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Latest News

2014 European Ryder Cup team capsules

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 8:09:00 AM

Here is a breakdown of European captain Paul McGinley's 12-man roster for the 40th Ryder Cup, which will be played Sept. 26-28 in Gleneagles, Scotland. The Europeans are the reigning champion, having won, 14 1/2-13 1/2 at Medinah Country Club in 2012.

Rory McIlroyRory McIlroy

Age: 25

Record: 4-3-2 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 1

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 9/9 (4 exclusive to European Tour)

The lowdown: The world’s best player, McIlroy likely will be sent out in all five sessions. Traditionally, he’s partnered with Graeme McDowell in team play, but Sergio Garcia could form a new dynamic duo.

Henrik StensonHenrik Stenson

Age: 38

Record: 2-3-2 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 3

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 4/8 (7)

The lowdown: After a remarkable 2013 season, the Swede has done everything but win this year, posting six top-5 finishes, including at last month’s PGA.

Victor DubuissonVictor Dubuisson

Age: 24

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 21

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 0/1

The lowdown: The mysterious Frenchman did most of his damage in the early part of the European Tour’s wraparound schedule, winning the Turkish Airlines Open and finishing third in the DP World Tour Championship. U.S. fans recall his all-world scrambling ability in the WGC-Match Play final.

Jamie DonaldsonJamie Donaldson

Age: 38

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 28

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 0/3

The lowdown: In a last-ditch effort to make the team, the Welshman added the Czech Masters to his schedule, then rallied on the final day to win. He also finished T-2 at Doral and posted back-to-back top-10s in July.

Sergio GarciaSergio Garcia

Age: 34

Record: 16-8-4 (7th appearance)

World ranking: 4

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 8/11

The lowdown: Since April, the Spaniard has five top-3 finishes worldwide, including a run of three consecutive runners-up on the PGA Tour (Travelers, British Open, Bridgestone).

Justin RoseJustin Rose

Age: 34

Record: 6-3-0 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 5

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 6/7 (5)

The lowdown: A top-25 machine, the Englishman won back-to-back events in July (Quicken Loans, Scottish Open), though he failed to record a top-10 in a major this season.

Martin KaymerMartin Kaymer

Age: 29

Record: 3-2-0 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 12

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 3/11 (8)

The lowdown: It's been a tale of two seasons for the German. He scored huge victories at The Players and U.S. Open, but those represent his only top-10s since last November.

Thomas BjornThomas Bjorn

Age: 43

Record: 3-2-1 (3rd appearance)

World ranking: 26

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 0/15

The lowdown: One of the most consistent performers on the Euro Tour this season, Bjorn had top-10s at two of the biggest tournaments he played, the Masters (T-8) and BMW PGA (T-3).

Graeme McDowellGraeme McDowell

Age: 35

Record: 5-5-2 (4th appearance)

World ranking: 16

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 2/10 (9)

The lowdown: Five consecutive top-10s this summer, including a come-from-behind victory at the French Open, sealed his spot on the team. He earned the last spot via qualifying, despite sitting out the final week to be with his wife and newborn daughter.

Lee WestwoodLee Westwood

Age: 41

Record: 18-13-6 (9th appearance)

World ranking: 38

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 2/23

The lowdown: With a few newcomers on the squad, it’ll be calming to have Westwood in the team room, as this is the Englishman’s ninth career appearance. He hasn’t displayed the best form lately, but he had top-7s at the Masters and The Players, with a Malaysian Open victory mixed in. Top-20s at Bridgestone and PGA helped, too.

Ian PoulterIan Poulter

Age: 38

Record: 12-3-0 (5th appearance)

World ranking: 36

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 2/12 (10)

The lowdown: It’s been a forgettable, injury-plagued season for the Englishman, but his fearsome match-play record – and his heroics from 2012 – essentially reserved him a spot on the team.

Stephen GallacherStephen Gallacher

Age: 39

Record: Rookie

World ranking: 33

PGA Tour/European Tour victories: 0/3

The lowdown: Nearly qualified on his own, finishing third in Italy when a T-2 finish was required. Still, his eight top-10s this season were the most of any player on the European Tour, and his history with Gleneagles (lives 40 kilometers away, lost in a playoff there last year) made Paul McGinley’s decision an easy one.

Stat attack!: Deutsche Bank Championship review

Monday, September 1, 2014 10:27:00 PM

Chris Kirk won the Deutsche Bank Championship Monday with a score of 15-under 269. He shot 66-64-66 in the last three rounds to offset an opening 73, one of the highest scores for a winner on the PGA Tour in the last several years.

