One hundred and seven days.
No, that's not how much time Tiger Woods will miss or how long it takes Ben Crane or Bernhard Langer to play four rounds. It's the amount of time from the last shot at the Memorial Tournament, which was completed Sunday with Kenny Perry as the champion, to the opening day at the Ryder Cup in September.
If it seems like a long time to be debating, discussing and dissecting the upcoming event, you're not alone. The Weekly 18 begins with the idea that Ryder Cup talk might be enjoyable, but we shouldn't read too much into anything at this current juncture.
1. Slow Ryde
When J.B. Holmes claimed the FBR Open back on Super Bowl Sunday, the underlying theme afterwards was, "He may have just clinched a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team!"
(And yes, the exclamation point is necessary to denote the fervor with which such comments were made.)
Same deal for Sean O'Hair when he won earlier this year. And Boo Weekley. And Anthony Kim. And now Perry, who on Sunday won the Memorial Tournament -- which you might now know by its new moniker: Prelude to the Ryder Cup, Part 22.
The biennial competition between the United States and Europe has become probably the second-most anticipated event of the season for most U.S. fans, following only the Masters. It's fun to take a stab at guessing the current makeup of either roster and refreshing to hear players already getting jazzed at earning a spot on the team. But has it gotten to the point where all of this Ryder Cup discourse is simply too premature? After all, with 3½ months remaining until the first ball goes into the air at Valhalla, the one thing we know about the Cup is that we hardly know anything right now.
Perry is the latest example of this untimely overload, his victory at one of the PGA Tour's more prestigious events swallowed up by Ryder Cup rhetoric throughout the week. A native of Kentucky, he's hardly hidden the fact that reaching this year's festivities is his No. 1 goal -- even more so than winning.
U.S. captain Paul Azinger said prior to the Memorial that players who have proven themselves with victories this season would get the most consideration for his four captain's picks.
"It kind of stabbed me in the heart when I read that. Paul says you're probably going to have to win to get on that team, so that kind of re-energized me a little bit and made me refocus. Top-10s aren't going to do me any good. I'm going to somehow have to get into the winner's circle."
So when that happened at Muirfield Village, it didn't take long for Perry to start receiving questions about a tournament that is still so very far down the road.
"I'm not going to say I'm a captain's selection lock," he said. "All I'm doing is putting myself out there each week. I set my schedule up this year to play as hard as I could and run as fast as I could run and get as many points as I could. I just hope I can still continue my great play and then there won't be any question. I'll automatically make that top eight. That's my goal."
It's also the goal of many other U.S. players who would be honored to wear the red, white and blue come September 19, but let's not lose focus of the fact that the new points system -- based solely on the money list, with double points awarded for major championships -- is extremely volatile. Couple that with the fact that professional golf is a very cyclical endeavor -- whoever is playing solidly right now might not be come Ryder Cup time, and vice versa -- and we've got to wonder if all this conjecture isn't just premature exposition.
After Sunday's victory, PGA Tour officials brought Perry a chart showing that he's at No. 5 in the standings, according to The Associated Press.
Hey, it's always fun to look ahead to the Ryder Cup. Let's just keep current events in perspective, as there's still a long way to go before anything is decided.
2. Open and closed
Even though we'll chime in on this subject in ESPN.com's Alternate Shot and Fact or Fiction pieces this week, we'd be remiss if we didn't touch on the hot-button issue surrounding Perry's decision to forgo the U.S. Open in favor of trying to reach his goal of making the Ryder Cup team.
First things first: Perry isn't automatically exempt into the Open -- his win came one week too late for that -- so he would have had to play a 36-hole qualifier Monday, something the 47-year-old said he'd rather not partake in at this point in his career.
That's all well and good, but when playing a sport in which major championships are the cornerstone of the business, his decision has to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of fellow players and fans. Rather than try to reach Torrey Pines, he'll play in Memphis, take a week off, then tee it up in Hartford.
