Bae helps Internationals cut deficit to 1

By Doug FergusonOctober 9, 2015, 7:37 am

INCHEON, South Korea - Sangmoon Bae never felt the kind of pressure that weighed on him Friday at the Presidents Cup.

He only made news in South Korea this year during a failed bid to extend his waiver for mandatory military service. He wasn't sure what kind of reception he would receive at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea. And as Bae stood over a 12-foot putt that was critical to the International team's rally, half his teammates were on the edge of the green and thousands of Koreans were watching in the gallery.

''I'm pretty sure he was nervous. I was nervous watching him,'' Danny Lee said. ''So he had to stand up and man up, and hit that golf ball.''

The celebration when the putt dropped was raw emotion, a defining moment for Bae and the International team in its bid to finally give the Americans a worthy fight.

Bae teamed with Lee for a 1-up fourballs victory over Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker, and the Internationals won their first team session in four years to pull within a point of the Americans. Next up is a double session Saturday of eight matches that will shape the final round.

''That putt Sangmoon made on No. 18 today was probably the highlight of the last two days for us,'' International captain Nick Price said.

Price had other reasons to cheer.

Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace made three big putts around the turn and sailed to a 4-and-3 win over Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, while Charl Schwartzel and Thongchai Jaidee had little trouble against an American team of Chris Kirk and Bill Haas that went 13 holes of nothing better than par.

The Americans, up 4-1 after the opening session, had their lead cut to 5 1/2 to 4 1/2.

''I think the U.S. team after yesterday, they probably thought it was going to be a walk-off,'' Grace said. ''We put our chests out and we went full heart. We're in a good position now. We're just one point back, and you know, a lot can happen.''

The U.S. lead might have been slightly larger if Phil Mickelson had known the rules.

A penalty that baffled even the captains - the match went from all square to 2 up in one hole - began when Mickelson was not aware of the one-ball rule.

Players must stick with the same model of golf ball for the entire match in fourballs and singles. That didn't cross Mickelson's mind until after he switched to a firmer golf ball on the par-5 seventh to help him reach the green in two. Only when he saw U.S. captain Jay Haas did he ask him to make sure it was OK.

It wasn't.

''It's my responsibility to know that,'' Mickelson said. ''I should have at least asked about it before I teed off.''

The penalty in this format is known as a one-hole adjustment - one hole is awarded to the other team. The rules committee made it worse by mistakenly telling Mickelson that he was out of the hole, and so Mickelson picked up his ball. Only later did the committee realize that Mickelson should have been allowed to finish the hole because the penalty already had been assessed.

Jason Day made birdie to win the hole, and the International team got credit for another hole because of the penalty on Mickelson. It made a difference in the end when Day made an 8-foot birdie putt to halve the match. Based on scores for each hole, the Americans would have won.

''I didn't realize you could lose two holes on one hole,'' said Adam Scott, who played with Day.

The ruling overshadowed Mickelson's great rally - a birdie on the 11th, holing a 142-yard bunker shot for eagle on the 12th - to get his team back in the match. And while it likely cost the Americans a half-point, Mickelson didn't seem too bothered.

''I feel like we spotted the International's best team two holes, and they still couldn't beat us,'' Mickelson said. ''Just saying.''

Day didn't bite on Mickelson's barb. The International team was happy to be back in the match. Price said he spoke to his team Thursday night about trying to relax, and he saw enough of that to give him hope going into the weekend.

The lone American victory came from J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson, the big-hitting duo who has not lost this week.

The biggest blow for the International side came from Oosthuizen, when he rolled in a 70-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole to square the match. Grace followed with a pair of birdies for a 2-up lead, and the Spieth-Johnson tandem didn't put up much of a fight. They made only two birdies, none over the final eight holes.

''We both played very poor rounds of golf and we didn't have many chances,'' Spieth said. ''So it was 'Merry Christmas' to the other guys.''

It sure felt like it to Bae, who made his debut in the Presidents Cup one to remember.

''The first time for me to play in The Presidents Cup, and I have already very good memories,'' Bae said. ''And I'm very happy about that.''

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.