Ryder Cup excitement boiling over as matches near

By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2012, 5:14 pm

ATLANTA – Keegan Bradley was standing near the scorer’s tent late Sunday afternoon at East Lake, sorting through the odds and ends of his maiden Ryder Cup.

All 30 of his allotment of badges had been spoken for – three for college roommates, one to a close pal from high school, the rest for assorted family members and friends.

Despite a run of six tournaments since the beginning of August, including all four of the FedEx Cup playoff events, Bradley looked fresh and fired up.

“I wish the matches started tomorrow,” he said.

Ryder Cup: Teams | Articles | Videos | Pics | Social

The sun began to set and Justin Rose arrived at the scorer’s area soon after, the chants of “USA! USA!” still ringing from his round with FedEx Cup champion and Ryder Cup rookie, Brandt Snedeker. Rose says he understood the partisan fervor from the gallery. For fan and player alike, the anticipation for the 39th Ryder Cup matches may be at the highest level in recent memory.

“It’s set up for a great week in Chicago,” Rose said. “I looked at the long-range weather forecast. It looks like it’s going to be perfect. Two great teams, all in the top 35, 40 in the world. It’s probably as strong as it’s ever been between two teams.”

Snedeker pondered the roster and agreed.

“I think these are going to be the deepest Ryder Cup teams we’ve ever seen on both sides,” he said. “With the 12 players on both teams, anybody can beat anybody.”

In a golf season that has already given so much – wild comebacks, four sizzling majors and a compelling month of playoffs – could the Ryder Cup possibly exceed them all?

It can, and by Sunday night very well might.

Both the U.S. and Europe will take to Chicago teams with few discernable weaknesses. Both can claim bombers and tacticians, short-game wizards and smooth putters.

Starting with the 2010 Masters, eight of the last 12 major championships have been taken by either U.S. or European Ryder Cup members.

While it won’t inure them to the pressure of the Ryder Cup, both squads know that the men in their team rooms recently claimed some of the greatest trophies in golf.

As a further testament to the form of both teams, all 12 U.S. players competed in the Tour Championship at East Lake while the European team had five.

“We’ll see how that plays out, if [the Americans] are tournament sharp or if we’re mentally fresh,” Rose said. 

Europe can draw confidence from so many places. Eleven of its 12 players are Ryder Cup veterans (and the lone rookie, Nicolas Colsaerts, is a big hitter with solid match play credentials). McIlroy owned the late summer on the PGA Tour. Sergio Garcia broke through at the Wyndham Championship.

Even slumping 2010 PGA champ Martin Kaymer has experienced a small resurgence. He finished T-21 at the KLM Open and T-5 at the BMW Italian Open in his last two events on the European Tour, carding matching 67s on the weekend in Turin.

Of course, the U.S. has its own players peaking, from hot-putting Snedeker to veteran Jim Furyk.

“The guys have been playing well on really rough courses,” said U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, one of four U.S. rookies. “The playoffs have helped.”

Furyk said he has never seen a U.S. team with so many players who could match up with just about anyone. Furyk described himself as one of captain Davis Love III’s “wheel men,” able to pair with just about anyone.

“If anything, Davis may have a hard time choosing the pairings, not because there aren’t enough guys who fit together well but because there are so many guys who have games that fit well,” Furyk said.

Simpson said he would love to play with fellow bomber Bubba Watson after their success in the Presidents Cup in Australia but could also see playing with Dustin Johnson or Tiger Woods.

“It’s fun playing with guys that hit it 330 in the middle of the fairway,” Simpson said.

About the only player not jumping out of his skin in anticipation was Jason Dufner. That’s not his style, first of all, and the Ryder Cup rookie and two-time winner this season said he was disappointed in his scoring the last two weeks.

Asked about his travel plans to Chicago, Dufner said: “We’ll get up there by 2 o’clock to discuss the pairings and the week.”

He sounded about as excited as a high school senior talking about his class schedule.

He’ll learn.

Click to check out Golf Channel's and NBC Sports' Ryder Cup coverage.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

Getty Images

Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

Getty Images

Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Getty Images

LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.