Monty Back to Being Monty

By Associated PressSeptember 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Maybe they should call it the Monty Cup.
Colin Montgomerie was right where he wanted to be Friday -- posing, strutting, smiling, chatting, leading and, as always, collecting Ryder Cup points for his beloved European team.
Two matches. Two wins. All part of a stunning day by Europe, which put the United States in a deep hole by claiming 6 of a possible eight points on the first day at Oakland Hills.
'Monty, you are the Ryder Cup!' a fan yelled after Montgomerie hit a shot at No. 12.
'I do enjoy the team format,' Montgomerie said. 'That's been proven. I enjoy being part of a team, possibly more than I enjoy playing by myself.'
Want proof? The 41-year-old Scot played in his 28th and 29th consecutive Ryder Cup matches, a streak that began in 1991 and eclipsed the record held by Seve Ballesteros. Monty has the best winning percentage of anyone who's ever teed off for the European side, going 18-7-5 during his career.
He's even managed to win over the American fans, who heckled Montgomerie relentlessly at Brookline five years ago.
After finishing off his afternoon alternate-shot match, in which he teamed with Padraig Harrington for a 4-and-2 victory over Davis Love III and Fred Funk, Monty admonished reporters and cameramen for blocking the view of spectators wanting to see the next foursome coming through at 16.
'People have been waiting all day to see some golf,' he said. 'Please sit down and let them see.'
The mostly American gallery cheered.
'Way to go, Monty!' they shouted in unison.
Montgomerie and Harrington also paired up for better-ball matches in the morning. They were given the most important task of the day by European captain Bernhard Langer -- somehow, find a way to beat the American dream team of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Both captains figured that would be the match that set the tone for the whole day. How right they were.
Montgomerie sank a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 1, the first of four straight birdies to begin the match. The Europeans led all the way, finishing off Woods and Mickelson with one hole to spare.
'We felt going out that would be a very important match,' Harrington said. 'We really felt it would be worth more than a point. They were expected to win and get a point for the U.S. team. When we got ahead and stayed ahead, it gave some momentum to our whole team.'
In the afternoon, Montgomerie and Harrington had a 1-up lead after bogeying the seventh hole. At No. 8, the Irishman hit a nice-looking shot toward the flag, but it inexplicably kicked right and into the fringe.
Facing the possibility of losing the hole, Montgomerie came up with the shot of the day. He turned away from the flag, pitched a wedge shot into the rough and let it kick off the slope. The ball curled toward the cup, stopping just inches away for a conceded par that prevented the Europeans from losing the hole.
That seemed to shift the momentum. Montgomerie and Harrington won the next three holes, taking control of the match.
'The match was getting away from us,' Harrington said. 'Then Colin hit the perfect chip. That won the match for us, pure and simple. All of a sudden, we won three straight holes. One shot won the match for us.'
Go ahead and needle Montgomerie about his failure to win a major championship. When the Ryder Cup is factored in, he's got nothing to be ashamed of.
'That's worth a couple of majors to me,' Langer said.
Montgomerie, who went through a very public split from his wife this year, has struggled on the course, as well. His world ranking has plummeted to No. 62 and he didn't even qualify for the European team, getting on as one of Langer's wild-card picks.
Even so, the Americans know what they're up against when Monty's on the other side in a team competition. He'll undoubtedly play two more team matches on Saturday, and he's never lost a Sunday singles match in his Ryder Cup career.
'He's a steadying influence on the golf course, off the golf course and in the team room,' said Jay Haas, who was part of the only U.S. victory Friday.
'He's someone who's had success at all different levels, including the Ryder Cup. Obviously, the younger guys have to look up to him. And when he performs like he did today, they're going to listen even harder to him.'
Monty isn't ready to celebrate just yet. He remembers the Europeans having a 6-2 lead after the first day in '99 and still being up 10-6 after the second day, only to have the Americans stage the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.
'We've got a long way to go,' he said. 'We've been here before. We got off to a good start today. That's all it is.'
With Monty on their team, the Europeans have to like their chances.

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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.