Weekend Wrap – 2014 Ryder Cup

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 10.33.54 AM2014 Ryder Cup
Gleaneagles PGA Centenary Course
Perthshire, Scotland

What a fantastic weekend of golf at the 2014 Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is for many the best golf event, even better than any of the four major championships. The atmosphere, the team competition, the format (various forms of match play), and second-guessing the captain’s picks all make for great discussion and entertainment.

For many years now the USA Ryder Cup team has been the underdog. Since the days the european team could pull players from all of europe instead of only the United Kingdom, the europeans have had the advantage. The last victory the USA team had on european soil dates back decades. This Ryder Cup was no different, the USA team coming as heavy underdogs.

Friday

Friday’s rounds consisted of morning fourballs and afternoon foursomes. Fourballs being best ball format and foursomes being alternate shot format. See last week’s Ryder Cup formats post for details.

Early Friday the USA team looked good, and was in a good position having won two of the four matches, tied the 3rd and lost the 4th. By morning’s end the USA team was up 2 ½ to 1 ½ and in good shape. The pairing of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed was solid with a 5&4 drubbing of Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter.

The afternoon foursomes however would be a different story. The USA team would only manage ½ point while the european team scored 3 ½ points to take a 5-3 lead.

17th

Saturday

Just the same as Friday, the USA team would once again score 2 ½ points in the morning fourballs to edge back into the competition.

Just the same as Friday, the european team would score 3 ½ points to the USA’s ½ point in the afternoon foursomes.

At day’s end Saturday, the european team had a commanding 10-6 lead. 10-6 leads are not insurmountable, as was proven twice in the past by the USA and the european team in 2010, but the odds of a comeback Sunday for the USA team were slim.

Sunday

Sunday’s format is 12 singles matches. Every player on each team plays an individual match. Europe only needed to record four points to retain the cup, out of 10 matches. Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlory, and Martin Kaymer all scored early points, along with Justin Rose a half point. This setup a great scenario which allowed 38-year-old Ryder Cup rookie Jamie Donaldson the chance to clinch the cup by closing out Keegan Bradley 4&3.

Conclusion

The outcome of the 2014 Ryder Cup was not a big surprise. Most pundits figured the european team would win. Many question USA captain Tom Watson’s captain’s picks and his pairings, but in the end the european team would have likely triumphed regardless of what the USA brought to the table.

Ryder Cup Formats

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 10.33.54 AMThe Ryder Cup is here.  Below is a description of the various formats which are contested in the Ryder Cup.  For reference, each Ryder Cup team has 12 players.  During Friday’s and Saturday’s matches, some players do not play and it is the captain’s choice as to who that would be.

Friday and Saturday Morning Fourball

A “Fourball” match is a golf match which of course, involves four golf balls in the group.  In fourball there are two two-man teams.  Each player plays his own ball the entire match.  On each hole the best score of the two players per team is used as the team’s score.  So if player A makes par and player B makes a birdie, player B’s birdie is the score of the team.  That score is matched against the best score of the opposing team on each hole in match play format.  Winning the match outright gives the team one point while halfing or tying the match results in one half point being awarded to each team.

This format is also referred to as “best ball” or “better ball.”

Friday and Saturday Afternoon Foursomes

“Foursomes” matches are better known in the USA as “alternate shot” matches.  These are very high stress matches where each two player team plays shots alternately.  Player A tees off then player B plays the next shot.  Shots alternate until the hole is completed.  This format is tough and pressure packed because one player who makes bad shots can cause his playing partner, and thus the team, much trouble.

Each match is worth one point for the winner or 1/2 point in the event that the match ends in a tie, or “halved.”

Sunday Singles

Sunday at the Ryder Cup is all about individual match play.  All 12 players on each team play individual matches against opponents on the other team.  Each match is worth one point, or 1/2 point for halved, or tied matches.

Singles matches can be tough to setup by the captains.  They must “load” the matches with their best players in what they perceive to be the most important positions.  For example let us say that one team faces a large deficit going into the Sunday singles matches.  The captain would “front load” his picks with the best players in the hopes that those players would score points quickly, and get their team back in contention.

Weekend Wrap

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

Champions Tour
Hawaii Championship
Kapolei Golf Club
Kapolei, Hawaii

There’s a popular new player on the Champions Tour, Davis Love III. Davis Love III is a 20-time winner of the PGA Tour and who turned 50 in April, but waited until this past week to participate in his first Champions Tour event. The 50 and older field proved to be tough competition for Love III, who finishes in a tie for 64th in the 81-player, no-cut field.

