PGA of America president Ted Bishop's two-year term was set to end Nov. 22. The organization's board of governors bumped up that date on Friday, voting to oust the controversial president after Bishop made remarks on social media channels with a sexist tone.

On Thursday, Bishop attempted to defend six-time major champion Nick Faldo in his ongoing verbal war of words with Ian Poulter. In a tweet on his personal account, Bishop referred to Poulter as a "lil girl." On his Facebook page, Bishop extrapolated on the sentiment, saying Poulter, who was critical of Faldo in a new memoir, "sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess."

Bishop deleted his posts hours after they were initially published, offering no apology or explanation for what he said. According to Golf Channel, Bishop was offered the option of resigning the presidency, but he declined. 

"The PGA of America understands the enormous responsibility it has to lead this great game and to enrich lives in our society through golf," said PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua in a statement. "We must demand of ourselves that we make golf both welcoming and inclusive to all who want to experience it, and everyone at the PGA of America must lead by example."

PGA of America vice president Derek Sprague, expected to become president at the November annual meeting, has ascended to interim president. 

"We apologize to any individual or group that felt diminished, in any way, by this unacceptable incident," Sprague said.

Bishop issued a statement Friday night, saying in part, "I want to apologize to Ian Poulter and anyone else that I might have offended with my remarks on social media that appeared on October 23, 2014. Particularly, I have great remorse that my comments contained the words 'little girl' because I have always been a great advocate for girls and women in golf.

"My two children, both girls, have made their careers in golf. I have a 4-year old granddaughter who I hope will someday play the game. In my 37-year career in golf, I have worked with many women to grow the sport and I have been a champion for inclusion and equal rights for women in golf."

Bishop also said he was told he would not be given the role of honorary president, as is custom for outgoing presidents of the PGA, and would not be recognized as a past president of the association.

This was really the only option for the PGA of America, which had no reason to support Bishop, whose two-year term was coming to a close. Sprague was all set to become president in a month's time, so it became unnecessary to wait for that formality.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 24, 2014, 11:53 pm

PGA of America president Ted Bishop wanted to defend six-time major champion Nick Faldo, who he spent Thursday with at an event, in his ongoing public spat with Ian Poulter. However, in the process, Bishop made remarks indefensible for a person of his stature in golf.

Responding to published shots Poulter took at Faldo in his new autobiography "No Limits," Bishop came to Faldo's defense, referring to to Poulter as a "lil girl."

@IanJamesPoulter -Faldo's record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time RC points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl. @NickFaldo006@pgaofamerica

He made similar comments on his Facebook page. Both of his posts have since been deleted.

On Friday morning, the PGA of America issued a statement explaining Bishop's word choice through spokesman Julius Mason: "Ted realized that his post was inappropriate and promptly removed it.”

Poulter responded Friday morning, saying to Golf Channel"Is being called a 'lil girl' meant to be derogatory or a put down? That's pretty shocking and disappointing, especially coming from the leader of the PGA of America. No further comment."

The comments from Bishop, who is nearing the end of a two-year term as PGA of America president, are disappointing not only given his stature in a male-dominated sport, but also that he was instrumental in teaming with the LPGA to form a new major championship, the Women's PGA Championship, starting next year in replacement of the long-standing LPGA Championship.

In his book, Poulter took up for Ryder Cup teammate Sergio Garcia, who Faldo called "useless" during TV coverage of the 2014 matches. Faldo claimed Garcia was distracted by a break-up and struggled to compete during the 2008 matches at Valhalla.

“Sergio puts a brave face on it but the rest of the guys are fuming,” Poulter wrote. “I’m shocked that he has said it. It’s highly disrespectful. It’s a cheap shot and it’s the worst possible timing.

“It makes me laugh. Faldo is talking about someone being useless at the 2008 Ryder Cup. That’s the Ryder Cup where he was captain. That’s the Ryder Cup where the Europe team suffered a heavy defeat. And he was captain. So who’s useless?

“Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror. I have always got on great with Faldo in the past and I have a great deal of respect for everything he has achieved but this feels like sour grapes. It feels like a guy who is still bitter that he lost in 2008."


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 11:49 pm

A 3-foot putt should not be exciting -- not even one for birdie. However, this golfer made it absolutely riveting.

This player, whose name is Greg, hit his approach shot close on the ninth hole at at The Golf House Club, Elie, in Fife, Scotland. Instead of simply knocking the ball straight in the hole for birdie, Greg decided he'd try his luck with the backstop hill behind the green. He putts the ball just far up enough the hill to come back down all the way into the hole for a magical make.

It's one of those moments you try sometimes with your buddies, but it almost never pans out, much less catch it on film. 


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 11:08 pm

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem boiled down the Americans' loss in the Ryder Cup to a simple problem: getting smoked in the foursomes format.

"You can’t play foursomes down 7-1 (in eight foursomes matches) and think you’re going to win the cup," Finchem said Wednesday at the McGladrey Classic in Georgia. "Seven to one in the Friday and Saturday (matches); you’re climbing a mountain.”

It makes sense, then, that Finchem sees no sense in the 11-man task force charged with skeweriing all aspects of the American approach to the biennial matches with the hope of ending a three-match losing skid. Finchem wasn't invited to be part of the committee, but it also doesn't sound like he blessed it.

“They made more birdies than we did and that’s the reason we didn’t win the cup," he said, according to Golfweek. "It's not the first time it’s happened.”

The fix, then, is as simple as getting better in the foursomes format. The PGA of America can't do much to facilitate more alternate-shot golf, but Finchem and the PGA Tour, which has re-engaged the PGA of America more in the last two years than the prior two decades, can.

Finchem acknowledged the possibility of hosting a "side event" that'd essentially be an exhibition tournament in the foursomes format. With the extinction of the Tavistock Cup, the week of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March now has room for a unique exhibition that could stand to improve the Americans' chances in regaining the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 2:44 am

Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Rolex Rankings, and neither are competing in this week's inaugural Blue Bay LPGA in China. However, when the rankings are released Monday, Park will overtake Lewis as the world's top-ranked female player. 

The ranking formula, which covers a rolling two-year period and devalues past performance over time, will swing in Park's favor because an event she played this week in 2012 will no longer count toward the number of event she has played in the last 104 weeks. Lewis' tally will not change. Already in a statistical dead heat for the top spot in the world -- separated this week by a miniscule 0.0062 points -- that small change in the formula gives the edge to Park.

Lewis' current reign will end after 21 weeks atop the rankings. She took over on June 2 after a win in Atlantic City, ending Park's reign of 59 weeks.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Lydia Ko is helpless this week. Even if she wins the Blue Bay LPGA, she cannot overtake Park for the top spot. However, it may well be an inevitability Ko becomes No. 1 in the next year.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 23, 2014, 12:53 am

You will soon be able to finally play a course designed by Tiger Woods.

Woods' El Cardonal, a project developed at the Diamante development in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, will open on Dec. 16. The 14-time major champion made the announcement on Twitter.

Resilience, hard work & now excitement. El Cardonal @DiamanteCabo will open Dec. 16th. Grateful for the amazing effort. #unstoppable

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) October 21, 2014

The course will play about 7,400 yards from the tips, but has been hinted that litany tee box options and locations will make the course playable for all lengths and skill levels.

The grand opening seems to have not been affected by Hurricane Odile rolling through the region in September, causing widespread damage and power outages.

This marks the first time a Woods design has been taken to completion. Woods was hired in 2006 to design his first course in Dubai, then a year later in the mountains of North Carolina and in Baja Mexico in 2008. None of those courses opened, all derailed for myriad reasons mostly related to the worldwide recession in 2008.

Woods is currently designing a course called Bluejack National, which will be an exclusive private club near Houston. El Cardonal won't see much foot traffic either, with only Diamante homeowners and resort guests able to play the course.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 22, 2014, 1:59 am

Tiger Woods is taking full swings again with the hope of returning to competition at his annual Hero World Challenge in December. Woods' doctors have given him the go-ahead to take full swings, making his way through the bag.

"The doctors said he could hit golf balls again, and he's listening to his doctors and to his body," Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said to USA Today. "He will keep listening to his doctors and body."

Woods has been dealing with back issues since 2013. At The Barclays that August, Woods blamed pain on a soft hotel bed. The problem worsened, leading to microdiscectomy surgery on March 31.

For what Woods admitted were somewhat political reasons, he returned at his Quicken Loans National in June, missing the cut. He finished 69th at the Open Championship three weeks later.

In August, Woods withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in the final round after tweaking his back hitting from an awkward stance on the second hole at Firestone Country Club. Woods made a last-minute effort to play in the PGA Championship the following week, missing the cut. He then announced he was withdrawing his name from Ryder Cup consideration.

Woods intends to return at the World Challenge, which has relocated to Orlando, Fla., played Dec. 4-7.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 20, 2014, 9:34 pm

Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from the BMW Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions, citing the need to prepare for an upcoming trial in his lawsuit against his former agent.

"I'm going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial over my legal dispute with Horizon Sports Management," McIlroy said Monday, accoridng to the Irish Independent

McIlroy split with, then sued Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management in late 2013, saying the company locked up the world No. 1 in 2011 with unfair contract terms, including fees McIlroy deemed unreasonable. McIlroy agreed to a contract extension in 2013 with revised terms and lower commissions on off-course earnings but reversed course later in the year. He now represents himself in a company called Rory McIlroy Inc.

Horizon, led by Conor Ridge, has countersued McIlroy, looking to recover commissions for deals it arranged with Nike, Bose and Omega, as well damage to its reputation.

In September, an Irish Commercial Court judge recommended mediation between the parties when McIlroy's lawyers made a motion seeking detailed documentation about friend Graeme McDowell's relationship with Horizon Sports. (It's also the source of Phil Mickelson's Ryder Cup joke about litigating against teammates.) McDowell, who essentially recruited McIlroy to join him under the Horizon banner, announced last month an amicable split from Horizon set to happen at the end of the year.

McIlroy and his lawyers met Horizon representatives in Dublin for mediation this past weekend, but told the court Monday they had failed to reach a settlement that would avoid a trial, according to The Telegraph.

The reigning Open and PGA champion may have to jettison more previously scheduled events in 2015, as well. With a trial set for early 2015 and McIlroy expected to spend up to two weeks giving testimony, he may have to cancel planned starts in the European Tour's two-event swing through the United Arab Emirates in the second half of January.

Preparation will be crucial for McIlroy, who will look to complete the career grand slam with a Masters win next April.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 20, 2014, 7:30 pm

Ian Poulter had to get in the last word, literally. 

In his new book entitled "No Limits", the Englishman criticized six-time major winner and losing 2008 Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo for saying teammate Sergio Garcia was useless during the matches at Valhalla six years ago.

