This Just in: America Stinks at GolfYou could feel it starting with all of those "English Invasion"
stories at the beginning of the year: whispers that we were entering a
new era in golf, one where the United States was no longer the (or even
a) force to be reckoned with on the PGA Tour. At first I thought it was
pure conjecture, but Art Spander of realclearsports.com is ready to
make it official: We suck.
It is an accepted premise the United States, until proven differently,
isn't going to be a winner in soccer. From a parochial view, tennis is
rather hopeless, other than Ms. Serena. Now we can't play golf, at
least as well as the rest of the world.
Still, there is that event called the Ryder Cup, the biennial
competition between Europe and the U.S., this year scheduled in October
in Wales, and the results figure to be deflating for America.
Even if the U.S. has the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world
rankings, a placement order which is not going to last very long, Tiger
Woods, No. 1, was bewildered by the greens at the British Open at St.
Andrews where he had won the last two in succession, and tied for 23rd.
After a competent 67 the first round Tiger never mattered.
Phil Mickelson, No. 2, and about to be overtaken in the rankings by
Lee Westwood, was bewildered by everything and tied for 48th. Steve
Stricker came in 55th, unimpressive for the No. 5 player in the world.
Tiger may say as he did when confronted with the non-American
revolution, "I just know them as players," but in Britain they relish
them as homeboys stomping on the United States and giving a lie to the
thought the PGA Tour is the superior golf circuit.
Westwood, the Englishman who's a close No. 3 in the world, took a
poke, good-natured that it might have been, at the decline of American
At the British Golf Writers dinner prior to the Open, Westwood
congratulated PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem on Steve Sticker's win
a few days earlier at the John Deere Classic and said, "Lovely to see
an American win on your tour."
It hurts. But it hits. Including the Open, an official event as part
of both tours, non-Americans have won nine of the last of 12 PGA
events. Rory McIlroy, Westwood, Justin Rose (twice), Adam Scott,
McDowell holding trophies but not a U.S. passport. And no American came
in higher than seventh at St. Andrews.
Golf, as many sports, is cyclical. But it will be a long while until this cycle of non-American success in golf is broken.
On one hand, Spander ignores some pretty obvious points, including
the suddenly frantic personal lives of Tiger and Phil (both of which,
we hope, will only improve) and, more importantly, the temporary
absence of Anthony Kim, who was playing downright filthy golf before
being sidelined by a thumb injury. Not to mention that, had Dustin
Johnson played one more decent round of golf at Pebble Beach, we
wouldn't even be having this conversation.
That having been said, there are two things to take away from the
first half of this season. First, some of these young Euros are really,
really, really good (I'm looking at you, Rory). Even if Oosthuizen and
McDowell fade into the background, there's no reason to assume that
McIlroy, Rose and Casey aren't here to stay. Second, as this Doug
Ferguson story points out, some of America's last Ryder Cup competitors have all but fallen off the face of the Earth, leading me to wonder how we
managed to win in 2008. Still, you never know what's going to
happen in match play (or if the real Tiger Woods shows up), so I
wouldn't count out team USA just yet (got that, Poulter?). Wale(s) of a snub?Speaking of the Ryder Cup, picking vice-captains can be a bit of a tricky business–the
process is as much political as strategic, and it's nearly impossible
for a captain to manage not to offend someone in the process.
Unfortunately for Colin Montgemerie, who announced his choices yesterday, Anthony Woolford of walesonline.com thinks he may have managed to offend an entire country.
WELSH sport was last night involved in a second buggygate row with
the omission of 2002 Ryder Cup hero Phillip Price from Colin
Montgomerie’s Celtic Manor plans.
Instead, the 47-year-old Scot is banking on rugby legend Gareth Edwards
and 40,000 fans to provide the Welsh cheer as Europe bid to wrest back
the trophy from Corey Pavin’s grip.
Price was widely expected to be named one of Montgomerie’s
vice-captains yesterday and, though the choice of Denmark’s Thomas
Bjorn and Irishman Paul McGinley was expected, the European skipper
sprang something of a surprise by plumping for Northern Ireland’s
Darren Clarke to ride the third buggy.
Montgomerie has insisted he wants Welsh involvement at the Celtic
Manor, but with Bradley Dredge and Rhys Davies struggling to make it on
the playing front, Price seemed to obvious choice among the backroom
He was a key figure at the Belfry eight years ago beating world No
2 Phil Mickelson in a famous victory and, being a member of the Twenty
Ten Course at the Newport resort, his in-depth knowledge of the Celtic
Manor layout would have proved invaluable to the European cause.
Monty did explain his choices (and nobody's really questioning them
as bad in and of themselves), but Woolford points out that
this still doesn't jive with Mongomerie's earlier statements:
There he said: “As a past Ryder Cup player at the Belfry in 2002,
we all know how well Phil did on the Sunday, in particular, and he’s
one of my potential candidates to be in the backroom staff here.
“That’s of course if he doesn’t perform well enough to make the team on his own merit.
“If I don’t have a Welsh representative on the course playing, I’d like
to have a Welsh help in the background and it’s very good for
“Nearly 70% of the spectators here next year will be Welsh and it’s
only right to encourage my backroom staff to be of that nationality.”
The best case scenario for all involved would be for Darren Clarke
to actually make the team as a player, thereby opening up the
vice-captaincy for Price. Still, I'm surprised by Monty's decision to
leave him off in the first place. I totally get why Clarke is a great
pick for vice-captain: he's universally loved by the players and the
fans. But with such a large Welsh fan base expected at Celtic Manor,
Monty should know better than to give them any reason not to be as
pumped up as possible. Oosty still in shockStill finding it hard to believe that Louis Oosthuizen is a major champion? The New York Post's Mark Cannizzaro can assure you, you're not the only one.
British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, clutching the Claret Jug that's his to keep for the next year, still wore a look of disbelief yesterday morning when he met with reporters the day after his life-changing victory.
"I put it next to my bed [Sunday] night, and after my friends and everyone had it, and I woke up this morning and I looked at it, you know, and I immediately grabbed the phone and texted Chubby Chandler, my agent, saying, 'I've got this funny old jug next to my bed,'" Oosthuizen joked. "Man, oh man. That was special waking up next to it. It was good."
There's something to be said for these guys who have no expectations and come through huge: they always seem to appreciate it more. The reason I like this little Post piece is really because I hate those canned stories after a first time winner takes home a major. You know the ones: "Oosthuizen out to prove he's not a one-hit wonder" or "Oosthuizen eyeing number two". This guy just one the freaking British Open, let's celebrate it a little bit before we start worrying about whether it was worth all that time learning to pronounce his name.