Seeing into Sunday

By Brian HewittSeptember 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
LOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Golf is hard. Arithmetic is easier. So here are the cold hard numbers: With 12 Sunday singles matches remaining in the 37th Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club the U.S. leads Europe, 9-7.
Europe began the day three behind the Americans. Now it trails by two. Were still, said Swede Henrik Stenson using a Yanks idiom, in the ballgame.
To wrest the Cup away from the defending champions the U.S. must total at least five and a half points on the final day. If the matches end in a 14-14 tie, the Europeans retain the Cup.
Its a bumpy road at times, isnt it, to get a victory, European captain Nick Faldo said Saturday.
To be sure, its even rougher to separate the wheat from the Ryder Cup chaff. But if anybody had asked me Saturday, Id have told them that:
  • The Americans will win Sunday. Final score: 15-13.
  • The Man of the Match (thats Ryder Cup speak for MVP) will be American Justin Leonard, providing he wins his Sunday singles assignment. Leonard has won 2 out of a possible three points and has putted better than anybody on either side. If you want to second-guess American captain Paul Azinger, take him to task for holding Leonard out of the Saturday afternoon fourballs. Ill probably be better-off, better served tomorrow with my rest, Leonard said, bailing out his captain. If Leonard doesnt turn out to be Man of the Match, Ian Poulter should get a long look.
  • Nick Faldo is a mad genius. He sits his two best point-getters ' Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood ' Saturday morning and his B squad goes out and thumps the Americans 2 to 1 to close Europes deficit by mid-day to 7-5. Its no secret that Faldo is not popular among his own generation of top European players. He was never in it for the congeniality. But Faldo and his detractors alike always knew the Ryder Cup was too important to the European players to let a dislike for the captain ' real or imagined ' get in the way of the common and burning desire to take down the Americans.
  • The British press thinks Faldo is mad but not a genius. Kentucky Fried Nick, wailed one tabloid headline across the pond Saturday morning after the Yanks had raced to their three-point first day lead. The Fleet St. boys were especially hard on Faldo in the matter of Garcia and Westwood. Only later was it revealed that Garcia had been on antibiotics last week and was, in Faldos words, shot after a winless Friday. Westwood, who Friday tied Arnold Palmers Ryder Cup record of 12 consecutive matches without a loss, said he wanted to play Saturday morning but he admitted he was suffering from blisters. Hey, why let the facts gets in the way of a good story on a slow news day?
  • British rookie Oliver Wilsons long, big-breaking birdie putt on the 17th hole that gutted the American duo of Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim, 2 and 1, in Saturdays foursomes was the key stroke of the day (and were not talking typing here). The Americans had built a 4-up lead after just six holes and the end was looking near. It was nice to hole that, said the soft-spoken Wilson.
  • Wilsons bomb hurt. But if the Americans end up losing this turkey-shoot by darkness Sunday, they should point first to the two half-points they gave away Friday when nobody from Kentucky was able to find dry land off the tee on the 18th hole. First, Kenny Perrys rinsed tee ball on the final hole in the morning allowed Garcia and Westwood to escape with a half. Similarly, J.B. Holmes wet drive on 18 Friday afternoon (after fourballs partner Boo Weekley had already dunked his first shot) allowed Westwood and Soren Hansen to sprint to the clubhouse with another giveaway half point.
  • Hansen gets no respect. First the European equipment managers misspelled his last name on his official Ryder Cup golf bag. And as for his first name, well, lets put it this way: No player with an o that has a line through it has ever won a major. In fact, I bet most people just type it without the line.
  • You could have made a lot of money off me at the beginning of the week if you had bet that only three players would play in all five matches and that those three players would be Poulter, Mahan and Mickelson.
  • You could have made even more money off me if you had bet that Westwood, Garcia and Padraig Harrington, between them, would go into Sundays singles each without having won a match and that the difference in score between the two teams would be just two points. Im struggling a bit with my alignment, Harrington said after losing his Saturday foursomes match and grabbing some bench in the afternoon. This, for Harrington, after going 0-4-1 in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland at the 2006 Ryder Cup.
  • Those guys carrying around the life-sized cardboard cut-out of a be-kilted Colin Montgomerie need to a.) Get a life and b.) Move on.Monty didnt make the team, guys.
  • The reason all four American pairings lost the par-5 seventh hole during Saturday morning pairings was simple: Its an unlucky number.
  • Ive never seen so few short putts missed in a Ryder Cup.
  • There was a rumor floating around that George 41 Bush gave Boo Weekley a man-hug Saturday afternoon. Great country, isnt it?
  • The best description of Ryder Cup play I have heard all week came from broadcaster Renton Laidlaw, a Scotsman, in his usual economy of words. Its gladiatorial, he said.
  • The peoples choice at Valhalla this week ' its not even close ' is Boo Weekley. All the fans, Boo drawled, are great.
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    Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
  • Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

    By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

    Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

    Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

    What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

    Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

    Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

    Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

    Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

    Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

    Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

    While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

    Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

    By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

    The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

    The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

    Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

    Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

    ''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''

    DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

    Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

    Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

    ''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

    The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

    Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

    ''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

    If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.