from the most uncomfortable press conference in Ryder Cup history

To be clear, Phil brought this question on himself. Immediately after his singles win he was interviewed on NBC and referenced Azinger’s Pod System and wondered aloud why the US Team hasn’t gone back to that successful formula.

It is obvious that Phil has an agenda here. He wasn’t happy with the benching on Saturday but according to Rosaforte there are more issues that he and other players disliked under Watson’s reign.

Agenda or no agenda the press conference following the trophy presentation isn’t a place to take down your captain and indict the PGA of America. Phil will deny that motive but he is one of the most media wise men in spikes and he knew exactly the controversy his remarks would cause.

It wasn’t Phil’s best moment and I am sure he was frustrated but as if the loss wasn’t bad enough now those eleven teammates and Watson will have to deal with this mess.

Brandel Chamblee takes Phil to task for “corrupting the experience” and says Phil will regret this moment. 

Azinger’s Pod System has merit and my colleague G. Rennie has been screaming for its resurrection from day one but Phil should have spoken his peace at a later date.

I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that team flight home will be.

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Heroes & Zeroes at The Ryder Cup

September 28th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

ryder cup 14 logo troThere was some great play from the American Ryder Cup team this week but, stop me if you heard this one, Europe just played better. A 16.5 – 11.5 point loss is just another in the progression of disappointments Team USA has to swallow. Some stellar play from the rookies wasn’t enough for Team USA to break Europe’s hold on Mr. Ryder’s Cup.

Patrick Reed 3.5 points A+ : Reed paired with Jordan Spieth for some great play and was the leading scored for Team USA. He even had the balls the “shush” the partisan crowd on Sunday. Awesome week for a player many labeled an outsider.

Jordan Spieth 2.5 points A : Spieth and Reed were phenomenal as “Team Rookie.” Spieth started off Sunday Singles with a bang getting up on GMac but faded at the end. Still a great Ryder Cup and there will be plenty more.

Jimmy Walker 2.5 points A : Walker was another rookie that carried the US Team. He teamed with Fowler for the three halves against big name European players.  pat reed shhs

Phil Mickelson 2.0 points B/F : Considering Phil only played in three sessions two points is pretty good. His benching on Saturday has to leave an even more bitter taste in his mouth.  Phil get two grades a B for on course and an F for his press conference indictment of Watson.   His outspoken comments about using Paul Azinger’s Pod System were out of place.

Hunter Mahan 1.5 points C- : Mahan’s 1.5 points out of a possible 4 just doesn’t cut it. He had the star of the cup, Justin Rose 4 down in singles and let him bounce back to halve the match when the cup was still in the balance.

Rickie Fowler 1.5 points B- : Rickie had some of the toughest draws of the week. He and Walker fared well in their first three team matches but lost in their fourth. He was also dusted by Rory McIlroy in singles. It’s tough when you face the best in the world.

Matt Kuchar 1.0 points D : It was a tough week for Kuch who only earned one point out of four starts and that was on Sunday against an over matched Thomas Bjorn.

Jim Furyk 1.0 points D : Old reliable wasn’t able to do much this week. One point in four starts leaves Furyk wondering what the US has to do to win one of these things.

Keegan Bradley 1.0 points D : Keegan’s week was full of disappointment and disillusion, and that was off the course. After being tabbed by Watson as a captain’s pick he was left on the bench on Saturday. He only played in three sessions, so much for being the emotional spark of the team.

Webb Simpson .5 points F : Webb should have been home watching the Cup on television. After popping up his tee ball to open the cup and getting waxed along with Bubba in fourballs he was sent to the bench until Sunday. It wasn’t one of Watson better picks.

Zach Johnson .5 points F : A difficult week for the gritty veteran.. He played three times, lost twice in team play and only managed his half point in singles against Dubuisson after the cup had been decided.

Bubba Watson 0.0 points F : Zero points in three starts from the reigning Masters Champion. After Friday’s loss Bubba looked like he rather be home in Baghdad Florida…where he left his golf game.

Tom Watson F : It pains me to takes shots at a figure but he signed up for all the glory and has to deal with the heat. His game plan lacked foresight. His “in game” adjustments failed. He lacked any real communication with his players. And oh yea…his picks earned a paltry three points. It’s a week he’s like to forget.

