Notes Faldos secrets revealed

By Associated PressSeptember 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Nick Faldo might want to keep his ideas close to his vest.
The European captain was in a cart in front of the 11th green Wednesday at the Ryder Cup when he called Henrik Stenson over for a chat and pulled out a small notepad. Little did Faldo know, a British photographer was perched on a hill by the 12th tee. With a zoom lens, he was able to capture the notes on the paper, which appeared to be pairings.
They were only initials, but it wasnt hard to figure them out.
SG was next to LW'Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, who have gone 4-1-1 in two previous Ryder Cups; JR and IP would be Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who are the best of friends with similar games. RK and PH would indicate Faldo was considering matching Robert Karlsson and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington.
Stensons initials were next to the initials of Graeme McDowell and Paul Casey.
Thats assuming those were pairings he had in mind for the start of the Ryder Cup on Friday.
We pretty much have a very clear idea of what were going to do, Faldo said at his press conference.
But he squirmed in his seat a few minutes later when someone pointed out that a photographer caught on camera a piece of paper with what appeared to be pairings.
It just had the lunch list, Faldo said. It had sandwich requests for the guys, just making sure who wants tuna, who wants the beef, who wants the ham. Thats all it was.
The microphone went dead when the reporter tried to follow up, letting him off the hook. But only for a short time. Another reporter pointed out that only 11 initials were on the paper (Miguel Angel Jimenez was left out).
Put my name down, then, Faldo said.
He later said he did not mention the order those teams might play, so some are safe. And Faldo pointed out that he could always change his mind. Whether he was referring to ham-on-rye or Poulter and Rose remains to be seen.
A dispute in 1999 over money the PGA of America makes off the Ryder Cup resulted in a plan that allows American players to direct $200,000 to charities of their choice, with $90,000 this year going to a golf education program at their alma maters.
To celebrate the donations, players posed with a shirt and football helmet from the school that received the money.
Phil Mickelson cradled a yellow helmet with a red Sun Devil from Arizona State. Anthony Kim (Oklahoma), Hunter Mahan (Oklahoma State) and Justin Leonard (Texas) represented the Big 12.
Some players donated to two colleges'Chad Campbell has roots in west Texas (Texas Tech) and played at UNLV.
And then theres Boo Weekley.
He picked three colleges, and only one of them has a football team, Kent State alum Ben Curtis joked.
Weekley split the $90,000 among Alabama, West Florida (near his Panhandle home) and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga., the only place he actually attended.
He had to settle for a straw hat with ABAC across the front, holding a pennant from the two-year school.
Everyone remembers the putt, and the celebration that followed on the 17th green at Brookline when Justin Leonard knocked in a 45-footer for the only U.S. victory in the Ryder Cup the last six matches.
But take a closer look at video highlights, and youll see a large man in a bright red shirt.
He was the first one to give Leonard a high-five, and Leonard didnt even know who it was at the time.
He was way inside the ropes, practically on the green, Leonard said. I didnt give it a second thought.
A few years later when he was playing in a corporate outing in the Boston area, someone asked Leonard if he remembered running into a fan wearing a red shirt, and if he recalled the credential he was wearing.
It said clergy. But this guy was no priest, Leonard said. Apparently, he has forged his way into every sporting event known to man. Hes got pictures of him sitting next to Shaq (Shaquille ONeal) at All-Star games and NBA finals.
That wasnt the last Leonard saw of the impostor that day.
Walking off the 18th green, somebody reached over and snaked my hat, Leonard said. I didnt care. We were celebrating. But I turned around it was the same guy. Hes got my hat. Im sure hes got a lot of stuff.
A decade ago, Europe always seemed to have a player that nobody knew until he came up with great shots and big points in the Ryder Cup' Peter Baker in 1993 and Philip Walton in 1995 come to mind.
Such surprises are rare these days because more Europeans are playing on the PGA Tour, and even if they dont, all three World Golf Championships and three majors are held in the United States.
The exception might be Oliver Wilson.
If hardly anyone knows him, theres a reason. The 28-year-old from England is the only player at Valhalla who has not won on any tour since turning pro. He earned the 10th and final spot on the team on the strength of four runner-up finishes.
Im well aware that not a lot of guys know my name, Wilson said. But Im comfortable enough, and I think Ive been around long enough, to feel I know what I need to do. Ive seen guys hole the winning putts. Ive seen the celebrations. I want to be there Sunday night, and I think that would be the most incredible feeling to go through that.
Thats the holy grail, you know? To have something like that in your career to look back on would be amazing.
The Europeans practice round on Tuesday took more than six hours as they studied Valhalla, and spent a good part of the time signing autographs to endear them to the majority of Americans in the gallery.
It took so long, that three players missed their obligatory interviews' Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey and Graeme McDowell. Instead of walking off the course at the appointed time, captain Nick Faldo said it was more important to stay on the course. The interviews were rescheduled'to 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Stenson was the first to yawn.
He was asked if he would have been up so early in a normal tournament.
Sometimes you want to get an early practice round, he said. It all depends if youre playing early or late on Thursday. But I dont think I would have seen you at 5:30 in the morning. Any of you.
It was worse for Casey, who only arrived on Monday from his home outside Phoenix.
Im on West Coast time right now, so its 4 oclock in the morning, he said. Please excuse me if I yawn once or twice. Its not your questions. Im just tired.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
  • European Report Cards
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
  • Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

    Getty Images

    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

    Getty Images

    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.