"That's kind of how I fit my schedule this year," said Perry. "I based it on tournaments that I've had the most success at. I've only played Torrey three times in my whole 22-year career. I had trouble on the poa annua out there. Great golf course, nothing against it. It's just that I can't play them all, and on the West Coast, Torrey was the week I always took off."
There are two ways to look at such a strategic maneuver: One, it's refreshing to see a player care more about making the team than any other individual goals; and two, if a guy doesn't want to play in a pressure-cooker like the Open, maybe he doesn't quite have the right makeup of a Ryder Cup competitor.
Put us in Azinger's red, white and blue hat/vest combo and we're worried about the latter.
On the eve of this year's Masters, we sat on a bench in the Augusta National locker room and spoke with Jerry Kelly about where the major championship ranks among tournaments he would most like to win.
"This is my favorite place to be, really," Kelly said. "This and the Memorial, Jack's tournament. Those two rank right up there."
Sure, the Memorial is one of the more prestigious tourneys on the schedule, but that's pretty high praise to be lumped in with the Masters. Considering where he lists it among his priorities, Kelly must be thrilled with his T-2 result and crestfallen that it wasn't just a tad better. On Sunday, he carded three birdies and two bogeys in a final-round 71 that left him two strokes shy of Perry's pace.
4. Thanks, Jack
Kudos to the folks at CBS Sports for tracking down a letter that 13-year-old "Michael Weir" received from Jack Nicklaus after writing to him seeking advice as a left-handed golfer. The full text of the letter:
- Dear Michael:
I just wanted to thank you for writing and to wish you the best of luck in your hope of becoming a professional golfer. I have always believed that a left-handed player is better off sticking with his natural swing. In my new book, "The Full Swing," I've devoted a whole section to tips for left-handed golfers, and it uses what I considered to be the key instructional photographs of my swing "flipped" to show them from a left-handed perspective.
Best wishes for continued good golfing.
Obviously still working off Jack's advice from 25 years ago, Weir shot 71-72-68-71 to finish in a share of second place -- his first top-10 since a solo fourth at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.
5. In da clubs
Justin Rose was the first-round co-leader at the Masters, but followed with a 6-over 78 on Friday and finished T-36 for the week. Since then, he withdrew from the Verizon Heritage and missed the cut at the Wachovia Championship, Players Championship and BMW Championship.
So what did last year's Order of Merit winner do to change his luck? He switched out most of his bag.
Rose employed TaylorMade's r7 SuperQuad for the first time, balanced out by a new 3-wood, 5-wood, irons and pitching wedge from the company, as well. The result was a T-2 finish in which he was seventh in driving accuracy (including 14-for-14 on Sunday) and fifth in greens in regulation.
6. Left out
Coming off his victory at Colonial last week, Phil Mickelson finished T-20 at the Memorial. Consider it a disappointing result for Lefty, who has shown over the years that when he's hot, he doesn't cool off very quickly. Here are Mickelson's results in his next start after a win since 2004:
Speaking of Mickelson, his most recent win vaulted his Official World Golf Ranking points to more than half of Woods' total for the first time since Aug. 6, 2006. Perhaps more startlingly, Lefty's lead over third-ranked Ernie Els is almost double his point total.
We weren't on site at Muirfield Village this week and didn't hear anything about this after the fact, so we're inclined to give J.B. Holmes the benefit of the doubt. In case you missed it, the FBR Open champ walked off the 18th green Sunday, looked in the direction of tournament host Jack Nicklaus and then looked away and walked right past him.
We gave the incident a few rewinds on the DVR, and if a picture tells a thousand words, it was apparent that Holmes (who had just completed a final-round 5-over 77 to finish T-20) wanted no part of the tournament host as he headed toward the scorer's trailer.
If any additional news comes into the W18 desk, we'll follow up with further information in coming weeks.
8. Ugh, Lee
Here is the craziest card of the week, presented by Dramamine (for seasickness get it?), courtesy of Lee Janzen, who finished T-69 at the Memorial:
For the week, the two-time U.S. Open champ co-led the field in bogeys (23) and others (he carded a quadruple-bogey in Round 2 and a triple in Round 3, though his number doesn't include a double in Round 4), while finishing last in total pars for the week (31 in 72 holes for a par percentage of 43.1.)
