Cup rookie Wilson helps lead Euro charge

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Oliver Wilson is no longer Oliver Who?
The European Ryder Cup rookie hardly played like one during his debut match Saturday at Valhalla. Wilson, a 28-year-old from England relatively unknown in these parts, teamed with Henrik Stenson to stun Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim, 2 and 1, in a foursomes match that ended with a putt Wilson wont soon forget.
He rapped in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to cap a stirring rally from four holes down and validate Faldos decision to start Wilson in the morning over Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
Not bad for a player still looking for his first professional victory.
I knew if I kept getting chances Id hole one, Wilson said. I thought it was a bit closer heading up to the green, so when I got up there and it was farther I still thought it was holeable.
Was it ever.
Wilson left the read up to Stenson then calmly dropped it in, giving the Europeans an improbable victory when Mickelson failed to make his 20-foot birdie.
Ive been waiting to hole that putt all year, Wilson said. You know, Ive done quite a few things like that in my amateur career and its annoying that I havent done it as a professional. I love team competition and theres no better stage to do it on.
The giddy celebration afterward seemed unlikely after a nightmarish opening six holes for the Europeans. Though Wilson overcame his first-tee jitters and drilled it right down the middle, the Europeans quickly went four down and looked overmatched.
Wilson, however, never panicked.
He might be the first player to make a Ryder Cup team without winning, but he earned the 10th spot through his consistency. Wilson had four runner-up finishes and finished in the top 10 seven times. And he relied on that consistency in his Ryder Cup debut, aiming for fairways and greens with hopes the Americans would cool off.
We felt like theyre not going to keep up that kind of play, Wilson said. Its almost impossible to keep making that amount of birdies out there. We were due to make a few.
Turns out, they didnt really have to. Mickelson and Kim, who had electrified the crowd on Friday, started spraying shots all over the place. They made a mess of the seventh, bogeyed the eighth, missed a birdie chance at the 10th then followed with bogeys at 14 and 15, giving the Europeans the lead for the first time.
Nick came up to me on 7 before the second shot and said Just start that magic in a minute now, and it seems like we did and fought well, Stenson said. Oliver had some great putts that just wouldnt drop, and we said he was due to make one. And he did.
It wasnt, however, good enough to earn a spot in the lineup Saturday afternoon.
Wilson, the only player on both teams who did not play on Friday, was still on the course when Faldo told him he would be sitting out the afternoon fourball matches. Disappointed, Wilson turned his anger into a positive.
It probably spurred me on a little bit, Wilson said. We just kept pressing on and it just made it a bit more important.
The unlikely victory gave the Europeans a much-needed boost and brought praise from his teammates.
Thats a fantastic comeback, Graeme McDowell said. I thought it was going to be a tough morning for him, his first match foursomes, thrown right into the mix when Europe is behind. But what a comeback for the guys.
Especially for the steady Wilson, Europes mystery man no more.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
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    Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

    She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

    That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

    With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

    Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

    Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

    Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

    “I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

    Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

    Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

    “I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

    About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

    “I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

    Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

    While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

    “You never know,” she said.

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    Stenson leads strong cast of Bay Hill contenders

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 11:38 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Henrik Stenson has a tortured history here at Bay Hill, a collection of close calls that have tested his mettle and certainly his patience.

    Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational won’t get any easier. Not with a course that is already firm and fast and fiery, just the way the King would have wanted it. And not with 13 players within five shots of the lead, a group that includes Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and, yes, even Tiger Woods.

    Without his best stuff Saturday, Stenson still managed to edge ahead of Bryson DeChambeau to take a one-shot lead heading into the final round. It’s familiar territory for the Swede, who posted four consecutive top-10s here from 2013-16, including a few agonizing near-misses.

    Three years ago, Stenson appeared on his way to victory when he was put on the clock on the 15th hole. Rattled, he three-putted the next two holes and lost by a stroke. The following year, he was tied for the lead with three holes to play, then hit it in the water on 16 and bogeyed two of the last three holes.

    “It wouldn’t be the only tournament where you feel like you’ve got some unfinished business,” Stenson said, “but I’ve been up in the mix a few times and we’re here again, so of course I would like to see a different outcome.”

    What will be interesting Sunday is whether history repeats itself.

    Neither Stenson nor DeChambeau is quick-paced, with DeChambeau even acknowledging that he’s one of the game’s most methodical players, stepping off pitch shots and checking (and re-checking) his reads on the green. With so much at stake, it’s not a stretch to imagine both players grinding to a halt on a course that got “crusty” in the late-afternoon sun.

