Couples: Riviera ‘going to be a blast’ with Spieth

first_imgLOS ANGELES – Fred Couples doesn’t talk in circles, but that’s generally the path of his conversation. He can talk about Justin Bieber and Blake Griffin one minute, switch over to the redo of the fifth green at Riviera the next minute, and then wonder why the Champions Tour gets to play Pebble Beach during the prime part of the season. The 54-year-old Couples went silent when talking about his 32nd appearance at the Northern Trust Open, where he will play the opening two rounds with Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth, his two captain’s picks for the Presidents Cup. Did he realize that Spieth was born a year after Couples won the Masters? ”No,” he finally replied. ”Wow.” Couples was equally amazed to learn that Spieth, who won’t turn 21 until the end of July, was born two month before Tom Watson was Ryder Cup captain the first time around, in 1993 at The Belfry, where the Americans last won on European soil. The clinching putt came from Davis Love III, a Ryder Cup rookie, who turns 50 in April. Northern Trust Open: Articles, videos and photos Back to Spieth. ”He’s 20. I’m 54. This is going to be a blast,” Couples said. ”He’s one of my favorites. He walked into that Presidents Cup and he owned the place. He loves Steve Stricker. He played great. There were very few missed shots in that slop.” And then Couples is off on another tangent. He received a sponsor’s exemption to the Northern Trust Open, which he first played in 1982, so long ago that Watson beat Johnny Miller in a playoff. Tom Weiskopf finished third. Couples tied for 13th with a group that included Gene Littler. This is one of the few appearances on the PGA Tour that Couples will make, because it’s one of the few courses he still feels like he can play reasonably well. The other is Augusta National, and Couples had a chance to win both of them since turning 50. Why does he love Riviera? Results help. Couples won twice in the early 1990s. He has 14 finishes in the top 10. He said the greens are small, much like the courses he played as a kid in Seattle. But the course reminds him of Royal Melbourne. It’s hard to make the connection from Seattle to Royal Melbourne, but he quickly adds, ”Basically, it’s just fun to be here.” There is a charm about Couples that makes him so popular, and he is regarded by players half his age as the coolest guy in golf. ”I hope I’m that cool when I’m 52,” Rory McIlroy said a few years ago at the Masters. Couples was on the practice range an hour before his pro-am time, and he probably hit no more than a dozen or so balls before he teed off. He was too busy talking – pick a subject –and kibitzing with players that most guys from the 50-and-older circuit wouldn’t even know. He showed defending champion John Merrick a photo on his phone of a table named in honor of Merrick, who played at UCLA. ”You’re the first Los Angelone to win, Angelonian, Angelean, whatever,” Couples said. Then it was time to go, but not before walking over to Kevin Stadler to congratulate him on the Phoenix Open win. First, he had to say something to Keegan Bradley. Couples knows everybody. Everybody knows Couples. And if they don’t, they want to. Nicolas Colsaerts was walking out of the equipment truck when he walked out of his way to greet Couples. They talked like old friends. ”A funny thing,” Couples said. ”The most disappointed I’ve ever been was when I played with the Belgium – what is it, Belgium Basher? Bomber? – OK, the Belgium Bomber, two years ago in Dubai. He had to quit after nine. He wasn’t feeling all that good. But I got nine holes out of him. These greens are firm.” The subject changes that quickly. He really is loving life. He already has won nine times on the Champions Tour, including a U.S. Senior Open. He has been Presidents Cup captain the last three times, all of them U.S. victories, and he still holds out hope a Ryder Cup captaincy is not out of the questions. Players love playing for him. And he’s still a big fan. That’s why he pays so much attention to players who weren’t even born when he was No. 1 in the world. ”I begin the second half of my life and I’m actually in tune, and I really like a lot of golfers I see,” he said. ”When I played, I didn’t dislike anyone, but I didn’t pay attention. When you’re out there on Saturday and you’re with Nick Price and Greg Norman and John Cook and Nick Faldo, you know who they are. But now I have a lot of interest to see how good these guys are.”last_img read more

