Americans in command early at Ryder Cup - COPIED

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Phil Mickelson pointed his putter toward the cup, took a step and punched his fist to celebrate a clutch birdie. Boo Weekley revved up the crowd after holing a 50-foot putt from just off the green. Anthony Kim set a record for high-fives.
 
Yes, those were the Americans having all the fun Friday at Valhalla.
 
At the Ryder Cup, no less.
 
My cheeks are sore from smiling all day long, Justin Leonard said. This was a lot different than my other Ryder Cup experiences.
 
Anthony Kim
Anthony Kim went 1-0-1 with Phil Mickelson Friday. (Getty Images)
In a stunning turnaround, the Americans rallied from a back-nine deficit four times to take a 5 1/2 -2 1/2 lead, their largest margin after the opening day since continental Europe first was included in the Ryder Cup in 1979.
 
Mickelson and Kim twice came back from a 3-hole deficits and picked up 1 1/2 points, as many as Lefty earned in the last two Ryder Cups combined. Leonard had never won a match in any Ryder Cup until two blowout victories with Hunter Mahan, one of six U.S. rookies who played like recent European dominance really was ancient history.
 
Were in a good place, U.S. captain Paul Azinger said. Who would have thought?
 
The Americans hadnt led after any session since last winning the Ryder Cup in the Miracle at Brookline in 1999. But with six rookies and no Tiger Woods, they lost only one of eight matches and left European captain Nick Faldo wringing his hands.
 
Europe has won the last three Ryder Cups ' and five of the last six ' but now finds itself desperate to catch up.
 
Weve had a tough time, Faldo said. We lost a few points, but we havent lost any spirit.
 
One of the few bright spots for Europe was Lee Westwood, who tied Arnold Palmer by running his unbeaten streak in the Ryder Cup to 12 matches. Westwood and Soren Hansen birdied the last three holes in the final fourballs match of the afternoon, the last one enough to earn a halve against Weekley and big-hitting J.B. Holmes.
 
Its a novelty, isnt it? Westwood said. Its not the position we wanted to be in, thats for sure.
 
Westwood landed in an even worse spot after the long day. In a surprising move, Faldo decided to bench Westwood and Sergio Garcia for the Saturday morning foursomes. Neither has ever missed a Ryder Cup match ' 27 straight for Westwood, 22 straight for Garcia. Combined, they have a 27-5-8 record in team play.
 
Rarely has a European captain shook up his lineup so drastically. But then, rarely is Europe behind.
 
Azinger sent out the same players for Saturday morning foursomes that he used on the opening day, which produced a 3-1 lead. It was the first time the United States won the first session of the Ryder Cup since 1991.
 
Even so, Captain America was cautious.
 
Weve got a long, long way to go, he said. And we know how good they are.
 
Even so, it was an amazing start for the Americans.
 
In the opening match, Mickelson and Kim trailed by three holes with six to play until winning three straight holes and earning a halve against Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson. Down by three after four holes in the afternoon, Kim gave them their first lead of the day with a 7-foot birdie on the 14th, and Mickelson dropped in a 20-foot birdie on the 17th that led to a 2-up victory.
 
We played with a lot of heart and a lot of emotion today to pull the halve and win out, Mickelson said. We have a lot of work to do. This is a fun day. I love playing with this guy. Anthony has got this youthfulness to him, and he has a lot of game.
 
It was a big day for most of the U.S. rookies, who went 3-2-3.
 
Leonard teamed with one of those rookies, Hunter Mahan, and they won both matches without reaching the 17th hole. The afternoon victory came at the expense of Sergio Garcia, who finally looked ordinary in the Ryder Cup.
 
It was the first time Garcia failed to win a match in a single day.
 
Garcia had been undefeated in foursomes (8-0) but had to settle for a halve with Westwood in the morning. Kenny Perry, the lone disappointment for Kentucky, missed a 5-foot par putt that would have won the match on the 17th, then drove into the water on the 18th hole to allow Europe to catch them.
 
Leonard and Mahan then handed Garcia only his second loss in team matches by going 9 under through 15 holes, with Leonard finishing it off with a chip-in for birdie that had him pumping his fists.
 
It was a familiar scene across Valhalla.
 
Weekley, with a pinch of snuff jutting out of his lip and his arms flapping to exhort a spirited crowd, knocked in a 50-foot birdie from just off the green at No. 12 to give his team a lead it never relinquished until the last hole.
 
And while Weekley and Holmes didnt win the match, they illustrated the Americans resolve.
 
Europe had the lead in all four morning matches in the first hour and only came away with one point. It was the first time since 1991 that the United States won the opening session of the Ryder Cup.
 
In the afternoon, Europe had the lead in three matches going to the back nine, and came away with only 1 1/2 points.
 
The Americans had watched 11 consecutive matches go to the final hole without winning until Chad Campbell, the final captains pick, hit a 5-iron to 20 feet on the par-5 18th as he and Stewart Cink went 1-up over Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.
 
Poulter and Rose won the only match for Europe, a 4-and-2 victory over Steve Stricker and Ben Curtis.
 
But that wasnt enough to quiet the crowd.
 
There was a lot of noise all day, from the first tee on, Cink said. Just to hear them excited about the way we were playing for a change in the Ryder Cup was refreshing. Ive never been able to experience that myself when we were ahead. So its great.
 
Azinger told the Kentucky crowd ' he called them the 13th man ' at a pep rally Thursday night that it was OK to cheer if Europe missed a putt. He defended that remark as educational, and said the crowd did nothing to embarrass itself.
 
Westwood, however, took issue with Weekley whipping the crowd into a frenzy before the 12th hole was completed.
 
You walk a fine line when you start doing that sort of thing, Westwood said. I dont mind raising your arms and whipping the crowd up. But at 12 when Boo holed off the back (of the green), Ive still got a putt for the halve. Theres no need to do it between shots. At least wait until were walking off the green.
 
Westwood glared at him, and occasionally shook his head. But he kept his opinions to himself on the course.
 
Its not my job to tell people how to behave, he said.
 
Harrington, Europes best player with three majors since the last Ryder Cup, had no problem with the exuberance from the 23-year-old Kim, who high-fived Mickelson after an array of great shots and clutch putts.
 
None was bigger than Mickelson, who has struggled with his putting all summer, knocking in the 20-footer on the 17th hole that gave the Americans a 1-up lead going to the 18th in a match that swung momentum to his side.
 
Anthony, its his first Ryder Cup and he was excited out there, Harrington said. And he hit some great shots at times, and he had a right to be excited.
 
So did the rest of the American team.
 
Even though they were on home soil, they found themselves in foreign territory ' in the lead at the Ryder Cup.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''