The 2021 Ryder Cup is being held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, and the European team is trying everything it can to win over some fans ahead of the big event. Their latest tactic made Padraig Harrington a bit uncomfortable.
European golfers arrived at their practice round on Wednesday wearing cheeseheads. That, of course, was a tribute to the Green Bay Packers.
Harrington said wearing the cheesehead was tough for him. Why? The Irishman is a big New England Patriots fans.
The U.S. has lost nine of the last 12 Ryder Cup tournaments, so they certainly need the home fans on their side. They may have to find a way to one-up the European team’s tribute to the Packers. More importantly, they need to avoid some of the chemistry issues that have plagued them in past years.
History would tell you that there will be in-fighting on some level with the U.S. Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits this week, but one of the country’s most polarizing golfers does not think those issues will arise again at this year’s tournament.
Patrick Reed, who was surprisingly left off the 2021 Ryder Cup team by captain Steve Stricker, was asked this week about the narrative that many of the golfers on the U.S. team do not like one another. He doesn’t envision it becoming a factor.
“Honestly, at the end of the day, the captains and assistants will take care of all that,” Reed said, via ESPN’s Bob Harig. “It’s 12 going out there and playing golf. Whether they can’t stand each other, whether they like each other, whatever it actually is, they don’t want to lose a point because of stuff like that.
“They’re not going to let it bother them. They’re going to go out and play, and play the best they can and try to bring the Cup home.”
That is likely Reed’s way of taking the high road. No one would blame him if he felt slighted by not being chosen for the Ryder Cup team. While he is not very well-liked on the PGA Tour, Reed has been excellent at the Ryder Cup. He was the U.S. team’s top point scorer in 2014 and when they won in 2016. He was openly upset in 2018 when Jordan Spieth did not want to play with him, which likely stemmed from a comment Reed made about Spieth before the event that year.
There are other reasons Reed may have been left off the Ryder Cup team this year, but the relationships he has (or doesn’t have) with other golfers was certainly a factor.
Time will tell if Reed’s assessment is accurate. We’ve already seen Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka make an effort to put their differences aside. If the U.S. team can avoid drama, they certainly have the talent to win.
Patrick Reed has been a standout in past Ryder Cup competitions, so his omission from this year’s team was notable.
Reed, 31, did not qualify to be an automatic selection for the US Ryder Cup team. He also was not one of Steve Stricker’s captain’s picks.
Reed’s absence from the team had many wondering what the reason for the omission.
Stricker was asked about the decision when his captain’s picks were announced earlier this month. He pointed to uncertainty surrounding Reed’s health.
“Patrick Reed … that was a very, very difficult call,” Stricker said earlier this month. “Kind of lose sleep over that one. He’s a tremendous competitor. He brings a lot of match-play golf. His record at the Ryder Cup is pretty darned good. It was a very difficult call. It was just the uncertainty of his health and really the lack of play that led to our decision down the stretch.”
Reed battled pneumonia in August and missed two FedEx Cup playoff events as a result. He returned to play at the Tour Championship and finished in 25th.
Reed competed on the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Ryder Cup teams. He was the top US point scorer in 2014 and in the victorious 2016 campaign. But he has a history of shady behavior on the course that does not sit well with his fellow golfers. He also has a history of stirring the pot with some of his Ryder Cup teammates.
Perhaps Reed’s health was a convenient excuse for leaving off a guy who isn’t terribly likable.
Steve Stricker on Tuesday offered a positive update on Tiger Woods’ status.
Woods will not be competing in the Ryder Cup this year because he is recovering from his injuries suffered in a car crash in February. From 1997-2018, he competing in eight Ryder Cups, but he will not be helping the U.S. on the course in this year’s event. That doesn’t mean he’s done with golfing though.
Stricker, who is the American Ryder Cup captain, gave a promising update about Tiger.
“He’s getting better, and his focus is on making a comeback to play again,” Stricker said Tuesday.
That’s pretty incredible considering where Tiger was in February. He had multiple leg fractures and damage to his feet and ankles. There were questions about whether he would be able to play again. So far it’s been seven months since the crash. If Woods were to make a comeback, he’d probably start working on it some time next year.
This year, the Ryder Cup will take place from Sept. 24-26 this year at Whistling Straights in Wisconsin. The event was set to take place last year but was postponed until next year due to the pandemic.
One of the biggest storylines at the 2021 Ryder Cup is how the golfers on the United States team will get along with one another, particularly longtime rivals Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka. Thus far, the major champions have done their best to prove they have put their differences aside.
DeChambeau and Koepka had a brief interaction with one another in front of fans and cameras on the driving range at Whistling Straits on Tuesday. After they parted ways, DeChambeau turned to the gallery as if to say, “How about that, huh?!”
In an interview with Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio earlier in the day, DeChambeau said he has had “great conversations” with Koepka recently. He also said he had dinner with Brooks on Monday night and teased that the two could be collaborating on something in the near future.
“A lot of this social media stuff has definitely been driven by a lot of external factors, not necessarily us two,” DeChambeau said. “We had some great conversations Tour Championship week when we had dinner, and then this week, as well. I sat down and had dinner with him last night, and it was fine.
“I think there may be something fun coming up here moving forward, but I won’t speak too much more on that.”
It’s unclear if DeChambeau was just referring to that interaction on the driving range, which was promoted by the U.S. Ryder Cup team and probably scripted. Or, perhaps Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker could shock the world and pair DeChambeau and Koepka together. Though, we have no idea how Bryson would handle a certain chant from fans if that happened.