“Sergio puts a brave face on it but the rest of the guys are fuming,” Poulter wrote. “I’m shocked that he has said it. It’s highly disrespectful. It’s a cheap shot and it’s the worst possible timing.

“It makes me laugh. Faldo is talking about someone being useless at the 2008 Ryder Cup. That’s the Ryder Cup where he was captain. That’s the Ryder Cup where the Europe team suffered a heavy defeat. And he was captain. So who’s useless?

“Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror. I have always got on great with Faldo in the past and I have a great deal of respect for everything he has achieved but this feels like sour grapes. It feels like a guy who is still bitter that he lost in 2008."

Poulter revealed his peers have lost considerable respect for Faldo, who did apologize for the remarks made in reference to Garcia's emotional state after a break-up with Greg Norman's daughter prior to the '08 Ryder Cup. 

“Faldo has lost a lot of respect from players because of what he said," Poulter said. "There were plenty of things a lot of the players were unhappy with at Valhalla but none of us criticized him. He may find that begins to change now.” 

The section appears to have been a last-minute addition in a chapter dedicated to the Ryder Cup matches at Gleneagles. Whether or not the chapter was planned is unclear.

Poulter also joined the Monday morning quarter-piggy-backing on Tom Watson's decisions as captain.

"[Q]uite a few of us are surprised by Watson’s decision-making during Saturday's play," Poulter said. "Most of all I’m astonished he does not play Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. He leaves them out of both sessions. It completely baffles me. It gives us a double boost because it tells us there are problems in the U.S team room. Watson’s choices mean seven of his players play 36 holes on Saturday. I find it hard to see the sense in that."

However, don't expect Poulter, who now resides in Florida, to give any counsel to the PGA of America's Ryder Cup task force.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 20, 2014, 6:10 pm

In Vegas, go big or go home. Ben Martin did just that to notch his first PGA Tour win on Sunday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.

Neck and neck with Kevin Streelman and defending champion Webb Simpson, Martin made a 45-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th to regain a lead that was two shots at the start of the day and as high as four on the back nine. After a textbook tee shot and approach to 20 feet at the par-4 finisher, the Clemson product calmly drained the birdie putt for a two-shot win. 

"It was an awesome way to finish," said Martin, who also birdied the 15th hole in a fierce final stretch. "I didn't feel like I had much going all day. Four under on my last four to cap my first win was just awesome."

Not only did the eagle give Martin the advantage again, it may well have stymied Streelman's great run into contention. The Duke product has stuck his approach to the 18th to five feet as Martin hit a gutsy 6-iron over water from 197 yards. Martin drained his unexpected eagle putt from beyond the hole. Streelman missed his birdie putt.

"I saw I was 1 up on the 18th green, and then I saw I was 1 down," Streelman said.

Martin, who posted 20-under 264, gets a second trip to the Masters in April. He was last there in 2010 when he qualified as runner-up in the prior year's U.S. Amateur.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 20, 2014, 1:14 am

Jack Nicklaus doesn't believe Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is getting a fair trial in the court of public opinion. The 18-time major winner, thinks the beleaguered signal caller deserves better.

“I just hate to see them hammering a 20-year-old kid,” said Nicklaus, whose grandson Nick O'Leary is a teammate of Winston's. “Has he made mistakes? Maybe. But you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, I think. Not charged and convicted and sentenced."

Winston had made more than his fair share of mistakes in his time at FSU, ranging from not paying for crab legs at a supermarket, to yelling out a sexually explicit phrase made popular during the World Cup in a school cafeteria. He was accused of sexual assualt in Jan. 2013. While he wasn't formally charged in the case, the school has informed Winston he'll face a disciplinary hearing and possible code of conduct sanctions pertaining to those allegations.

In the past week, over 2,000 Winston-signed items appeared on a memorabilia authentication site. The school cleared Winston of any wrongdoing in the matter, including if Winston was paid for signing the items.

Nicklaus, who is generous with his John Hancock in infrequent public appearances, didn't seem to think that 2,000 number was all that high. 

“I wonder how many autographs I have out there. Every game I go to I sign, probably 20 or 25 (people) and four or five each," Nicklaus said, according to the Palm Beach Post. "Start adding that up. And he’s a lot more available than I am. He’s not the only kid with a couple thousand out there. A bunch of those kids have to have a couple thousand.”


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 19, 2014, 11:28 pm

Dom DeBonis already got his hole-in-one, back in 1969. But, at 81 years old, the Pennsylvania man had gone longer waiting for his second than he had for his first. That all changed last week in an incredible span where he made four aces in a 33-day span, including three in consecutive days in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

On Sept. 3, DeBonis made an ace at the par-3 fifth on one of the many courses where he lives in The Villages, Fla., sinking a pitching wedge from 101 yards.

A few weeks later, DeBonis went to Myrtle Beach on a golf trip with 11 buddies. He made his first ace of the trip at Farmstead Golf Club in Calabash, N.C., when he used a 9-iron from 112 yards at the par-3 17th. Awesome. 

The next day, DeBonis did it again. On the 129-yard, par-3 sixth at the Thistle Golf Club in Sunset Beach, N.C., he jarred a 7-iron for another one on the card.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Mr. DeBonis, who is from Sharpsburg, Pa., according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The guys were going bananas. They said we got to buy lottery tickets, so we went and bought a bunch of lottery tickets.”

The odds of an ace in one round are about 12,000 to 1. Then the odds get exponentially higher for each successive ace.

Of course, on the third day of the trip, DeBonis fininshed the trifecta at Blackmoor Golf Club. This time, it was an 8-iron from 118 yards. No one in the group saw the ball go in the hole. Then again, after the last couple of days, they couldn't be faulted for figuring it was good.

"One of the guys said, ‘I think it’s in.’ So we walked up to the hole and there it was," DeBonis said. "I just couldn’t believe it. It was the most memorable week.”


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 19, 2014, 5:34 pm

Justin Thomas needed a couple of late birdies to make the weekend at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. He came to the driveable par-4 15th, hoping to get all he needed at once. Unfortunately, he nuked his drive behind the 15th green -- and into an empty hospitality tent at TPC Summerlin.

Undeterred, Thomas had a clean shot to the hole from the outdoor carpet, so he decided to play the ball from a fairly clean lie back toward the hole location. He got the ball within 10 feet and then made the putt for an unlikely birdie. 

Of course, it's hard not to think about Phil Mickelson's turns in the hospitality tent at a different driveable par 4 during The Barclays in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Mickelson didn't get a circle on the card in either opportunity to play amid the fans. 

Thomas couldn't find another birdie in his final three holes, however, and missed the cut.

But the trend of PGA Tour players choosing to play among the people continues.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 18, 2014, 10:24 pm

Jack Nicklaus believes the formation of a Ryder Cup task force is going overboard in a search for answer to U.S. woes in the biennial matches.

The 18-time major champion also subtly lamented Phil Mickelson's verbal outburst and subsequent reporting that amounted to the venting of players' frustration with outgoing captain and Nicklaus close friend Tom Watson.

“When I had teams and guys had problems, we went back to the team room and talked about it. That’s where the conversation should be," said Nickalus on Friday at PGA National in Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Nicklaus was captain of a pair of American Ryder Cup teams, on the winning side in 1983 and the losing side at his own Muirfield Village in 1987.

"I feel the same about the task force thing," he added. "That’s sort of overkill. We’ve had 70 years of the Ryder Cup and it’s gotten along just fine. The pendulum will swing back without making a monumental thing about it.”

In Nicklaus' assessment, Watson did a good job as captain, but was helpless to overcome a superior European side.

“(The Europeans) just played better,” Nicklaus said at a ceremony to mark the reopening of the Champion Course, to which he made some design tweaks. “It doesn’t make any difference how much planning you do, if the other team plays better, they’re going to win.”

Nicklaus credited Watson, who had been labeled as underprepared and out of touch with his players, with extensive preparation.

“He went to I don’t know how many tournaments — he knew he was older, so he had to get to know the kids, who he was going to pick, and what to do. Tom, Raymond (Floyd), Andy North and Steve Stricker made the selections and pairings, did what they thought was best, and probably did a pretty good job.”


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 18, 2014, 12:27 pm

In match play, you're always supposed to assume your opponent will make the putt, or the chip or the sand shot. But from the fairway? No. 

It's reasonable, then, if Thongchai Jaidee was rather shocked when he lost his Friday match at the Volvo World Match Play Championship. He lost to Henrik Stenson on a walk-off eagle from the 17th fairway.

Stenson was 1 up, then hit his second shot after Jaidee had missed the green to the left at the short par 4. The ball lands a couple of feet past the pin, sucks back right into the hole for an eagle 2 and the 2-and-1 win.

The win left Stenson 2-0-1 in pool play at London Golf Club and into the single-elimination draw over the weekend.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 17, 2014, 6:03 pm

Webb Simpson didn't play much golf during the Ryder Cup. After bombing with Bubba Watson in the opening session on Friday, Simpson, one of captain Tom Watson's wild-card picks, was relegated to the bench until he had to play in one of 12 singles matches on Sunday.

Needless to say, Simpson wasn't all that pleased with the Gleneagles experience.

"The golf side was a terrible experience because I only played in two matches," Simpson said Thursday at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. "I showed up in Scotland really ready to play and excited to play, and when you sit through three matches in a row, it's tough."

Simpson would have been on board if the U.S. had won. He added, "I mean, if I said the golf was great, you could call me a liar, and we didn't win. If I sit three matches and we win, I'll have a different answer."

For all of the talk about Watson's decision making and, as Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said, his "bedside manner," Simpson boiled down the week's enjoymen to one thing: winning.

"I think all of our team would agree that to an extent, the golf part did stink," he said. "We lost. We lost the Ryder Cup, and nobody likes that."


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 17, 2014, 5:48 pm

Draw in the DunesYou know, there's little that's more tiresome in golf than hearing fans of a certain age complaining about how things used to be better back when, how Jack and Arnie and the rest of their ilk weren't in it just for the money or the fame or the diner waitresses. It's a myth, of course; the golfers of yesteryear were every bit as greedy and self-interested as those of today, it's just that they didn't have checks with extra zeroes or media broadcasting their every twitch.

But then you see what happened at the Ryder Cup recently, with the United States going into full meltdown mode, and you read about what happened at the same event in 1969, and you think that maybe there's a little something to these crusty old tales of better-back-when. "Draw in the Dunes," a new book from Neil Sagebiel, tells the story of an astonishing act of sportsmanship at the Ryder Cup, and does so in compelling fashion.

There's an old saying that the smaller the ball, the better the writing about it. That no longer holds true; much of the most vibrant sportswriting of the 21st century focuses on basketball. (Volleyball and kickball, alas, have seen no such boost.) What's undeniable is that there remains a literary allure to golf writing; if you're of a certain mindset and willing to lose yourself in the pages of a sports book, good golf writing can transport you from  your couch right to a faraway windswept green or tension-wracked tee.