After two rounds, two players were tied for the lead: Fred Funk and Paul Goydos. Funk fired a final round 69 which included a fantastic hole-in-one on the 16th hole with a 4-hybrid from 200 yards. The ace wasn’t enough.

Paul Goydos rode a four-hole birdie streak to victory for his first Champions Tour victory in his fifth attempt. Goydos birdied holes 14-17 for a two shot lead, but made it interesting by blowing his approach over the 18th and having to get up and down for bogey to secure a one shot win over Funk and Scott Dunlap who fired a fantastic final round of 65.

Web.com Tour
Web.com Tour Finals
TPC Sawgrass
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

This is a huge time of year for up-and-comers in professional golf, and for professionals who have made it to the PGA Tour but didn’t perform well enough to keep their tour cards. The Web.com Tour Championship is the last opportunity for players to secure positions high enough to secure their 2015 tour cards.

Notables who came through and will have 2015 privileges include Sam Saunders, the 27-year-old grandson of Arnold Palmer.

Utahn Tony Finau first appeared on the scene on Golf Channel’s big break series. He secured his tour card by finishing in in the top 25 for the regular season on the Web.com Tour.

“Half Man, Half Amazing” is the slogan for the very popular Andres Gonzales from Olympia, Washington. Gonzales has been close on the Web.com and will finally get to showcase his skills on the big stage. He is sure to be a fan favorite.

Players who once played on the big tour, lost their cards, and gained them back include Alex Cejka, Jason Gore, Bud Cauley, and Sean O’Hair.

Weekend Wrap – $10,000,000 Style

Golf BetsPGA Tour
Tour Championship – FedEx Cup Playoff Final Round
East Lake Golf Club
Atlanta, Georgia

The Tour Championship is the final event on the PGA Tour and the last of four playoff events. In the Tour Championship there is much on the line, primarily deciding the winner of the FedEx Cup and the huge $10,000,000 prize. Second place is nothing to sneeze at either, a cool $5,000,000.

On top of the possibility of winning the $10,000,000, the event itself has a first place prize of $1,400,000. Some player situations could mean they would win the event and the $1.4 million, but not the Cup. Other player situations were setup where the player could win both. Such was the case for Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk, and Hunter Mahan.

Last week’s BMW Championship winner Billy Horschel started the final round tied with FedEx Cup favorite and world #1 golfer Rory McIlory. Many press and fans had already anointed McIlory the prize. Horschel had not.

Horschel fired a tremendous final round 68, separating himself from second-place finisher Rory McIlory.

“It just gives me so much confidence, so much thrill to accomplish something like this, especially with the guys I was going up against. “

There’s no doubt that Horschel is currently the hottest golfer on the planet. Ironically his play this season was not good enough to earn himself a spot in the upcoming 2014 Ryder Cup. The hot play came after the qualification period, and after the captain’s picks were made. That’s fine with Horschel. He’s got $11.4 million more in the back today than he did five days ago. If he’s bored during the cup, he can count his blessings.

The next stop for Horschel on tour is the 2014 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. One might think the local casinos will be rolling out the red carpet for a chance at a piece of the $11.4 mil?

Rounding out the top five finishers in the FedEx Cup are Chris Kirk (2nd), Rory McIlroy (3rd), Jim Furyk (4th), and Bubba Watson (5th).

Weekend Wrap

HPBNC_2011_SU_067PGA Tour
BMW Championship
FedEx Cup Playoffs – 3rd Segment
Cherry Hills
Denver, Colorado

And then there were 30.

The BMW Championship marks the third of four FedEx Cup playoff events for the PGA Tour.  By the conclusion of the BMW Championship, the field is narrowed down to 30 participants who will have a chance at the $10,000,000 first prize in the final event of the playoffs, the Tour Championship.

Billy Horschel recorded his second PGA Tour victory and the biggest in his professional career this past week at the BMW Championship.  Horschel carded a final round 69 to claim a two-shot win over the nearest competitor, surging Bubba Watson.  Watson made it interesting by firing an excellent final round 66.

A few big names have not made it to the final round of 30, including Phil Mickelson and defending champion Henrik Stenson.  Strangely, those players expressed relief that they would miss the final event and be able to rest for the Ryder Cup.

Imagine being in a position where you are relieved that you missed out on an opportunity to win $10,000,000.