Monday Scramble: More superlatives from Class of ’11

first_imgEmiliano Grillo notches another win for the heralded Class of ’11, Kevin Na goes down swinging, Rory McIlroy picks up his participation trophy and Lexi Thompson exacts some revenge, in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble: It wasn’t pretty, but Grillo got the job done Sunday at the Open. Barely. With the sun quickly setting in wine country, the Argentinian polished off Na in overtime to earn his maiden win in his first start as a PGA Tour member. Granted, he had the tournament on his putter blade minutes earlier only to gag away a 3-footer, a yank that was eerily similar to his short miss that would have won the Puerto Rico Open in March. But while his first go-around ended in playoff defeat, this time Grillo bounced back for the win. Now he can book 2016 travel for Kapalua, Augusta National and Rio de Janeiro, where he will almost certainly represent Argentina at the Olympics next summer.  The only rookie to win last season was Nick Taylor at the easily-forgotten Sanderson Farms Championship, but Grillo quickly put a stamp on the new campaign and cemented his status as the top rookie to watch. With his card already secure, he won two weeks ago at the Tour Championship, only to lament how long it had taken him to break through in the States. Now he’s exempt through August 2018 and will be able to hand-pick his schedule next year as a member of the OWGR top 50. At 23 years young, he’s only getting started. 1. It looks like the (high school) class of 2011 might have a bit of a future. Led by Jordan Spieth and reigning Rookie of the Year Daniel Berger, the Tour’s newest wave of talent includes a bunch of players born in 1993 (let that sink in for a bit). It also includes Grillo, an elder statesman from his graduating class, along with can’t-miss prospects like Justin Thomas, Patrick Rodgers and Ollie Schneiderjans. The group of rising stars are somewhat close-knit after years of competition against each other on the junior circuit, and Grillo’s win was followed quickly by congratulatory tweets from Spieth and Thomas, among others. It won’t be the last time the ’11ers will have a chance to toast one of their own this season. 2. Hats off to Na, who took another runner-up finish in stride. Na’s chances to win evaporated on the second extra hole, when his driver off the deck barely got off the ground. But in the moments after Grillo sank the winning putt, Na succinctly assessed the situation and deemed it poor execution of the proper shot. “If I were to do it over again,” Na said, “I’d still hit driver.” Na hasn’t won since 2011, and this is his second playoff loss in the last 16 months. Despite the lack of hardware, he has maintained a regular spot inside the Official World Golf Ranking top 50 and has made the Tour Championship two years in a row. His name isn’t often discussed among the Tour’s most consistent players, but it should be. 3. It’s tough to win on the PGA Tour … perhaps not as tough as some of the contenders made it seem down the stretch in Napa. Maybe we’ve been spoiled by the closing ability of Spieth and Jason Day, but the final holes Sunday were filled with a bevy of missed putts and poor pitches. Extra nerves from guys looking for their first win? Sure, but it was a grizzled veteran with two wins under his belt who offered up the worst shot of the day. Jason Bohn had the lead and less than 60 yards left for his approach to No. 16. He then chunked a wedge and barely got the ball halfway to the green. A potential birdie turned into a costly bogey, and Bohn missed the playoff by a shot when three closing pars would have gotten it done. Ouch. 4. For those scoring at home, Grillo now has a 200-point lead over Na in the season-long FedEx Cup race. The Tour won’t turn away sponsors if they’re willing to back seven-figure checks to tournament winners, but the saturation of the product still seems problematic. The shiny season-long trophy probably hasn’t touched Spieth’s mantle yet, and it’s now once again up for grabs. In a season that already lasts over 10 months, a little bit of a breather would go a long way. Oh well. 5. Rory McIlroy fulfilled his obligation this week in Napa, but he seemed very much like a man who showed up to punch a clock. With the Race to Dubai looming, McIlroy would not have played this week were he not required to because of his participation in a non-sanctioned event in Turkey three years ago. He even went as far as to say that given the choice, he would have been in Wales this weekend to watch Ireland play in the Rugby World Cup. McIlroy’s appearance certainly boosted ticket sales, and he left with a solid T-26 finish (and probably a few bottles of nice wine). But don’t expect a return visit anytime soon.  6. Somewhat lost amid the sudden-death finish, McIlroy’s former Ryder Cup teammate, Justin Rose, quietly spit the bit in Napa. Rose made the turn Sunday at 14 under, and as it turned out he needed only to play the final nine in 1 under to make the playoff. Instead, he came home in 2-over 38 to fall into a tie for sixth. It’s hardly a bad result, but it’s another near-miss for Rose, whose stellar play over the last six months has been largely overshadowed by those barely ahead of him on the leaderboard. Since his win in New Orleans in April, Rose’s PGA Tour record is as follows: 13 starts, 10 top-20s, seven top-sixes and a pair of runner-up finishes. But, alas, no trophies. 7. Beware the injured hospitalized golfer? Tyrone van Aswegen was barely able to stand up Sunday morning, and a quick trip to the E.R. ended with a diagnosis of vertigo and severe dehydration. “I woke up and the room was spinning,” the South African said. “I thought, ‘Oh man, this is not good.'” Van Aswegen was still in the hospital an hour before his scheduled starting time, but after a quick discharge he was able to make it to the first tee. He closed with a 68, including two birdies across his final three holes, to notch a career-best T-3 finish. Not bad for a guy who was fighting to earn his card just a couple weeks ago. 8. Speaking of which, it was an impressive debut for several graduates from the Tour Finals. In addition to Grillo and van Aswegen, Smylie Kaufman, Luke Guthrie, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Loupe all finished T-10 or better just two weeks after teeing it up in the Tour Championship. It’s never fun to go through the four-week gauntlet of Finals with only a few cards up for grabs, but those who advance are poised to carry that momentum right into the fall portion of the new season.  