Americans Build Commanding Lead

By Associated PressSeptember 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- Phil Mickelson showed Woody Austin how to stay dry, and the Americans blew the International team out of the water Saturday in the Presidents Cup to build the largest lead in seven years.
 
The United States pitched a shutout in five alternate-shot matches in the crisp morning, then turned back an International rally with one of its own to split the afternoon fourballs and build a 14 1/2 -7 1/2 lead going into the 12 singles matches Sunday.
 
Mickelson and Austin combined to birdie their last two holes to steal a half-point, Tiger Woods recorded two blowouts with different partners, and Stewart Cink made all the clutch putts to turn a loss into another point that filled the scoreboard with American red numbers.
 
It now appears that for the second time in three weeks, the Sunday chase for a cup will be anticlimactic. Woods essentially wrapped up the FedEx Cup at East Lake before the weekend arrived, and only the greatest comeback in Presidents Cup history will keep this event from turning into a snoozer at Royal Montreal.
 
'It's not over,' International captain Gary Player said. 'But things don't look too good. The egg is not sunny-side up.'
 
Indeed, the International squad looked fried.
 
Mike Weir and Ernie Els had the only easy time in the afternoon for their team, and the deflating day ended with Vijay Singh curling in a 4-foot par putt that kept another International team from a collapse.
 
The only drama Sunday could come from Woods playing Weir in the fourth match, Canada's biggest golf star against a global icon.
 
'Mike Weir has nothing to lose,' Player said. 'It would be a phenomenal day in his career if he can beat Tiger.'
 
U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus nodded his head and clapped his hands with each point moving the Americans closer to their first outright victory on the road in the Presidents Cup, and their first in any cup since winning the Ryder Cup at The Belfry in 1993.
 
Mickelson provided the most entertaining moment when his ball caromed off the hill and into a shallow spot in the water left of the 15th green. Austin, his partner in the fourball match, walked over to look at the situation and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, 'Your turn to give it a try.' A day earlier, Austin lost his balance trying such a shot and wound up face-first in the water.
 
Mickelson borrowed the size-14 sneaker from his caddie to put on his left foot and go into the water. The ball tumbled back into the hazard, but at least Lefty didn't take the fall, even though they fell 1 down.
 
'I don't know if he thought he was going to lose the tag of Aquaman,' Mickelson said. 'I don't think that's going to do it.'
 
They went dormie on the next hole when Retief Goosen holed out from a deep bunker as he and Adam Scott went 2 up, but Austin made a 10-foot birdie on the 17th, and Mickelson halved the match with a 20-foot birdie on the final hole.
 
'We want to finish it off,' Mickelson said.
 
Player took Weir as a captain's pick, mostly because these matches came to Canada for the first time, and it was a good move. Weir ran off three straight birdies at the turn to give his team a commanding lead, and they closed out Charles Howell III and Lucas Glover, 4 and 2.
 
But now, those cheers are only a consolation prize.
 
'It's mixed emotions,' Weir said. 'I'm glad that I'm playing well, but disappointed that the score isn't closer.'
 
Weir had said winning a Presidents Cup in Canada might rival his 2003 victory in the Masters. But he isn't getting much help from the rest of the International team, which looks a lot like the United States in the Ryder Cup.
 
The other team is always making the key putt, as Jim Furyk did on the 13th hole in his fourball match. The momentum always seems to be on the Americans' side, even when they are trailing early in the matches.
 
Nicklaus is showing no mercy.
 
After the 5-0 blitz in the morning, Nicklaus was asked if he'd like to see the score closer.
 
'Uh-uh,' he said through pursed lips.
 
'Why would you ever say to one of your guys, 'I hope you lose so it's close,'' Nicklaus said. 'Would I like to see the matches played well? Absolutely. Would I like to see it close? Absolutely. But as captain, I put them out to win every match.'
 
That they did -- or close to it.
 
Coming off his worst loss in a team match, Woods and Furyk built a quick lead and poured it on in the closing holes for a 5-and-4 victory over Scott and Els. Woods played with David Toms -- his 14th partner in cup competitions -- in a fourball match and again never trailed, easily beating Geoff Ogilvy and Nick O'Hern.
 
Woods went 3-1 in the team matches, his best record in the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.
 
Mickelson had not won a full point in the cups in eight matches until he and Austin were essentially handed victory by Goosen and Stuart Appleby, who failed to make a birdie and were 6 over when the match ended on the 14th hole.
 
The tougher test came in the afternoon against Goosen and Scott, who had not led in any match all week. But the 27-year-old Australian squared the match with a birdie on the 12th, and took his first lead with a par on the 15th, with all eyes on Mickelson and the lake.
 
Even with the gallery chanting his name, Mickelson wanted no part of this.
 
'Woody, I know you want to see me play this shot,' Mickelson said after asking him to putt his 5-footer for par. Austin missed, and Lefty had no choice but to put on his rain pants, then ask caddie Jim Mackay for his left shoe.
 
'Size 14, extra wide,' Mackay said later. 'I think it will be about a 12 in the morning with shrinkage.'
 
Singh holed a nervy 4-footer at the end to salvage a point, joining Weir with the most points (2 1/2 ) going into the singles. Six Americans have at least that many points, led by Toms at 3 1/2 . Scott Verplank, who rested in the afternoon, is the only player undefeated this week.
 

Related Links:
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  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
  • Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

    Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.