McIlroy chimes in on European Ryder Cup debate
Also, why Bart Bryant is having the last laugh and what Brad Fritsch's dream job would be if he wasn't playing golf
Published on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 10:02AM EST
The speculation over who will be the next European Ryder Cup captain turned spicy over the weekend.
Ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, the sentiment appeared to be building for a return engagement for 2010 captain Colin Montgomerie. However, Rory McIlroy made it abundantly clear that he favours a new voice in the locker room when the two sides reconvene to fly their respective flags at Gleneagles in Scotland next year.
Until recently the contest to succeed Jose Maria Olazabal, who skippered the Miracle in Medinah victory over the United States in September had been seen as a straight contest between McGinley and fellow Irishman Darren Clarke.
Montgomerie’s insertion into the debate came about after the American’s surprised everyone by naming Tom Watson as their captain. Immediately the word began to spread that the European side needed counter with a big name presence of their own, an inadvertent snub on the perceived frontrunners Clarke and McGinley. Hence, Monty became part of the conversation.
“I’ve never canvassed, as I didn’t last time. I’ve not spoken to anybody about this,” Montgomerie said recently. “As I’ve said before and if asked at the meeting next Tuesday to do the job again I would accept. Of course, I would.“
Perhaps sensing that the tide had turned against him, Clarke publicly began expressing doubts about whether he wanted the role, saying he was still in player mode and that he still had a few good years of golf ahead of him and didn’t need the added distraction of organizing a Ryder Cup team.
“As much as I would dearly love to be captain, this may not be my time,” the 2011 British Open winner said this past week in South Africa.
“I’m still wrestling with it. It’s a tough one for me, but to be honest I want to play golf.”
“Whenever I was initially mentioned (as captain) I wasn’t playing very well. But I played much better at the end of last year and have been thinking long and hard about it all over the Christmas break.
”I won one of the biggest prizes in golf by winning The Open and I am exempt for another three years (in the States).
“If I was given the opportunity to do the captaincy I’d effectively be throwing two of those years away.”
McGinley clearly has the credentials. The 46-year-old Irishman has been on three winning Ryder Cup sides and was vice captain for Europe in 2010 and for its improbable comeback win last year.
“It’s a big honour to be Ryder Cup captain but it’s not something I want to commit myself to or say too much about,” said McGinley, who holed the winning putt on his Ryder Cup debut in 2002. “It’s best if I just step away now and let things evolve. I’ll just stand back and wait.”
This is not the first time McIlroy has publicly endorsed McGuinley. He and Luke Donald came out in favour of McGinley days after the European victory at Medinah. That was at about the same time Lee Westwood threw his support behind friend Clarke.
The Europeans have insisted the choice of Watson won’t influence whom they pick.
“As a committee voting for a new European captain we don’t have to react to Tom Watson’s appointment as Europe’s record in past years is pretty impressive,” Thomas Bjorn, the longtime member of the European Tournament Players Committee. “But as far as needing to be seen appointing someone to match Tom Watson, that will not happen.”
NO CUP IS SAFE: In case you haven’t seen it, here is the commercial featuring Nike’s newest staff player, Rory McIlroy, and Tiger Woods. Some have compared it to the Larry Bird - Michael Jordan “Nothing But Net” ad.
ROOKIE READING: The PGA Tour asks rookies to fill out a questionnaire with some offbeat questions so fans can know a little more about them than where they went to college and how they reached the tour. Here's a sampling:
- Derek Ernst says he would be a rock star if he didn't play golf for a living. And as a reminder that we're in the next generation, his dream foursome would include Arnold Palmer, Rory McIlroy and Tim Tebow.
- Paul Haley II played baseball in the sixth grade on the same team as former Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
- Robert Streb has on his bucket list going to an Oklahoma-Texas game. He went to Kansas State. Then again, he grew up in Oklahoma and used to play hockey with St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.
- Henrik Norlander is from Sweden and played for Augusta State. His dream foursome would include Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Johnny Cash.
