Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell has heard some reports of Chambers Bay, everything from a massive drop in elevation on a par 3 to a fairway wider than a football field. Until his first practice round for the U.S. Open, he is reserving judgment. And even so, expect to hear very little from a guy who often has a lot to say.
Chalk that up to recent experience.
“We’re all guilty of getting caught up in the negativity sometimes,” McDowell said. “I made a promise to myself after Valhalla that I wasn’t ever going to get caught up with that again. Someone is going to pick up the trophy and laugh at your comments. You have nothing to gain.”
By golfing standards, McDowell’s comments at the PGA Championship last August would qualify more as sharing a popular opinion than complaining. He referred to Valhalla as unplayable during a deluge early in the third round, and that if the PGA of America is opposed to preferred lies, the third round should have been stopped long ago.
He wasn’t a lone voice, though he has thought about the effect.
“Within your own camp, say what you want,” McDowell said. “But there’s no point in making comments public. Come Thursday morning, you better be ready to ignore the negativity and position your golf ball.”
Ian Poulter caused a stir — imagine that — last month when he said that based on what he heard from others, it would be a farce. Poulter hasn’t seen Chambers Bay. He was drawing conclusions based on what others were saying.
McDowell wants no part of that.
“It’s hard to talk about an unknown,” McDowell said. “The feedback is negative. But all you can do is go in there with your eyes open and take it for what it is, and try to be as well prepared as you can.”
Another former champion, Geoff Ogilvy, also is waiting to see it for himself.
“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I know it will be hard.”
DON’T MESS WITH SUCCESS: Europe’s criteria for selecting a Ryder Cup team seems to working just fine. That’s the conclusion captain Darren Clarke reached in deciding against any changes.
Clarke had contemplated reducing his captain’s picks to two players. He announced Tuesday at the Irish Open that he will leave it at three picks and keep the same qualifying format: four players from a list of European Tour points (based on earnings), five players from a list of world ranking points.
Qualifying will start the first week in September at the Russian Open.
Europe has won the last three times, and captain Paul McGinley spoke often at Gleneagles last September of a template for success.
“I gave it a lot of thought,” Clarke said at Royal County Down. “I went into comparisons of what teams would have been like under different systems, but my overall feeling was that with the team Paul assembled at Gleneagles and how successful they were, it would have been very foolish to make any changes.”
Still to be determined is when qualifying for the European team will end. The Ryder Cup in 2016 will be Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at Hazeltine outside Minneapolis.
IRON MAN: Danny Lee played 26 tournaments last season until he failed to advance beyond the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
It’s not even June, and the AT&T Byron Nelson will be his 23rd event this season.
Lee is at No. 52 in the FedEx Cup and he has nearly $1.2 million, more than he earned in his previous two full seasons combined. It’s clearly not from a lack of effort.
The 24-year-old former U.S. Amateur champion began his season by playing all six weeks in the fall. That included going from the McGladrey Classic on the Georgia coast to Kuala Lumpur for the CIMB Classic, and then back to Mississippi for the Sanderson Farms.
He began 2015 by playing seven consecutive weeks, stopping in early March when he wasn’t eligible for the World Golf Championship at Doral and opted not to go to Puerto Rico. In fact, the only three weeks Lee has not played were tournaments for which he was not eligible: Hyundai Tournament of Champions, two World Golf Championships (Doral and Match Play), and the Masters.
CALLING IT AS HE SEES IT: Colin Montgomerie won the Senior PGA Championship for the second straight year and praised The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort as “iconic” while saying the PGA of America set the course perfectly for the championship.
Woody Austin finished third and didn’t quite feel the same way.
Austin was aggravated by missing a number of putts he felt he should have made (“I should have won this tournament by a mile,” he said) and then was asked if it were a golf course he’d like to play again for the Senior PGA.
“I said it before,” Austin said. “It’s the wrong golf course, the wrong design, for this piece of property. That’s the way I can say it. You can’t build a Pete Dye Stadium Course on a bunch of hills. It just makes it stupid. So as far as coming back to play, I can’t see it happening.”
PALMER CUP: Starting in 2018, the Arnold Palmer Cup will be for women, too. And not just from Europe.
The Palmer Cup began in 1997 as a team event patterned after the Ryder Cup for college players from the United States and Europe. Now it is expanding to include mixed teams for college players from all over the world.
It still will be match play, with team, mixed team and singles session. Each squad will have 12 men and 12 women. It will be the United States against an International team, which will consist of players with citizenship outside the United States.
“I am delighted that this event, which we started at my Bay Hill Club & Lodge in 1997, has found such prominence in the world of collegiate golf,” Palmer said. “It no doubt will continue to flourish in the years to come with the addition of women and international players.”
The Palmer Cup will be at Rich Harvest Farms in the Chicago suburbs this year, followed by Formby Golf Club in 2016 and Atlanta Athletic Club in 2017. No site has been determined for 2018 when it expands to mixed teams and more countries.
DIVOTS: Will Zalatoris received a sponsor exemption to the AT&T Byron Nelson, only to withdraw Monday when he woke up in severe pain. He was taken to the hospital and scheduled for an emergency appendectomy. … Chris Kirk’s victory at Colonial ended a streak of eight consecutive PGA Tour events in which the winner was among the top 20 in the world ranking. Kirk was at No. 23. … Kirk was only the seventh player to win a regular PGA Tour event since 2003 without hitting a single drive longer than 300 yards.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Jordan Spieth has won or been runner-up 11 times, the most of any player before turning 22 dating to 1970. Tiger Woods did it seven times (six victories and one runner-up).
FINAL WORD: “Having missed out yesterday, it was very disappointing. But it will be a lot more disappointing in three weeks’ time when I’m sitting on the couch watching it on TV.” — Padraig Harrington, whose bogey on the final hole kept him out of a playoff in a U.S. Open qualifier. He still can get in by moving into the top 60 over the next three weeks.
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