But an argument can be made that it was Kirk’s 73 that won him the tournament. On a Friday in which the Georgia Bulldog hit just seven greens in regulation, he scrambled his way to a 2-over score. Kirk was fourth in the field in scrambling – making par or better eight times in Round 1 after missing the green in regulation – and continues a trend where the Deutsche Bank winner takes advantage of opportunities after missing greens.

Highest winning first-round scores on the PGA Tour since 2010

 First-round score Player Tournament
 74 Justin Rose 2014 Quicken Loans National
 73 Chris Kirk 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship
 73 Kevin Streelman 2013 Tampa Bay Championship
 73 Bill Lunde 2010 Turning Stone Championship

Scrambling rank of Deutsche Bank Championship winner: 2007-2014

 Year Winner Scrambling (rank)
 2014 Chris Kirk 80.77% (4)
 2013 Henrik Stenson 81.82% (T-6)
 2012 Rory McIlroy 70.83% (10)
 2011 Webb Simpson      76.00% (5)
 2010 Charley Hoffman 82.35% (2)
 2009  Steve Stricker 73.91% (10)
 2008 Vijay Singh 76.92% (4)
 2007 Phil Mickelson 86.36% (1)

Every winner in the playoff era finished in the top 10 in scrambling at TPC Boston. The difference between Kirk and everyone else is that none of those winners shot a score as high as 73, or hit as few as seven greens in one round.

In fact, Stricker in 2009 was the only winner in that span with a round higher than 70. Every winner from 2007-2013 hit at least 10 greens in every round.

What would the expected score be for a player who only hits seven greens on a par-71 course? There’s no easy way to determine this, of course, but let’s try.

Let’s assume a player reaches the putting surface on the shot after he missed the green in regulation. That means Kirk, who entered the week with a one-putt percentage of about 41 percent, should have been expected to make a one-putt par on 41 percent of those 11 holes. He should have made 4.5 pars.

Instead he made eight pars when he missed the green, improving his expectations by 3.5 strokes. He would go on to win by two.

Kirk scored better than expected on Friday, and he played out of his mind over the last 54 holes, shooting 17-under (66-64-66) to hold off Russell Henley, Geoff Ogilvy and Billy Horschel by two strokes. That 196 total is the third-best final-54 hole total in Deutsche Bank Championship history.

Best total score over the last 54 holes at the Deutsche Bank Championship

 Player Year Final 54 holes
 Henrik Stenson 2013 63-66-66—195
 Adam Scott 2003 62-67-66—195
 Chris Kirk 2014 66-64-66—196

It was the second win of the season for Kirk, who also won the McGladrey Classic, the fifth event of the 2013 wrap-around portion of this PGA Tour season. He made the cut in his first 20 starts of the year and has made 24 cuts in 26 starts in 2013-14.

Players with the highest percentage of cuts made in 2013-14 (15 or more starts)

 Player Cuts made Starts Percentage of cuts made Top 25s
 Jim Furyk 19 19 1.000 15
 Adam Scott 15 15 1.000 14
 Rory McIlroy 15 15 1.000 15
 Bill Haas 25 26 .961 15
 Graeme McDowell 15 16 .937 10
 Chris Kirk 24 26 .923 11

What stands out in Kirk’s record is that he only has four top-10 finishes, and he has been in the top 25 in fewer than half his starts.

Chris Kirk’s best finishes in 2013-14

 Tournament Finish
 McGladrey Classic Won
 Deutsche Bank Championship Won
 Sony Open 2
 Memorial  T-4
 Honda Classic T-12

Still, he’s one of six players with multiple victories this season, having joined Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Patrick Reed with two titles. (Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker have three victories each.) Now, he’s first in the FedEx Cup standings, ahead of McIlroy and Walker. Not bad at all.

Punch Shot: Who should captain Watson pick?

Monday, September 1, 2014 11:02:00 PM

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson makes his three wild-card picks Tuesday night in New York. Who will he take? That won't be announced until 7 p.m. ET (on Golf Channel). Who should he pick? Our writers offer some advice.


Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, Billy Horschel.

Bradley is the no-brainer pick of the trio, given not just his form this season but his potential pairing with Phil Mickelson. He eats, breathes and sleeps the Ryder Cup, and Tom Watson could use as many of those guys as possible.

Mahan makes sense, too, after his playoff-opening victory at The Barclays and back-to-back top-15s at Bridgestone and the PGA. More than that, though, it’s worth exploring the redemption factor. During the last Ryder Cup overseas he was America’s last hope in the final match against Graeme McDowell, and his chunked chip has been replayed hundreds of times since.

