One of the criteria Corey Pavin undoubtedly considered when making his Ryder Cup captain’s pick: Can he handle the pressure?
When it comes to Rickie Fowler, the answer is “yes.” Fowler has become known for a fearless attitude, a product of spending part of his youth racing motocross. Yes, he blew a lead at the Memorial and was criticized for laying up late at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
But there’s one round that says a lot about his ability when the stakes are highest. Fowler started the final round of Q-School on the cut line for a PGA Tour card. He three-putted the first hole, made eagle two holes later and shot 70 to earn his PGA Tour card.If Fowler doesn’t perform in that final round, he’s likely not on this year’s Ryder Cup team. Fowler said he’ll bring energy to the Ryder Cup team, much like he did for the past two U.S. Walker Cup teams. The Walker Cup is about as good a Ryder Cup simulation as there is. Fowler went 7-1 in the past two Walker Cups. Four of his victories were by at least a 4-up margin.
“He loves the big stage,” said Billy Horschel, who teamed with Fowler to go 2-0 at the 2007 Walker Cup. “He’s a battler.”
American Fred Couples will light-up this year’s Australian Open.
The 50-year-old former U.S. Masters champion, who is enjoying a memorable maiden season on the Champions Tour with three wins, will draw crowds when the championship tees-off Dec. 2-5 at The Lakes in Sydney.
With prize money of U.S. $1.3 million, it’s the second-to-last event on OneAsia’s calendar.
Couples is the latest big-name addition to the tournament, which will also feature defending champion Adam Scott from Australia and compatriots Greg Norman, a five-time winner of the event, and Geoff Ogilvy.
American John Daly also recently announced he will join the field.
Couples’ participation also means golf fans get the chance to see last year’s two Presidents Cup captains. The American captained his side to victory over Norman’s International Team.
When he won the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston on Sept. 6, Charley Hoffman, he with flowing blond locks, was asked if young golfers might start growing longer hair.
“Well, the way Rickie Fowler and I have been playing,” Hoffman said with a smile, “maybe they will.”
Not to say kids in Japan might start wanting to look like the 33-year-old Hoffman – but soon they might be able to start swinging a golf club like him. Hoffman’s longtime coach, Shawn Callahan, said he is about to start a new venture in his career: Opening a golf school in Tokyo.
Callahan has worked with Hoffman for more than eight years, dating to Hoffman’s days on the Gateway Tour. His father, Don Callahan, was pro at famed The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. (USA) for 33 years, and Shawn spent 13 years teaching under Butch Harmon.
Callahan was in Norton, Mass., to see Hoffman’s breakthrough victory on Monday. His thoughts on Hoffman making 11 birdies and shooting 62 on such a tough golf course?
“Shocking,” he said. And what can the victory do for Hoffman going forward?
“This is a big step,” Callahan said.
Hoffman will play in his first Masters in April.
Former Open champion Todd Hamilton hasn’t made the most of his visits on this year’s European Tour.
The surprise winner of the 2004 Open at Royal Troon is playing in Europe this year because he doesn’t have full status on the PGA Tour. Hamilton has mixed Euro Tour events with infrequent starts on the PGA Tour.
In seven outings on the European circuit he has made just one cut – a 64th place finish in Abu Dhabi at the start of the season that earned him €3,300. Along with money made from missed cuts at the Masters and Open Championship, Hamilton has earned just €14,003 and is 260th on the Euro money list.
He’ll be hoping for better things this week in the KLM Dutch Open. Fortunately, his Open victory gives him a Euro card until 2014.
Friday’s announcement that Nationwide Insurance will become the presenting sponsor of the Memorial brings stability to one of the PGA Tour’s most prestigious stops, while raising questions about the future of the Tour’s developmental circuit.
Nationwide is under contract to be the Memorial’s presenting sponsor for six years, starting in 2011. The Columbus, Ohio-based insurance company will not renew its title sponsorship of the Nationwide Tour when the contract expires after the 2012 season.
Nationwide’s exit means the PGA Tour has to plug another sponsorship hole – in this case, a key revenue source for the Tour’s secondary circuit. But it has ample time to find a replacement, and Nationwide’s announcement actually gives the Tour a head start in the search. Renewal talks for the umbrella sponsorship weren’t even scheduled to begin until 2011.
The tour’s umbrella sponsorship is an attractive marketing opportunity, especially for a company attempting to build a national reputation through multiple local platforms. The Nationwide Tour visits many secondary markets (such as Omaha, Neb., and Springfield, Mo.) where its tournaments are among the largest sporting events of the year.