The story: for decades, the United States had owned the Ryder Cup competition. (I know, seems like forever ago, right?) But Great Britain had mounted a serious charge in 1969, and at this particular Ryder Cup, the entire tournament came down to a singles match between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. How did it end? Well, golf historians already know, and you can probably guess by the title. But Nicklaus' explanation of why he did what he did, an act that angered many of his teammates, is an exemplary demonstration of good sportsmanship, the best of what golf wants to believe it is.

Sagebiel had to work without the benefit of complete telecasts in setting his stage, and he does so magnificently, from the varying personalities to the varying locales charted in the story. He draws on the recollections of the participants, and even got Nicklaus and Jacklin to write a foreword for the book. Simply put, this is the definitive account of one of golf's great stories of sportsmanship and honor.

If nothing else, Sagebiel deserves to stand as a beacon for all aspiring sportswriters. He continues to update his Armchair Golf Blog nearly every single day, and he's parlayed it into two nationally recognized books, as well as an association with golf's greatest luminaries. The Internet is the U.S. Open of literary ventures; everyone can enter, but only a very few can succeed. With "Draw in the Dunes," Sagebiel proves he's cracked the code ... and delivered another great book besides.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 17, 2014, 1:36 pm

Rory McIlroy wasn't going to win the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, but that didn't mean the world No. 1 couldn't show off his golf skills and have a little fun in a tricky spot on Wednesday.

McIlroy's tee shot to the par-5 17th at Port Royal Golf Club looked good at first, but then rolled toward a well-placed water hazard. The ball didn't go in the water, but stopped inches from the aqua. Rather than take a penalty stroke or off his shoes and socks to do his best Huck Finn impression, McIlroy decided to do his best Bubba Watson impression.

The world No. 1 turned his club over and stood left-handed so he could get his ball back into play. Calling over to Watson to make sure the southpaw Masters champion was watching, McIlroy made successful contact and hit the ball sideways into the fairway. In the end, McIlroy made his par but came up well short of Watson and U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, who went into a sudden-death playoff to decide the champion. 

In the end, Kaymer won the title and the pink champion's jacket, but McIlroy had the highlight of the day.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 16, 2014, 5:20 pm

Halls of fame are awkward things.

Of course they induct the obvious candidates, your greaest-of-all-time contenders and seminal figures.

What they're really charged with doing isn't recognizing those who push the ceiling higher. Rather, they're expected to identify a floor of greatness. What's good enough to be considered great?

That's been the trouble with the World Golf Hall of Fame since its creation. For one, the Mount Rushmore of the sport had been identified and mostly solidified before the dawn of Tiger Woods. That left filling the void of true, all-time greats with varying degrees of memorable players: from your almost-greats like Nick Faldo to your fan-favorite greats like Fred Couples. Ex-presidents of the United States even got in the Hall of Fame in what had become a convoluted, almost meaningless election process. 

Credit the World Golf Hall of Fame for recognizing it needed to take a break. It skipped an induction in 2014, revamping its selection criteria and election process. While the efficacy of the process is open to debate, the class of 2015 rights some wrongs in the old way of doing things. 

Mark O'Meara's 1998 season was enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. He won the Masters with a 72nd-hole birdie, then took the Open Championship at Birkdale. He also won the 1979 U.S. Amateur. He should have been in by now.

Laura Davies should have been in the Hall of Fame, too, but her absence was because she hadn't earned enough points to qualify under the LPGA's strict rubric. She had been shy of qualifying by two points, earned with either a fifth major title or two more LPGA wins, since 2001. Just when it looked like it wasn't going to happen for the once-dominant Davies, the rules changed in her favor. 

Aussie David Graham is a two-time major champion, taking the 1979 PGA and '81 U.S. Open at Merion, winning near Philly with one of those mythical rounds where he had a birdie putt on every hole en route to a clinching 67. An international schedule that saw him win on six continents didn't jibe with the qualifications to get on the ballot. 

And last, but not least, is course architect A.W. Tillinghast. Tillinghast, who died in 1942, was the genius behind over 250 golf courses, including classics like Winged Foot, Baltusrol and San Francisco Golf Club. His omission was more political in nature. 

Now that some wrongs have been righted and the process revamped, the next big question the Hall of Fame will have to face is mortality. Unlike other sports, golfers can be relevant in the sport for 40 or 50 years. Identifying the right time to induct multi-generational figures in golf is difficult and will probably need to happen next when Tiger Woods' time comes.

In the meantime, the Hall gets to decide if players like Ian Woosnam and Meg Mallon are considered good enough to be great.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 16, 2014, 2:26 am

The idea of forming a committee to try to figure out how to win a biennial exhibition match seems kind of silly, so maybe that's why European Ryder Cup stalwarts had no problem mocking PGA of America's announcement of its Ryder Cup task force. 

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler are among the 11-man committee comprising five current players, three former captains and three PGA of America officials. They're tasked with a top-to-bottom review of how the U.S. approaches the Ryder Cup with the hope of ending the Europeans' three-match winning streak at Hazeltine in 2016. 

For Westwood and Poulter, who, between them, have been on the winning side in 12 of their combined 15 Ryder Cup appearances, the idea of the committee was ridiculously easy to mock on Twitter.

What a massive pat on the back & confidence booster it is for Europe that team USA needs to create a Ryder Cup task force!!!

— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) October 14, 2014

Ian Poulter went more coy, with a joke in binary code, referring to the two times the U.S. has won the Ryder Cup in the last 10 tries.

I thought it was 0,0,1,0,0,0,1,0,0,0 @dougferguson405 Just saw the release on the big Ryder Cup Task Force. The secret password: Hindsight.

— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) October 14, 2014

Of course, plenty of partisan American fans wanted to make a point of fighting with the Brits. But, come on, to the victors go the spoils -- or, in this case, the tweets.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 14, 2014, 10:11 pm

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The PGA of America has announced its Ryder Cup task force, and Tiger Woods is a part of the 11-man roster charged with getting the U.S. back on the winning side of the biennial matches.

Over his career, Woods has often been accused of not caring about the Ryder Cup as some kind of explanation for his lackluster 13-17-3 overall record. He's been called seflish, with critics saying he only cares about individual honors and achievements, which clearly don't jibe in a team situation.

Whether it's to prove something or a display of his Ryder Cup passion, Woods is reportedly gung-ho for this task force.

"What’s comedy over years from certain reporters is this doesn’t mean anything to him," said Steve Stricker, another member of the task force, according to Golf World. "Quite the opposite, I’ve been partners with him. He wants to be on the winning side more than anybody. He brings enthusiasm to the table and that competitive fire that he has."

Former captain Davis Love III also praised Woods' early involvement in the task force.

"Tiger's been unbelievable with input and interest already," said Love. 

While Woods wasn't on the 2014 team at Gleneagles, he has plenty of reason to be part of the Ryder Cup solution. Woods has only been on one winning team (1999 at Brookline) in his seven Ryder Cup appearances. The 14-time major winner will no doubt captain the American side someday as well, so any playbook he can help establish now may well help him out down the line.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 14, 2014, 9:33 pm

For most any golfer, meeting Tiger Woods is an inspiring experience. It has to be, shaking hands with a guy who has won 79 PGA Tour events, including 14 major titles.

Maybe some of that competitive greatness rubbed off on Stanford golfer Viraat Badhwar. Badhwar met Woods this weekend, then went out and shot his first-ever 59 on the Stanford Golf Course.

Now that's a scorecard @StanfordMGolf pic.twitter.com/qOW9DYXIdV

— Maverick McNealy (@13maverickm) October 13, 2014

"My first 59, it was a pretty cool experience," Badhwar said, according to Golfweek. "I just kind of got on a roll. ... It was fun."

As for meeting Woods, Badhwar said, "It was my first time meeting him. It was a dream come true really because I've been looking up to him since I was 7 years old."

Morning practice with @ViraatBadhwar and @TigerWoods #GoCard pic.twitter.com/zfIfpQO1mi

— Calli Ringsby (@calliringsby) October 11, 2014

Woods was in town to induct friend and former teammate Notah Begay III into the school's athletic hall of fame. He also attended the Stanford football game against Washington State, then made his way to Oakland to support the Raiders in a losing effort on Sunday against the Chargers. 


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 13, 2014, 10:51 pm

The PGA of America is expected to announce the members of its Ryder Cup task force on Tuesday, the committee charged with scrutinizing all aspects of the American approach to the matches against Europe with the hope of stemming a trend where the U.S. has lost eight of the last 10 matches. 

Among those on the committee are names you'd expect: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Jim Furyk -- many of the men who've consistently been on the wrong end of the Ryder Cup in the last two decades. Rickie Fowler made the cut. So, too, did Steve Stricker, Tom Lehman and Raymond Floyd. 

Who didn't? Paul Azinger, the last guy to lead the Americans to victory back in 2008, according to Golf World.

That's somewhat of a shocker considering Azinger's willingness to play an integral role in modernizing the American Ryder Cup approach. However, Azinger has also been adamant there's a need for massive, sweeping change, not only in the culture inside the American team room, but also in the PGA of America.

For Azinger, it's all happening too quickly.

“It’s all moving too fast for me,” Azinger said, according to Golfweek. (Azinger also spoke with ESPN.com.) “I have a meeting scheduled with the PGA of America in November and will be prepared to outline my thoughts and plans at that point.”

In other words, Azinger said 'Thanks, but no thanks' to being a part of the committee. Meanwhile, Azinger will work on a comprehensive plan on his own for that November meeting.

It's also somewhat surprising the 25-year-old Fowler is a part of the task force. Fowler has been on just two Ryder Cup teams and is yet to win a match in seven tries. Fowler does seem to represent the future of te American side, so the changes this task force helps bring about will impact him longest of anyone on the panel. 

This task force has an agenda that should carry into sometime in 2015. At a minimum, this group will influence who becomes the next Ryder Cup captain, a person PGA of America president Ted Bishop has already said will not be identified in '14. Those hopeful for an Azinger return could take solace that it would seem ridiculous to give the '93 PGA champion a seat at the task force table and then ask him to carry the job through to Hazeltine in 2016. 

However, it would seem Azinger is unlikely to be part of the plan moving forward. Or maybe he'll surprise us all again.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 13, 2014, 7:06 pm

Sunday was the 2,093rd day of Barack Obama's presidency. He marked the occasion with his 200th in-office round of golf at Fort Belvoir Golf Club in Alexandria, Va.

No doubt the president knew this milestone would bring about a slew of snark from critics. But maybe putting the presidential penchant for golf into perspective might help.U.S. President Barack Obama hits the links while on vacation in Martha's Vineyard.