Despite his ghastly chunk on the 18th hole Monday, I’d also take Horschel. He’d be the U.S. team’s Ian Poulter – screaming, fist-pumping, eyes bulging. All along Tom Watson has said that he wants guys on his team who have “heart.” Billy Horschel’s is roughly five times the normal size.


If silence is golden the only certainty heading into Tuesday’s U.S. Ryder Cup picks is that captain Tom Watson could go anywhere with his selections. But where he should go is straight to Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Chris Kirk.

Although Bradley is more than two years removed from his last PGA Tour victory, his play at the 2012 matches, when he went undefeated paired with Phil Mickelson, is proof enough he has the match-play goods and his fiery demeanor make him the U.S. side’s answer to Ian Poulter.

As for Mahan, his victory at The Barclays broke an inexplicable winless drought and his record at the WGC-Match Play – where he has finished first, second and T-9 the last three years – is proof of his match-play prowess.

As for Kirk, who would be a rookie on the team, Paul Azinger’s entire motivation in 2008 when he overhauled the U.S. selection process was to put a focus on the hot player and after his victory at TPC Boston Kirk is simmering. That he played the final round at the Deutsche Bank Championship paired with Rory McIlroy, who will be the European side’s team leader, is also worth noting.

To put Kirk’s performance on Monday in context, he would have beaten McIlroy, 4 and 3.


In the immortal words of former Ryder Cup captains Snoop Dogg, Ice-T and Big Daddy Kane: Pickin’ ain’t easy.

That’s about all I know in assessing Tom Watson’s recent role, one which will culminate with him selecting three captain’s picks to the U.S. squad on Tuesday.

I’m a firm believer that picks should be players who will best help the team win, rather than simply a reward for who barely missed automatically qualifying or played well in the past few weeks. And yet, guys who I like – fiery competitors such as Billy Horschel and Erik Compton – just didn’t do enough to make me feel secure in picking them.

On the other hand, I also don’t think the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship should be a de facto Monday qualifier. Great win for Chris Kirk, but I don’t think that means he’s any better equipped to win points at Gleneagles than he was before.

So I’m going to split the difference with three players who I think give the team both a chance to earn points and have showed solid form as of late: Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson.

I don’t think there’s a “right” answer to the question of who should Watson select, but I can take heart in believing that these three very well might also be the answer as to who he will select on Tuesday, too.


Give me three players who have beaten nerves and formidable foes on grand stages.

Give me three players with some good form going for them.

Give me Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan.

Bradley’s a major championship winner with Ryder Cup experience who will bring some fire to a potential pairing with Mickelson again. Bradley finished T-4 three times this summer and is coming off a T-16 at Deutsche Bank.

Simpson is another major championship winner who finished third at Greenbrier in July and T-5 at Wyndham and T-9 at Deutsche Bank over the last month.

Mahan just won Barclays and has Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experience. Stage presence without form doesn’t matter. Form without stage presence can work. But I’m liking my chances better with both.


While Tom Watson doesn’t exactly have a bevy of viable candidates for his three picks, the names I would pull out of the hat would be Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka.

Bradley seems like the consensus pick – a team guy who pairs well with Phil Mickelson and who, if Medinah is any indication, thrives under the pressure and the spotlight of the Ryder Cup.

He’s a major champion, has had a solid if unspectacular season, and his length off the tee will be an asset in early matches.

While Snedeker missed the cut in each of the first two playoff events, he reeled off a stretch of seven top-25 finishes in eight starts before that. I’m willing to chalk up some of his poor play in the last 10 days to fatigue, since his last off week was in mid-July. Snedeker’s putter is the key, as it has been heating up throughout the summer and an underdog American team will need someone that can go lights-out on the greens, a la Ian Poulter in 2012. Sneds could be that guy.

The Koepka pick won’t happen, but hey – this is about what should happen, right? The Americans face an uphill battle at Gleneagles, so if I’m Watson I get risky with my final addition and take a rising star.

He also happens to hit the ball a mile off the tee, has a pair of top-10 finishes in majors this year and having played the Challenge Tour in 2013, has more recent experience on the other side of the Atlantic than any other prospective pick.

Koepka could pair with fellow rookies Jordan Spieth or Patrick Reed and embrace the environment of matches on foreign soil like a football team traveling for a rivalry game in hostile territory.

I mean, since conventional pick methods haven’t fared that well over the past 10 years ...