9. All in the family
You remember those famous words from Earl Woods, speaking about his son in a December 1996 Sports Illustrated article. "Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity," he said at the time. "Because he's playing a sport that's international. Because he's qualified through his ethnicity to accomplish miracles. He's the bridge between the East and the West. I don't know exactly what form this will take. But he is the Chosen One. He'll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations. The world is just getting a taste of his power."
A dozen years later, Tiger was asked about those comments during his news conference for the AT&T National on Tuesday -- and he was unpredictably playful.
"I didn't understand what he was talking about. I thought he was talking crazy," Woods said with a smile before tempering his remarks. "But maybe he saw something I didn't and I didn't know it. Maybe, as all parents, you try to plant seeds in our kids to inspire them to do great things. Maybe that was it. Whatever it is, whatever he did then, I'm very proud of what he believed in me, what he saw in me, what I could do. As I said, what we're doing now [is] just the blueprint, not just for this generation, but for generations to come. We're going to make an impact around the world. Like I said, maybe that's what he saw. I'm just thankful he saw something in me."
As for the next branch in the Woods family tree, Tiger had an interesting comment about whether losing has become more palatable ever since his daughter, Sam, was born a year ago.
"Never been easy not winning a tournament. That's the ultimate goal. Going out there and then not getting it done, that certainly puts a bad taste in your mouth. But you come home, just because I missed the 3-foot putt for par on the last hole, she doesn't care. Her dada's home. I've heard people say these things. I just didn't understand it. But then when you actually go through it, you really appreciate it. Everything stands still when you are with the child."
10. Hot-Lee contested
After the firm of Ochoa, Sorenstam & Creamer swiped 11 of the first dozen LPGA titles of the year, we've now seen new champions in each of the past two weeks. Following Leta Lindley's victory at the Corning, Seon Hwa Lee took down Karrie Webb when the Hall of Famer missed a short putt on the second playoff hole at the Ginn Tribute presented by Annika -- Lee's third win in as many seasons on tour.
And this might be only the tip of the iceberg for Lee. Three years ago, she was the leading money-winner on the developmental Futures Tour and she also owns three other international victories as a pro. At 20th in the Rolex Rankings prior to her win, don't be surprised to see the South Korea native in the top 10 and maybe even top five by year's end.
11. Not Sophie's choice
After the third round of the Ginn on Saturday, Sophie Gustafson, who led by a half-dozen strokes, was asked if she could start thinking about her fifth career LPGA victory and first since 2003.
"That would be nice," she responded, "but there's one more day tomorrow."
And what a day it was. A not-so-funny thing happened to Gustafson on her way to the winner's circle. After cruising to birdies on two of her first three holes, she bogeyed Nos. 4, 8 and 9 to close out with a 1-over 37 on the front side. Things didn't get much better from there, as the wife of former LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw made double-bogey on 10, another on 14, then bogeys on 15 and 18 to come in with a 6-over 42, leaving her three shots out of the playoff, in a share of fourth place.
12. Host with the
In discussing his own AT&T National event this week, Woods was asked if he'd feel any guilt in claiming the title at his tourney. "I think that's a great way to be a host," he said. "Win your own event."
Woods' buddy Annika Sorenstam feels the exact same way, but just as Tiger failed to win his inaugural event last year, it didn't happen for Sorenstam yet again at the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika. She finished outside the top-30 for the second straight year, posting rounds of 72-66-75-71 to end the week in a share of 32nd place.
"I'm very disappointed about that," she said. "I think everything else has been great this week. The host just doesn't perform."
13. No mo for LoCho
It's not quite the eight-week layoff that Woods, her No. 1-ranked peer on the men's side, will have entering the U.S. Open, but Lorena Ochoa isn't exactly going into this week's LPGA Championship with momentum.