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Captain Watson Fails in Another American Ryder Cup Defeat

September 28th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

ryder cup 14 logo troWith another resounding defeat for the Americans at the Ryder Cup the second guessing of Captain Tom Watson will reach a crescendo. In fact it started long before the Euro’s closed out the USA on Sunday with legions of writers and analysts ripping Watson for many of the confusing calls he made this week.

Consider this my “Man Crush Disclaimer.” I think Tom Watson is one of the iconic figures in the game and I respect him greatly. I once drove over three hours just to sit at a press conference to get the chance to ask him a single question. He’s a Hall of Fame member, an eight time major winner and one of the most admired and revered men in golf.

That being said, Watson blew it.

His “outside the box” selection was supposed turn the tide at The Ryder Cup. The European Team’s domination had drove PGA of America President Ted Bishop and crew to tap Watson who was the last captain to win on foreign soil. Well, it’s back to the drawing board for Bishop.

While Watson’s selection was lauded by many, including me, in the hopes that an old school take by a winning captain who commands respect like few in the game would be the poultice to heal the wound that losing the Ryder Cup had become.

Instead of the victory the PGA of America and Watson had so very much wanted the 40th Ryder Cup escapes them and leaves them looking confused and wondering what happened.

The problem with Watson’s captaincy actually started long before his team arrived at Gleneagles. Back in September when he made his Captain’s Picks he elected to go with “experience” versus rookies.  Britain Ryder Cup Golf

He chose Keegan Bradley for his emotion and because he is Phil Mickelson’s designated partner nowadays. Hunter Mahan had just won The Barclays and that with the fact that Mahan has played Ryder Cup previously was enough for Watson. His third pick was the out of form Webb Simpson who had a poor 2014 by anyone’s measure.

Strangely, it was revealed by Simpson that a late night text to the captain from Simpson on the eve of the selection may have persuaded Watson to pick him. Simpson said he was so anxious about the pick that he texted Watson pleading to be considered. Watson countered with a “tell me why you want to be on the team” and whatever Simpson texted back worked.

He said that three rookies on the team was enough as the European Team also had three and any more may put the Americans at a disadvantage. So Watson opted for experience and they failed him.

Watson’s three “experienced” picks earned him a disappointing 3 ½ points for the week. The three rookies who earned their way on the team, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker rewarded the captain with 8 ½ points for the week. It was the rookies that were the only source of hope for the team all week. They were the ones who delivered not the veterans.

Watson showed us he realized his mistake by front loading his Sunday Singles line up with Spieth to start and Reed right behind them. In the third slot was Rickie Fowler a “veteran” of only one Ryder Cup. So in a bit of irony Watson was relying on “rookies” to jump start the comeback when he actually was shy about naming rookies to the team.

Watson will take more heat for his mishandling of the Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley pairing. They were undefeated as a team coming into this match and it was a given that they would team together. And it worked as they took down the best the Euro’s had to offer in Friday morning fourballs, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

But the 44 year old Mickelson ran out of gas in the afternoon foursomes and they lost to a fresh Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson. Phil was spent and at dinner that evening Watson told him he would be resting on Saturday morning. He sat both Mickelson and Bradley in the morning and then in a shocking move kept them off the course in the afternoon also.

To say Phil was surprised is an understatement. When Phil wants to get a message across he does. But there are many occasions when he keeps his mouth shut to avoid embarrassing someone who deserved respect. This was one of those times.

Being caught with a “tired Phil” on Saturday shouldn’t have been a surprise for Watson. In 2012 Phil went to Captain Davis Love III and told him he needed a break on Saturday afternoon. Walking 34 holes on Friday, under that pressure will drain a player a young player, no less a 44 year old with health issues.  U.S. Ryder Cup player Phil Mickelson stands with captain Tom Watson during his fourballs 40th Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles

The plan should have been to play Phil and Keegan on Friday and Saturday morning with Phil resting in the afternoon. It would have been similar to him playing a regular tour event which he has done all season. In fact he would have only walked three rounds instead of the required four so he would have been fresh all week. The younger and enthusiastic Bradley could have been teamed with another player.

Watson said he wanted his “hot” teams out there on Saturday afternoon and that Phil and Keegan had not played well in the alternate shot. And that’s valid but he should have had that team in both fourball sessions. They make birdies and that’s what you need. In alternate shot fairways and greens are needed and we know how many fairways Phil hits. It shows a lack of preparation on behalf of Watson. He should have had a plan for every possible scenario.