If each of the president's rounds take five hours, then Obama has spent 1,000 hours playing golf. Sounds like a lot of leisure time on the job, right? However, consider that the unique job of commander-in-chief is a 24-7 career choice, meaning President Obama has spent about 2 percent of his presidency on the golf course.

For Obama's critics, that's far too much time on the links not doing the work of the, more or less, half of the people who voted for him. (Wouldn't the half of the electorate that didn't vote for him want him to do nothing, lest he destroy the U.S. more?)

By extension, maybe the president should never sleep. In a 2012 "Vanity Fair" profile, writer Michael Lewis detailed how Obama aims to sleep some six hours each night. And he does that every day. 

Then again, with the House in session a decade-low 942 hours in 2013, Obama probably has some time on his hands – at least what amounts to about three-and-a-half hours each week, about the time it takes to watch a football game. 

If that's all Obama was doing, watching TV, then there'd be no complaining. It's done behind closed doors. It's not on his official calendar. The media doesn't get the occasional opportunity to watch him watch the tube. It's because this is his 200th time playing golf that the 44th president will be lambasted on Rush Limbaugh's talk radio on Monday, ignoring that Limbaugh was one of Hank Haney's projects.

Golf isn't marathoning, even though it takes about as long for most trained folks to run 26.2 miles as it takes most capable golfers to play 18 holes. If Obama spent endless hours running on a treadmill – physically, since he's already doing it politically – he might be less susceptible to criticism.

Maybe it's that golf's not cheap. It's not for everyone, neither in terms of sheer numbers nor in terms of demographics. The rich and powerful – in fact, many of Obama's very detractors – are stereotypically thought to be the only ones who play golf. The visual of a presidential golfer is an easy one to Etch A Sketch into that of an out-of-touch, rich executive. Then again, there are few sports of the people Obama could play. Slow-pitch softball is probably not an option, though the Congressional softball league is mighty competitive.

It's also easy to paint a golfer as lacking toughness. After all, there is no judo-chopping of cinder blocks at the turn. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is flexing his black belt and wrestling bears on Russian state-run media. That makes him a tough guy, right?

Golf is the perfect fit for President Obama. It requires deliberation and analysis. It takes time to get right. That's probably the appeal, aside from five hours of not playing politics – ironically, doing something that's been made into a strawman political issue.

If Obama continues to play golf at the same clip he has up to this point, he'll play some 280 rounds in eight years as president. That's 20 short of a perfect game in bowling, which would have been about the only sport he could have done that would not have put his free time under such a large microscope.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 13, 2014, 3:08 am
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Greg Norman's left hand is on the mend, but it might never be what it was before a September chainsaw accident. As his recovery continues, Norman is uncertain if he'll be able to play golf again.

“Well we don’t know yet, we don’t know,” Norman said on Fox Business Network on Thursday. “I had my first swing in the gym the other day, not hitting a golf ball but just swinging a light weighted golf club and it definitely feels different. I mean I have to build up a lot of the muscle that was torn away here. Chainsaw does a good job, when you chainsaw a log you see all those chips come out, a little bit of flesh in there too.”

It doesn't seem the accident has deterred the two-time Open Championship winner from continuing to take on this kind of work himself.

“I’m a Mr. Do It man,” he said. “I like to get in there and do everything. If I can do it myself I’m going to do it.”

The 59-year-old Aussie doesn't play much golf these days, however, teeing it up just five or six times in 2014, by his estimation. With a course-design business, wineries and other ventures, the two-time major winner really doesn't have much time to play.

“I love being a living brand,” he said, “I love growing it, I love seeing opportunities out there and the global market place is just extraordinary right now.”


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 12, 2014, 1:20 am

If an ace happens and no one notices, did it really happen? Absolutely.

Billy Hurley III's tee shot at the par-3 15th hole in the second round of the Frys.com Open went 181 yards. The distance to the hole was 181 yards. The former naval officer had dunked one in for an ace. But Hurley had no clue. He stares down toward the green, trying to glean what happened, but doesn't realize it until a lone fan starts going crazy as a witness to a hole-in-one.

The hole-in-one took Hurley to 1 over par, but it wasn't enough to get him above the cut line and to stick around for the weekend.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 11, 2014, 4:56 pm

Rashean Mathis has made a big name for himself on the football field. He doesn't want his son to follow in his footsteps.

In an interview with the Detroit Free-Press, the Detroit Lions cornerback said he would prefer his son stay away from football -- at least until high school.

"I don't want him to," Mathis said. "He doesn't have to play any sport, as far as I'm concerned, but if he does get into it, football will be the last thing I introduce him to."

The toll football has taken on Mathis' body, including a complete knee reconstruction in 2011, dissuades him from encouraging his son to play.

"Just being in the league a long time, I know how rough it could be," he said. "But if he loves it, he loves it, and I'm not going to pull it away from him. That's not going to be the case, but I know that it's taxing on your body, and there's plenty other ways that you can make a living other than football."

Mathis, who is a 4-handicap golfer, would rather his son eventually find his way to golf.

"I would love to be his caddie and him on the golf course," Mathis said. "That's a dream."


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 10, 2014, 1:38 pm

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Phil Mickelson thought for several seconds, visibly conflicted about saying what was about to come out of his mouth. He decided it was worth it.

"No, nobody here was in any decision," Mickelson said, trying to describe what he seemed to believe was the autocratic style Tom Watson used to guide the losing American Ryder Cup team. 

Sitting in the same news conference as Mickelson, Watson denied the charge, saying player and vice-captain input determined the pairings on Friday and Saturday. As the PGA of America prepares to announce a task force to move forward from defeat, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee remains an adamant defender of Watson's captaincy and, by extension, reputation.

Appearing on CBS Sports Radio's "The John Feinstein Show" on Wednesday, Chamblee took up for the eight-time major winner.

"In that press conference, Phil said they didn’t have any say in this Ryder Cup," Chamblee said. "And I know for a fact that all the players were brought together with their caddies and Tom walked amongst them and said, ‘Tell me who you want to play with. Write it down on a sheet of paper, and all of you tell me who you want to play with. Let me know.’  And everybody but one person contributed there."

It almost sounds like semantics. Mickelson's definition of involvement is probably deeper than speaking up on which players wanted to team together, which is kind of standard in a Ryder Cup. However, it was the brain of Steve Stricker that came up with the surprisingly effective pairing of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth. 

Chamblee later told Feinstein the common thread in the last 10 Ryder Cups has been Mickelson, suggesting the left-hander take more pride in wins and losses in the biennial series.

A year ago, Chamblee went after Tiger Woods in a column, saying Woods had been "cavalier with the rules" in taking an incorrect drop at the 2013 Masters. The resulting fallout led to an on-air apology from Chamblee. The experience does not appear to have neutered the analyst. Prodding Mickelson, however, is different than agitating Woods. Woods is a man of few words. Mickelson is not afraid of a verbal spat.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 10, 2014, 12:44 pm

Nicolas Colsaerts almost had it, almost had carded the first 59 in European Tour history, but his bid for history was an inch too far to the left. Instead, the Belgian shot the 19th 60 in European Tour history on Thursday in the Portugal Masters. 

The long-hitter had to work hard to give himself a chance at the historic round. After going out in a modest 31, Colsaerts made eagles at the par-4 15th and par-5 17th to need one final birdie. 

His approach to the last left him some 18 feet for the record, but the putt didn't break how he thought it would.

"I thought it was going to be slightly left to right at the end and it kind of went straight and basically just left it hanging," Colsaerts said of his 11-under-par round. "Too bad, I thought it was a pretty good effort."

At this same tournament a year ago, Scott Jamieson's bid for 59 came up short as his birdie chip at the last grazed the cup. Paul Casey had a chance to shoot 59 during the KLM Open in September, but bogeyed the last hole.

The European Tour is the only of the world's five major tours to have never hosted a 59 without preferred lies. Kevin Sutherland scored the first 59 in Champions Tour history this season at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

By contrast, there have been 35 rounds of 60 or better in PGA Tour history, with six 59s. Jim Furyk was the last to break 60, doing so in the 2013 BMW Championship. 

Curiously, there had been seven rounds of 60 in PGA Tour history before Al Geiberger became Mr. 59 in 1977. Prior to that day in Memphis, there hadn't been a round of 60 on the PGA Tour in 20 years. It would be another 23 years before another 60 was posted after Geiberger.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 9, 2014, 5:18 pm

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Once Rory McIlroy had won the Open Championship last July, the talk immediately turned to the possibility of the world No. 1 completing the career Grand Slam next April at the Masters. 

Then McIlroy won the PGA Championship, earning his fourth major title. In picking up his second Wanamaker Trophy in three years, McIlroy ratched up the meaning of the Masters even more. If McIlroy slips on a green jacket next April, then he has the opportunity to hold all four majors at once with a U.S. Open win at Chambers Bay.

It may all seem a little premature, but McIlroy acknowledged the possibility of the McIl-slam (instead of the ill-fated Mickel-slam from 2006). 

"If that (Masters win) were to happen, there could be even more hype going into the U.S. Open and trying to hold all four [majors] at the same time," said McIlroy.

The Ulsterman, however, brought himself back from thinking too far into the future.

"But we're getting ahead of ourselves there. Look, Augusta is going to be a very special week and hopefully I can live up to expectations."

Via Eye on Golf


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 9, 2014, 1:46 am

Lee Westwood hasn't been on the losing end of too many Ryder Cup teams. In nine appearances, he's been on the winning team seven times. So maybe he isn't the best guy to talk about how to handle defeat in the biennial matches.

However, Westwood was asked Wednesday to weigh in on the resulting fallout from the Americans' latest Ryder Cup defeat. He obliged, and the Englishman did not approve.

"From my point of view, I think it's a little bit disappointing to see the dirty laundry being out in public first and foremost," said Westwood.

The former world No. 1 believes there's plenty of blame to go around the American side. Pinning it all on captain Tom Watson, in Westwood's view, would be a mistake.

"Yeah, maybe Tom got a few things wrong," he said. "Maybe the U.S. team just didn't quite play well enough in general."

For Westwood, the public discussion that has unfolded in the week-plus since the matches ended is one that should have been had in private.

He added, "I'm just pleased that I don't have to sort it all out because I don't like to see people with great reputations, their great reputations being brought down by something that shouldn't really happen in public."


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 9, 2014, 1:03 am

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson made for terrible partners at the 2004 Ryder Cup. A decade later, the two appear poised to work together to fix a systemic problem.

PGA of America president Ted Bishop has indicated multiple times in the last week there would be change coming to the entire U.S. approach to the biennial matches, from how a captain is picked and players are selected to the itinerary the week of the event two years hence. Bishop has said that change will come from recommendations made by a task force of current players, former captains and other PGA of America officials. 