9. Noted author and mental coach Bob Rotella once penned a book entitled, “Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect.” Well, Amy Yang took a shot at disproving that theory, closing her final round in South Korea with nine straight birdies to tie Beth Daniel’s LPGA record. “I don’t know what just happened,” Yang said afterward, seemingly taking a cue from Will Ferrell’s character in “Old School.” Yang’s back-nine performance was one to remember, and all the more impressive considering she didn’t seem to have much going during the round after making the turn in 1-under 35. But when the putts start rolling in, the cup can seem like a bucket. At least, that’s what I’m told. 10. Weeks after Lydia Ko chased her down at the Evian, Lexi Thompson got a bit of revenge by holding off the Kiwi sensation to win the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship. It wasn’t a major, but it was still a quality victory for Thompson, who now has a pair of LPGA trophies this year and helped the U.S. to a Solheim Cup win last month.  Women’s golf is always a better product when the stars perform to their abilities, and after a slow start to the year, Thompson has certainly held up her end of the bargain in recent months. 11. It’s hard to believe that Yani Tseng hasn’t won on the LPGA in nearly four years. While Tseng is still far from her former perch atop the Rolex Rankings, she continues to show flashes of form that indicate a win is near. The latest example came this week, when she earned her third runner-up of the year, and her third top-five finish in her last four starts. After falling off the map, many were quick to label Tseng as one of the game’s biggest and most curious busts. It’s easy to forget that even now, she is only 26 with plenty of years ahead of her. If Tseng has the mental strength to remain on the comeback trail, it won’t be long before she’s back in the winner’s circle – perhaps as soon as next week, when the LPGA heads to her native Taiwan. 12. You may not have noticed, but Matt Every withdrew during the second round at Silverado. It continues a troubling trend for the two-time API champ, who now has four mid-tournament withdrawals since June. And it’s not just a nagging injury leading to these early exits – Every has previously cited neck, wrist and stomach ailments, although no reason was given for his most recent withdrawal. Since a T-42 finish at The Players in May, the only time Every has played the weekend was at the no-cut WGC-Bridgestone Invitational when he finished 74th in a 77-man field. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the form that led him to back-to-back wins at Bay Hill is nowhere to be found. 13. One day before notching his breakthrough win, Grillo nearly beaned McIlroy with a tee shot. McIlroy was standing near the green on the reachable par-4 17th, and Grillo took dead aim without realizing that the green hadn’t cleared. The ball missed the oblivious Ulsterman’s dome by mere inches. If I were McIlroy, I might bring a batter’s helmet with me to my next start. You know, just in case. 14. Bernhard Langer shot a final-round 65 to rally for a three-shot win at the San Antonio Championship, his 25th victory against the over-50 crowd. Not much to add here, other than he is now T-3 on the tour’s all-time victory list. Just four back of Lee Trevino … and 20 shy of No. 1 Hale Irwin. This week’s WTH comes to you in two installments. First, we have Matt Kuchar in the wind-swept Fiji International, watching as his ball is magically blown into the hole for a weather-aided bogey: Kuchar went on to win the event, but the question remains: why in the world was Kuchar playing in Fiji? Sure, he was already in that neck of the woods after last week’s Presidents Cup, and he probably had a few rea$ons for teeing it up in the OneAsia Tour event. But combined with an appearance in Mexico at next week’s America’s Golf Cup, Kuchar will play three straight weeks in three different foreign countries – certainly an unconventional approach to the offseason. Next, we have the sad fate of Alvaro Quiros, whose tap-in at the Portugal Masters did not go as planned: I mean, come on. That’s just mean. This week’s award winners … The Space Man Strikes Again: Andy Sullivan continued his breakthrough season, winning in a nine-shot romp in Portugal to become the first three-time winner this year on the European Tour. Sullivan may be best known to American fans as the guy who won a trip to space thanks to an ace at last year’s KLM Open – a prize he doesn’t plan on redeeming anytime soon, by the way – but he is now a player to watch thanks to his on-course performance. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 150 in the world and is now inside the top 50, hallowed ground that brings with it an opportunity to customize a schedule of elite events – starting with next month’s WGC-HSBC Champions. When he contended at the Memorial this summer, Sullivan said he would welcome the opportunity to play more in America. If he keeps this up, he just might get his wish. Stick Around For Closest-to-the-Pin Prizes: It seemed odd at the time, but kudos to the European Tour for thinking outside the box and going with a shotgun start during the third round of the Portugal Masters. With heavy rains in the forecast, officials sent everyone out at 8 a.m. local time, with the leaders off No. 1 tee. The result? The round was completed before the rains hit, and the tournament got in 72 holes as expected. But after weather shortened last year’s affair to only 36 holes, perhaps it’s time to look for a new date (or venue?) for this event before it gets washed off the schedule. Give Her All the Scrabble Points: The season-ending Symetra Tour Championship was won by, wait for it, Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong. Aside from the fact that it would violate the letter-usage rules of Scrabble, her surname would be worth 35 points.  This Doesn’t Make Much Sense: Charl Schwartzel finished T-6 at, but it would have been an even better result were it not for an eyeroll-inducing rules violation before Thursday’s opening round. As Schwartzel explained it, he thought his tee time was 12:45 p.m. local time when it was actually 12:40. After rushing to the tee, he made it to the edge of the scoring area as the starter was introducing playing partner Steven Bowditch. Schwartzel was hitting third in the group so he thought he was in the clear, but as it turns out the rule stipulates he had to be on the teeing ground before the starter began any of his player introductions.  The error cost Schwartzel two shots before his tournament even began, and it showed yet again that golf has some seriously dumb rules. Next Time, Just Call Uber: When we last heard from Will Wilcox, he was withdrawing from the Deutsche Bank Championship after injuring his knee getting into his courtesy car. This week, his loaner was broken into before the tournament started, with the thieves absconding with some new golf shoes among other items. Wilcox finished T-10 despite a final-round 73, but he may be well-served to leave his tournament transportation in the hands of someone else this season.last_img read more

