Notes Tigers 9-Iron Follies Cink Stops Sergio

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- After hitting an approach shot to the seventh green, Tiger Woods asked his caddie, Steve Williams, to rinse the mud off his 9-iron.
 
Williams went above and beyond. Dipping the club into the River Liffey, Williams lost his balance on a slick rock. Something had to give.
 
'It was him or the 9-iron going into the drink,' Woods said. 'He chose the 9-iron.'
 
Woods and Williams laughed about the gaffe -- easier to do because Woods won his match pretty easily. He played the next seven holes with only 13 clubs.
 
It was only an issue once -- on 11 -- when Woods was 127 yards for his approach, 'the perfect number' for his 9-iron. He hit a choked down 8 instead and made birdie.
 
Later, a diver retrieved the club, and Woods got it back on No. 15.
 
'Stevie dried the grip, and it was fine,' Woods said.
 
STOPPING SERGIO
Once again, Sunday was cruel to Sergio Garcia. Not at a major, but at his own personal playground, the Ryder Cup.
 
The 4-and-3 loss to Stewart Cink hardly muted his celebration, though. Garcia failed to become the first European to go 5-0 in a Ryder Cup, but his first four victories set the stage for Europe's win. When it was over, he showed no signs of being upset.
 
Really, there was no beating Cink on this day. He was at his best. He made four birdies over the first five holes to run to a 3-up lead. It got to 5 up from there.
 
'I don't think he had a hot putter. I think his putter melted,' said Garcia, who left with a 14-4-2 lifetime record at the Ryder Cup.
 
Cink won his first Ryder Cup singles match in three tries.
 
'It was probably my best match-play experience of my life today,' he said.
 
GOLFER IN CHIEF
The Ryder Cup players weren't the only Americans with sad tales to tell from The K Club.
 
Bill Clinton, on hand to watch the final round of the exhibition, played here in the past and said it was a struggle.
 
'I know I didn't break 90,' he said. 'I think I shot a 91. I know I didn't get close to my handicap.'
 
The former President's handicap is reported by many to be around 12. Many theories abound, of course, about what that number really should be. He has a reputation as an unabashed mulligan taker, a guy who keeps hitting shots until he likes the result.
 
But he wasn't telling any tall tales about his trip around the Irish course, 'from the blue tees' -- the championship tees -- which play at 7,337 yards.
 
'I spent half the time trying to stay out of the water,' he said. 'Very difficult, pretty much at every turn.'
 
Clinton said he appreciates the Ryder Cup for the same reason most people do.
 
'It's because it's team, not an individual sport,' Clinton said. 'It's got variations that make it endlessly interesting -- the mix of personalities and mix of forms of play.'
 
'And,' Clinton added, 'this is a very hard course.'
 
BIG BUST
There's no other way to put it, except to say Phil Mickelson had an awful Ryder Cup. He lost 2 and 1 to Jose Maria Olazabal on Sunday to finish 0-4-1 for the week and drop to 1-9-1 over his last 11 matches.
 
What happened?
 
'Obviously, I expected to get more points than a half,' Mickelson said. 'But I felt like we were in every match.'
 
Mickelson did nothing to quiet those who say he's too burned out come September to be effective in this event, or those who advanced the theory that he might never be the same after his 18th-hole meltdown at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
 
Like Woods, captain Tom Lehman and pretty much everyone on the U.S. team, Mickelson agreed the lack of clutch putting did in the whole team.
 
'It comes back down to the greens,' he said. 'It's just going to make me work harder in putting in the offseason because I just didn't make anything, and that was certainly frustrating.'
 
VERPLANK'S ACE
Scott Verplank already was having a good day. He was 3-up in his singles match with Padraig Harrington and on his way to winning his second Ryder Cup point when he stepped up to the tee on the 14th hole.
 
Verplank had the honors and hit an iron at the flag 213 yards away. His aim was true, and the ball hopped into the hole for the second ace of this Ryder Cup.
 
'I just turned around and then told Padraig, 'Well, it's your shot now,'' Verplank said.
 
Harrington had to make an ace himself to avoid going four down with four to go. He hit a good shot, but it ended up eight feet short.
 
Verplank halved the next hole with Harrington to win the match 4 and 3. It was a rare bright spot in a frustrating day for the U.S. team.
 
'Just a lucky shot,' Verplank said. 'I hit a nice-looking shot. It never left the flag. But to go in is pretty lucky.'
 
Paul Casey made a hole-in-one on the same hole Saturday. His was even more dramatic, though, winning the match for he and David Howell against Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson.
 
DIVOTS
London-based sports book William Hill called the 2008 Ryder Cup a toss-up, offering even-money on either team. Spokesman Graham Sharpe said it's the first time the Europeans aren't being tabbed as an underdog for a Ryder Cup on U.S. turf. Odds on the Europeans fielding the same 12 players as this year were 33-1. The odds on the Americans fielding the same team two years hence? 'About a million to 1, I'd guess,' Sharpe said. ... Lee Westwood played his match against Chris DiMarco with flu symptoms. He gingerly drank from a bottle of champagne during Europe's otherwise raucous celebration. ... Colin Montgomerie improved 6-0-2 in Ryder Cup singles matches.
 
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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.


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    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

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    Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

    All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

    “I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.


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    “I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

    Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

    “This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

    Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.