Ryder Cup rest or rust? Most members of US team will go a month without competition
Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship and then was on a plane that night headed to France to play in the Ryder Cup. Ditto for Jim Furyk in 2010, when he won the FedEx Cup in Atlanta and headed straight to Celtic Manor.
This year is different, with a change to the PGA Tour schedule to finish before Labor Day. For most of the Americans, they finished at East Lake on Aug. 27, and then it's 33 days before most of them hit a shot that counts at Marco Simone outside Rome.
U.S. captain Zach Johnson is not concerned about competitive rust.
“I'm confident that the guys know what they're doing,” Johnson said in Italy when nine of the 12 Americans had practice sessions at Marco Simone. “Number two, there is a tournament and some of the guys are playing in Napa, in California. So you can prepare and play if you want. That's an option.”
Max Homa is the two-time defending champion at the Fortinet Championship. Justin Thomas also is playing, mainly because he missed the FedEx Cup playoffs and last competed on Aug. 6.
“But you know, it's a long, grueling season, and I think there's something to be said about rest,” Johnson said. “There's also something to be said about being home and being with your family and still preparing that way, too. So that's not really a concern of mine.”
The European tour, meanwhile, is just now building toward the conclusion of its season. It had the Irish Open last week, the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this week, the French Open next week and then the Ryder Cup.
All 12 Europeans were at Marco Simone on Monday, and all 12 are playing at Wentworth.
The American team will have four days of practice going into the Sept. 29 opening session of matches. Golf is fickle enough that there are endless tales of great form showing up and leaving without notice.
But it is different.
There were two weeks between the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup in 2021 (Wisconsin) and 2014 (Scotland). The Ryder Cup immediately followed the Tour Championship in 2010 (Wales), 2012 (Chicago) and 2018 (Paris).
Then there was 2008, when there was a week off between the BMW Championship and the Ryder Cup, and the Tour Championship was right after the Ryder Cup.
Johnson and assistant captain Stewart Cink are playing in Napa. Asked about Thomas and Homa, they said not to read too much into the results, good or bad.
“The bottom line is for the most part, the majority of the team played so much golf in July and August that they need a break,” Johnson said Tuesday. "Your body needs a break. It’s unique that we’ve had a month off from the Tour Championship to the actual Cup.
“Rest, I think, is probably better than actually competing off the Tour Championship.”
NICE SHOT, STEPH
Steph Curry can bury a 3 in any clutch situation. But can he hit a stinger with a 2-iron?
Golf Channel viewers are about to find out in a four-episode series that began Tuesday, in which Curry will attempt to replicate some of the PGA Tour’s memorable shots over the last two decades.
The series will feature Curry alongside now-retired Golden State Warriors teammate Andre Iguodala, former U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie West and swing coach Alex Riggs.
Among the shots he will try are the 2-iron stinger Tiger Woods employed at Hoylake when he won the 2006 British Open and the flop shot Woods holed from behind the 16th green at Muirfield Village when he won the 2012 Memorial.
Other shots are Jordan Spieth holing out from the bunker in front of the 18th green when he won the 2017 Travelers Championship in a playoff, and Rory McIlroy holing out on the 16th hole at East Lake from the fairway when he won his first FedEx Cup title.
SENATE HEARING ON SAUDI DEAL
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is leading another hearing on the PGA Tour’s proposed partnership with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, except it won’t include any testimony from anyone directly involved.
The first hearing before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations was July 11, when PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan was still on leave for health issues related to anxiety. Testimony came from board member Jimmy Dunne and Ron Price, the tour’s chief operating office.
Wednesday's hearing is titled, “The PGA Tour-LIV Deal: Examining the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund’s Investments in the United States.” The purpose is to learn more about PIF’s investments and influence in the United States.
Blumenthal, D-Conn., has invited Benjamin Freeman, director of the Democratizing Foreign Policy Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft; Brian Murphy, managing director of Logically AI Inc.; and Joey Shea with Human Rights Watch.
He had sought testimony from Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor who signed the deal with the PGA Tour and European tour. Lawyers for Al-Rumayyan responded last month that he would not be an inappropriate witness because he is a minister bound by Saudi laws “regarding the confidentiality of certain information.”
Chris Zambri, the associate golf coach at Pepperdine, becomes the first head coach of the U.S. National Development Program.
The USGA announced the program for a national team in February to identify, train, develop and fund the most promising junior players. Zambri will lead day-to-day coaching operations and develop a network of coaches at the regional and state level.
He starts in November.
Zambri spent 14 years on the coaching staff at USC before joining Pepperdine, which won the NCAA title in 2021.
“Chris has had an illustrious coaching career and boasts a proven track record of nurturing talented young golfers, helping them develop and take the next steps in their careers,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the USGA’s managing director of player relations and development. “Between his experience as a player and coach, coupled with his passion and leadership, we could not think of anyone better suited to help foster the next generation of elite American golfers.”
Rose Zhang and Sahith Theegala are the latest players to announce they will be teammates in the Grant Thornton Invitational, the mixed-team event in December partnering PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. ... The Nedbank Challenge, held the week before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai this year, is returning to its traditional December date next year, meaning it will be part of the 2024-25 season. ... Prairie Dunes, the Perry Maxwell gem in Kansas, will host the U.S. Senior Open in 2029 and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2032. Juli Inkster won the first of her three straight U.S. Women’s Amateur titles in 1980 at Prairie Dunes, and then she returned 22 years later and beat Annika Sorenstam to win the U.S. Women’s Open. ... The Volvo China Open will be the eighth and final event as the International Series on the Asian Tour. It will be Nov. 2-5 at Hidden Grace Golf Club in Shenzhen. ... CME Group, title sponsor of the LPGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship and the season-long points race, has signed on as sponsor of the 2024 induction class for the World Golf Hall of Fame. The induction during the week of the U.S. Open includes Padraig Harrington, Sandra Palmer, the late Johnny Farrell and the 13 founders of the LPGA.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Max Homa was No. 44 in the world ranking when he won the Fortinet Championship two years ago. This week he is No. 7.
“I honestly don’t know why the Americans haven't won over here in 30 years. That’s for them to figure out." — Shane Lowry.
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