Meanwhile, Canada's own rookie - Brad Fritsch - has some interesting reading on his PGA Tour bio. Some of those nuggets include: His uncle is Ed Schultz from "The Ed Show" on MSNBC ...Met his wife, Megan, on eHarmony.com ... he never broke par in high school ... and If he didn't play golf professional, he would want to work for the FBI or the CIA
TOP SHOT: Louis Oosthuizen’s albatross at the Masters last April has earned him the European Tour’s Shot of the Year award.
The tour says in a statement Monday that Oosthuizen’s shot received 46 per cent of the voting by golf fans on its website.
The South African has received much acclaim for the shot, a 253-yard 4-iron, which pitched at the front of the green before rolling across the contours and in.
Oosthuizen said in the statement that “it has to be the most memorable shot of my career so far.”
It was the first albatross ever scored at the par-5 second hole in Masters history.
The award marks the second success in as many days for the former British Open winner, after clinching the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban on Sunday.
LAST LAUGH: Doctors warned Bart Bryant that he might never play golf again. Once the bones in his left wrist were fused, the outlook improved slightly. He should be able to play golf, but probably no more than once every two weeks. That's good news for recreational players, not so much for a tour player.
Bryant is near the end of his PGA Tour career, and he's leaving on his terms.
After going nearly three years without playing a tournament, he returned last summer and made the cut at the St. Jude Classic. Bryant is on a major medical extension and has only three tournaments this year to try to regain full status, but that was never the intention. He turned 50 last November and after playing next week in the Humana Challenge, he's going off to the Champions Tour.
But he's still playing, a minor miracle in itself.
To look only at the numbers, Bryant was nothing more than a journeyman. He didn't get out on tour until he was 28. He didn't win until he was 41. He won three times and finished in the top 50 on the money list only twice. He's not the kind of player who moves the needle. But his character is of the highest quality, and his perseverance was remarkable in the face of so many injuries.
Bryant had rotator cuff surgery in 1992, which led to five trips to Q-school and more time on the mini-tours than he cares to remember. He had surgery on both elbows, and the son of a preacher must have wondered at some point if God were telling him to find another line of work.
He finally won at the Texas Open, which Bryant considers his biggest win because it was the first. The other two wins, both in 2005, were memorable for who he beat. Bryant won the Memorial by one shot over Fred Couples, with Tiger Woods in third. And at the Tour Championship, he beat Woods by six shots and broke the tournament scoring record that had been held by Phil Mickelson.
To this day, Woods has never finished farther behind as a runner-up.
Bryant still has to be careful with the wrist. Last year, he could only play 18 holes of practice without hitting any balls after his round before a tournament. Now, he's up to nine holes a day and a bucket of balls on the range.
“I think what's a blessing in disguise is I'm so wimpy that I don't hit it hard enough to hurt it,” he said with a laugh.
Sure, he effectively lost the last three years of his PGA Tour career, though maybe it was for the best. Golf is getting more athletic, and it takes someone like Bryant to recognize that after stepping away for three years. When he played the John Deere Classic last summer, he had a practice round with a kid at Illinois named Luke Guthrie.
“I thought, `Man, this dude is good.’ And then he went on to finish fifth in the tournament,” Bryant said. “But other than that, I haven't had the opportunity to spend time with the young guys and I probably won't. I'll say this, though. It's amazing walking around and seeing the physical status of these young guys. Eighty percent of them are big dudes, man. I was telling this guy on the tee, `Who started recruiting athletes to play on our tour?' Man, this sucks.”
And then he chuckled, knowing that for all he went through, Bryant got the last laugh.
"He'll have no problems at all with new equipment. ...People overstate what the change could mean, it is something to talk about but I think this will be an easy transition for him. I don't see it being a problem at all." -- Michael Bannon, long-time coach of Rory McIlroy on the impact changing from Titleist to Nike equipment will have on the world number one next year.
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report