Europe rallies for 5-3 lead over U.S. after Day 1

By Associated PressSeptember 26, 2014, 7:53 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – For the first time in eight years, Europe is ahead after the first full day of play at the Ryder Cup.

Europe grabbed a 5-3 lead after Friday's two sessions at Gleneagles – even though big guns Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter contributed only half a point.

But it was an improbable half point that felt like a win, gave the home side a momentum boost and could prove decisive in the final outcome as Europe bids for its eighth victory in 10 Ryder Cups.

''We've seen in the Ryder Cups over the years how important momentum switches are and how it can really have a domino effect,'' European captain Paul McGinley said. ''So when the surge came from America at the end of the session this morning, for our guys to react as well as they did in all four matches, shows real strength of character.''

The last time the Europeans led after the opening day was at the K Club in Ireland in 2006. They went on to win 18 1/2-9 1/2. The Americans led after the first full day in each of the last three Ryder Cups.

Trailing the United States 2 1/2-1 1/2 after the morning fourballs, the Europeans won three of the alternate-shot matches in the afternoon. More dramatic was the late rally by McIlroy and Garcia, who came from two shots down with two to play to halve with Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.


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McIlroy made a 30-foot birdie putt at the 17th and Garcia hit a beautiful approach from the rough on the 18th to set up another birdie.

''That was probably as good as a win, to come back from where they were,'' McGinley said.

The No. 1-ranked McIlroy and No. 3 Garcia had lost their fourballs match in the morning, beaten 1-up by Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. Until the late comeback, it looked like McIlroy would become the first No. 1 player to lose two Ryder Cup matches on the same day since Tiger Woods in 2002.

''Sergio and I battled for all 36 holes out there today,'' McIlroy said. ''It was a long day for both of us, and just glad that we were able to contribute something to the cause today.''

He called the half-point a ''mini-victory.''

''It definitely is a huge halve in terms of momentum for the European team going into tomorrow,'' McIlroy said. ''It was huge. For Sergio and I, it's just nice to be able to walk away from today with at least something.''

The afternoon began with Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson pulling Europe level by beating Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar 2 up. Westwood, playing in his ninth Ryder Cup, enjoyed his role as mentor to the Welsh rookie.

''I love it, kind of watching somebody take to it like a duck to water,'' he said.

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson won their second match of the day, beating Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson 2 and 1. Rose said he wouldn't complain if he's picked to play in both sessions again on Saturday.

''There's so many good players on this team but you can only field eight a day,'' he said. ''So if that's what's called of us, we'll be up for it.''

Graeme McDowell and French rookie Victor Dubuisson secured the final point, defeating Mickelson and Bradley 3 and 2. It's the first time Mickelson and Keegan have lost together in the Ryder Cup after four straight wins.

''Very fortunate to be playing alongside a player who I think really is Europe's next superstar,'' McDowell said of the 24-year-old Dubuisson, the youngest player on the team. ''I really believe that. He was awesome today. He didn't miss a shot.''

In the morning, the Americans seemed to strike a big psychological blow by taking down McIlroy and Poulter. Three rookies played a huge part in the U.S. effort.

In a stunning performance, 21-year-old Jordan Spieth and 24-year-old Patrick Reed – the youngest pairing in Ryder Cup history – beat Poulter and Scottish rookie Stephen Gallacher 5 and 4.

U.S. captain Tom Watson had singled out Poulter as the one player the Americans wanted to target – even more than McIlroy. Poulter had won seven consecutive Ryder Cup matches and was the catalyst of Europe's remarkable comeback in Medinah two years ago. This was Poulter's heaviest Cup defeat ever.

''We couldn't manage to get it done today, so it's a shame,'' said the Englishman, who went without a single birdie. ''We don't hole enough putts, that simple.''

Watson said he was proud of his rookies, but decided not to send them out for the afternoon foursomes, something which proved to be a mistake.

''I said, 'I know you're going to be mad at me, but you'll be playing tomorrow for sure,''' Watson said.

 

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.