Monster Mash Europe Routs Americans

By Associated PressSeptember 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Over here, over there, it no longer matters. Europe again proved to be the best in the Ryder Cup with its biggest romp over the Americans.
 
The final blow Sunday was a scene all too familiar at Oakland Hills: With the cup already won, Padraig Harrington made a 25-foot par putt on the 18th hole of the last match that only counted in the record books.
 
Europe 18 1/2, United States 9 1/2.
 
It was the Americans' worst loss in the 77-year history of the Ryder Cup, and there was no doubt who the underdogs are now.
 
'We haven't been winning it,' Davis Love III said. 'If they keep bringing the cup back on their airplane, we are the underdog.
 
'It's a long two years until we get to do it again.'
 
Lee Westwood ended the slightest suspense with a 4-foot par putt on the 18th to beat Kenny Perry. With Colin Montgomerie 1 up on the 18th hole and assured a half-point, Europe had the 14 points it needed to retain the cup.
 
Montgomerie also made a 4-foot par putt to beat David Toms and secure outright victory for Europe for the fourth time in the last five Ryder Cup matches.
 
The Europeans are not only winning, they are winning big.
 
And there is no doubt who the underdogs are now.
 
'Obviously, our results would suggest that,' Darren Clarke said. 'We come here with a big heart, full of hopes, full of expectations.'
 
The Europeans' last blowout was 16 1/2-11 1/2 in 1985 at The Belfry when they won for the first time in 28 years. Since then, they have captured the cup seven out of 10 times with a collection of players not many people know in the States until they are posing with the 19-inch gold trophy.
 
'We came here again as underdogs. It's amazing how well we do,' Montgomerie said. 'I don't know how it happens.'
 
The Americans haven't figured it out, either. They have the higher world ranking, more majors, greater star power.
 
But when it comes to the Ryder Cup, it's no contest.
 
The Europeans won for the third time on U.S. soil, and they made sure there was no rally like Brookline five years ago when the Americans stormed back from a 10-6 deficit by putting its best players at the top of the lineup and riding a tidal wave of momentum.
 
Tiger Woods finally did his part, the only player not to lose a single hole in an easy victory over Paul Casey. The Americans had early leads in the first five matches as cheers of 'USA! USA!' rang out across the course, the crowd trying to urge them to pull off another improbable comeback.
 
But just as it had gone all week, the Americans simply couldn't keep it up.
 
Sergio Garcia made three straight birdies to quickly turn the tide against Phil Mickelson, then won the match when Lefty tried a peculiar shot at a crucial moment -- a low punch that came up short and rolled into the water on the 16th.
 
Clarke was two holes behind with three to play when he made an 8-foot birdie on the 16th, chipped in from behind the green on the 17th to square the match and wound up halving his match with Love after both missed par putts.
 
Westwood also rallied from an early two-hole deficit, winning the 15th with a par to go 1 up, and then holing his cup-clinching putt to seal the victory.
 
'I had a fair idea the way everyone was biting their nails,' Westwood said when asked whether he knew his putt was for the Ryder Cup.
 
This was no nail-biter. It was a rout from the start.
 
Europe led 11-5 going into the 12 singles matches and needed only three points to retain the cup. Five matches were still in progress when it clinched the cup, and the celebration was under way.
 
Fans began lustily singing 'Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole!' and players swarmed captain Bernhard Langer with hugs. Garcia waved the European flag on the back of a cart, as he sped off to watch the final matches.
 
Champagne filled the air over the 18th green, and Langer took a sweet sip as his players roared.
 
'The Europeans are great,' U.S. captain Hal Sutton. 'They played ferociously. There are a lot of great players in America, but we got outplayed this week.'
 
Fred Funk and Perry, in their first Ryder Cup, were the only players who failed to win a point. Mickelson went 1-3, while Woods had another losing record at 2-3.
 
Garcia and Westwood were the European stars, each going 4-0-1. And when Thomas Levet beat Funk for his first point of the week, he assured every European player contributed something to this record victory.
 
It was a disastrous week for Sutton, whose tough talk didn't do the Americans much good on the course.
 
He said he had a Woods-Mickelson pairing in mind since being appointed captain two years ago because, 'History needed it. ... The fans needed it,' even though it sure looked as if Woods didn't want it: They lost twice on Friday when Europe took a five-point lead.
 
'We just never got any charisma going that we needed,' he said.
 
Sutton let Chris Riley skip the Saturday afternoon match, even though Riley was unbeaten in two matches.
 
Asked if he would do anything differently, Sutton held his ground.
 
'That will be debated until the day I die,' he said. 'They've debated past and future captains, and I knew it was part of the job. I'm not going to second-guess myself.'
 
But that's what will happen until the Ryder Cup is next played at The K Club in Ireland in 2006.
 
Europe should be the clear favorite.
 
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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.

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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.