After winning the Sybase Classic two weeks ago, Ochoa skipped the Corning Classic (drawing a $25,000 fine from the LPGA after failing to play the tournament for four consecutive years) then withdrew from the Ginn when her uncle, Pedro Ochoa, grew increasingly ill. (He passed away later in the week, according to her Web site.)
If Ochoa can return to triumph at Bulle Rock, she will join Babe Didrickson-Zaharias and Pat Bradley as the only players to win three straight major championships.
14. Curt reply
The key to winning international competitions? Upset the other team's dining facility.
Such was the case at this week's Curtis Cup, featuring the top amateur players from the U.S. against those from Great Britain & Ireland. "Yesterday they stole our couch," wrote UCLA's Tiffany Joh on the Waggle Room blog. "Apparently, today while [teammate Amanda Blumenherst] and I were in the press conference, the rest of the team was busy flipping over every chair and table in the GB&I team room."
Take note, Captain Azinger.
Whether it was the chair-flipping or just better play, the Americans won the matches 13-7 at St. Andrews' Old Course, thanks in large part to Stacy Lewis. The Arkansas standout became the first player in the 76-year history of the event to post a 5-0 record just one week after being edged out for NCAA Player of the Year honors by Blumenherst.
The win was the sixth in a row for the U.S. side, which might further discussions as to whether the GB&I team should be expanded to all of Europe. Such a move was made for the Ryder Cup in 1979, after Jack Nicklaus pitched the idea to the PGA of Great Britain, saying, "It is vital to widen the selection procedures if the Ryder Cup is to continue to enjoy its past prestige."
Asked about that possibility for the Curtis Cup, U.S. captain Carole Semple-Thompson said afterward, "I can understand Great Britain and Ireland would be a little frustrated at this point since we've won six in a row, but I think that the level of their play is fantastic, and the matches are always well-fought, and there's plenty of talent on both sides to make it a good match. So I would vote for keeping it against GB&I."
15. Teen angst
Michelle Wie stole most of the headlines for a sixth-place finish, but fellow teenager Amy Yang deserves all of the credit for winning the Ladies German Open by four strokes Sunday. Yang, 18, won the LET-sanctioned event just one week after a runner-up result to Suzann Pettersen at the Swiss Open.
What can we glean from the victory? First of all, up-and-comers in the women's game continue to emerge in the winner's circle much quicker than their male counterparts. Nothing new there. Second, it proved once again that while Wie was the cream of the young crop a few years back, she's now just one of many potentially rising stars still trying to hit the big-time in professional golf.
"I feel a lot more confident about my game," said Wie, who shot a final-round 67. "With that being said, a person's greed is always wanting something more. I'm very happy with my score, but at the same time, I could have done better."
16. Shooting Blanks
After winning his first career Nationwide Tour title at the Bank of America Open on Sunday, Kris Blanks sounded very much like many others claiming their initial victory.
"This is pretty special," said Blanks, 35. "Thirty-four years of work to get here today."
He might have picked up the game as a toddler, but Blanks was a late bloomer who didn't even turn professional until age 30. He entered last year without any status on the PGA Tour's minor league circuit, but Monday qualified at the Melwood Prince George's County Open in late-May and finished T-25, which got him into the next week's event. He wound up T-3 at the ensuing LaSalle Bank Open and the rest was history, as Blanks finished 67th on the money list, while second to only Vance Veazey in scoring average.
With the win, Blanks is now fifth on the money list, 20 spots clear of gaining full status onto the PGA Tour for the 2009 season.
17. Urine business
What's that? You say Dad already owns the newest 460cc titanium driver, tees with his name etched on them, enough logo golf shirts to fill the local pro shop?
We don't know if the good folks over at UroClub are in search of a slogan, but we'd like to submit the following, free of charge:
You can't make par without "p."
18. Quote of the week
"Yeah, it's neat to get your name mentioned with him every once in a while. So, Tiger, I'm going to get you next year."
-- Kenny Perry, after being reminded that he joined Tiger Woods as the only three-time champions at the Memorial.
Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.