Watson also admitted to playing the team of Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler too long and they probably could have used a rest by the time the Saturday foursomes rolled around. It was their fourth straight match and Graeme McDowell said he could tell they were on fumes by then. He purposely told his partner, Dubuisson to pick up his pace and show the Americans how fresh they were. It worked as the Americans were gassed and fell in a 5 & 4 rout. Maybe Watson should have sensed the weariness in them after all that team played three straight, close, difficult matches against Europe’s best teams to earn a half point each time.

Watson deserves credit for eschewing the traditional thinking of pairing rookies with veterans. He sent Spieth and Reed out together in Friday’s Fourballs and they didn’t disappoint with a 5 & 4 win. They in fact had lobbied Watson all week to play together. But after they were not sent out in the afternoon sessions they had questions. They and the team were told that successful play in the morning would afford them another shot in the afternoon but Watson elected to bench Team Rookie in favor of a veteran team. The veterans lost as the rookies cheered them on. It speaks to a lack of communication on the part of Watson and his players.

As with any captain he is only as good as his players. And Watson’s team was depleted from the start missing Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson and maybe even Tiger Woods. The captain of the Ryder Cup is much like a quarterback in the NFL: they get to much credit for the wins and too much blame for the losses.

The captain hits no shots and as Watson said the players have to play and they just didn’t play well enough against a very strong European Team. But Old Tom’s captaincy appeared to lack a plan and suffered from poor communication with his players, two faults I never would have expected from Watson.

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Team USA Needs History to Repeat

September 27th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

ryder cup 14 logo troIt’s like déjà vu all over again…or something like that. Yes, it seems just like yesterday that the host Ryder Cup team sailed to a 10-6 advantage after the first two days. Then out of nowhere the visiting team pulled a Sunday comeback for the ages to win the cup on foreign soil.

Tom Watson and his band of not so merry men will be hoping to steal a page from the ’12 European team’s playbook at Medinah who stole a page from the American ’99 team at Brookline to find a way to win from four points down.

It’s doable as they say and it has been done before but what are the odds of it happening in two consecutive Ryder Cups? Captain Tom better hope the odds are better than just pretty good.

Here are Sundays Singles matchups and for the life of me I don’t see 8 ½ points there for Team USA.

6:36 a.m. ET — Jordan Spieth (USA) v. Graeme McDowell (EUR)
6:48 a.m. ET — Patrick Reed (USA) v. Henrik Stenson (EUR)
7 a.m. ET — Rickie Fowler (USA) v. Rory McIlroy (EUR)
7:12 a.m. ET — Hunter Mahan (USA) v. Justin Rose (EUR)
7:24 a.m. ET — Phil Mickelson (USA) v. Stephen Gallacher (EUR)
7:36 a.m. ET — Bubba Watson (USA) v. Martin Kaymer (EUR)
7:48 a.m. ET — Matt Kuchar (USA) v. Thomas Bjorn (EUR)
8 a.m. ET — Jim Furyk (USA) v. Sergio Garcia (EUR)
8:12 a.m. ET — Webb Simpson (USA) v. Ian Poulter (EUR)
8:24 a.m. ET — Keegan Bradley (USA) v. Jamie Donaldson (EUR)
8:36 a.m. ET — Jimmy Walker (USA) v. Lee Westwood (EUR)
8:48 a.m. ET — Zach Johnson (USA) v. Victor Dubuisson (EUR)

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Down 10-6…Been There Done That and Won!

September 27th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The Americans are facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit of 10-6 at the 40th Ryder Cup.  But anyone that knows their Ryder Cup history knows it has been done before.

The European Team came back from the same hole in 2012 at Medinah to embarrass captain Davis Love III and his troops.  But The Americans were the first team to ever comeback from a 10-6 deficit and they did in in 1999 at The Country Club.

Maybe Captain Watson should go “all Ben Crenshaw” on his team.  Crenshaw faced that deficit with unquestioned faith and told the press “I have a good feeling about this”.  Check out Ben’s prophecy at the 7:30 mark and hope that Watson can work the same miracle that Ben’s boys did fifteen years ago.