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are expected to be part of that group, according to GolfChannel.com, as well victorious 2008 Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger and 2012 captain Davis Love III, whose team lost a 10-6 Saturday night lead at Medinah.

What will come of this task force is uncertain. However, Bishop did make it clear this committee will hold up the announcement of the 2016 American captain. The name of that person will likely emerge from this committee.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 8, 2014, 2:29 am

Tiger Woods is no longer the world's most valuable athlete brand. 

Forbes Magazine has released its list of the 10 most valuable athlete brands, and Woods is second on the list behind Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. The ranking isn't simply a list of how much endorsement money the ranked athletes pull in, but rather a monetary assessment of their intrinsic value.

James' value grew $10 million in year, up to $37 million, which is $1 million higher than Woods. For his part, Woods dropped $10 million over 2013. The magazine cited Electronic Arts' decision to end their 14-year relationship with Woods as the primary reason for the drop.

This year marks the first time Woods wasn't atop the list since 2007.

Woods' friend, Roger Federer, is third on the list. His value was equal to that of Woods in 2013, but dropped even further than the 14-time major winner, down to $32 million.

Phil Mickelson is fourth on the list, with his stock on the rise despite a lackluster 2014 campaign. Mickelson comes in valued at $29 million, a $4 million hike from a year ago.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 8, 2014, 2:10 am

Jarrod Lyle has beaten leukemia twice in his life. So what chance did the field in the Frys.com Open Monday qualifier have?

The Australian, who last played on the PGA Tour in March 2012, shockingly did not receive a sponsor's exemption into this week's PGA Tour season kickoff at Silverado Golf Club in California's Napa Valley. The gritty fighter he is, Lyle played to earn his spot in the field.

Lyle shot 66 in the one-round event, landing himself in an eight-for-four playoff to fill out the field in the event. He manuevered his way through the playoff and has a spot in this week's tournament. He already has a spot in the field for next week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. 

In March 2012, Lyle announced he was again battling acute myeloid leukemia, a condition he faced when he was 17 years old. Lyle and wife Briony have also become parents to daughter Lusi just days before Lyle began this latest fight with leukemia. In Nov. 2013, Lyle made his competitive return to golf at the Australian Masters, making the 36-hole cut and finishing tied for 57th in one of the country's bigges tournaments.

This past July, Lyle made his return to the U.S., playing in the Web.com Tour's Midwest Classic and finishing T-11. He missed the cut in three subsequent Web.com Tour starts in August.

The PGA Tour comeback officially starts for Lyle on Thursday, who will be playing on the PGA Tour on a major medical exemption. He has 19 starts to earn $283,825 which, combined with his 2012 earnings, would give him enough money to match No. 125 on that year's PGA Tour money list.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 7, 2014, 2:45 pm

It's been a long PGA Tour off-season. OK, it's been a couple of weeks. But Brandt Snedeker had to find the way to pass some time and recharge for the new season, kicking off this week in California's Napa Valley. So he went into the Tennessee woods and did some skeet shooting...with his 4-iron.

Snedeker tweeted this video of his direct hit with a clay pigeon thanks to a butter-knife cut he hit.

The video looks at the shot from pretty much every speed rate so you can see it was no fluke or edit job. Who knows what number take this was, but it's still impressive.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 6, 2014, 3:33 pm

Five weeks into the NFL season, in many cities around the country, the most popular man in town is the backup quarterback. Why? Because he could be the key to turning this whole season around...if only he got the chance to play. 

Odds are, though, that single player, unless he's the next Tom Brady, will struggle to win more than a few games, much less transform a franchise. 

***

Donald Trump has seemingly teased running for every major political office in the last decade, namely for president in 2012 and again is letting the drumbeat start for 2016. He's yet to declare candidacy, and he probably never will. 

Trump is a smart man. He knows when to buy distressed assets, like golf courses. He knows how to work the financial system. He is also well aware that he is at his most politically potent -- like former Alaska governor Sarah Palin -- on the sidelines. 

Running does him no good, especially if he feels there's no chance to win. It's better to let people wonder what could be in their imagination than risk defeat, or worse, disappointment were Trump to win an election.

***

I believe Paul Azinger truly wants to be Ryder Cup captain again. He immersed himself in the job in 2006, carrying his work all the way through a brilliant win at Valhalla in 2008. Azinger would do it again, given the opportunity, using the plan he turned into a cookbook for success as a guide. 

Let's say Zinger got the job for '16 at Hazeltine. And that's a big "if." What if he did everything right, pushed all the right buttons and still came up short? What if the Europeans came to the U.S. and won yet again?

That's the danger in Paul Azinger returning as captain of the Ryder Cup team. He would be setting a no-win trap for himself.

If he loses, critics and fans alike might believe that '08 win was a fluke. They could say it was a poorly prepared European captain in Nick Faldo that gave the U.S. the edge. They could wonder when Anthony Kim is coming out of the witness protection program to give the Americans another Patrick Reed it so depserately needs. There's plenty of second-guessing to go around if Azinger's second coming brings a loss.

If he wins, then it's the outcome every hopeful American expects: Azinger returns to his rightful place, wins and remains Ryder Cup royalty until he abdicates the spot to a disciple. We should've done this years ago! But Azinger won't do this forever, and he certainly can't win forever.

Paul Azinger's greatest contribution to the Ryder Cup won't be winning in 2008. It will be in spearheading the development of a true Ryder Cup program that, at a minimum, turns this series into a back-and-forth affair worthy of the talent on both sides of the Atlantic. Azinger can collaborate with current players to develop a player and selection strategy that reflects the modern tour and models itself as a hybrid of the '08 model and the Europeans' succession planning it does so well. He can set into motion a decade or more of continuity that anticipates future captains, the aging and changing of the team makeup and unified preparation. 

In other words, Paul Azinger should be the general manager of the American Ryder Cup team, not its manager. That will mean sharing praise for future American wins with the button-pushing captain. It'll mean fewer people will understand what Azinger did to, in NFL PR parlance, get this right. However, Azinger is not only up to the task, but he's willing to do what it takes to restore the country he loves on a stage he loves maybe as much. 

An American Ryder Cup renaissance is not a one-man, one-time job. It'll take a team and time. The effort will require patience and persistence, not the abandonment of an approach if it fails. Let Azinger sit at the head of that table, the one constant in an otherwise rotating cast of players, captains and PGA of America officials.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 6, 2014, 3:09 pm

The man who brought in Tom Watson to captain the 2014 American Ryder Cup team has finally spoken up after yet another U.S. defeat in the biennial matches, and it's not exactly in the tone you might expect.

PGA of America president Ted Bishop appeared on BBC Radio's 5 Live on Sunday, saying Phil Mickelson's post-loss comments reflected his passion for the matches and had some potent truth to them.

“[Mickelson is] passionate about the Ryder Cup and he feels that there needs to be some changes going forward, and I think Phil would undoubtedly say that, if what he said on Sunday night helps propagate some of those changes, then he probably would be OK with it," Bishop said.

He continued, explaining the PGA of America was creating a task force of former presidents, captains and current players to look at all options in revamping the selection of players and captains.

“From a United States standpoint, just really blowing the model up and starting completely over and trying to get some people involved who, as Phil said, are invested in the process," Bishop said. 

The underlying message in what Phil said after the loss and in the tone of subsequent reporting is clear, and Bishop gets it.

“We need to have the input of players," he said. "Players need to feel good about where we’re going with this.”

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 5, 2014, 11:30 pm

Rory McIlroy was battling for yet another win this season, in the thick of it in the final round of the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday.

Playing the Old Course at St. Andrews, McIlroy found himself in a tricky spot on the famous 17th hole. In search of a way to the green for an awkward angle, McIlroy pulled out the flat stick and tried to putt his balll onto the green. It didn't go well. McIlroy putted his ball into the famous Road Hole bunker guarding the green.

From there, McIlroy made a costly bogey that would ultimately be the difference in losing to Oliver Wilson, who at No. 792 in the world won his first European Tour event after 228 career starts.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 5, 2014, 8:33 pm

Tom Watson had to say something. His reputation has been under fire for the last week, since his American team lost the Ryder Cup for the third consecutive time last Sunday in Scotland.

Watson issued what was deemed an "open letter" by the PGA of America on Saturday, discussing how he handled his dozen players that didn't get the job done at Gleneagles.

The letter in full reads:

In response to all of the recent discussion about our Ryder Cup loss, I would like to make a few comments.

First, I take complete and full responsibility for my communication, and I regret that my words may have made the players feel that I didn’t appreciate their commitment and dedication to winning the Ryder Cup. My intentions throughout my term as Captain were both to inspire and to be honest.

Secondly, the guys gave everything. They played their hearts out. I was proud to get to know each and every one of them. I know they are all going to win tournaments, be on future Ryder Cup teams and have wonderful careers.

Our team certainly showed guts when it took it to the other team early in Sunday's singles matches. We were indeed tied with them as the scoreboard turned wonderfully “red.” Our players started fast as I had asked them to in my comments the night before. I asked them to really concentrate on holes 2-5, as the Europeans had won too many early battles on these particular holes.  But in the end, the facts are that the other team played better. My hat's off and congratulations to them.

As for Phil's comments, I completely understand his reaction in the moment. Earlier this week I had an open and candid conversation with him and it ended with a better understanding of each other's perspectives. Phil's heart and intentions for our Team's success have always been in the right place. Phil is a great player, has great passion and I admire what he's done for golf.

The bottom line is this. I was their Captain. In hindsight whatever mistakes that were made were mine. And  I take complete and full responsibility for them. I want to say again to the players, their families, the PGA and our country how proud and honored I was to captain this talented group of golfers, and how privileged I was to spend the past two years working this labor of my love for the Ryder Cup.

Phil Mickelson subtly criticized Watson immediately after the American loss, suggesting a longing for the leadership style of victorious 2008 captain Paul Azinger. Mickelson later lamented that no player was involved in any playing decision over the course of the week, a dig at Watson for not taking cues from him charges about who should play when, especially over the course of the first two days of the three-day competition.

A report on Friday put Watson in a worse light, citing four sources in reporting Watson's curmudgeonly actions on the night before the American defeat was secured at Gleneagles. Watson reportedly told his American team they "stink" at foursomes, the alternate-shot format that put the U.S. behind the proverbial 8-ball and unable to rally for a win the next day.

The fallout from the American loss has prompted calls for Azinger to again become American captain, as well more radical changes to the process for selecing a captain and players. 

Watson's well-orchestrated words may have come too late to mean much now, but he had to say something given how the court of public opinion has judged him in the days following the Ryder Cup. 

Now the question is if more information about Watson's run as captain and his relationship with the 12 players on his team will be released.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 5, 2014, 12:00 am

Whether he realized it or not, what Tom Watson said and did the night before the final day of the Ryder Cup may have been why Phil Mickelson skewered him after a third-straight American defeat at Gleneagles.