Couples, Langer one back in San Antonio

first_imgSAN ANTONIO – Defending champion Michael Allen shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday for a share of the lead with Scott McCarron in the Champions Tour’s San Antonio Championship. ”For the first time, instead of trying to defend my championship, I’m trying to just win the golf tournament,” Allen said. ”Luckily, I’ve had the chance to defend a few times over the last few years, but trying to defend has never worked out too well for me, so I’m taking a new approach.” McCarron also had a 69 to reach 6-under 138 on TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Canyons Course. The three-time PGA Tour winner is making his seventh start on the tour after turning 50 in July. ”This golf course is tough. It’s tricky,” McCarron said. ”You have to hit the fairways. If you don’t hit the fairways, it’s very difficult.” The 56-year-old Allen has seven senior victories after failing to win on the PGA Tour. ”The course was set up great. It was set up hard,” Allen said. ”Every pin seemed to be in the back of the green. Breezy, but not too bad today. It was a challenging, but fun day. The greens were extremely fast, extremely tricky.” Fred Couples was a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer, Scott Dunlap and first-round leader Wes Short Jr. Couples shot 69, Langer 68, Dunlap 71 and Short 72. Couples won the 2011 event, shooting 62-62-66 for a seven-stroke victory. ”I thought today’s pins were really, really, hard,” Couples said. ”It was hard to get the ball close and it was hard to make a putt.” Charles Schwab Cup leader Colin Montgomerie was tied for 11th at 3 under after a 70. He has a 39-point lead over Jeff Maggert with three events left in the season-long competition. Maggert withdrew after nine holes because of a lingering left calf injury. ”I felt I could play this week but the calf tightened up on me yesterday and with the Toshiba Classic and Charles Schwab Cup Championship coming up, I didn’t want to risk it any further this week,” Maggert said. Brandt Jobe was tied for 27th at 1 over in his Champions Tour debut. He shot 72.last_img read more

Can McDowell dump the slump?

first_imgPLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Graeme McDowell was lured to the OHL Classic at Mayakoba by the prospect of a clean slate. A fresh start, an opportunity to put a disastrous season behind him. A chance to rekindle his game and begin his charge back up the world rankings to the lofty perch he once occupied for so long. Through two rounds in Mexico he appears to have found all of that, but make no mistake – there is still work to be done. McDowell scorched El Camaleon on Friday, recording nine birdies en route to a 63, the lowest round of the week. At 12 under, he sits two shots clear of Si Woo Kim and appears in great position to capture his third PGA Tour win. The easy demeanor and confident smile McDowell currently carries have been a rare sight in recent months. More than a year removed from his last top-10 finish, the Ulsterman has watched his world ranking slide from No. 15 to begin the year to No. 85 entering this week. “I’ve had a spell here the last 18 months where making cuts has been hard, and getting into contention’s been difficult,” McDowell said. Things bottomed out for McDowell at the PGA Championship, where a missed cut ended his season before the FedEx Cup Playoffs began. The ball-striking, he explained, had been showing signs of a turnaround since the Scottish Open in July, but he was never able to capitalize on scoring opportunities. McDowell used the unexpected gap in his schedule to take a break from golf and take stock of the situation he had played his way into. OHL Classic at Mayakoba: Articles, photos and videos “About five weeks off I took after Whistling Straits, which was key for me,” McDowell said. “I needed to clear my head. I was under too much pressure. I was putting too much pressure on myself.” After returning to action in Europe, McDowell is now off to a strong start in Mexico – but the start has not been the difficult part of the equation this year. Time and again, he has flashed his form of old, only to falter over the weekend. McDowell opened with rounds of 67-65 this spring in Dubai, then failed to break 70 over the weekend. A similar script played out in Malaysia, where he finished T-36 despite an opening 66, and he was near the lead through three rounds of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational before closing with 73. Even as recently as two weeks ago, when he was in the mix at the halfway point of the Turkish Airlines Open with a chance to play his way into the Race to Dubai, McDowell closed with rounds of 73-75 to fade from contention. Amid a playing schedule that spans the globe, McDowell has only one sub-70 final-round score this year. One good round, even two good rounds, have been achievable goals. Stringing four straight together, though, has proved difficult. “The last few months, not staying in the present enough on the weekends, kind of getting a little excited and caring too much. Just kind of mistakes that I used to make 10 years ago when I was trying to learn how to win out here,” he said. “I’ve been going through kind of the processes of really getting there, messing it up a little bit, getting back there and playing a little better.” Another opportunity for improvement awaits this weekend, where wet conditions will lead to more low scores. McDowell appears to have his game in order, combining a red-hot putter with vintage ball-striking. After tinkering with a new driver earlier in the week, he put his old driver back in his bag for the second round and missed only two fairways. But scar tissue lingers from his recent miscues. McDowell asserts that this fortnight of fall golf, ending with next week’s RSM Classic, is an all-upside opportunity to get a head start on a new season. But he also built in some less rosy rationale, just in case he is unable to buck his recent performance trends. “This is not a last-chance saloon this weekend,” he said. Beyond the mechanics of his swing, McDowell believes the missing ingredient of late has been his frame of mind. The confidence and positive reinforcement that inherently accompany appearances on the leaderboard and trips to the winner’s circle have simply been non-existent. “Of course I would dearly love to be in the heat Sunday afternoon and have a chance to win here,” he said. “But like I say, I need to keep the attitude good this weekend, and I think I haven’t done that well the last few months.” McDowell sought an opportunity for redemption this week in Mexico, and after two strong performances that’s exactly what he has created for himself. But the toughest part of his journey back still lies ahead. It’s not assembling the various pieces – it’s keeping them together until the final putt drops.last_img read more

