Americans Fight Back Still Trail

By Associated PressSeptember 18, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The Americans finally showed up at the Ryder Cup.
Playing with passion and pride that was missing the first day, the United States sent Oakland Hills into a 'USA! USA!' frenzy by rallying against the Europeans on Saturday.
Europe collected 6 1/2 points from eight matches Friday, the most overwhelming margin by either team after the opening day since the current format was put in place a quarter-century ago.
It was a different story on Day 2.
The Americans won a couple of better-ball matches and halved another before losing to the most unheralded European team in the final match of the morning. Paul Casey sank a 3-footer for par at the 18th, giving him and David Howell a 1-up victory over Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell.
Europe still held an 8-4 lead heading to alternate-shot matches in the afternoon.
'I feel great,' U.S. captain Hal Sutton said. 'We let it slip away a little bit at the end, but we played great and I'm proud of them.'
At least the U.S. team stemmed the tide of what appeared to be a European rout.
'It was either put up or shut up today,' American Chris DiMarco said.
Tiger Woods, smiling more in the first couple of holes than he did all day on Friday, was clearly more comfortable with Chris Riley as a partner than Phil Mickelson. The Woods-Riley pairing cruised to a 4-and-3 win over Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter.
The Americans salvaged another half-point when DiMarco and 50-year-old Jay Haas halved their match with Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. The Europeans had two chances to win, but Garcia missed an 8-footer for birdie at the 17th and Westwood watched a 12-footer slide by at the final hole.
'To get a half-point is great,' DiMarco said. 'That's their two powerhouses. I think they were figuring they had that one.'
Speaking of powerhouses, Europe's Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington were dealt their first defeat of this Ryder Cup after winning two matches on Friday -- including a tone-setting victory over Woods and Mickelson.
Davis Love III and Stewart Cink knocked off the European juggernaut, 3 and 2. Cink clinched it by sinking a 25-foot birdie from the fringe at No. 16.
Montgomerie sat out the afternoon, ending his record streak of 30 straight Ryder Cup matches that began in 1991.
Everything was different at Oakland Hills.
It was warm and sunny, the sky a brilliant blue -- a striking contrast to the chill, wind and clouds of the first day. The crowd of 38,000 was much more boisterous than it was on Friday, spurring on the American team.
'Sergio had to step away three or four times,' DiMarco said, urging the crowd to 'keep it up' in the afternoon.
Sutton chastised his team Friday night, taking blame for the pairings -- 'there was no karma' -- but telling his players that they had to take responsibility for their timid play.
As if to drive his point home, Sutton benched Mickelson for the morning matches, choosing to rely instead on Ryder Cup rookies DiMarco, Riley and Campbell.
Mickelson was already a target for changing equipment last week and then not playing the course the final two days of practice. He sure didn't help himself by hitting one tee shot that nearly struck his wife, then blowing any chance of gaining a crucial point with his final drive that struck an out-of-bounds fence, forcing Woods to take a one-stroke penalty.
Mickelson was reduced to the role of spectator in the morning, cheering on his teammates as they chopped into the European lead. Lefty came over to hug the Haas after the 50-year-old sank a birdie putt at No. 5.
'This is sure making me feel good,' Mickelson said.
He wasn't feeling so good after Friday's debacle.
'I didn't sleep. It was brutal,' Mickelson said. 'I looked at some of the pictures and I was so tight.'
Mickelson was back on the course in the afternoon, teaming with David Toms for a match against Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Levet. The rest of the lineup: Clarke and Westwood vs. Haas and DiMarco; Garcia and Luke Donald vs. Furyk and Fred Funk; and Harrington and Paul McGinley vs. Love and Woods.
European captain Bernhard Langer decided to rest the 41-year-old Montgomerie, whose career record dropped to 18-8-5 -- still the best winning percentage of any European.
'It doesn't matter who gets the points as long as we get them,' Monty said. 'Individual Ryder Cup records mean nothing to me at all. It's a team event.'
Montgomerie had warned that his team couldn't rest easy. He brought up 1999, when the Europeans led 6-2 after the first day and 10-6 after the second, only to fall victim to the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.
'We got off to a good start,' Montgomerie cautioned. 'That's all it is.'
The Americans were making that point on Day 2.
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    Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.

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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.

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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

    Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.

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    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

    Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

    Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.

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    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

    There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

    “I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

    The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.