“Coaches Coach and Players Play!”

Coach Mike Ditka made the phrase famous in a post game interview after a Bears’ loss.  He’s used it numerous times since as a NFL analyst on ESPN.

What he meant was, “I can draw it up for you.  I can tell you what to do.  But I cannot go block that guy for you, I can’t tackle for you, YOU (the player) have to do it.”

It also meant, in an oh so subtle way with regard to players and their comments on his coaching, “Keep your mouths shut.”

So, why all the chatter about the selection of Davis Love III as the 2016 Ryder Cup Captain for the US Team?

2016 United States Ryder Cup Team Captain Davis Love III (photo: AFP)
2016 United States Ryder Cup Team Captain Davis Love III (photo: AFP)

Love was successful as Ryder Cup player, wasn’t he?

Uh, in 6 teams as a player (26 matches) he has record of  9-12-5.

He captained us last time to victory at Medinah, right?

No wait, Europe came back from a 10-6 deficit and snatched the cup from the fingertips of the Americans the last time that we were on home soil.

He had Brandel Chamblee’s ringing endorsement, didn’t he?

Well, yes if you call a endorsing quote, “The honor is too big to give somebody who’s only won one major championship that job, twice,” said Chamblee. “I don’t think he got the job done.”  Yikes!

Nah, there’s no controversy at all if your last name is Mickelson or Woods, members of the U.S. Ryder Cup Task Force.

Is it now, “Players coach and coaches…..” oh well, never mind.

Davis was masterful in getting the Americans into position for victory with a 10-6 lead on Saturday night in 2012, but highly criticized after the Euros pulled of the “Miracle at Medinah” comeback on Sunday.

Throw in a few testy remarks from Tom Watson after the loss in 2014, a long plane ride home for the players, and here we are.

In Love’s own words, he is honored to be the captain again.  He’s looking to bury the memory of the loss at Medinah and move on to a victory at Hazeltine. Davis is saying all of the right things (listen below) and his heart is in it.

Which is fine.

With all do respect to the Staple Singers in 1975, “Let’s Do it Again.”

But, please.  Just one final question to the “U.S. Task Force” team of Lefty, Tiger and Company:  Where was the undefeated captain of the past 3 U.S. President’s Cup teams, Mr. Fred Couples, in all of this discussion?

“When they all got home (from the loss in 2014), they said, ‘We need you to do this,’” Couples told Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte in November.

But at the task force’s first meeting, DL III quickly came out as their only choice.

Maybe in 2018 in Versailles?

 

 

The 10th at Riviera – Perfect Matchbook Material

Back in the 80’s, matchbook covers were used as marketing tools.  Golf courses were big on this, and matchbooks from famous clubs became collectors’ gems, similar to logo balls and bag tags.

I’ll always remember one from Aurora Hills Golf Club in Colorado I saw around 1984.  It described the 10th hole there, the course’s signature hole.  I guess you know you’re in for something when the signature hole is the 10th.  Not the par 3 17th.  Not the closing 18th.  But, the 10th.

This gem is a 545 yard par 5, it looks like one that you’d play backwards, from green to tee, for it to make sense.  For starters, you run out of fairway at about 180 off the tee before the hole takes a 90 degree turn to the right.  A lake looms short and to the right if you try to cut the corner and white stakes are through the fairway if you go long.  The less you decide to cut, the tighter the fairway gets (see photo), and the more you try and cut, the greater the landing area but the longer the carry.

The 10th at Aurora Hills in Aurora, CO.  This par 5 runs out of fairway at about 180 yards.  Water short, OB long.
The 10th at Aurora Hills in Aurora, CO. This par 5 runs out of fairway at about 180 yards. Water short, OB long. Tee box is lower left of photo, green is upper right.

Who would want to start a back nine like this?

Who cares?  I did!  I kept coming back to find some way to hit that green in 2!  There were plenty of courses in Denver to play but I’d wait my turn down there at dawn on Saturdays to get out there, JUST BECAUSE OF THAT HOLE!!

Fast forward (and due west) to Pacific Palisades, CA and Riviera CC’s 10th.  Only about 300 in length, it has zero water, no out of bounds and made the best players on the planet look silly at the Northern Trust Open on Saturday.  Ryan Moore lipped out a hole in one and had to WORK to make par.  Retief Goosen’s birdie put missed on the HIGH side and ran off the green, some 20 plus feet off the green and he had to struggle to make bogie.

Again, no water and no OB.  I dare you to name another hole anywhere like this one.  Even the 17th at TPC Sawgrass has H2O and colored stakes!

