Morning State Sports Briefs: Stricker to pair with Woods for first round of Ryder CupWisconsin Sports
-- Madison golfer Steve Stricker will partner with Tiger Woods in this morning’s anchor match for foursomes, as the 39th Ryder Cup gets underway at Medinah Country Club.
CHICAGO - Madison golfer Steve Stricker will partner with Tiger Woods in this morning’s anchor match for foursomes, as the 39th Ryder Cup gets underway at Medinah Country Club.
Stricker and Woods have had success as a pair for the U.S at previous international competitions. And they’ll face Englishmen Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the first of two events today. Four matches of four-ball will take place this afternoon. A similar format is planned for tomorrow. And then, all 12 members of each team will square off in singles’ matches on Sunday. Stricker will try to help the American squad win its second Ryder Cup in the last three. The team of European golfers won the most recent Cup two years ago at Celtic Manor. Europe has won four-of-the-last-five Ryder Cups overall. The first team to 14-and-a-half points wins. But if there’s a tie at 14, Europe will retain the Cup.
It seems that a galaxy of airwaves and cyberspace have been filled this week to talk about the apparent blown call that cost the Green Bay Packers a win at Seattle on Monday night. But Packers receiver James Jones says the offense should have played better – and the game should never have come down to the ill-fated final play in which Seattle scored the winning touchdown. The Packer defense held Seattle to 14 points, and Jones says the offense should easily score more than that. But the Packer offense has struggled all season in virtually all facets of the game. Coach Mike McCarthy says the unit is not in a rhythm like it should be – and they’re just starting to get the running game established. The Packers rank 25th among the 32 NFL teams in total offense. And they’re last in sacks allowed, after Aaron Rodgers was taken to the turf eight times on Monday night. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga gave up at least three of those sacks – and the only way he can explain is that he played “bad football.” The Packers have about the same offense as a year ago, when it broke numerous records. But McCarthy says people should stop comparing last year and this. The Packers are 1-2, and will host winless New Orleans on Sunday.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized today to fans who were upset about the quality of the officiating while the league’s regular officials were locked out. The league and its referees’ union agreed to a new 8-year contract last night. And the regular refs were due back all of Week Four’s games, including the Packers’ home contest against New Orleans on Sunday. The settlement came two days after Monday night’s touchdown call on what appeared to be a Packers’ interception – a call that decided the Pack’s two-point-loss at Seattle. Goodell would not give his own opinion of what the call was. He said quote, “There are controversial calls and people see them differently. I understand that. That’s the beauty of sports.” Asked what he would say to Packer fans who are upset, Goodell said there have been controversial calls in the past, and there will be more in the future. And as frustrated as Packer fans are now, the commissioner said he hoped that similar situations have happened over decades and quote, “unfortunately it will happen going into the future.”
The Packers remain healthy going into their home contest with New Orleans on Sunday. Rookie safety Sean Richardson was the only player to miss practice today. He also sat out yesterday’s workout with a bad hamstring. All of the players were conducting drills during the part of the practice that was open to reporters. Normally, the Packers practice full-tilt in pads on Thursdays. But coach Mike McCarthy had the team in lighter shells today. NFL rules allow only one padded practice a week, in advance of 14 of their 16 regular season games. The Packers have a short week to recover after their Monday night loss at Seattle.
Four members of the Packers’ organization are among 127 initial nominees for next year’s class of inductees for the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame. Former Packers’ safety Leroy Butler and receiver Sterling Sharpe were named, along with ex-general manager Ron Wolf, and current linebackers’ coach Kevin Greene. Also, Clay Matthews’ father, Clay the Second, made the early nominees’ list. It will be cut to 25 in November, and to 15 in January. Last month, the Hall-of-Fame’s senior committee recommended former Green Bay linebacker Dave Robinson for induction. The 2013 class will be announced the day before the Super Bowl in February.
The University of Minnesota women’s soccer team came from behind yesterday to edge Wisconsin, 3-2 in Saint Paul. Cara Walls and Monica Lam-Feist gave the Badgers a 2-0 lead early in the second half. But Taylor Uhl tied the game in the 74th minute. And Taylor Wodnick scored the game-winning goal for Minnesota in the 87th minute. The Gophers improved to 2-2 in Big Ten play and 7-5 overall. Wisconsin dropped to 1-3 in the conference and 7-4 overall.
The No. 10 ranked Marquette University men’s soccer team is 9-0 after a 2-1 home victory over Wisconsin in double-overtime. Andy Huftalin scored the game-winner in the 108th minute. Nick Janus scored the only goal for Wisconsin, which fell to 2-4-3.
The UW-Green Bay volleyball team has improved to 9-6 overall, after getting by De Paul in the maximum five sets last night in Chicago. The Phoenix has now won eight-of-its-last-11 matches, and six-of-its-last-seven. Green Bay was down two-sets-to-none before winning the final three. Carmen Leitermann had 15 kills to lead the Phoenix. De Paul has now lost four straight matches, and is 5-10 overall.
Five present and former Wisconsin women’s hockey players will play on Team USA in the Four Nations Cup November 5th-through-10th in Finland. Current Badgers Brianna Decker and goal-tender Alex Rigsby have been named to the American squad – along with former Badgers Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, and goal-tender Jessie Vetter. It’s the first time that Rigsby and Vetter will be on the same team in international competition. The U.S. won last year’s Four Nations Cup in Sweden. Decker, Duggan, and Knight were on that squad. This year, the Americans will open against Sweden on Nov. 6.