Rory: It’s about the office, not the man

first_imgMEXICO CITY – Turns out there’s a reason why you don’t talk politics on the golf course. It’s a harsh lesson to learn, particularly for a professional golfer. Just ask Ernie Els or Rory McIlroy. For Els the toll came the week of the Genesis Open following a round of golf with President Donald Trump in South Florida. The Big Easy was anything but after enduring a barrage of criticism, mostly on social media. Now it’s McIlroy’s turn to withstand the slings and arrows of a polarized social media universe. McIlroy, who was born and raised in Northern Ireland, was so staggered by the reaction to his round with Trump on Feb. 19 that he tweeted a lengthy explanation of the round and why he felt compelled to play with the leader of the free world. On Tuesday at the WGC-Mexico Championship, the world No. 3 dug even deeper, figuring a round of golf with the president of the United States wasn’t really an either/or option. “I was a little bit taken aback by the blowback I received but I get why,” he said. “I was just doing what I felt was respectful and the president of the United States phones you up and wants to play golf with you, I wasn’t going to say no, like I don’t agree with everything that he says but it is what it is.” It didn’t appear as if McIlroy put much thought into the alternative, turning down a round of golf with a sitting president, but it’s likely there would have been just as much “blowback” had he taken a hard pass on his round with the POTUS. WGC-Mexico Championship: Articles, photos and videos McIlroy, who hasn’t played since the second week of January as he recovered from a rib injury, still seemed stunned by the reaction his round with Trump has caused. Although he’s never been shy when it comes to addressing difficult topics, the 27-year-old’s initial take when asked about the round was slightly aloof. “Played golf with some people . . . won’t go there,” he demurred. But he did go there in detail, in fact. For McIlroy, who has played his share of golf with dignitaries and politicians, the spectacle of playing golf with the president was profound. He said there were 30 Secret Service agents, 30 additional law enforcement officers and even snipers in the trees at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Fla. “It was just a surreal experience for me to see something like that. That was part of the reason I wanted to go and play,” he said. This wasn’t a political statement. That’s not Rory’s style. Long before candidate Trump became president, McIlroy told a group of reporters last year as the PGA Tour mulled a possible move away from Trump’s property at Doral to Mexico City, “wouldn’t it be silly not to have some sort of relationship [with Trump]?” During the same interview he was asked about the presidential campaign, which was just starting to heat up, and his point and political affiliations remain unchanged. “I’m not an American, I can’t change the way the political system is there. I can’t vote,” he said on Tuesday. “I said this in Doral last year, even if I could vote I would have voted for an independent or someone else.” It’s been a tough few weeks for those who choose not to hide behind platitudes and vanilla one-liners. Pat Perez was scrutinized last week after suggesting Tiger Woods might retire if he doesn’t play the Masters, and rookie Bryson DeChambeau caught similar heat for comments concerning his face-on putter that was deemed non-conforming earlier this year by the USGA. Both players ended up walking those comments back, either to clarify or cool the room. But McIlroy didn’t step to the podium on Tuesday to apologize. Instead, he attempted to explain his situation, his thought process and his position, that whatever your political affiliation it’s important to recognize that the bigger picture is often skewed by the heat of the moment. “I’m sorry if I sort of pissed people off, but I felt I was in a position where I couldn’t really do anything but say yes, respect the office even if you don’t respect the guy that’s in it, go play and go from there,” he said. McIlroy isn’t blind to what his 18 holes with Trump means or the emotions his round stirred. But just as he knows there’s no room in golf for politics, there’s certainly no space for disrespect.last_img read more

The Social: Are you not entertained?

first_imgThe real highlights from the U.S. Presidents Cup victory come after the event had concluded, the WAGs (maybe even Tiger’s?) show up in a big way and Gary Player never ceases to amaze. All that and more in this week’s The Social. By all accounts, the Presidents Cup was a blowout from start to finish, culminating in the Americans’ seventh straight win of the event and matching the third-largest margin of victory over the Internationals. But if any fans out there stuck it out til the bitter end, they were treated to some great theatrics from the winning squad … in the media center. With the result basically wrapped up before Sunday singles began, the champagne celebration started early and it was in full swing by the time the U.S. players sat down as a team with the media – which led to some classic moments, such as Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson belting out their best rendition of “Si Woo, Si Woo, shaking that ass,” a reference to the song American fans used in good fun to try and rattle International team member and Presidents Cup rookie Si Woo Kim. But that wasn’t the only fun the Americans had after their 19-11 win. While in the past Phil Mickelson has seemed more-than able and willing to make headlines in winning or losing team competition news conferences, on Sunday it was the U.S. squad’s eldest statesmen who was the butt of a few jokes, despite posting a 3-0-1 record. People can debate as much as they want about the Presidents Cup’s lack-of “competiton” and what the best course of action is moving forward with an event that some say has lost its luster. But do you want to know how you know it’s still a big deal? The WAGs showed up. Big time. The annual “Take Your Significant Other to Work Week” was a great success, as usual, with all the fan-favorites showing up to cheer on their men. Paulina Gretzky. Tori Slater. Jena Sims. Allison Stokke. Annie Verrett. Jillian Wisniewski. Amy Mickelson. Ellie Day, Jessica Hadwin. Michelle Money. The list goes on and on. Presidents Cup. Playing the hits. There was one embrace in particular at Liberty National that seemed to catch people’s attention, and we’re not talking about apparent BFFs Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson hugging out the victory. No, someone else was spotted getting even cozier with Woods. Erica Herman, 33, who was once listed as the general manager of a Woods-branded pop-up restaurant at the Genesis Open, was snuggling up with Tiger all week, and while Woods neither confirmed nor denied the two were an item, they don’t exactly look like, “just friends.” Of course, if they were officially dating, we’d know. Because we would have seen an over-the-top synchronized Facebook post complete with professional photos by now. Is there anything Gary Player can’t do? The 81-year-old crushes his work-outs, does backflips off of boats and, evidently, can cut a rug. On Monday at one of his Gary Player Invitational events in New York, which raise money for underprivileged children and communities worldwide, Player found himself on the dance floor and he did not disappoint. Hey Gary, the phone is for you … It’s “Dancing with the Stars.” From Rory McIlroy to Phil Mickelson, there’s been plenty of talk about the firing and hiring of caddies this year. But there were a couple of caddie stories this week that were a little less serious in tone, which was nice considering we’re talking about a job where the main duty is literally just carrying a bag. First it was Sergio Garcia making a fan’s day month year life by letting him loop during the Wednesday pro-am of the British Masters. This particular fan, Mark Johnson, is what one might call “persistent.” This payoff came after he tweeted Garcia for 206 straight days with this particular request. The second caddie story comes from the boys behind the SB2K18 CADDIES Twitter account. They want to, you guessed it, caddie for SB2K18. The guys do make a compelling case for Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Smylie Kaufman to look over. They offer caddie races, dance-offs, sunscreen application and cocktail service. Best of luck to Willie, Juice, Hammer and Mountain. And remember, if you get turned down the first time, just ask another 205 times. That will definitely show them you’re serious and get you the job … or a restraining order. Only one way to find out. Good point. Maybe those guys will take this loss to heart and try harder to make the International Presidents Cup team in a couple years.last_img read more

