Rude: Floyd tapped for focus to regain Ryder Cup
Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday.
Your correspondent here loves U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson’s pick of four-time major champion Raymond Floyd as an assistant – for the sake of the team and Floyd, whose wife died in September 2012. It’s another message that Watson means business and is serious about winning after the U.S. has lost seven of the past nine meetings against Europe.
The choice of a tough hombre from yesteryear doesn’t surprise, either. Watson likes tough guys, closers and often has said you can tell a lot about a competitor by the person’s eyes. He says he’ll factor that into his three picks.
It follows that Watson said this about Floyd: “One thing about looking at Raymond is his eyes. They never wavered, whether he shot 80 or 65. He had a focus. The way he played the game, every shot counted. That’s the type of guy I want watching my back.”
Yes, Floyd will be 72 when matches are held and isn’t closely in touch with today’s Tour players. But the guy with the legendary game-face stare figures to be a strong influence. And besides, it’s the norm in sports for a coach to be older than the players. The old model of having a fortysomething peer as captain didn’t translate to victories.
• After all the talk and ideas about growing the game and drawing more people into golf, we get this: A Tiger Woods exhibition in India is closed to the public, and Tuesday practice rounds at the Farmers Insurance Open and Northern Trust Open are closed to the public.
It’s a disturbing, ill-advised trend. The big picture says the game needs to include, not exclude – unless golf wants to be a made-for-TV sport disconnected from the great unwashed.
Apparently longtime fan Steve Ekstrand agrees, for he posted this on Facebook today: “Northern Trust Open turned away thousands of longtime regulars on Tuesday, including my son and (me). No warning on the tournament website, in fact in multiple places it talks about Tuesdays. Our family is livid. I’ve been doing Tuesdays for 40 years.”
• You don’t think golf is crazy, consider this: Jimmy Walker, previously a non-winner, has won three PGA Tour titles this season and world No. 1 Woods has played three Tour rounds this year.
In other words, Walker is the sprinter and Woods is the walker. Or crawler.
In effect, Woods will kick-start his Tour year on the Florida Swing. I mean, who does he think he is – Greg Norman and Nick Price in the 1990s?
• Curiously, Woods has played Colonial only once (1997) and hasn’t played his hometown Tour event at Riviera since 2006. In other words, he might be chasing Sam Snead’s record, but he seems allergic to Ben Hogan’s Alleys.
• Now that Cheyenne Woods has won this year before Uncle Tiger, the question is: Will Willie or Chris Wood win before him?
• Hey, golf fans aren’t the only ones who noticed Cheyenne’s victory Sunday at the Australian Ladies Masters. So did Las Vegas.
In fact, just to show how quickly things can change, the Bovada Sportsbook has come up with creative bet propositions regarding uncle and niece.
As for who will have more 2014 wins, Tiger is listed at 1-6 odds and Cheyenne 7-2. As for who will have more top 10s or win a major first in 2014, Tiger is 1-10 and Cheyenne 11-2.
One punter’s opinion: Take the uncle across the board.
• Speaking of action, if you’re betting on where the WGC Match Play will go after an expected last year in Tucson this month, you might want to put your money on Harding Park in San Francisco, site of the 2009 Presidents Cup.
And that would be a welcome change for players because the event would be held on a better golf course and in less of a remote location.
• This month’s 64-man Match Play will be the last for longtime title sponsor Accenture and will go on without kingpins Woods, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson and probably Steve Stricker. Players have until 5 p.m. Friday to commit, and the bracket and tee times will be unveiled Sunday night after the Official World Golf Ranking is updated following the Northern Trust Open.
While most the attention has focused on the no-shows at the top, there has been news at the bottom as well. South Africa’s George Coetzee went from No. 74 in the rankings to 59 by wining the Joburg Open.
He’s one of nine players who started the year outside the top 64 but moved in; the others are Stephen Gallacher, Patrick Reed, Scott Stallings, Mikko Ilonen, Pablo Larrazabal, Kevin Stadler Thorbjorn Olesen and Marc Leishman.
With the three big names out and if nothing else changes, bubble boys (Nos. 65-67) Richard Sterne, Scott Piercy and Kiradech Aphibarnrat would make the field. Interestingly, Piercy and Aphibarnrat failed to break 85 in the second round of last summer’s Open Championship at Muirfield.
• The score not only doesn’t tell the whole story but sometimes paints an inaccurate picture. Take John Cook. He opened with a 66 last week at the Allianz Championship but withdrew the next morning. Subsequent tests revealed a cracked rib and soft tissue swelling.
So instead of going on the leaderboard, Cook is going on the DL for 4-6 weeks.