In the “something you may never see again” category is the plight of world #1 golfer Rory McIlory.  On Saturday McIlory 4-putted (yes you read that correctly) the 12th green from only 24 feet.  See the video below.

If that was not crazy enough, McIlory 4-putted the same hole on Sunday.

This confirms what most of us already knew:  golf is hard.

The Tour Championship Final 30 Field

Day, Jason

Fowler, Rickie

Furyk, Jim

Garcia, Sergio

Haas, Bill

Henley, Russell

Hoffmann, Morgan

Horschel, Billy

Johnson, Zach

Kaymer, Martin

Kirk, Chris

Kuchar, Matt

Mahan, Hunter

Matsuyama, Hideki

McIlroy, Rory

Na, Kevin

Ogilvy, Geoff

Palmer, Ryan

Reed, Patrick

Rose, Justin

Scott, Adam

Senden, John

Simpson, Webb

Spieth, Jordan

Todd, Brendon

Tringale, Cameron

Walker, Jimmy

Watson, Bubba

Woodland, Gary

Tom Watson’s Ryder Cup Captain’s Picks

Last night in New York Tom Watson announced his three USA Ryder Cup Team captain’s picks.  This concludes a very lengthy speculative period by fans, press, and players.   Following a conversation between the two, Tiger Woods and Tom Watson discussed Tiger’s situation a short while ago.  Tiger at that time informed Watson that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for the Ryder Cup team.  This no doubt made last night’s pick’s a little easier as no matter which way Watson would have gone, the doubters would have been plenty.

The Picks

Watson decided to go with “experience” versus possible young players who might be playing well at the current time.  Those experienced players he picked are Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, and Hunter Mahan, as seen in the selfie taken below by Keegan Bradley.


The experience level of all three of these players is not in doubt. One might question picking Webb Simpson if considering a “what have you done lately?” standpoint. One might also question picking Hunter Mahan, as he was the player who succumbed to the pressure of the 2010 Ryder Cup, essentially losing the cup for the USA team by flubbing a chip on the final hole. Bradley is a solid pick.

The Team

With the picks completed, here is the complete USA Ryder Cup team:

Bubba Watson
Rickie Fowler
Jim Furyk
Jimmy Walker
Phil Mickelson
Matt Kuchar
Jordan Spieth
Patrick Reed
Zach Johnson
Keegan Bradley
Hunter Mahan
Webb Simpson

Location/Dates

The 40th Ryder Cup will be contested September 26-28 at PGA Centenary Course in Gleneagles, Scotland.

Weekend Wrap

HPBNC_2011_SU_067PGA Tour
Deutsche Bank Championship
FedEx Cup Playoffs – Round Two
TPC Boston
Norton, Massachusetts

The Deutsche Bank Championship is the second event of four in the FedEx Cup playoffs. As each event is contested, the field is whittled down, leaving the top 30 in FedEx Cup points to contest the final event, the Tour Championship. The FedEx Cup points winner at the end of the Tour Championship claims the $10,000,000 prize.

One of the craziest stories this past weekend is that of Patrick Reed. Reed opened the week with two solid rounds of 68-68 and sat two shots behind the lead going into the 3rd round. The 3rd round was a nightmare for Reed. Coming into the final hole Saturday, Reed had blown up so badly he needed to make a par on the final hole, a par-5, to make the Saturday cut. A bogey sent him packing, but he still had clinched a spot in the season ending Tour Championship.

Chris Kirk raised his Ryder Cup stock price big time with his performance at the Deutsche Bank. Kirk recorded the biggest win of his career, having won twice previously. Kirk played with world #1 Rory McIlory the final two days and outplayed him. This win marked the biggest check Kirk has ever received and put him up to #1 in FedEx Cup points going into next week’s BMW Championship.

The win also put Kirk on the Ryder Cup radar. Though Kirk didn’t auto-qualify for the Ryder Cup, the win certainly will make Tom Watson consider him for one of his captain’s picks. Those picks take place this evening in New York.

The win the the check were enough for Kirk, who smiling said, “Winning the Deutsche Bank and going to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup, and $1.4 million, that’s plenty for me for one day.”

Tough to disagree with that.

Champions Tour
Shaw Charity Classic
Canyon Meadows
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Imagine playing three rounds of golf without one single bogey. Yes, it pretty much a dream for us mortals, but not for Fred Couples. Couples went bogey-free at the Shaw Charity Classic, but still did not think he had a chance to win the tournament until 2-3 holes were left in regulation. At the end of regulation, couples had carded a 9-under 61, a new course record.
Couples chipped in for eagle and carded five birdies in his final round to force a playoff with Billy Andrade. Couples closed the deal with a tap-in birdie on the first playoff hole.

