Els: 'Taking it personally' if Internationals lose

By Associated PressNovember 15, 2011, 2:28 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia – Ernie Els knows what Royal Melbourne can do to a golfer, probably more than anyone.

Els was a member of the International team that won the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in 1998 and had three straight wins on the Alister MacKenzie-designed course at the Heineken Classic.

His last came in 2004, when he missed a chance at a magical 59 by one stroke in the opening round and nearly squandered an eight-shot lead in the final round before eking out a win over Adam Scott.

Els says he’ll “take it personally” if the United States win the Presidents Cup again when play begins Thursday.

“I’ve had some great tournaments here in the past, a great win in ’98 for our team,” Els said Tuesday. “It’s always nice having some experience winning on it.”

Els also finished second in the Heineken in 2005, the last tournament that was held at Royal Melbourne, which also coincided with Els’ last visit to play Down Under. The memories from the course, and particularly from 1998, are still vivid.

“We jelled very well as a team,” Els said. “I remember watching us play on the 18th hole, seeing some really big shots pulled off by the team, some amazing chip-ins. That was really a great factor, we got the crowd behind us, and we rode that wave.”

Els is mystified – actually he referred to it as “crazy,” that the Internationals haven’t won since.

“I’ve been playing (on Presidents Cup teams) ever since 1996, and obviously lost quite a few times,” Els said. “We had one tie (in South Africa in 2003), so it’s hard to take. We don’t really want to keep losing this thing.”

There are five Australians on the International team – Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Jason Day and Greg Norman’s captain’s picks Robert Allenby and Aaron Baddeley – three South Koreans; three South Africans, including Els; and Japanese 20-year-old Ryo Ishikawa.

“I love this team,” Els said. “The Aussie boys are ready, a lot of them are playing really good golf.”

Add to that Els’ countryman and this year’s Masters winner Charl Schwartzel.

“He’s got the perfect ball flight for these greens,” Els said. “So he’s ready to go.”

Asked about pairings, Els suggested it didn’t matter who played with whom for the Internationals.

“We’re professional golfers and we know that we need to win points, no matter who you play with,” Els said. “We can’t keep huffing on about it.”

Thursday’s play has six foursomes (alternate shot) matches, followed by six fourball (better-ball) matches on Friday; five foursomes and five fourballs on Saturday and 12 singles matches on Sunday.

That’s 34 matches, with 17 1/2 points ensuring a win for either team.

Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, unbeatable in the last Presidents Cup, might not be playing together for every match as the Americans try to win for the seventh time in nine tournaments.

Woods said Tuesday he liked what he saw in the practice round from Stricker, who has not competed since Sept. 25 at the Tour Championship because of a neck injury affecting the strength in his left arm.

“Hopefully, we’ll get put out there together,” Woods said. “I know that we feel very comfortable with one another and we were talking about it today. There’s a certain comfort level about each other’s games.”

He added, however, that the pairings for the week have not been decided.

“A lot of pairings have not been set in stone,” Woods said. Ultimately, it’s up to U.S. captain Fred Couples.

Woods has had 17 partners in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup over the years, but he has played only with Stricker the last two Cups. They have lost only one match, last year at Wales.

Stricker, meanwhile, could easily partner with someone like Hunter Mahan. If that’s the case, it likely would be in foursomes, which could still leave intact the formidable Woods-Stricker tandem for fourballs.

It was Ogilvy who said two years ago about that partnership, “You’ve got one guy who hits every fairway and makes every putt, and his partner is Tiger Woods.”

Woods only faced two questions about possibly playing Adam Scott, giving him a reunion with caddie Steve Williams two weeks after his racial comment while being roasted at a caddies award dinner.

“It’s already done,” Woods said about the ongoing saga. “I addressed it last week and I said life goes forward, not backward.”

And there was only one mention of Woods being a captain’s pick despite not having won in two years.

“Fred could have picked anybody, and I’m thankful that he had faith in me to be a part of the team,” Woods said. “A lot of the players wanted me on the team, as well. So that part definitely did feel good.”


Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel beginning Monday at 6PM. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Wednesday 9PM-2AM, Thursday 7:30PM-2AM, Friday 3PM-2AM and Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.

Lexi, Finau 3 back going into final QBE round

By Associated PressDecember 9, 2017, 11:58 pm

NAPLES, Fla. - Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry shot an 8-under 64 in modified alternate shot and shared the lead Saturday with Steve Stricker and Sean O'Hair going into the final round of the QBE Shootout.

McDowell (Northern Ireland) and Lowry (Ireland), the only international players among the 12 teams at Tiburon Golf Club, began to erase a five-shot deficit with an eagle and birdie on the opening two holes and they dropped only one shot all day in blustery conditions.

Stricker and O'Hair started the back nine with a pair of bogeys, rallied with three straight birdies and then dropped one last shot from the bunker on the 17th.

The teams were tied at 18-under 126.

Lexi Thompson, the lone LPGA player in the field, teamed with Tony Finau for a 66 that put them in the hunt going into the final round. Thompson and Finau were three shots behind.

McDowell and Lowry tied for ninth in the World Cup last year. They grew up playing Irish junior golf and appreciate the difficulty of alternate shot, even the modified version when both players hit tee shots.


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


''To go out and shoot 8 under in that format in these conditions today, I think it speaks volumes about the fact we're both playing pretty well,'' McDowell said. ''We both had an opportunity to hit some good shots out there today and make some good putts, and it gives you a little bit of momentum going in there tomorrow.''

The format for the final round is better ball.

Stricker and O'Hair have each won the QBE Shootout, but not as partners.

Stricker, captain of the winning American team at the Presidents Cup, said he couldn't get comfortable and put O'Hair in some tough spots.

''We should have probably been two or three shots better than what we were,'' Stricker said. ''Sean played another good round of golf and made some great putts in there to keep us going, but all in all, we're in good shape.''

Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele shot 70 and were two shots out of the lead.

Defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English had a 72 and were tied for last place with Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman, who shot 70. They were nine shots out of the lead.