Dan Graur, Anti-ENCODE Crusader, Is Back

first_img TagsDan GraurENCODEevolutionGenome Biology and EvolutionJunk DNANeo-DarwinismNew ScientistNew York Postpopulation geneticsUniversity of Houston,Trending Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Evolution Headline in, of all places, the New York Post:Human DNA is mostly trash, biologists sayAt least 75 percent of our DNA is useless junk, according to a new study.Researchers at the University of Houston calculated that only 10 to 15 percent of the human genome is functional, and definitely no more than 25 percent. That makes the remaining 75 to 90 percent of our genome “junk” — useless matter that isn’t toxic or harmful, it’s mostly just … there. The study was recently published in Genome Biology and Evolution.Biologists have argued for years about whether or not our DNA is mostly trash or mostly purposeful. A study conducted in 2012 stated that up to 80 percent of our DNA plays some role in making us who we are — a claim that Dan Graur, lead author of the most recent study, hopes his findings will put to rest.The study is covered in a range of more sedate venues, but when even the rabble-rousing tabloids pay attention, that’s a feather in the cap for anti-ENCODE, pro-Junk DNA crusader Dan Graur who is not seeking to convince fellow scientists alone. (See “Dan Graur, Darwin’s Reactionary.”)New Scientist echoes:At least 75 per cent of our DNA really is useless junk after allYou’re far from a perfect product. The code that makes us is at least 75 per cent rubbish, according to a study that suggests most of our DNA really is junk after all.After 20 years of biologists arguing that most of the human genome must have some kind of function, the study calculated that in fact the vast majority of our DNA has to be useless. It came to this conclusion by calculating that, because of the way evolution works, we’d each have to have a million children, and almost all of them would need to die, if most of our DNA had a purpose.From the paper itself:Abstract:For the human population to maintain a constant size from generation to generation, an increase in fertility must compensate for the reduction in the mean fitness of the population caused, among others, by deleterious mutations. The required increase in fertility due to this mutational load depends on the number of sites in the genome that are functional, the mutation rate, and the fraction of deleterious mutations among all mutations in functional regions. These dependencies and the fact that there exists a maximum tolerable replacement level fertility can be used to put an upper limit on the fraction of the human genome that can be functional. Mutational load considerations lead to the conclusion that the functional fraction within the human genome cannot exceed 25%, and is probably considerably lower.That’s stated in more formal terms, but is there anything to it? In arguing for 75 percent of the human genome as trash, has Dr. Graur slain the ENCODE dragon and rescued the Junk DNA myth? Nah.We read the paper, and looked over Graur’s accompanying PowerPoint. We’re not impressed by theoretical population genetics because it is based on neo-Darwinian assumptions rather than biological realities. Basically, he is using that circular science to add a quantitative gloss to his fundamental position, namely that if ENCODE is right then evolution is wrong, and evolution can’t be wrong, so ENCODE can’t be right.Briefly, the major weakness of Graur’s models lies in the simplifying assumptions he makes. Graur presents only the stripped down version of the math behind his calculations, so until the book he references as a source arrives in our offices we can’t tell what assumptions are hidden behind that screen. But for sure there is the assumption of a constant population size.There has been no constant population size or fertility rate over recorded human history, and likely before. One could argue that mutation rates have varied as well. To judge from the sources he cites on demography, Graur may be overly strict in his estimate of mean replacement fertility, and the average offspring per woman over the history of humankind. A mean replacement fertility of 3.5 per couple, given historical infant mortality, may be more appropriate.A wild card, meanwhile, is the estimate of the percentage of mutations that are deleterious. The paper cited by Graur for the figure of 40 percent deleterious mutations was based on work on one protein in bacteria. Another paper studying human SNPs (mutations) found that only about one quarter were deleterious. These estimates are crude approximations and subject to error, as the range of values Graur quotes shows. Which number is chosen has a clear impact on the number calculated for the percentage of our genome that is functional.These two numbers drive the train. If the mean replacement fertility value were higher, and the percent deleterious mutation value were lower, then the range of possible values for the percentage of our genome that is functional becomes higher.It should be remembered that many once thought, as Richard Dawkins put it in 2009 in The Greatest Show on Earth, that “the greater part (95 per cent in the case of humans) of the genome might as well not be there, for all the difference it makes” (p. 333)! ENCODE determined a range of possible functional sequences of 20-80 percent. It would not be a surprise, given the above considerations, that the percentage of our genome that is functional may be double what Graur estimates. This places the percentage of junk DNA considerably lower than it was historically thought to be, and well within the range found by ENCODE.In the end, though, it is empirical studies that will determine the actual percentage that is functional. We still bet on functionality.Photo credit: Spencer Means, via Flickr. Evolution NewsEvolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues. Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Recommendedcenter_img Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Intelligent Design Dan Graur, Anti-ENCODE Crusader, Is BackEvolution News @DiscoveryCSCJuly 28, 2017, 3:11 AM A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

