Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Friday, September 24, 1999

U.S. team should
win Ryder Cup handily

IT'S nice to know that America's millionaire golfers are taking time off from their busy, money-making schedule this weekend to play for their country in the Ryder Cup.

After all, they could be playing for money, not pride, in the Westin Texas Open. You've got to commend them for making such a financial sacrifice.

Figure on the U.S. team to win handily now that Tiger Woods is at the top of his game. Imagine, too, that the only rookie for the Americans is David Duval.

Besides, with Ben Crenshaw as their team captain, count on the Americans to take no prisoners.

Calling Crenshaw "Gentle Ben" is a misnomer. He's as fiery a competitor as they come. And just the kick-ass captain needed to end America's losing ways in the last two Ryder Cup matches and the President's Cup Downer Down Under.

The key to a U.S. victory at The Country Club - don't you just love the pretentious "The?" - at Brookline, Mass., is Crenshaw's craftiness, not his USA!, USA!, rah-rah-rah.

As a golf course architect (he co-designed Kapalua's Plantation Course), Crenshaw had the prerogative and indeed made sure that the course will play to the strengths of the Americans.

Tailoring to the American players' length off the tee, the fairway rough won't be severe. And, because Tiger and Phil Mickelson love those flop shots around the greens, the grass back of the greens will be higher than usual.

This is in contrast to the conditions at Valderrama, where the Europeans took away Tiger's strength - his length.

Look for the U.S. team to win, 16-12, with Woods and Payne Stewart leading the gung-ho charge.

Now if only they can juice the pairings so that Tiger can meet Sergio Garcia in one of the 12 individual matches on the final day.

The pairings are based on blind draw. But you would think they could turn a blind eye for television's sake.


Watching the Ryder Cup with more than a passing interest is Michael Castillo, director of golf at the Poipu Bay Resort on Kauai.

Castillo's the host pro of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf featuring the winners of golf's four majors this year - Woods (PGA Championship), Stewart (U.S. Open), Jose Maria Olazabal (Masters) and Paul Lawrie (British Open).

"All four are in the Ryder Cup. And with the match-play format, it'll be a preview of the Grand Slam," Castillo said.

Woods will be playing Lawrie, while Stewart and Olazabal will be facing each other in the other first-round Grand Slam match.


Big news from the Big Island's Kona Kohala Coast. Hawaii county major Stephen Yamashiro and representatives from Mauna Lani Bay, Mauna Kea and Hapuna, Hualalai Resort and Waikoloa outlined a vision for 2000 and beyond at a press conference yesterday at David Paul's.

Naturally, golf plays a dynamic role. "That's where the real economic future should be based," Yamashiro said.

"Golf drives the economic engine of the (Big Island) resorts," said Thos Rohr, president of the Kona Kohala Resort Association.

Not only golf revenues - $30 million annually - but real estate and community development because of the resort courses are the real keys to the Big Island's future, according to Hualalai's Sam Ainsley.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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