Cink is a new American face for the Ryder Cup back room
The Ryder Cup task force that sought continuity has occasionally run the risk of being a closed shop with so many repeat faces in golf carts.
Stewart Cink is a new addition to the club. Zach Johnson appointed him his fifth and final assistant captain for this year's matches at Marco Simone in Rome. Cink will be an assistant for the first time, having played in five Ryder Cup matches.
“Stewart is someone I can trust will give me honest and constructive feedback as we head into the final stages of preparing for the Ryder Cup,” Johnson said.
What that means going forward will depend on whom Jim Furyk selects for his assistant captains in the Presidents Cup next year at Royal Montreal.
Johnson was first appointed an assistant under Furyk in the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris. He was an assistant the next three times — two Presidents Cups, one Ryder Cup — before being appointed captain for the Rome matches.
Steve Stricker was an assistant for the first time in 2014 under Tom Watson — before the task force was formed — and he has been involved in all eight cups since then as an assistant and twice as captain (2017 Presidents Cup, 2021 Ryder Cup).
Davis Love III has been captain at three cups (Ryder Cup in 2012 and 2016, Presidents Cup in 2022) and was an assistant at five other cups dating to 2015. Furyk and Fred Couples have been part of six cups starting with the 2015 Presidents Cup.
As for who might be next in line as a Ryder Cup captain, perhaps Cink is being groomed. Most telling will be when — or if — he surfaces again. David Duval and Matt Kuchar were assistants under Furyk in the 2018 Ryder Cup, and neither has been chosen as an assistant since then.
Webb Simpson was an assistant at the Presidents Cup last year at Quail Hollow, where he is a member. Bubba Watson was a last-minute assistant at Hazeltine in 2016 Ryder Cup, mainly because he begged to be part of it.
The other one-time assistant since the formation of the task force was Phil Mickelson at the last Ryder Cup, though his role in recruiting players for Saudi-backed LIV Golf makes it hard to imagine Lefty taking part in another cup.
Mark O'Meara once told the story of being on the PGA Tour board in 1997 when it voted on changing the 10-year exemption for winning a major to five years. There was consensus, except O'Meara raised one point.
Players who won two regular tournaments in a year received an additional year of exemption. So if a player won two majors, maybe that should be a seven-year exemption? It was decided that was too complicated, and policy was changed to five years.
O'Meara won two majors the next year. His five-year exemption ran out in 2003, and the following year he had to use a one-time career money exemption to keep his card.
It's an example of how players have a big voice on competition matters. And such was the case involving Akshay Bhatia.
According to PGA Tour regulations, special temporary members become part of the official FedEx Cup standings when they win — along with the points they earned — except for World Golf Championships, the Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship.
Bhatia tied for ninth in the Barbasol and won the Barracuda. Any other tournaments and Bhatia would have collected 338 points. But those two are co-sanctioned with the European tour, and the players (Player Advisory Council and player directors) determined points should only count for members.
Bhatia would have been at No. 53, easily exempt for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Instead, he is at No. 99 and needs at least a two-way tie for third to have any chance of making the top 70.
EVERY SHOT MATTERS
J.T. Poston says he wasn't playing for second place when he tried a difficult shot from the rough, the ball below his feet, over the water to the green on the par-5 18th at the 3M Open. He was three shots behind Lee Hodges.
“We were trying to do something special and try and win,” Poston said. “I wouldn't want to be sleeping tonight wondering ‘what if’ if I had just laid it up instead of trying to go for it. No regrets on the decision.”
It was a bold attempt, and commendable. But it was no less costly — not so much the decision, rather the wedge that spun off the front of the green and the putt that came up some 5 feet short. Two putts from there gave him a triple bogey and a three-way tie for second.
Poston lost 92 points in the FedEx Cup. Instead of being No. 38 going into the Wyndham Championship, he's at No. 49. Poston is still a lock for the postseason, but the first step is finishing in the top 50 to get in the $20 million events in 2024.
And the ultimate goal is top 30 for the Tour Championship. The 11 spots he lost could be more costly than the additional $260,000 he could have earned.
Stephen Jaeger failed to get up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 18th at the TPC Twin Cities, which could end up costing him $1 million.
This had nothing to do with the 3M Open. Jaeger is in a tight race with Tyrrell Hatton for the “Aon Risk Reward Challenge,” which ends this week after the Wyndham Championship.
The competition takes a player’s best two scores from a hole identified each week as risk-reward, typically a par 5. Whoever has the best average below par wins a $1 million bonus.
A birdie on Sunday would have given Jaeger a slight lead, but he’s not done yet. Hatton is not playing this week. Jaeger could pass him by playing the 545-yard 15th hole in 3 under — a birdie and an eagle is the most likely combination. Otherwise, Hatton picks up the $1 million.
Adam Scott also has a mathematical chance. He would need a pair of eagles (or an albatross and a birdie) to win.
Aon offers the same $1 million bonus on the LPGA Tour, which doesn’t end its season until November.
Nick Dunlap and Caleb Surratt have been added to the U.S. Walker Cup team. Dunlap earned it through consecutive victories in the Northeast Amateur and the North & South Amateur, and he leads the “Elite Amateur Golf Series” standings. Surratt won the SEC title and was runner-up to Dunlap at the Northeast Amateur. The Walker Cup is Sept. 2-3 at St. Andrews. ... Nelly Korda tied for ninth in the Evian Championship, enough to move past Jin Young Ko and return to No. 1 in the women's world ranking. ... The European tour has added two tournaments to its October schedule. The Andalucia Masters will be at Real Club de Golf Sotogrande in Spain on Oct. 19-22, while the Qatar Masters is Oct. 26-29, the final full-field event of the year. The Qatar Masters previously was early in the year as part of the Middle East swing.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Celine Boutier is the 21st winner in the last 22 majors on the LPGA Tour.
“I think nothing else matter now that I have this trophy, so I’m really good for the rest of the year.” — Celine Boutier after becoming the first French player to win the Evian Championship for her first major.
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