ID’s Top Six — The Fine-Tuning of the Universe

first_img Physics, Earth & Space ID’s Top Six — The Fine-Tuning of the UniverseCasey LuskinNovember 8, 2017, 1:08 AM Intelligent Design Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Editor’s note: In the past we’ve offered the top 10 problems with Darwinian evolution (see here for a fuller elaboration), and the top five problems with origin-of-life theories. But somehow we neglected to offer a parallel listing of the top lines of evidence supporting intelligent design. Many different pieces of evidence pointing to design in nature could be adduced, but we decided to distill it all down to six major lines of evidence. Sure, five or ten would have been more conventional, but when did ID advocates start playing to expectations?So here they are, their order simply reflecting that in which they must logically have occurred within our universe. Material is adapted from the textbook Discovering Intelligent Design, which is an excellent resource for introducing the evidence for ID, along with Stephen Meyer’s books Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt.2. The Fine-Tuning of the UniverseThe term “Big Bang” conjures images of an explosion, and usually when we think of an explosion we imagine a highly chaotic, stochastic event that destroys any order that is present rather than creating or preserving order. The Big Bang was not that kind of an “explosion.” It’s much better understood as a “finely tuned expansion event,” where all the matter and energy in the universe were expanding from an unimaginably high energy state. However, matching that energy was control and guidance through natural laws that were designed to produce a habitable universe, a home for life.Consider some of the finely tuned factors that make our universe possible:If the strong nuclear force were slightly more powerful, then there would be no hydrogen, an essential element of life. If it was slightly weaker, then hydrogen would be the only element in existence.If the weak nuclear force were slightly different, then either there would not be enough helium to generate heavy elements in stars, or stars would burn out too quickly and supernova explosions could not scatter heavy elements across the universe.If the electromagnetic force were slightly stronger or weaker, atomic bonds, and thus complex molecules, could not form.If the value of the gravitational constant were slightly larger, one consequence would be that stars would become too hot and burn out too quickly. If it were smaller, stars would never burn at all and heavy elements would not be produced.The finely tuned laws and constants of the universe are an example of specified complexity in nature. They are complex in that their values and settings are highly unlikely. They are specified in that they match the specific requirements needed for life.The following gives a sense of the degree of fine-tuning that must go into some of these values to yield a life-friendly universe:Gravitational constant: 1 part in 10^34Electromagnetic force versus force of gravity: 1 part in 10^37Cosmological constant: 1 part in 10^120Mass density of universe:  1 part in 10^59Expansion rate of universe: 1 part in 10^55Initial entropy:  1 part in 10^ (10^123)The last item in the list — the initial entropy of the universe — shows an astounding degree of fine-tuning. What all this shares is an incredible, astronomically precise, purposeful care and planning that went into the crafting of the laws and constants of the universe, gesturing unmistakably to intelligent design. As Nobel laureate in physics Charles Townes stated:Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it’s remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren’t just the way they are, we couldn’t be here at all. The sun couldn’t be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.Some scientists respond, “Well, there must be an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different. This one just happened to turn out right.” That’s a postulate, and it’s a pretty fantastic postulate — it assumes there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them. One would like to get a look at the universe-generating machine responsible for this abundance. The other possibility is that our universe was planned, and that’s why it has come out so specially.Again, William Lane Craig has a fantastic video explaining this: Recommended TagsBig BangCharles TownesDiscovering Intelligent Designelectromagnetic forceexpansion rate of universefine tuninggravitational constantgravityhydrogenID’s Top Sixinitial entropyintelligent designmagnetic theorymass densitynatureNobel laureatephysical constantsphysicsquantum mechanicsstarsstrong nuclear forcesuniverseweak nuclear forcewilliam lane craig,Trending Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Casey LuskinAssociate Director, Center for Science and CultureCasey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.Follow CaseyProfileWebsite Share Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Billions of Missing Links: Mysteries Evolution Can’t Explain Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Image source: spirit111, via Pixabay. “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Manlast_img read more

