Zingers Ryder Cup team begins taking shape

By Associated PressAugust 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Ben Curtis will have to ditch the NFL apparel next month for the Stars & Stripes. A runner-up finish in the PGA Championship on Sunday earned him his first trip to the Ryder Cup.
 
I love Ben Curtis a lot, and I love the fact hes made the team, U.S. captain Paul Azinger said.
 
Curtis lost out on a chance to win another major when he bogeyed two of the last four holes at Oakland Hills, but only later did he realize the consolation prize. His tie for second moved him from No. 20 to No. 7 in the standings, earning him one of the eight automatic spots in the qualifying that ended with the PGA Championship.
 
Its almost a victory in itself, said Curtis, who wears apparel of NFL teams when he plays on the PGA TOUR.
 
Three of the eight Americans who qualified will be Ryder Cup rookies ' Anthony Kim (No. 5), Curtis and Boo Weekley, who closed with a 66 to tie for 20th to secure the final spot.
 
Justin Leonard finished sixth and will play in the Ryder Cup for the first time since he holed that 45-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole at Brookline to cap off the largest rally in history in 1999. That also was the last time the Americans won.
 
Phil Mickelson tied for seventh and was atop the points list ' Tiger Woods clinched the No. 1 spot in June after winning the U.S. Open, but is out the rest of the year after reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
 
The rest of the U.S. qualifiers were Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk.
 
Azinger will announce his four captains picks on Sept. 2. Europe still has three tournaments left before 10 players qualify, and captain Nick Faldo will have two picks after that.
 
The Ryder Cup will be played Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.
 
Steve Stricker was at No. 8 in the standings going into the week, but he was hurt by a 77 in the third round. Stricker closed with a 69, but any chance of overtaking Weekley unfolded before his eyes.
 
I just wanted to shoot something good and see what happened, Stricker said. I thought maybe I could catch Boo, but he was playing right in front of me, so I knew by the last few holes that wasnt going to happen.
 
Curtis won the British Open in 2003 ' his first major ' but did not make the Presidents Cup team. He didnt figure to be on this Ryder Cup team until he was runner-up at the Wachovia Championship in early May, then tied for seventh in the British Open.
 
And then came his week at Oakland Hills, where he took the 54-hole lead by one shot and was still tied for the lead with four holes to play until a bogey from the rough on the 15th.
 
He deserves to be on the team, doesnt he? Stricker said. Hes stood up to the challenge all week.
 
Weekley matched Harrington for the best score of the final round and will bring his homespun speech to the U.S. team room. He did not stop for questions after his round so he could get to the airport.
 
Got to run, he said.
 
Brandt Snedeker, who was in 15th place, needed to finish at least seventh to have a chance. He was at 4 over for the tournament through six holes, but a double bogey on No. 7 sent him to a 73.
 
Its going to come down to how I play the next three events, said Snedeker, who defends his title next week in Greensboro. Hopefully, I can play well and get on his radar. Im disappointed, because I had a chance to take care of my own business this week, and now it is out of my control. Ive got to play well.
 
Sergio Garcia secured his spot on his fifth consecutive team for Europe with a runner-up finish, while Justin Rose stayed in the mix with a 71 in the final round to tie for ninth.
 
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


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    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."