According to an ESPN.com report, Watson's behavior at a Saturday night team meeting soured the dozen-man American team on their leader before trying to mount a record-tying comeback against the European team. 

After the U.S. was waxed in the Saturday afternoon foursomes (alternate shot) session, they trailed 10-6 heading into the 12 singles matches on Sunday. Acutely aware of the European comeback from the same margin on American soil two years prior, several U.S. players were upbeat about the prospect of a turnabout result. Then came the team meeting in the Gleneagles Hotel.

Watson opened the meeting by telling his charges they "stink at foursomes," which may well have been a reaction to the Americans losing seven out of a possible eight points in two foursomes sessions. The eight-time major winner then poked fun at the European opponents for his players as he went over the Sunday singles docket. Both scream the actions of a man who learned the coaching style from a bygone generation, not the style the Americans are so aware works for the Europeans to the tune of eight Ryder Cup wins in their last 10 tries.

After setting the stage for Sunday, Watson was presented with a gift from his team: a replica Ryder Cup trophy signed by all of his players. Watson reportedly scoffed at the gift, suggesting it meant nothing unless his team completed the comeback on Sunday.

Several players and Watson's vice-captains spoke after this awkward scene. Mickelson went last, pulling up a chair with his back turned to Watson, almost to figuratively say, "Forget this guy." Reportedly, Mickelson talked up his teammates, offering up testimonial stories to improve their confidence before the meeting ended. The team mood swung back toward the cautious optimism that prevailed before Watson tore into his team and their opponennts.

When the U.S. came up three points short of the 8.5 they needed to win the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008, Watson didn't let off the gas. He reportedly greeted several players after their matches by saying they should have played better.

By then, Mickelson had clearly seen enough. Interviewed by NBC after the U.S. had lost, Mickelson vented his frustration that the PGA of America had gotten away from 2008 victorious captain Paul Azinger, his Pod system and management style. Without mentioning Watson by name or what unfolded in the team room, Mickelson made his point: Watson had messed up in his eyes and wasn't going to get away with it.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 4, 2014, 1:12 am

Jamie Sadlowski makes money by the yard. He's a multi-time world long-drive champion with a career-best drive of over 430 yards. He hits the ball so hard, he's broken Golf Channel's in-studio simulator not once, but twice.

So when Sadlowski hits the ball almost 100 yards less than his best, it's disappointing, right? Not when he's doing it from his knees.

The folks at Callaway Golf shot this footage of Sadlowski bashing balls at their California facility. Needless to say, we're impressed.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 3, 2014, 6:29 pm

Some people go an entire lifetime without a hole-in-one. For Jason Cheng, he had to wait about 34 years for his first. Then about 20 minutes for the second one.

Cheng was playing in a scramble tournament at Coyote Creek Golf Club in Morgan Hill, Calif., when he made a hole-in-one at the par-3 second hole from 171 yards using a 5-iron. It was the first of his life. A good day, right? Not so fast, my friend.

Two holes later, Cheng stepped to the tee at the par-3 fourth hole with a 7-iron in hand. Sure enough, Cheng dropped another one in off the tee, this time from 152 yards, for his second ace in three holes. 

"The second one was pure shock," Cheng said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "We were running around the tee box like chickens with our heads cut off. I don't know where we thought we were going. We were just running."

"It was pure joy, lots of hugs," Cheng added.

The stated statistical odds of that happening are 67 million to 1. However, in such a close stretch, those odds have to skyrocket.

Technically, Cheng had to buy two rounds for everyone at the bar after the round. However, he got off easy. By the time his team had come in, only about one-tenth of the 130-player field was left. 


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 3, 2014, 4:28 pm

Steve Williams is done as a full-time caddie. It's the reason Williams and Adam Scott have stopped working together. However, the Kiwi caddie would be willing to loop on a part-time basis. In particular, Williams would be open to one last run with his previous employer: Tiger Woods.

“He’s definitely someone I’d consider," Williams told the Associated Press. "He’s a tremendous talent, but it’s hard to say right now because it’s only two weeks since I’ve hung up the clubs.”

Woods fired Williams in July 2011, just a month after Williams caddied for Scott at the U.S. Open at Congressional. Woods was out of the event with an injury, leaving Williams with nothing to do. Scott, without a caddie after parting ways with Tony Navarro, needed someone with Williams' talents. The two paired up at Congressional for what both likely believed was a one-week affair. 

However, Woods didn't take kindly to Williams finding side work and ditched him after a dozen years and 13 majors won together. Scott and Williams became a full-time team. When Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational later that summer, Williams celebrated obnoxiously and acted like he won the tournament, maybe marking the first time ever the caddie had a post-tournament news conference. Woods eventually settled on Joe LaCava as his caddie. 

Williams made several comments about Woods after revelations of the golfer's extramarital relationships became public in late 2009 and early 2010.

At a golf-tournament function in November 2011, Williams made a racially charged remark about Woods. Speaking about his WGC celebration, Williams reportedly said, "I wanted to shove it up that black [expletive]."

Woods and Williams shared a post-round handshake at the 2013 Open Championship when Scott and Woods were paired together in the final round at Muirfield. It seemed to observers to be as close as Woods would ever get to a public make-up with his former caddie.

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 2, 2014, 1:12 am

Expect the PGA of America to make a number of changes to their entire approach toward the Ryder Cup.

What those changes will be and how sweeping we'll consider them remains to be seen, but PGA of America president Ted Bishop said Tuesday they will not be made in hasty reaction to the third-straight American loss and the ensuing vocal displeasure of Phil Mickelson about Tom Watson's captaincy.

However, one change, at least for 2016, is all but a certainty. The '16 PGA Championship will be played the last week of July to accommodate golf's return to the Olympic program later that summer. Traditionally, the season's final major is the cutoff to determine the players that automatically qualify for the American Ryder Cup team. With the change in date, a different event is likely to assume that important spot.

“There is no way, in my opinion, you can announce the automatic qualifiers two months before the Ryder Cup,” said Bishop.

That means it's likely the 2016 FedEx Cup playoffs will take on even more importance, with one event the last to determine which players qualify on points and another the final event to get into the conversation for the to-be-determined captain's wild-card picks.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 1, 2014, 7:20 pm

When Rory McIlroy sank the final putt at Valhalla in August to win the PGA Championship, his fourth major title and second in a row, he locked up the PGA Tour Player of the Year award. 

The formality of announcing the final vote of McIlroy's peers was done Wednesday, with the Northern Irishman landing the honor for the second time. He previously won the award in 2012 when he won his first PGA Championship title at Kiawah Island.

McIlroy won the Open Championship and aforementioned PGA, with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational sandwiched in as part of a dominance-establishing three-event win streak late in the summer. In 17 PGA Tour starts this past season, McIlroy finished in the top 10 in 12 of them. In addition, he won the BMW PGA Championship in May, the European Tour's flagship event.

The PGA Tour does not release the final tally of votes cast by its players for the honor, but it's safe to say McIlroy was on an overwhelming number of ballots. 

"It's a very important honor for players to be voted Player of the Year by your peers," McIlroy said in a Wednesday morning teleconference announcing the award. "They're the guys that you're trying to beat week in, week out, and the other guys see you put the hard work in, and to know that they appreciate what you've put into it and how well that you've played, it's a great honor and a great honor to win twice in the space of three years, and hopefully I can win it for many more years to come."

McIlroy joins rare company with the win, with the likes of Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Nick Price as the only players to win the award multiple times since it was first awarded in 1990.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: October 1, 2014, 6:50 pm

Tiger Woods found a tougher business than golf-course design: owning a restaurant. 

A Jupiter, Fla., development called Harbourside Place and Woods jointly announced Tuesday he'll be the owner of a new restaurant opening in his adopted hometown called the The Woods Jupiter: Sports and Dining Club. The 5,900-square-foot restaurant will open in the first quarter of 2015.

“I envision a place where people can meet friends, watch sports on TV and enjoy a great meal,” Woods said in a news release. “I wanted to build it locally where I live and where it could help support the community.”

Woods has a little time on his hands to be intimiately involved in the development of the restaurant. The 14-time major winner will not compete again until his World Challenge event in Orlando in December. 


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 30, 2014, 9:05 pm

You can pin the blame on whoever or whatever you want, but the fact remains the American Ryder Cup team lost its third-straight biennial match against Europe on Sunday in Scotland. That ties the longest American losing streak, matching the stretch from 2002-06 when the Europeans twice beat the U.S. by record, embarrassing 18.5-9.5 counts.

Tom Watson didn't work, with the complete picture why still to be revealed.

Three captain's picks didn't work, as two (Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan) contributed very little to the overall effort.

Something has to change, and it seems toggling the captain and the number of guys he can hand-pick for the team may not be the answer. Let's try something else. Try on these three suggestions for size.

1. Shorten the qualifying period to just eight months: Americans qualify for the Ryder Cup team over a two-year period, earning points weighted toward events in the second year of the cycle (a smart change made by Paul Azinger). However, this approach still doesn't identify the hot hands, so to speak. Throw out the two-year cycle and shorten it from Jan. 1 the year of the competition through the end of the PGA Championship. This way, only players who have stood out when it matters most make the team on points.

2. Name a player in his late 30s captain: Until 65-year-old Tom Watson got the call, the PGA of Amerca's formula for picking Ryder Cup captains sided with modest major winners in their late 40s (Tom Lehman, Davis Love III, Corey Pavin, etc.). The PGA wants guys with an impressive-enough CV that are still somewhat in touch with their younger peers. The PGA has it wrong. Majors don't matter and don't decide if a captain will be any good at the job. Ask Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie or Bernard Gallacher. Instead, identify a driven, smart player who sees their best days behind them and the opportunity to mastermind a U.S. victory as their career highlight.

3. Let the players pick the captain: The European Tour has this one right. They've architected a system whereby the equiavlent of their commissioner and the last three European captains, plus one more player, pick future Ryder Cup leaders. It's a form of succession planning that carries through in who is named a vice-captain for each team. Rather than ushering in a new administration with each successive American captain, name a cabinet of guys that will work together to get this thing figured out. They can all take turns as ceremonial captain, but this group would ultimately be one unit dedicated to turning the tide. 

What would you recommend the U.S. and PGA of America do to make a stronger Ryder Cup team?


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 30, 2014, 3:32 pm

Tom Watson didn't get the job done. The Americans lost their third-consecutive Ryder Cup on Sunday in Scotland, and the defeat had many fans, including PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel, demanding 2008 captain Paul Azinger get the job again.

Azinger was the last man to guide the U.S. to a Ryder Cup win, using what he termed the Pod system to group players, build camaraderie and make matchups that ultimately took down the Nick Faldo-led European side after consecutive 18.5-9.5 embarrassments in '04 and '06.

