Sunday 19 November 2017

Forget Ryder Cup - it's all about majors, says Nicklaus

Shane Lowry. Photo: Getty Images
Shane Lowry. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Jack Nicklaus has told the US team to quit fretting about Ryder Cup pressure and concentrate on winning majors.

The 18-time major winner was speaking at the Honda Classic, where Australia's Adam Scott won with a conventional putter for the first time in more five years, closing with a level-par 70 to win by one shot from Sergio Garcia on nine under par.

"My feeling on that is that it goes in cycles," Nicklaus said when asked about the dinner he hosted for some 25 potential US Ryder Cup players at his Palm Beach home last week.

"I said to them, 'There you are worrying about the Ryder Cup and you have four majors coming up. There are far more important things that the Ryder Cup coming up.'

"It is a great honour to represent your country and it is a great honour to be part of an international team, but it is supposed to be fun.

"I said, 'Can you tell me who won and lost the matches in the last Ryder Cup?' Not at all. Can you tell me who won the last four majors?

"It is not that big a deal. I know you want to play your best but take it as a game you prepare for and have fun.

"It is for bragging rights and don't try to make it more than what it is. You talk about pressure. Are you trying to tell me you have more pressure trying to win the Ryder Cup than you do coming down the stretch truing to win the US Open? Crap."

Graeme McDowell closed with a 69 to finish fifth on four under and secure his place in the field for this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral.

The Ulsterman will jump from 73rd to around 55th in the world today and appears certain now to qualify for the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship in Texas two weeks before the Masters.

"It's huge," McDowell said after outscoring the in-form Rickie Fowler by two strokes. "In this game we talk about process a lot but we need results to back us up and tell us we are on the right path.

"I have been hitting it unbelievably in practice so it is nice to come out on the course and get some reward.

"I can pencil Doral in now - a course I like - and we can keep grinding. I am really positive about a lot of aspects of my game."

Pádraig Harrington headed home for a week's break after closing with a one over 71 to finish tied 43rd on four over.

But Shane Lowry looked likely to land a PGA Tour fine for dropping an "F-bomb" as he found water and double bogeyed the 15th en route to a five 75 that left him tied 53rd on six over.

After watching playing partner Smylie Kaufman (72) hit a seven iron into the water and then snap the club over his knee in anger, the Clara star also found water too and let out a well chosen expletive.

Grinning sheepishly when asked about the incident, he said: "I just struggled. I got a few bad breaks early on.

"The only bad shot I hit was on 15 and I got heavily penalised. I was playing that hole thinking if I can make one or two on the way in I can still have a good finish."

The Clara star got off to a decent start with a birdie on the second from 15 feet, but bogeyed the third fourth and eighth and then followed his double bogey at the 15th with a bogey at the 17th.

"I'm bit disappointed after battling so well all week but that's the way this course and this game is," Lowry remarked.

"As I said to (caddie) Dermot, it could have happened on worse days. I was battling to try and finish in the top 20. It could have happened when I was in the hunt. So hopefully it won't happen the next time I'm in contention"

The Offaly golfer later tweeted: "So I said a bad word....shoot me!"

Irish Independent

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