Weekend Wrap – FedEx Cup Playoff Round One

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

PGA Tour
FedEx Cup Playoffs Round One
The Barclays
Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, NJ

With his fantastic play over the last several weeks Rory McIlory had climbed to #1 in the FedEx Cup points race. But the “playoffs” were designed to be more volatile and exciting, giving just about any player in the field a chance to get hot and win the $10,000,000 first prize. That volatility came into play in round one.

During the final round there were as many as six players who had the lead, or part of it. Hunter Mahan emerged from the pack, firing a calm and collected 65 to clear himself of the pack by two shots. Three tied for 2nd place: Stuart Appleby, Cameron Triangle and Jason Day.

With the win and the 2,500 FedEx Cup points, Mahan overtook McIlory for first place in the FedEx Cup race with a 776 point lead. Mahan collected a check for $1.44 million and a fine trophy, however in the moments following the tournament the trophy was broken. As long as the $1.44 million check clears, I suspect the broken trophy will not be an issue.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the tournament was when Phil Mickelson found the grandstand on the fifth hole Friday. Tables and chairs were cleared and he played his next shot off of the astroturf in the grandstand. The next day Mickelson made the same mistake again, and once again found the grandstands. Markings on the ground were painted in white saying “Phil was here,” and “…and here too.”

Following Mahan’s win he became an instant point of discussion regarding the upcoming Ryder Cup. WIth the win many feel he should be one of Tom Watson’s captain’s picks. Perhaps those bandwagon jumpers have forgotten Mahan’s performance in the 2010 Ryder Cup, where his poor play at the end of his match secured the win for the european Ryder Cup team.

LPGA Tour
Canadian Women’s Open
London Hunt GC
London, Ontario Canada

24-year-old So Yeon Ryu claimed the women’s canadian open fired a final round 3-under 69 to finish at 23 under par, breaking the tournament record relative to par by five strokes. She wanted to break the tour record of 27 shots, held by Annika Sorenstam but fell short.

Ryu outpaced fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi, who finished two shots back and Inbee Park who finished three shots back.

With the victory Ryu will crack into the top ten in the world, likely at the 9th position.

Weekend Wrap

HPBNC_2011_SU_067PGA Tour
Wyndham Championship
Sedgefield Country Club
Greensboro, North Carolina

This time of year on the PGA Tour is huge for the players on the Tour’s “bubble.” The bubble meaning the breakpoint for qualification in the FedEx Cup as well as breaking into the top 125, 150, or top 200. Each level (125,150, 200) has significant meaning for the players in those areas. Top 125 means an unconditional Tour card for the next season. Top 150 means conditional status, top 200 means avoiding having to qualify for the Web.com Tour.

The pressure of this event and the numbers above was too great for many players to overcome. Players like Heath Slocum, Jason Allred, and Brad Fritsch missed the opporunity and will have to compete in the Web.com Tour finals to qualify for the big Tour. Players like Kevin Foley who finished 201 or above, have no guarantee at all and will have to head back to the Web.com Tour Q-School.

One player who shined, while pumping his amazing muscular arms, was Camilo Villegas. Villegas has been quiet since his last win in 2010 at the McGladrey Classic. Villegas started and ended the tournament with rounds of 63, while filling the space between with rounds of 69 and 68 for a one shot victory over Bill Haas.

With the wind Villegas renews many opportunities which present themselves to Tour winners, along with a big check of $954,000 to renew the bank account.

LPGA Tour
Wegmans LPGA Championship
Pittsford, New York

Inbee park came into the Wegmans as the reigning champion and will retain that status for at least another year until the event is again contested in 2015. That win came after her par putt dropped on the first playoff hole, defeating opponent Brittany Lncicome.

After 38 years in Rochester, the event will be moving to Westchester Country Club in 2015.

Champions Tour
Dick’s Sporting Goods Open
Endicott, New York

Until further notice, mark down Bernhard Langer as the winner of whatever current Champions Tour event is being contested.

Langer rallied from behind to win his fifth Champions Tour event of the year, playing the entire event without making a single bogey. Langer outpaced Mark O’Meara and Woody Austin.

The biggest news of the week was the Friday score of Kevin Sutherland, who despite making bogey on the final hole, carded a Champions Tour record 59.