Ryder Cup Hangover at WGC

By Associated PressSeptember 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 WGC American Express ChampionshipCHANDLERS CROSS, England -- Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald were unbeatable as a team again, and when they sat side-by-side before a room full of reporters, the Spaniard playfully leaned toward the microphone and began giving details of the match.
 
First hole, we won with a birdie. Second hole, we halved with pars.
 
But this wasnt the Ryder Cup, rather a practice round at The Grove for the American Express Championship.
 
They won cash from Ian Poulter and David Howell, not a point for Europe.
 
Clearly, this week will require some adjustments.
 
Its going to be tough to get the blood flowing as much as it was last week because the people in Ireland were amazing, Garcia said. But were here to perform, and try to do the best we can, and hopefully give ourselves a chance at winning the event.
 
The final World Golf Championship gets under way on Thursday at The Grove, an expansive estate north of London where 63 top players from around the world will play for a $7.5 million purse, with $1.3 million going to the winner.
 
Some players are dealing with a hangover, if not figuratively, then literally.
 
The Europeans partied into the night after an 18 - 9 victory Sunday at The K Club, and in the true spirit of the matches, the Americans joined them. The unwitting suspect in all this turned out to be PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem, whose suite was located directly above the European team room.
 
We dozed off about 6 a.m., Finchem said.
 
Reality returns to the individual side of golf on Thursday, that much made clear by the favorite to win.
 
Its an American'Tiger Woods.
 
He is the defending champion of the American Express Championship, trying to win for the second time this year in England. The first victory came in July at Hoylake in the British Open, the first of five straight victories sanctioned by the PGA TOUR.
 
This could be No. 6 in the winning streak, or No. 1, depending on how it is perceived.
 
Keeping track of records can get muddled when Woods travels around the world, so there was a debate Wednesday whether his winning streak was dead or alive. The answer was both.
 
It ended two weeks ago, Woods said.
 
After five straight victories from the British Open in July to the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston the first week of September, Woods lost in the first round of the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth.
 
But thats a European Tour event.
 
Im going for six in a row on our tour, Woods said of the American Express Championship, which counts as official on six major tours as a WGC event. But not six in a row tournament-wise, because Ive played two since then and lost both.
 
The other loss was at the Ryder Cup, still a popular topic this week.
 
Woods also won six straight on the PGA TOUR at the end of 1999 and the start of 2000, although he finished sixth in between that streak at the Johnnie Walker Classic, another European Tour event. That matched the second-longest streak on the PGA TOUR, barely more than halfway home to the record not even Woods believes will be broken.
 
Byron Nelson, who died Tuesday at his ranch in Texas, owns the record of 11 consecutive victories in 1945.
 
His record is still remarkable that particular year, Woods said. His 12th event, he finished second, and then he won the very next one. So thats 12 out of 13, and the worst he finished was second. Thats pretty good. And 18 (victories) in one year. I dont play that many tournaments, so I cant get to 18.
 
Asked whether 11 in a row was possible now, Woods said probably not.
 
The competition is so much deeper now, he said. Back in his day'I actually talked to him about this'he said he had to beat four or five guys every week. And when youre hot, thats not hard to do. Thats not the case anymore. Its 40 or 50 now, so its a lot different.
 
The World Golf Championships attract the best players from around the world. The criteria for this one is top 50 in the world ranking, and money leaders from the PGA, European, Australasian, Japan, South African and Asian tours.
 
Lee Westwood was hard-pressed to recognize that a World Golf Championship was at stake this week. It reminded him of Hilton Head, described by many as a working vacation because of the enormous buildup to the Masters, which is held the week before.
 
Any time after something youve really built yourself up for, its always difficult to get up the next week, he said.
 
Jim Furyk felt the same way.
 
If I had my druthers, I would never play the week after a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup because its an emotional high or letdown either way, Furyk said. If you play well and the team wins and you have a great time, its tough to get your thoughts back in it. If the team loses, youre in a grouchy mood.
 
Ah, but theres nothing like $1.3 million to cure any hangovers.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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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.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.