Euros Look to End Drought - Once Again

By Associated PressApril 4, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Padraig Harrington is a two-time champion at Augusta National.
Of the Par-3 Tournament.
When it comes to Europeans and the major championships, that's as good as it gets lately.
It's been almost eight years since a European player won a major title. Granted, that coincides with the rise of Tiger and Phil. But in the time since Paul Lawrie hoisted the claret jug in 1999, a couple of South Africans, some Aussies, a Canadian, even a guy from New Zealand have managed to win majors.
'When you look at the success we've had in the Ryder Cup and then our (results) in the majors, it doesn't really stack up,' England's Justin Rose said Tuesday. 'Our players have the ability, for sure.'
There's no doubting that. Europe has owned the United States in Ryder Cup play for more than a decade. The Americans can send teams of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and a slew of other guys who've won majors, and they can't compare with the European squads.
But as Spain's Sergio Garcia shows often enough, there's a big difference between team golf and medal play.
'It's like breaking the four-minute mile,' Harrington said. 'Once one person does it, everybody will be able to do it.'
The 'streak' gets brought up at every major, but there's a particular sting here at the Masters. Unlike the U.S. Open, where a European hasn't won since 1970, or the PGA Championship, where Tommy Armour was the last European-born player to win back in 1930, Europeans had a stretch where they dominated the Masters.
From 1980 to 1999, Europeans put on that green jacket 10 times. And from 1989 to 1996, the Europeans basically passed it back and forth. Nick Faldo to Ian Woosnam. Bernhard Langer to Jose Maria Olazabal. And back to Faldo again.
Ben Crenshaw and Fred Couples each got to wear it for a year during that span, but it was pretty clear they were only raiding the closet.
Since Olazabal won his second Masters title in 1999, though, the only jackets the Europeans brought home from Augusta National were the ones they bought in the pro shop.
'It's not for a lack of opportunities,' Olazabal said. 'Europeans haven't been all that far from winning. We've had a few chances the last few majors, it's just a matter of getting it done on the last day.'
At every major, it seems, a European is in contention the last day.
Kenneth Ferrie of England had the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Open last summer, only to come in with a 76. Long-suffering Colin Montgomerie was poised to win at Winged Foot, going into the 72nd hole tied with Mickelson. But just as Mickelson blew his chance, Montgomerie did the same -- though in far less dramatic fashion.
Monty wound up finishing a stroke behind winner Geoff Ogilvy -- an Australian.
Garcia went into the final day at Hoylake a single stroke behind Woods. By the time they got through five holes, he was down five. He finished seven strokes behind Woods, in a tie for fifth.
England's Luke Donald was paired with Woods in the final group at last year's PGA Championship -- in his adopted hometown of Chicago, no less. He staggered home with a 2-over 74 that left him in a three-way tie for third that included Garcia.
'If I'm not going to win, I'm certainly rooting for one of my fellow Europeans to win. This is pure selfish reasons,' said Harrington, whose best finish in any major is fifth.
'Knowing somebody who has won a major, somebody you played practice rounds with, that you have a game with every couple of weeks, if they go on and win a major, that makes it in your head so much easier to do it,' the Irishman added. 'It's a psychological thing that you just need to see.'
Though dominating in the Ryder Cup is different than winning a major, the lessons from one might eventually carry over to the other. The up-and-comers who have been the staple of Europe's recent Ryder Cup teams -- Donald, Garcia, Harrington, Paul Casey of England, and Sweden's Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson -- are the same who grew up watching their European idols win at Augusta National.
The more they play, the more they see they can beat Woods and Mickelson, the more confident they are likely to become. At some point, the thinking goes, that's got to carry over to the majors.
Maybe even this week.
After Woods and Mickelson, Stenson is a popular pick to win. He arrives as one of the hottest players in the game after winning at star-studded Dubai and Accenture Match Play Championship.
Casey won at Abu Dhabi earlier this year, and Harrington won Europe's money title last year. Don't ever discount Garcia or Donald, either.
'It'd be great for golf right now if one of the young players could win a major,' Rose said. 'Obviously, I hope it would be me.'
And once one of the Europeans wins, look out.
'It's like a bus,' Rose said. 'You wait all day for one, and then two turn up.'
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.