HUMBLE, Texas -- No bragging rights. Really. None.
That’s what European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal said about his Thursday-Friday pairing with U.S. captain Davis Love III. Just fun and golf. Nothing else.
What will he be paying attention to at this week’s SHO? Just about everything.
Slowly but surely, Olazabal is returning to form after being sidelined much of last year with a recurrance of his rheumatoid arthritis and a back problem.
“Well (I’’m) not a hundred percent,’’ he said. “Still the right arm hurts a little bit, but the rest of the body is feeling better.
“At this point it's more down to, you know, practice a little bit and play a few events, you know, to, again get the feel of competition, playing in tournament conditions which are completely different to what we practice on, obviously tougher conditions being in a tournament. Just get back to the playing rhythm of competition. I think that will help as well, first of all, to know where my game is and to improve from there.’’
Nothing specific, he said. Rather everything in general.
“I would say pretty much everything needs a little bit tuning up,’’ he said. “Kind of really, you know, one day could be the driver, next day could be the putting. That's how it's been last three, four weeks. It's not one particular area that is really weak. I think overall it's everything is a little bit off.’’
As for the current world rankings? With Europeans in the top four spots and five of the top seven? He grinned, but said it’s all cyclical. It wasn’t long ago, he pointed out, that he, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo were all in the top.
Plus, he said, the Ryder Cup is a year and a half away. He still grinned. -- Melanie Hauser
MARANA, Ariz. – For the first time since 1992, the top four players in the Official World Golf Ranking are all from Europe.
Martin Kaymer officially took over No. 1 when the rankings were released on Sunday night. Luke Donald, who beat Kaymer to win the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, rose from ninth to third, the highest ranking of his career.
Lee Westwood, who was eliminated in the second round at Dove Mountain, fell to second. He had held the top spot for 17 weeks, after ending Tiger Woods’ reign at 281 straight weeks.
Graeme McDowell, who lost in the Accenture quarterfinals, remained at No. 4 but he is now ahead of Woods, who has dropped two spots to fifth. The last time Woods was ranked lower than third in the world was April 6, 1997 prior to his first Masters victory. A week later, Woods had climbed 10 spots to No. 3 behind Greg Norman and Tom Lehman.
The last time four Europeans led the way was on March 15, 1992 when Ian Woosnam of Wales was No. 1, England’s Nick Faldo was No. 2 and Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal was No. 3 and Seve Ballesteros was No. 4.
Here is the new top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking:
|4.||Graeme McDowell||Northern Ireland|
|5.||Tiger Woods||United States|
|6.||Phil Mickelson||United States|
|8.||Rory McIlroy||Northern Ireland|
|9.||Steve Stricker||United States|
|10.||Matt Kuchar||United States|
MARANA, Ariz. – OK. The snow that fell on Dove Mountain is all but melted so that leaves us time to ponder other things.
And the answer to the day’s most pressing fashion question is, yes, Martin Kaymer is wearing his “snood” again on Sunday.
About 30 minutes before he was to play Luke Donald for the title at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, Kaymer was standing on the range, wearing a purple sweater and a wide white belt. The scarf, which is actually called a “Buff” and manufactured by a fly fishing company in Florida, is again wrapped around his neck as it was when it caused such a stir on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Kaymer was chatting with Fanny Sunesson, who once toted Nick Faldo’s bag and now works for Henrik Stenson. She’s been the new world No. 1’s “coach” since 2008, although the two first met about seven years ago when Kaymer was an amateur and Sunesson was advising the German national team.
”She was talking about course management and strategy and some experience that she had with Nick Faldo, and I found it very interesting,” Kaymer said on Saturday. He says he learns by bouncing ideas off her.
“In the end of the day, I found the solutions by myself but only through talking to her. And the experience that she had and the right questions that she asked me, they made me to the golf player I am today. “
Luke Donald, clad all in black, was hitting balls about 10 feet away. Matt Kuchar, wearing a navy sweater, gray pants and white stocking cap, was next on the range, hitting beside his opponent in the consolation match, Bubba Watson.
Watson, dressed in gray slacks and sweater, was the first to leave the range, about 10 minutes before the scheduled 12:05 p.m. MT tip to his match. He amused himself as he walked off the range by tossing snowballs at Kuchar, who was leaning on his club, watching.
None of the snowballs came close to hitting their mark.
The Senior British Open will be played next week at Carnoustie, and judging from early results at St. Andrews, Mark O’Meara would have to be among the favorites.
O’Meara made five birdies and two bogeys on the way to a 69 that left him the low Champions Tour player at the British Open. Mark Calcavecchia fired a 70 while Tom Lehman had a 71, Nick Faldo and Tom Pernice Jr. shot 72s and Loren Roberts, Peter Senior and Tom Watson each had a 73.
Don't be surprised when you see the Sir in front of Nick Faldo's name. That is his proper title now in the UK since he was knighted last year. In the States, he's just plain Nick Faldo.
Faldo, who is 52, is holding his own at even par through 16 holes. He said earlier in the week that he simply wanted to enjoy playing in his 34th British Open with his 21-year-old son Matthew on his bag -- Melanie Hauser