When that last group on Saturday came through, things were so crazy that Sergio Garcia decided to “drop in” and join the party.  Literally.  Dropped into a greenside bunker on #10 from the 13th fairway.  Only about 70 yards off line.

The hole got a bit easier on Sunday with a back pin location and Mother Nature assisting with some rain to soften the dance floor up a bit.  But, Saturday was like nothing we’ve ever seen on a 10th hole anywhere.  McCord and Feherty were having a field day on the air with it.

Rewind back to the muni-track outside of Denver known as Aurora Hills.  That matchbook cover I mentioned, a prized piece of marketing real estate back in the 80’s, could have shown a color shot of a the course, the address and phone number or, or something logical.

Instead, I remember it saying simply, “AURORA HILLS – THE 10TH HOLE IS A B!T@H”

Which made me wonder what a matchbook cover about Riviera’s 10th might have said after last Saturday.

Especially if McCord and Feherty were handling the artwork.

 

“Royal Rory” – McIlroy Wins 3rd Major at Hoylake

Rory McIlroy wins 2014 Open Championship (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy wins 2014 Open Championship (Getty Images)

The last time something this hot came out of Liverpool was 50 years ago when John, Paul, George and Ringo left town for the states and 3 appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Hmmm, 3 appearances on Ed Sullivan for the Beatles, 3 major championships for Rory.  That transitions nicely into our own “Fab Four” thoughts that can be taken away from this week at Hoylake.

Thought #1 – The professional firm of “Garcia, Fowler and McIlroy” – Who says you have to be 6’3”/220 to physically dominate a golf course? Shorter and lighter than most in stature, these three guys flat moved it out at Royal Liverpool. And although they did not win, Fowler and Garcia were most gracious in defeat. Rickie said, “to see him (Rory) win was pretty cool,” while Garcia’s best qutoes were probably non-verbal, when he blew kisses and touched his heart while pointing to the fans on #18. In just a few years, he’s gone from the major villain in the movie to one that most of us are pulling for to get the girl, that being HIS first major.

Thought #2 – No Thrill from Phil – Although a repeat wasn’t in the cards for Lefty, he battled back from an opening 74, with rounds of 70, 71 & 68. Watching Phil putt can drive you crazy. He’ll miss a few in the throw up zone and then, when you’ve written him off, drop in a bomb to make you think he’s on. A renowned expert said that going to the SuperStroke grip would help him eliminate his signature forward press, but it looks at times that he’s forward pressing past his right knee. In any case, a mighty “thank you” from Phil to Rory for taking the “Win the Next Major to Achieve a Career Grand Slam” out of his yard and placing it directly on McIlroy’s front porch.

Rickie Fowler lines up putt (Getty Images)
Rickie Fowler lines up his putt at Royal Liverpool  (Getty Images)

Thought #3 – Tiger’s Back, or is he? – After an opening round of 3 under and getting more ESPN airtime than LeBron James, Woods followed with 77-73-75 to finish 23 shots behind McIlory. Only 3 players making the cut had a worse score than el Tigre’, and with only 2 tournaments on his schedule (WGC Firestone and the PGA Championship) before Ryder Cup qualifying ends, Tiger puts some interesting decision making in the lap of Captain Tom Watson. When told during interviews that Tiger was +4 and still in the course, the Captain replied, “That’s not very good.” Watson wasn’t chosen for an encore as the U.S. Captain to just compete, but to bring the Cup home. At age 64, he closed with a final round 68 to clip Woods’ total by 5 shots; +1 for the Captain to +6 for possible Captain’s Pick who boasts a career Ryder Cup record of 13-14-2.

Thought #4 – A Club and Apparel Manufacturers’ Dream – NIKE/TaylorMade-Adidas/Cobra-Puma – These guys couldn’t be happier with the top three representing their brands going “head to toe, bag to ball” in the final 2 groups at Hoylake. Look for sales of Nike Covert 2, Cobra Bio Cell and TaylorMade SLDR drivers, along with apparel sales, to take a jump this week.

Rickie and Rory, then and now
Rickie and Rory, then and now (Twitter)

Ahhh, but back to Rory. The boy champion of Congressional and Kiawah has lost the baby fat and has morphed into a three-time major winner. He didn’t dodge the questions about pressure, and went out and took care of business on Sunday. He even handled a heckler professionally. And he’s the 3rd youngest player in history to capture 3 different majors.

The Beatles were approaching 25 years old when they left for a tour of the states in 1964 and BeatleMania got even bigger when Liverpool was in their rear view mirror.

Rory is 25 years old.

One more major win next April, and RoryMania will officially be in full swing.