While Azinger would probably do a splendid, if not successful, job in the role again, there are others patiently waiting in line to captain the sinking American ship. Without making another Titanic reference, let's assess the other contenders.

Steve Stricker: When Tom Watson named the Wisconsin native as an assistant captain, it originally seemed maybe Watson was extending an olive branch to Tiger Woods by putting his good buddy (and occasional putting coach) on the team in a non-playing capacity. However, maybe Watson saw something in Stricker that suggested he might make a great captain sooner than later.

David Toms: Before Tom Watson was revealed as 2014 captain, the conventional wisdom had the 2001 PGA champion slotted for the job sooner than later. Watson may have delayed that opportunity by two years, maybe four. Toms should get his day, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The LSU product wouldn't be drastic enough of a change to spur much reaction from fans or Toms' peers.

Fred Couples: Boom-Boom wouldn't be a shocking pick in one regard: He's guided the U.S. to three consecutive victories in the Presidents Cup. His tenure was a complete success, and the players love to play for him. However, the Presidents Cup is the PGA Tour's event, and, while the PGA Tour and PGA of America are getting along better than ever, a cross-pollinating captain seems unlikely.

Larry Nelson: Nelson is a three-time major champion and has been snubbed for the captain's job for two decades. However, the failure of the Watson experiment makes it all the tougher to see the PGA of America finally giving Nelson, who went 5-0-0 in the 1979 Ryder Cup, his due. 


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 30, 2014, 1:51 am

Samantha Staudt hit a hole-in-one on the fifth hole of her debut round with her high school's varsity golf team. It was one of those moments she'll remember forever, something she figured she'd never repeat.

So after hitting a clean shot off the 8th hole tee at the Inniscrone Golf Club in Avondale, Pa., Staudt was confused that she didn't see the ball on the green. The thought that she'd hit a second hole-in-one never even crossed her mind, she told Philly.com. Staudt and her opponent, Avon Grove, apparently walked around looking for the ball for a bit before Grove eventually found it in the hole. A second hole-in-one, only eight holes into her varsity career. Both of the holes were par-3s.

Had 2 hole on in ones in one match! Craziest thing I ever did ⛳️😳 pic.twitter.com/B7AgbFLGnu

— Sammie Staudt (@SAMwichS_20) September 23, 2014

The 16-year-old had pulled off something few professional golfers will do in their lifetimes. And when you do that, crazier things are in store. ESPN's Sportscenter soon tweeted about it, and two days later, The Ellen Degeneres Show was on the line.

SOMEONE FROM THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW CALLED 😳😳

— Sammie Staudt (@SAMwichS_20) September 26, 2014

"I didn't even know what to do," Staudt said. "On the first one, we were going crazy, but I've never heard of anyone having two in one round."

She finished the round at one shot under par.

Author: Danielle Elliot
Posted: September 29, 2014, 5:51 pm

Christopher Meyers stood in the fairway at Pebble Beach's iconic par-5 18th hole, needing to get up-and-down for eagle to win the pro-junior competition at the Nature Valley First Tee Open.

With partner Lee Janzen looking on, Meyers struck a 4-iron from 204 yards. After a couple of hops, Meyers' second shot found the bottom of the cup for a walk-off, tournament-winning albatross (or double eagle, if you so wish). According to Pebble Beach officials, this is the first time an albatross has been made in a tournament at the last hole.

What makes the outcome even more amazing is that Meyers' tee shot nearly went into the Pacific Ocean, caroming off the rocks separating the golf course and water. 


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 29, 2014, 2:15 am

Phil Mickelson knows the right man for the job of 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain: the man who led the American charge in 2008. 

Shortly after the Europeans clinched a third-consecutive Ryder Cup on Sunday at Gleneagles, Mickelson suggested Paul Azinger should get another crack at the job.

"We had a great formula in '08," Mickelson said on NBC's coverage. "I don’t know why we strayed. I don’t know why we don’t go back. What Zinger did was great."

Azinger guided the American team to a 16.5-11.5 win over captain Nick Faldo and the Europeans six years ago at Valhalla in Kentucky. He employed what he called a Pod system, creating three groups of four players based on personality types that bonded, practiced and played together throughout the matches. 

Whether or not Mickelson carries any weight with PGA of America leadership is unclear, but as an almost-certain future captain and five-time major champion, it would seem his words matter.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 5:10 pm

You're angry. You're upset. You're looking for a scapegoat for the Americans' eighth loss in the last 10 Ryder Cups. Here's one: Jack Nicklaus.

In 1977, Jack Nicklaus met with the Earl of Derby, who, at the time, ran the PGA of Europe and the combined team of Great Britain and Ireland. GB&I had lost nine of the previous 10 Ryder Cups. They played to a draw in the 1969 matches at Royal Birkdale, thanks in large part to a putt Nicklaus conceded to Tony Jacklin on the final hole of the final match. It was obvious Americans would lose interest in the biennial matches if they won all the time. So Nicklaus had a suggestion: expand the GB&I team to include continental Europe.

Rory McIlroy shakes hands with Jack Nicklaus. (Getty Images)The PGA of Europe and PGA of America both loved the idea. It would inject some intrigue. Two years later, Team Europe made its Ryder Cup debut, falling to the U.S. by a 17-9 count. The 1981 matches were worse, with the U.S. winning 18½-9½. But in 1983, the Europeans nearly pulled it out, losing by a mere point. Seve Ballesteros, at the peak of his career, urged his teammates not to lament the loss but see it as proof that they could, in fact, beat the Americans.

Since 1985, the Ryder Cup has been played 15 times. With their victory on Sunday at Gleneagles, Europe has won 10 times, halving once.

How fitting, then, for the European Tour to award Nicklaus on Sunday with an honorary lifetime membership.

“Both organizations [the European Tour and PGA of Europe] would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the vision of one man who, in 1977, recommended to the President of the PGA of America and our President of the British PGA to consider widening the British and Ireland team to all of Europe," said European Tour chief executive George O'Grady on Sunday.

Nicklaus never could have imagined expanding the Ryder Cup would have flipped the matches on their head, so dramatically in favor of the Europeans.

A look down the all-time list of most Ryder Cup points won shows the importance of Europe to the matches. Bernhard Langer (from Germany), Seve (Spain), Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain) and Sergio Garcia (Spain) are all in the top seven of that list.

Despite their differences – language being the least of them – the Europeans band together every two years to wallop the Americans. They come together as a team, lifted by a singular cause.

The U.S. says they do band together, too, defeat after defeat, but the results simply don't show it. In fact, a generation – yes, a generation – of resounding losses have poisoned the American talent pool. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk – they've all been rolled by Europe so many times it's hard to imagine finding the inspiration to fight back. Mickelson may well have Stockholm Syndrome based on how he applauded Justin Rose after each successive bomb in their decisive singles match at Medinah two years ago. Woods phoned in the final hole against Francesco Molinari back then, knowing a win wasn't possible. Indifferent about the tie, he lost the hole to give the Europeans another win. Why bother.

Some 37 years after Nicklaus posited his revolutionary idea, it would be great if he, or anyone for that matter, could deliver one to benefit the United States. Let me humbly pose a pair of ideas.

PGA of America president Ted Bishop, or his successor Derek Sprague, should call 2008 captain Paul Azinger on Monday and offer him the job for 2016 at Hazeltine near Minneapolis. Apologies are in order for not celebrating what he masterminded at Valhalla. He should have the job until he loses. His "pod system" – he had players play, practice and hang out together based on personality tests – worked in the same way that nationality helps European duos gel.

Future captain's picks, be they two, three or 12, should favor inexperience. Tom Watson selected Hunter Mahan despite his crippling flub against Graeme McDowell in 2010 at Celtic Manor. Mahan's repeated goofs against Rose on Sunday was Exhibit A as to why Ryder Cup experience is a liability, not an asset, on the American team. Exhibits B, C and D are Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker, the three rookies who played inspired, passionate golf these last three days.

The next generation of American greats will have grown up knowing nothing but Ryder Cup defeat. They will be motivated in the way Seve Ballesteros was so infectiously. Reed and Spieth are the future, with other young players still to come.

Now we have two long years to identify a path forward, an inspired leader and to stew -- again.


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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 4:26 pm

Europe's Jamie Donaldson drinks from a champagne bottle to celebrate his singles match to win the 2014 Ryder Cup golf tournament at Gleneagles, Scotland, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)The Ryder Cup is over and done with, pencils down. Some players (and captains) performed well under pressure, and some, well, didn't. Let's take a look at each team and size up their performance at this year's Ryder Cup.

TEAM EUROPE

Paul McGinley (captain): He won the Ryder Cup, so that's an A right there. But the way he structured this team over the last two years, outlining expectations and containing dissent, he set a model for European captains for years to come. His captain's picks didn't work out, but they didn't need to. GRADE: A.

Thomas Bjorn (0-2-1): He didn't play particularly well in either the fourball or singles matches. But when you've got such an arsenal around you, you can afford to have a letdown. GRADE: D+.

Jamie Donaldson (3-1-0): Great success story, playing his way onto the European team despite setbacks in both personal and professional life. His reward? Striking the winning stroke for Europe. GRADE: A.

Victor Dubuisson (2-0-1): Quality performance out of the French rookie, who's just 24 and likely to be around for many more of these. This is exactly the way to build a strong Ryder resume. GRADE: A-.

Stephen Gallacher (0-2-0): The captain's pick was one of the few misfires on the European side, unable to get anything going against rookies Spieth and Reed on Friday, unable to hang with Mickelson on Sunday. GRADE: D.

Sergio Garcia (2-1-1): One of the most decorated Ryder Cup players in European history remained as steady as ever, winning when he needed to and not causing Europe any worry. GRADE: A-. 

Martin Kaymer (1-1-2): Wasn't as dominant here as he was at Pinehurst, but didn't need to be. And he handled Bubba Watson effectively on Sunday, keeping the European avalanche rolling. GRADE: B-.

Graeme McDowell (3-0-0): Did exactly what was expected of him, and rallied from well down to take out Jordan Spieth on Sunday. GRADE: A.

Rory McIlroy (2-1-2): The world no. 1 was oddly quiet through much of the Ryder Cup, but came through huge when he was most needed: the final singles match, in which he absolutely destroyed Rickie Fowler. Sometimes good is good enough. GRADE: B.

Ian Poulter (0-1-2): No player on either team underperformed relative to their expected contribution more than Poulter, who was predicted as one of Europe's titans. He was anything but, and only his astonishing pitch on Saturday afternoon to salvage a half kept him from failing this Cup. GRADE: D.

Justin Rose (3-0-2): You can't stop him, you can only hope to hold him to a half-point. The best player on the course from beginning to end. He wasn't the difference, but he gave Europe an aura of invincibility the USA couldn't touch. GRADE: A+.