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Americans Fall Behind 10-6 at Ryder Cup

September 27th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

ryder cup 14 logo troSound the alarm, push the panic button. The U.S. Ryder Cup Team is in deep trouble. After a successful morning fourball session that saw them cut the European lead down to one point the Yanks ran out of gas in the afternoon.

The first group out, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar started with a bang as Johnson chipped in for birdie on the opening hole and a 1 up lead. But the Yanks could only manage to win three holes the rest of the afternoon to Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood’s five. The 2 & 1 win for the Euro’s was their second full point of the session.

The final match out pitted Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson against the solid team of Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler but it was actually the first match to finish. The Americans had spent their bullets in their previous matches and couldn’t manage to get started. Europe won the second hole and was five up by the eighth hole. It was over then but the Yanks hung on until the 14th and the 5 & 4 win gave Europe all the momentum for the day.  sergio rory2

The third match out saw the marquee team of Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia take on the steady team of Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan. Unfortunately for the U.S. they bogeyed the first two holes and couldn’t dig themselves out of that hole. The Euro’s kept the lead at 1 up until they pulled away with birds at 14 and 16 to close out the match 3 &2.

The only hope for the Americans came from the surprisingly successful rookie team of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. Team Rookie started off shaky and fell behind 1 down at the third. But they won three of the next four holes to earn a 2 up lead. Luckily, for the Americans Justin Rose’s putter had cooled off for awhile and he and teammate Martin Kaymer struggled a bit. But after the turn they warmed up and Rose started to drain those putts like he had been doing all tournament. The gritty Americans went back to 1 up with a great birdie on seventeen and needed only to halve the last for a full point. It was not to be as the Euro’s got up and down for birdie from the same bunker that the American’s were in. With the Yanks settling for par the match was halved and the Americans now face a 10-6 deficit.

We all know that anything can happen on Sunday and that four point deficit is the same number that the Boys of Brookline overcame in 1999. But the Euro’s know that number better than anyone as they overcame that same deficit in 2012 at Medinah.

It may just big too big a task for the Americans this time.

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Watson Makes Phil Mickelson a Spectator

September 27th, 2014 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

ryder cup 14 logo troThe afternoon foursomes are on the course at the 40th Ryder Cup and Captain Tom Watson did a great job of putting out his best and hottest teams to try and wrestle the lead from the Europeans.

First out are Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar both known for being straight hitters and that’s a must at Gleneagles. This Ryder Cup course is fringed with rough so deep it could be mistaken for a U.S. Open.

That was the only change to the morning lineup from Watson who just sent out three of the same teams that played such an exciting morning session.

Second out is Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan who won a full point in the morning session. Behind them is the Cinderella story of the Ryder Cup…Team Rookie. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are 2-0 this week and obviously not fazed by the pressure of the moment. In the anchor slot are the grittiest team on the American side, Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler. They have battled Euro’s best and come back with a half point each time.

It’s a solid lineup of Americans and they are facing a tough group of Euro’s who seem to embrace the alternate shot format a wee bit better than the Americans. Watson’s lineup is the right one but he invited much second guessing by benching Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for the entire second day.

Until yesterday team Phil/Keegs were undefeated in match play, that is Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. When a fresh Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson took down Phil and Keegan in yesterdays foursomes it was their first ever loss and it was a sign that Watson had gone to the well once too often.  U.S. Ryder Cup player Phil Mickelson stands with captain Tom Watson during his fourballs 40th Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles

Watson explained his decision to sit Phil and Keegan this afternoon by saying they needed rest and they did not perform in the foursomes yesterday. And he is right. But the time to rest Phil was yesterday afternoon not all day today.

If Watson had sat Phil in the afternoon he would have been fresh this morning and able to team with Bradley in their strongest suit, fourballs where birdies win the day. By playing Phil in both sessions he forced his hand to rest him this morning and Phil’s performance in alternate shot did indeed earnhim a place on the bench for today’s alternate shot.

But sitting the both of them all day Saturday certainly wasn’t Watson’s plan going into the Ryder Cup. He painted himself into a corner by having them in both sessions on Friday. They should have played in both fourball sessions, Phil could have been rested each afternoon and Bradley, with his younger legs could have been paired with someone for another session if Watson wanted.

It marks the first time Phil has sat out both sessions in one day. Sitting a 44 year old golfer with an arthritic condition is understandable. But Phil should have been rested each afternoon and played each morning. That would have kept him fresh and given the Americans their best chance at winning each session.

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