Kevin Williamson on Intelligent Design

first_img Intelligent Design Kevin Williamson on Intelligent DesignDavid [email protected]_klinghofferJanuary 16, 2019, 4:45 PM TagsAlfred Russel WallaceCommentaryDarwin DevolvesDarwin’s Black BoxDarwin’s DoubtDarwinismdeplorablesDiscovery InstituteDuck DynastyeducationevolutionFiring LineGertrude Himmelfarbhoroscopesintelligent designIrving KristolJames A. ShapiroKevin WilliamsonNational ReviewNew AgePhillip E. JohnsonRichard John NeuhausRichard WeaverRoyal SocietySignature in the CellsnobberyTexasThe Information EnigmaTom WolfeWesley SmithWhittaker ChambersWilliam F. Buckley Jr.Witness,Trending “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Evolution Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Photo: Kevin Williamson, via Upstream Ideas/YouTube. No intellectually challenging idea has attracted more uninformed criticism than intelligent design. That includes from smart people like National Review’s Kevin Williamson, who’s made a habit of it. Here he is today commenting on “The Politics of Snobbery, and Its Inverse” (my emphasis):The Republicans, for their part, have devolved from the holier-than-thou party of the Moral Majority to the prolier-than-thou party of Donald Trump, the party that talks about the “Real America” in accents purporting to be Texan but native to no part of the Lone Star State, the party of Duck Dynasty and bad FM country music, the party of such daft rube-bait as “intelligent design,” and the party that sneers at many of the most successful parts of this country — Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the Ivy League, Hollywood — as cultural sewers.The Democrats have become the party of snobbery. Consider those endless fights over the treatment of evolution in high-school textbooks. Nobody seriously believes that if a high-school science teacher in Muleshoe, Texas, is legally permitted to mention heterodox views of evolution, in 20 years’ time Stanford and MIT will be intellectual backwaters. Those fights aren’t about science — do you hear progressives hounding the Washington Post about its horoscopes or lamenting Obamacare’s blessing of sundry New Age quackeries? — they’re about the loathing of those people.There’s some truth here. Loathing the “downscale” deplorables, the kind whose communities “deserve to die” (as Kevin has written), is certainly a driver of liberalism today. That does represent a shift. What about the idea that skepticism regarding Darwinism, or sympathy for intelligent design, that “daft rube-bait,” also represents a shift? Or the notion that worrying about how evolution is taught in public schools is, but for the social opprobrium, on a level with “horoscopes” or “New Age quackery”?A Guiding PurposeFrom this and previous comments of his, I’m pretty sure that Williamson has little or no idea how advocates of intelligent design make their case, identifying scientific evidence of a guiding purpose at work in biology and cosmology, as against Darwinism’s insistence on blind processes alone.Williamson and I are alike in idolizing NR’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr., and Kevin has written movingly about his interactions with WFB. I am surprised that he doesn’t seem to know that many of the great figures of the conservative intellectual past, including Buckley, tended toward skepticism on Darwinism or sympathy for design — in no particular order, Richard John Neuhaus, Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb, Tom Wolfe, Richard Weaver. In Witness, Whittaker Chambers beautifully described awaking from the spell of Communism upon contemplating the “immense design” of his little daughter’s ear. Buckley hosted a Firing Line debate on intelligent design, which he argued for alongside his fellow debaters, mathematician David Berlinski, biochemist Michael Behe, and U.C. Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson, all affiliated with Discovery Institute. Commentary published Berlinski’s great series of attacks on Darwinian orthodoxy. And so on.If Allowed, then ObligedOf course citing the fathers of conservatism on a scientific problem doesn’t settle anything, other than urging us that laymen are allowed to wrestle for themselves with this ultimate question of life’s origins. If they’re allowed, then, given the obvious importance of the issue, I would say they are also obliged.I was the layman who happened to be the literary editor on duty at NR in 1996 when Michael Behe’s first book, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, was published. The book launched the modern ID movement, which has historical roots in the thinking of the co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, who broke with Darwin over what Wesley Smith calls “human exceptionalism.” I assigned it to University of Chicago microbiologist James A. Shapiro. His review, while rejecting the book’s positive case for design, was sufficiently laudatory to supply a blurb for the paperback, praising Behe for a “valuable critique of an all-too-often unchallenged orthodoxy.”A Bunch of Rubes?The science has evolved since then but not in a way favorable to standard evolutionary thinking. Shapiro and other skeptics have gone on to join forces as the “Third Way” on evolution — rejecting intelligent design, yes, but seeking an alternative to Darwinism. They gathered at a significant 2016 conference of the Royal Society in London, where Isaac Newton once presided, recognizing that the old standby, natural selection operating on random mutation, is not equipped to produce the wonders of biology.A bunch of rubes, you say? If you want to judge for yourself, two recent books to consider are Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt. Behe’s forthcoming book, Darwin Devolves, extends his argument for design. You could also do worse than to start with a 20-minute video from Discovery Institute that I wrote, “The Information Enigma.” Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Recommended Share A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

Edward Feser: To Reconcile Aristotle with Evolution

first_img Recommended Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Evolution NewsEvolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues. Share A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share TagsAristotleAristotle’s RevengebiologyEdward Feserevolutionfunctiongoal-directednessID the Futureintelligent designMichael Egnormindnaturalistic evolutionnaturephilosophypodcastpurposereality,Trending Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Evolution Edward Feser: To Reconcile Aristotle with EvolutionEvolution News @DiscoveryCSCJuly 19, 2019, 12:08 AM On a new episode of ID the Future, neuroscientist Michael Egnor continues his discussion with philosopher and professor Edward Feser about Feser’s new book Aristotle’s Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science. Download the podcast or listen to it here.The question this time is whether evolution is compatible with an Aristotelian understanding of reality. Feser says it could be — but he argues against naturalistic evolution anyway. While Feser differs from intelligent design theorists on his approach to the question, he agrees with the conclusion that nature evidences the existence of a mind instilling purpose, goal-directedness, and function within nature.Image: Aristotle, by Francesco Hayez (1811) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.last_img read more