Two Cups Too Many for All the Presidents Men

By Associated PressSeptember 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- One cup is over. Another cup is about to begin.
 
The question is whether a world-class collection of players at Royal Montreal have enough left to fill the Presidents Cup with the kind of golf that has made these matches so compelling over the last few years.
 
Tiger Woods, who plays fewer golf tournaments than any other star, will be competing for the sixth time in nine weeks. Ditto for Phil Mickelson, who usually shuts it down this time of year. Even an ironman like Vijay Singh has spent an awful lot of time inside the ropes, skipping only two weeks since August.
 
Mike Weir
Mike Weir practices Tuesday before the home country crowd. (WireImage)
Blame that on the FedExCup, a four-week bonanza that ended only nine days ago for 16 players in the Presidents Cup. It only figures to get tougher next year, with the Ryder Cup scheduled for the week after the TOUR Championship.
 
As much as players are cursing the schedule, it could turn out to be a blessing.
 
'You would think that you're pretty prepared to be here, maybe more so than years past, because of playing so much golf recently,' David Toms said Tuesday. 'I think that's something they need to take a look in the future, how much golf is being played at this particular time. For us this year, I know we have a lot of guys who are coming in and playing well, and it should be an advantage for us.'
 
Indeed, the FedExCup could be a good barometer for these matches when they get under way Thursday.
 
Woods is playing a lot of golf, but playing well. He has won four of the five tournaments he has played dating to the Bridgestone Invitational, including his last two to easily win the FedExCup. The other two playoff events were won by Phil Mickelson (Deutsche Bank) and Steve Stricker (Barclays).
 
Since all 24 players from the United States and International teams are PGA TOUR members, an even better barometer might be the 30-man field at the TOUR Championship.
 
Ten Americans were at East Lake, the exception being Toms (No. 32) and Lucas Glover (No. 35). The International team had only six players in the Tour Championship, and two of the players -- Mike Weir and Retief Goosen -- didn't even qualify for the 70-man field the previous week at the BMW Championship.
 
'Our team has been really playing well,' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said. 'I think they are well prepared.'
 
Nicklaus tried to make the case the International team is stronger on paper, which is usually the norm. Comprised of players from all but European countries, the team has an average world ranking of 18.5, with Weir the lowest at No. 46. The United States has an average ranking of 21.9, with Glover the lowest at No. 61.
 
International captain Gary Player, however, was quick to point out the United States was top-heavy in the world ranking with Woods, Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Stricker the new 'Big Four.' It is believed to be the first time in the 21-year history of the world ranking Americans have occupied the top four spots.
 
While the International team looks good on paper, it hasn't looked good in competition lately. The most recent winner is K.J. Choi at the AT&T National in July. Angel Cabrera hasn't done much since his U.S. Open victory in June, and Singh played five consecutive tournaments over par until finishing 10 under at easy East Lake.
 
Even so, Player had reason to believe 'the stage is set for another great match.'
 
The last two have been so close they essentially were decided by one shot -- Chris DiMarco's 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the final match in 2005 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia. The matches ended in a tie in South Africa in 2003.
 
'I think that the whole 'on paper' is kind of a farce,' Furyk said. 'If we have a tour that's deep enough where 100 guys can go out on any week and win a tournament, then 12 of the best players from any side can go out and win that week. A lot of it is momentum. Obviously, you don't want to get behind early.'
 
Closing out matches is equally important, as the International team learned last time.
 
Of the 12 matches that went to the 18th hole in 2005, the Americans won five and halved seven. That included DiMarco's match against Stuart Appleby that set off a rare but wild celebration with Nicklaus at the center.
 
'To be on the losing end, it was pretty gutting,' Appleby said. 'The entire team felt like I did.'
 
Appleby is one of only three players on the International team who have known the feeling of winning the Presidents Cup. The others are Ernie Els and Singh, the three of them on the 1998 that whipped the United States in Australia.
 
Appleby looks at that '98 team and wonders how it did so well. It featured Frank Nobilo, who was nearing the end of his career, and Carlos Franco, who was making his way through Q-school.
 
'We've come a long way as an International team, and we need to start winning,' he said. 'We have the desire. We all want to be here. But we have to taste victory. It's been a while.'
 
Related Links:
  • United States Report Card
  • International Report Card
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

    The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

    Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

    The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

    Getty Images

    Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

    The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

    England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

    The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.


    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic


    ''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

    Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

    That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

    ''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

    The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

    Getty Images

    J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

    By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

    ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

    The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

    Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

    Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

    Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.


    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open


    "I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

    "It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

    South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

    Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

    "It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

    Getty Images

    Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

    LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

    Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

    He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

    ''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

    Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

    They were at 7-under 135.

    Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

    Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.


    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


    Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

    ''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

    He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

    McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

    ''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

    Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.