Henrik Stenson (3-1-0): Strong performances throughout the weekend, though he faltered on Sunday against Patrick Reed. He's guaranteed competitive in every match, which is more than most of the U.S. team could say. GRADE: A.

Lee Westwood (2-2-0): The reliable Ryder Cup veteran delivered a reliable performance, hanging in for two points and validating his pick from McGinley. GRADE: B-.

US team captain Tom Watson, left, sits in a buggy and looks at the scoreboard near the 11th hole during the singles match on the final day of the Ryder Cup golf tournament at Gleneagles, Scotland, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. Unidentified man at right. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)TEAM USA

Tom Watson (captain): His pairing of rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed was inspired; his benching of that pairing on Friday afternoon was not. Watson outthought himself in this Ryder Cup, from his selection of captain's picks to his start-and-sit strategy on Friday and Saturday. GRADE: D.

Keegan Bradley (1-2-0): Deserved better, mostly from his captain, but proved that he and Mickelson remain a viable partnership. The most excitable performer of either team, but didn't have much to get excited about. GRADE: C+.

Rickie Fowler (0-3-2): Just couldn't get going, but in his defense, he was going against some of the best players on the planet. He'll be around for awhile, and the breaks will come his way, but they haven't yet. GRADE: C.

Jim Furyk (1-3-0): He's now the losingest player (20 losses) in US Ryder Cup history, which is testament to how well he plays during the non-Ryder weeks of the calendar. Still, he just can't seem to get it done during Ryder weeks, no matter how hard he tries. GRADE: D+.

Zach Johnson (0-2-1): Largely a nonfactor, though credit him for playing strong all the way through the end of the singles match even though the outcome was long decided. GRADE: C-.

Matt Kuchar (1-3-0): Another American player who could never really get started, though at least he was able to take out Thomas Bjorn in an effective match on Sunday. GRADE: C.

Hunter Mahan (1-2-1): He's gained a rep for faltering in Ryder Cups, and letting Rose salvage a split after being 4-up on the European won't help that. Mahan is thisclose to breaking through, but he hasn't yet. GRADE: C-.

Phil Mickelson (2-1-0): Still turning in strong efforts even though he's far closer to captaincy than anyone else. Wanted to play more on Saturday, but enough of a pro not to take that public. (UPDATE: He went nuclear at the postround press conference.) GRADE: B+.

Patrick Reed (3-0-1): Only a gagged Saturday putt that cost him a half-point keeps him from an A+. The 24-year-old rookie was the Americans' brightest light, and although he approached the competition like a wrestler, maybe that was the right technique. Nothing else worked. GRADE: A-.

Webb Simpson (0-1-1): Simpson talked his way onto the team, but maybe he should have played his way onto it; he didn't play well enough to justify a captain's pick. He salvaged a half against Poulter on Sunday, but more was expected from this slot. GRADE: D.

Jordan Spieth (2-1-1): He faltered on Sunday when he had an opportunity to put away McDowell, but that shouldn't obscure his strong debut. He should be a team member for another 10 Ryder Cups, at least. GRADE: B+.

Jimmy Walker (1-1-3): The rookies on the American team acquitted themselves well, and Walker managed hang-in-there performances in four of his five matches. He probably should have been benched Saturday afternoon, but that's not on him. GRADE: B-.

Bubba Watson (0-3-0): Only led six holes all week, and only once was even 2-up. Could never get going, could never get his partners going. Maybe if they held the next Ryder Cup at Augusta... GRADE: F.

Stellar effort for Europe, and an ugly one from the United States. It'll be two more years before anybody gets a chance to change their grade.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 4:04 pm

AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Stephen Gallacher of Europe shakes hands with Phil Mickelson of the United States after his defeat on the 17th hole during the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)Phil Mickelson will be a Ryder Cup captain one day, perhaps one day very soon, and he'll take plenty of lessons from this year's tournament.

Mickelson certainly wasn't pleased to be sitting all day Saturday, but he rallied and managed a 3&1 win over rookie Stephen Gallacher, who hadn't played since Friday.

Gallacher got out to a slight lead, but Mickelson kept pace, reversing a 1-up deficit into a 1-up USA lead in the space of three holes from 4 to 6. Mickelson couldn't post a lead that held up until the 15th, and from there, it was an avalanche. By 17, Mickelson was up 3&1, and that was enough.

Mickelson ended the weekend 2-1-0, a respectable record for the USA side. Gallacher, meanwhile, was 0-2-0, and never really had the opportunity to get started for Europe. Not that it mattered very much.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 3:43 pm

It happened again: Hunter Mahan misplayed a critical chip shot that may well have cost the Americans their chance at a Ryder Cup comeback.

Mahan was 1 up on the par-5 18th hole against Justin Rose, facing an uphill chip for his third shot. If he could get up-and-down for birdie, he would win the match and earn a point crucial to the American charge on Sunday. After overthinking the shot, Mahan decided on a flop. It flopped. The shot went too far, rolling off the other side of the green. Mahan then putted uphill onto the green, still away for a par putt that would've placed modest pressure on Rose to make his birdie putt. Mahan missed the putt and gave Rose the hole for the halve.

The situation was reminiscent of Mahan's flubbed chip shot late in his singles match against Graeme McDowell in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. It ultimately made McDowell the clinching hero.

However, Mahan would not have found himself in this position if Rose didn't catch fire in the middle of the round, winning four consecutive holes in birdie to square the match. An incredible recovery approach from Rose on the par-4 13th hole put Rose stunted Mahan's momentum after winning the 12th to regain the lead after the initial Rose flurry.

With these two chips shots, Mahan may have too much scar tissue to be able to make substantive contributions to future U.S. Ryder Cup teams. Mahan was on the right side of the ledger once all week, going 1-2-1 in four matches.

Rose was the European MVP. It wasn't even close. He went 3-0-2, earning four huge points for the Europeans. He's the new Ian Poulter.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 3:24 pm

Coming into his Sunday match against Martin Kaymer, Masters champion Bubba Watson was 0-3 all-time in Ryder Cup singles matches. His record did not improve against the German.

Watson was never competitive against Kaymer, losing four of the first six holes, including four in a row after a pair of opening halves. Watson appeared to mope his way through the match at that point, mustering just two wins in the match. After a win on the seventh hole with par, Watson then lost the eighth to give up any momentum he had and any chance of a comeback.

The match lingered for several more holes until the par-5 16th hole, when Kaymer chipped in for a match-ending eagle to spark the partisan crowd.

Bubba Watson did not play well this week, but ran into Europe's hottest player in Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer playing his best golf of the week.

Kaymer went 1-1-2 this week, largely playing mediocre to poor golf. However, when it mattered most, he saddled up well with Justin Rose to sub in for an injured Henrik Stenson and took a full point in his singles match. Good enough.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 3:09 pm

AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Thomas Bjorn of Europe smiles with Matt Kuchar of the United States on the 1st tee during the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)It was almost an academic exercise, but it was necessary nonetheless: Matt Kuchar topped Thomas Bjorn in their Ryder Cup singles match in one of the few matches never really in doubt.

Kuchar first took the lead on the second hole, then grabbed it again on the fifth and never relinquished it. He ended up winning 4&3, closing it out by the 15th hole.

The win marked a much-needed victory for Kuchar, who had lost his three previous matches. Bjorn, meanwhile, was one of the few faltering European players, going 0-2-1 on the weekend.

That didn't much matter, though, as this match was being played in the midst of a European onslaught. Kuchar's win held off the inevitable by a few minutes, but not much more than that.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 3:08 pm

AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Graeme McDowell of Europe and Jordan Spieth of the United States on the 1st tee during the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)Jordan Spieth had him. He had Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, on the ropes.

Spieth had gone out first on Sunday during the singles matches at the Ryder Cup, a high honor for a rookie but one that Spieth had absolutely earned over the course of this Ryder Cup. And for nine holes, it seemed the future of American golf had already arrived.

And then, like a teenager's car, Spieth flat-out ran out of gas. From the 10th hole to the 15th, Spieth rattled, shuddered, and faltered, going from three up to two down. Two holes later and it was over, McDowell winning 2&1 and securing Europe's second point on the day and 12th of the tournament.

"It was my wedding anniversary, and so I want to say sorry to my wife for not being home," McDowell said. "We were saying as a team, it doesn't matter if you're four up or four down, try to win the next hole, send a message."

Like so many other matches, and indeed like the Ryder Cup as a whole, the American side started fast but couldn't sustain, and Europe used simple, constant pressure to run down, catch, and pass for the lead. McDowell proved a canny choice for Paul McGinley to lead off Europe, as he didn't let even a seemingly insurmountable lead rattle him in any way.

McDowell thus stands as one of the top performers on the European side, going 3-0-0. Spieth, meanwhile, has established himself as one of America's brightest hopes for the future. He went 2-1-1 this Ryder Cup, and considering how he played on Friday morning, many thought captain Tom Watson should have played him on Friday afternoon as well. How he rebounds from this bitter loss will help define his career as both an individual and as part of Team USA going forward.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 2:29 pm

Europe's Rory McIlroy, right, and Rickie Fowler of the US prepare to play off the fire tee during the singles match on the final day of the Ryder Cup golf tournament at Gleneagles, Scotland, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)Rickie Fowler once again finished runner-up on one of golf's biggest stages. But while that's more than respectable when we're talking about majors, when it's a Sunday singles match at the Ryder Cup, well ... it's not quite as impressive.

What was impressive was the way Rory McIlroy, the best golfer in the world with no close second, took care of Fowler and firmly set the tone for Europe in its bid to hold off any Sunday USA charge.

"I was obviously excited to play Rickie," McIlroy said after the round. "We've become pals this year, and I was happy to get on the right side of this one."

He was on the right side from the very first hole, birdieing five of the first six and establishing a 5-up lead by the sixth hole. Fowler would never get closer than 4 down, and by the 14th hole, it was all over, the first match to end even though it was the third to begin.

McIlroy went 2-1-2 in his five matches, a reliable and solid partner across the board and money in the bank while on his own. Fowler, meanwhile, continued a hard-luck streak that left him 0-2-3 even though he was one of the United States' strongest players.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

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Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 2:02 pm

Justin Rose fell 4 down early to Hunter Mahan in their Sunday singles match at the Ryder Cup, but slowly made the comeback to pull level.

Mahan had regained the advantage on No. 12. Then Rose's tee shot at the par-4 13th landed behind a bush with a tight lie.

It was no matter for the 2013 U.S. Open champion and European team MVP, however, as he ran up his second shot to within gimme range. When Mahan couldn't chip in from short of the green to match Rose, the match was again all square.


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

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Author: Ryan Ballengee
Posted: September 28, 2014, 2:00 pm

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