Brooks Koepka made some surprising comments recently that called into question whether he wants to compete at the Ryder Cup, and Paul Azinger had a strong response for the four-time major champion.
In an interview with Golf Digest’s Matthew Rudy that was published on Tuesday, Koepka candidly shared his thoughts on playing in the Ryder Cup. He said the entire experience is “a bit odd” because the routine is so much different from a normal major or tournament. He also indicated that there are times at the Ryder Cup when he does not enjoy himself.
“It’s tough. There are times where I’m like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me?” Koepka said. “I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss. That’s new, and you have to change the way you think about things. You go from an individual sport all the time to a team sport one week a year. It’s so far from my normal routine.”
Azinger, a longtime analyst who had a major win of his own at the 1993 PGA Championship, felt Koepka should have kept those thoughts to himself. On Wednesday, Azinger urged Koepka to give his spot to another golfer if he doesn’t love representing the U.S. at the Ryder Cup.
The U.S. has lost to Europe in seven of the last nine Ryder Cup tournaments. There was a lot of in-fighting at the event in 2018, and Koepka was at the center of it when he reportedly almost got into a fist fight with Dustin Johnson. There have been other chemistry issues as well, and many believe those have played a significant role in the American team’s struggles.
Koepka is one of the better U.S. golfers on the PGA Tour, but many people will likely agree with Azinger. No one is forcing Koepka to be there, and there are plenty of other American golfers who would relish the experience.
Bryson DeChambeau is preparing to compete for the United States in the Ryder Cup this week, but the 2020 U.S. Open champion will also appear in the Long Driver’s Association World Championship toward the end of the month. We’d say DeChambeau seems to be focused more on the latter, but you never really know with him.
Long drive specialist Martin Borgmeier shared some clips on Tuesday that showed DeChambeau sending golf balls into orbit. His ball speed registered at 205 mph in one of them.
For reference, the fastest average ball speed on the PGA Tour this season was 190.94 mph. Cameron Champ topped the list, while DeChambeau was a close second with 190.72.
DeChambeau is known for having a big drive and swinging out of his shoes. It’s the reason he’s erratic off the tee at times, even if he has blamed his club manufacturer in the past. The long drive event will be a great place for him to test his limits.
Patrick Cantlay capped off an incredible season on Sunday with a win at the TOUR Championship, and his girlfriend was one of the first to congratulate him as always.
Cantlay finished 20-under at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta to capture the FedEx Cup and the $15 million prize that goes along with it. After he held off Jon Rahm with a birdie at the 18th, Cantlay and his girlfriend Nikki Guidish shared a victory kiss.
Guidish has been very supportive of Cantlay all year.
Cantlay had an incredible season and an even better finish to the year. He won four PGA Tour events and did so in dramatic fashion. Some of the putts he drained in a 6-hole playoff against Bryson DeChambeau at the BMW Championship proved how clutch he is in big moments. Cantlay may look insane in his PGA Tour promo photo, but he has it all figured out on the course.
Patrick Cantlay has been laser focused while playing some of the best golf of his career this season. Apparently the PGA Tour wanted to illustrate that in his promo photo.
Cantlay, who led through the first three rounds at the TOUR Championship, looks downright possessed in his latest promo photo. Check it out:
Perhaps that is the best photo they had. Cantlay may have even chosen to pose that way, for all we know.
Cantlay began the TOUR Championship at 10-under par, as he was the leader in the FedEx Cup standings going into the event. Tony Finau was next at 8-under to start and Bryson DeChambeau began at 7-under.
Heading into the final round on Sunday, Cantlay had held onto his lead with a score of 20-under. The winner of the TOUR Championship will take home a whopping $15 million prize.
If you saw some of the putts Cantlay drained at the BMW Championship, you know he’s basically on another planet right now. The promo photo is fitting in that sense.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson seem to be on good terms these days, but they were big rivals for quite some time before. They were such big rivals that even Tiger’s mom disliked Phil and had some trash talk for him.
In the HBO documentary “Tiger,” parts of the rivalry between the men is discussed. The rivalry talk arose when the documentary talked focused on the 2001 Masters, which Tiger won by besting Mickelson, who finished third.
Golf writer Alan Shipnuck was interviewed for the documentary and stated that Tiger disliked Mickelson because he believed Phil had tremendous talent but didn’t work hard to maximize it. Shipnuck said that at the time, Mickelson was carrying about 20 extra pounds, which bothered the Woods family.
Tiger’s mother Kultida (“Tida”) would mock Mickelson.
“Tida loved to make fun of Mickelson’s body,” Shipnuck said.
LA Times writer Thomas Bonk added more.
“Phil’s nickname was ‘Lefty,’ but Tida called him ‘Hefty,'” Bonk said.
Mickelson’s physique created a situation where Woods not just wanted to beat his rival, but to humiliate him, according to Bonk.
Caddie Stevie Williams agreed that Mickelson was the player Woods wanted to beat the most.
“It all came down to him and one other player: the guy that he wants to beat the most, and the guy that he would least like to see win the tournament. His good mate, Phil.”
Woods won the event, making him the most recent winner at all four of the majors, though he did not achieve the feat in the same calendar year. That is why the feat was named the “Tiger Slam.”
Mickelson has since slimmed down and is going strong at 50, even becoming the oldest major winner. He and Tiger are on a friendly basis too.
We wonder what nickname Tida calls Mickelson these days.