The Americans needed to overcome a four-point deficit on the final day of the Ryder Cup and got off to a reasonable start, enough that U.S. captain Jim Furyk had a flicker of hope.
Justin Thomas won on the 18th hole. Brooks Koepka halved his match. They were ahead comfortably in two matches, and two others were tight — Dustin Johnson was 1 up through 11 holes, and Tiger Woods was all square in his match through 12 holes.
The idea was to fill the leaderboard with American red to create momentum for one side, perhaps a little panic in the other.
Except there were no leaderboards at Le Golf National.
So even if the Americans had taken leads in earlier matches, there was no way of seeing the status of the other matches unless the video boards happened to show the leaderboard on the screen.
It was an unusual sight across a magnificent stage for the Ryder Cup — video of matches, but no sense of how the matches were going.
That wasn’t the case at Hazeltine in 2016, and it won’t be the case at Whistling Straits in 2020.
“We’ve always had leaderboards. We think it’s an integral part of the Ryder Cup,” said Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer for the PGA of America. “We have a lot of spectators, players and people watching who want to know the status of players throughout the day for each session. All Ryder Cups I’ve been involved in have had video boards and leaderboards, and I would anticipate something similar.”
On the first day, a leaderboard ran down the side of the broadcast on the video board. But that shrunk the size of the board, and fans across the course were watching from far away. By the weekend, that was gone.
The video boards provided one other oddity of these matches.
While they provided a great service to the fans by showing moments from other matches, the broadcast never ended. It was not unusual to hear a burst of cheering from what was shown on the video board as players on both teams were getting ready to hit.
Players often will look over at the next green before hitting their shot to make sure another shot isn’t being played, which could lead to cheering. In this case, players on occasion were having to look at video boards to see what was going on, or what was about to happen.
“We’ve been very conscious of that,” Haigh said. “Our policy has been to switch off a board, wherever that board may be and show a leaderboard or a logo, but something that isn’t changing. This time, for the first time, they kept the board going no matter who was on the green. It was interesting.”
Cheers could have come from anywhere around Le Golf National even without the video boards because of the nature of the layout, particularly the 15th, 16th and 18th greens being so close to one another.
Johnny Miller isn’t sure how much longer he will be in the broadcast booth for NBC Sports. Among those who might be interested is Tom Lehman.
Lehman has made a few appearances in the booth the last few years, “enough to know it’s not as easy as it looks,” he said. That includes the Dell Match Play in Texas, the Phoenix Open where he lives, the Houston Open for one day and the British Open.
“I do like it,” he said. “I think if the right situation popped up, absolutely I’d take advantage of it,” he said. “If something came of it, I think it would be a nice transition for the next stage of my life. Part of the reason is it does keep you connected to the tour and the younger players.”
HALL OF FAME
The World Golf Hall of Fame has identified 15 finalists to be considered for the 2019 induction class next summer during the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
A 20-member panel, made up mostly of golf administrators, whittled down the finalists in each of four categories.
The four male players being considered are Retief Goosen, Graham Marsh, Corey Pavin and Hal Sutton. All are major champions except for Marsh, the Australian who won 70 times across all the major tours. The five female players are Susie Maxwell Berning, Beverly Hanson, Sandra Palmer, Dottie Pepper and Jan Stephenson.
The veterans’ category has Jim Ferrier, Catherine LaCoste and Calvin Peete, while the lifetime achievement category has Peggy Kirk Bell, Billy Payne and Dennis Walters. Peete was added to the veterans’ category even though 11 of his 12 victories on the PGA Tour were after 1982. The criteria for that category says players’ competitive careers “must have primarily occurred prior to 1980.”
A 16-member panel called the selection commission now votes on each player, who must get 75 percent of the vote. The majority of the commission is golf administrators, with nine of them representing various organizations. It also includes co-chairs Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam and three golf writers.
An announcement on the induction class is scheduled for Oct. 10.
Chambers Bay, where Jordan Spieth won the U.S. Open in 2015 on fescue greens on the brink of dying because of the weather, is getting new putting surfaces.
The course outside Tacoma, Washington, closed Monday for at least the next five months while the fine fescue on the greens are replaced with perennial Poa annua. The change was intended to improve playing conditions for everyday play and to ensure a good test for USGA events.
Chambers Bay, which also hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur, will have the U.S. Amateur Four-ball in 2021.
Turf issues surfaced on three greens — Nos. 7, 10 and 13 — in early 2017, and the public course decided to re-sod those surfaces with local Poa. Results prompted conversations among the course management group, county officials and the USGA about doing the same to the other greens.
“We acknowledge the foresight and initiative of everyone at Chambers Bay for undertaking this work,” said John Bodenhammer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships.
The course is expected to reopen in March.
Still to be determined is whether the USGA decided to take its premier championship — the U.S. Open — back to Chambers Bay. The U.S. Open is booked through 2027, with four of those sites of the West Coast (Pebble Beach twice, Los Angeles Country Club and Torrey Pines).
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau failed to win a match at the Ryder Cup. The last time the Americans had three players not contribute a point was in 1957 at Lindrick Golf Club in England, when Ed Furgol, Lionel Hebert and Art Wall each went 0-1. That was when the Ryder Cup featured 12 matches, not 28. … Sky Sports remains the home of European Tour golf through 2022 under an extension of their partnership. The agreement gives Sky at least two more Ryder Cup matches in Wisconsin (2020) and Italy (2022). … Brooks Koepka is playing the Dunhill Links Championship this week with his caddie, Ricky Elliott of Northern Ireland.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Three of the last five Ryder Cup victories for Europe have been by at least seven points. The only other margin that large was by the U.S. team in 1981.
“This means a lot to me. I have passed some of my heroes today — and Nick Faldo.” — Sergio Garcia, after setting the Ryder Cup record for most career points.
Source: The Associated Press