    “We’ve got a lot of guys behind me,” DeChambeau said, “so I’ve got to go deep tomorrow.”

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    The 24-year-old earned his breakthrough victory last July at the John Deere Classic, but that was one hot week as he tried to play his way out of a slump.

    Even this week’s performance was unexpected, after he withdrew from the Valspar Championship because of a balky back.

    Last weekend he underwent an MRI (clean), didn’t touch a club for three days and showed up here cautiously optimistic. His ball-striking hasn’t suffered at all – in fact, he’s ranked fifth in strokes gained-tee to green – and now he’s relishing the chance to take on some of the game’s biggest names.

    “Whatever happens,” he said, “it’s going to be a great learning experience.”

    Of the 13 players within five shots of the lead, 10 are Tour winners. That includes McIlroy, whose putter has finally come alive, and Rose, who shot a third-round 67 to move within three shots, and Fowler, whose game is finally rounding into form, and also Woods, who has won a record eight times at Bay Hill. 

    Even if he doesn’t pick up a pre-Masters victory – he’s five shots back, the same deficit he erased here in 2009 – Woods has showed flashes of his old self at one of his favorite playgrounds, whether it’s the blistered 2-irons off the tee, the daring approach shots or the drained 40-footers.

    “I’ve got a chance,” he said.

    And so do the rest of the major champions and PGA Tour winners assembled near the top of the leaderboard.

    It should be a wild final round at Arnie’s Place – even if Stenson, for once, is hoping for a drama-free Sunday.

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    DeChambeau uses big words to describe back injury

    By Will GrayMarch 17, 2018, 11:24 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Bryson DeChambeau needed just 30 seconds of explaining the state of his lower back to send the media center at the Arnold Palmer Invitational spinning.

    DeChambeau shot an even-par 72 in the third round at Bay Hill, and he will start the final round one shot behind Henrik Stenson as he looks to win for the second time in his young PGA Tour career. DeChambeau’s strong play this week comes in the wake of his decision to withdraw from last week’s Valspar Championship because of a bad back.

    DeChambeau is no stranger to new vocabulary words or adopting a scientific take on matters, and it was when he delved into the details of his injury that things got interesting.

    “It was because my quadratus lumborum wasn’t working. My iliacus, longissimus thoracis, they were all kind of over-working if you want to get technical on that,” DeChambeau said. “But they weren’t working very well, and I overworked them. Pretty much my lower right back was hurting and I rested it. How about that?”

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    DeChambeau tied for fifth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month, but he has struggled to find results in the weeks since. One of the keys to a quick recovery between Innisbrook and Bay Hill was some time on the couch this past weekend and a binge session of The Walking Dead on Netflix.

    “I literally didn’t do anything, and that’s really the first time I’ve done that in my entire life. I’ve never actually taken three days off where I didn’t touch a club,” DeChambeau said. “So that was unique for me and actually took me some time to acclimate to that, my body to get comfortable to get in a rested state. And then once it was finally able to rest, it healed a little bit and I was able to make a run for it this week.”

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    Woods fielding Masters practice-round requests

    By Will GrayMarch 17, 2018, 10:50 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Heading into what is likely his final competitive round before the Masters, Tiger Woods is starting to set up his schedule for the days leading into the season’s first major.

    Woods has won the Masters four times, most recently in 2005, and in the wake of a runner-up at the Valspar Championship and a strong showing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational he’ll head down Magnolia Lane with more momentum than he’s had in years. As a result, it’s not surprising that he has received more than a few inquiries about a possible practice round at Augusta National Golf Club during Masters week.

    “I’ve gotten a couple requests here and there,” Woods said with a grin after a third-round 69 at Bay Hill.

    Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

    Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

    Woods has played the Masters only once since 2014, but don’t expect him to try out some unfamiliar pairings on Tuesday and Wednesday amid the azaleas. Woods still plans to rely on a rotation he’s had for several years, playing with former champs Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara. O’Meara, who received his green jacket from Woods in 1998, plans to make this year his final Masters start.

    “I traditionally have played with Freddie, if he can. We’re hoping he can come back and play again and play Augusta. I’ve played with Mark just about every single year,” Woods said. “It’s generally been those two guys, and those are the two guys I’ve grown up with out here on Tour. We sit next to each other actually at the champions’ dinner, and so we have known each other for a very long time.”

    While Woods is no stranger to fielding offers for tips and advice from younger players, especially on a course he knows as well as Augusta National, one top-ranked name continues to stick out among the requests he’s received in recent weeks.

    “Just the normal JT (Justin Thomas),” Woods said. “He’s always trying to get some practice rounds in.”