When Maggert stepped up to hit his drive on the 72nd hole, a 444-yard par-4, he was tied with Cink for the lead at 13 under par. Maggert pulled his tee shot into the rough, hit his second shot over the green into more rough on a downhill slope, then chipped 30 feet past the cup and missed the putt. The bogey cost him not only a chance at his second career Tour victory (he has been second or tied for second nine times) but also the 150 Ryder Cup points that would have vaulted him from 12th to seventh place and virtually assured him of a spot on the team. Instead he earned 80 points to inch up to 11th (the top 10 qualify automatically), just behind Davis Love III, a longtime Kite favorite.
After his debacle on the final hole, Maggert stormed off the green and up a hill to the scorer's tent, even though playing partner Tom Byrum still had a makable birdie putt that would have put him into a playoff with Cink. While Byrum was lining up his putt, Maggert threw his putter to the ground in the scorer's tent. Byrum, who barely missed the putt, said he was unaffected by Maggert's tantrum. Maggert, meanwhile, declined interview requests.
Maggert might still qualify for the U.S. team in the next three weeks, but that might not be a good thing for captain Kite's squad, considering that performance—and grace—under pressure is critical in the Ryder Cup.
The Great Debate over Ryder Cup Rookies
As many as 10 rookies could be among the 24 players competing in September's Ryder Cup, the most since the match became competitive in 1983. The prospect has drawn contrasting opinions from the two captains. While Tom Kite expresses concern, Seve Ballesteros welcomes the development. "I've played in eight matches as a player, and the best I ever felt was in the first one," he says. "I was told to just go out and play, and that's what I did. I had no responsibilities, no worries. I was totally wrapped up in my own game. The problem with experience is that it comes with baggage. Sometimes that helps in the Ryder Cup, but sometimes it weighs you down."
Ballesteros believes the quality of the player is more important than his experience. "Look at Phil Mickelson at Oak Hill," he says. "He won three points out of three as a rookie and looked as if he had been playing Ryder Cup golf all his life. Some players revel in the atmosphere, and some don't." The vital factor, Ballesteros says, is whether or not a golfer is playing well. "Confidence is everything," he says. "Give me a rookie playing really well over an experienced player who's trying to find his game."
Nevertheless, the statistics suggest that rookies can be a bigger detriment than Ballesteros realizes. Since 1985 the team with the fewest first-year players has won each time. Says Bernhard Langer, "It's all about balance. Sure, you need some new blood, but if Europe is to win we also need players who know what it's all about when the pressure is on. I don't think we can win the Ryder Cup without guys like Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam."
U.S. Junior Runner-up Might Go Pro Soon
With his wraparound Oakley sunglasses and confident swagger, 17-year-old South African phenom Trevor Immelman certainly looks like a Tour player. But does he have the game and the maturity to succeed at the pro level? We might find out soon, if his comments after last week's U.S. Junior are any indication.
"My options are open," said Immelman shortly after losing to Jason Allred of Ashland, Ore., one up, in the Junior final at Aronimink Golf Club, outside Philadelphia. "I can't tell you I'm not going to turn pro next month. When the time is right, I'll do it. The young guys are starting to dominate. Tiger [Woods] is 21, Ernie [Els] is 27, and [Justin] Leonard is 25."