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Furyk hopes players scout Ryder Cup course

By Doug FergusonOctober 17, 2017, 10:05 pm

Le Golf National outside Paris, the host course of the Ryder Cup next year, has been part of the European Tour schedule since 1991 and last year was the 25th time it has held the French Open.

So along with the European crowd, that's one big advantage for the home team next year.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk hopes his American team can find time to see the course ahead of the September matches, even if they don't play the tournament. The French Open is three weeks before The Open at Carnoustie, held the same week as The National on the PGA Tour schedule.

''We seem to have a bunch of players that hang out together,'' Furyk said Tuesday in France. ''I would love to see them make a trip here before The Open Championship or after The Open Championship and see the golf course.''

He said he would extend the invitation to the top 15 or 20 players in the U.S. standings. Furyk understands each player sets his own schedule, which includes obligations and rest, and he said it's not going to be a requirement.

For American players, especially those on the bubble, it might not be a bad idea. Asked if it would be a strong recommendation to see the course, Furyk replied, ''I think it's going to be an ask and an invite, and I would hope to see some of those players.''

This is the second time in the last six years the Americans go overseas for the Ryder Cup in possession of the trophy. They have not won on European soil since 1993, the year Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Xander Schauffele were born.

''We have 25 years of scars to overcome,'' Furyk said. ''That being said, I will have a lot of young talent on my team. I'm anxious to see how they handle that challenge. Europe has handled those away matches far better in the last 25 years than we have.''

Europe is 3-3 on the road since 1993. The Americans are 0-5.


THE NICKLAUS CONNECTION: One of the more popular photos when Fred Ridley was appointed chairman of Augusta National is Ridley and Jack Nicklaus playing together in the 1976 Masters, the traditional pairing of the defending Masters champion and the U.S. Amateur champion.

The connection runs deeper than that.

In some respects, Ridley and Nicklaus shared the same golf coach - Jack Grout.

Ridley learned the game from Jamie Jackson, the head pro at Lone Palm in Lakeland, Florida, and later worked with Mike Killian and his mentor, Irv Schloss. But it was his teammate at Florida his senior year, Brad Baldwin, that led him to Grout.

''He had taken lessons from Jack Grout,'' Ridley said. ''Brad and I were going to the North and South Amateur in 1974 and he said, almost flippantly, 'I'm going to call Jack Grout and see if he'll give us a lesson and tune us up for the North and South.'''

Ridley was stunned that his teammate could just ring up such a famous teacher, but they headed to La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach, Florida.

''I took two days of lessons and thought, 'Golly, I've never hit it this good,''' Ridley said. ''I won two or three matches at the North and South, beat Jay Sigel, and then that summer I qualified for the U.S. Amateur.''

Ridley started law school and said his father allowed him to take the following summer off to play golf.

''That was going to be my last fling,'' Ridley said. ''I spent a lot of time with him (Grout) that summer, and then I won the U.S. Amateur at the end of the summer. Those other gentlemen were great, but Jack Grout really took my game to another level.''


REUNIONS: The Italian Open and the CIMB Classic featured reunions of sorts.

Sergio Garcia was paired in the third round in Italy with Austin Connelly. It was their first time playing together, but apparently not the first time they have met. Connelly's mother posted a photo from the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic that showed Garcia with his arm around Connelly.

Garcia was 19 and playing in his first regular PGA Tour event. Connelly was 2. The tweet prompted the European Tour to get them to strike the same pose .

Circumstances were slightly different over in Malaysia, where Scott Hend of Australia teed off in the first round with Ian Poulter and Patrick Rodgers. That brought back strong memories for Rodgers.

Walking off the second tee, Rodgers said to Hend, ''This is going to sound a bit weird, but when I was 10, you gave me a signed glove, and it was the first thing I ever got from a professional golfer.''

Rodgers told the PGA Tour he still has the glove at home.

Hend played two full years on the PGA Tour in 2004 and 2005 before returning to the Asian Tour, where he has won nine times. It was a reminder how much of an influence the smallest gestures can have.

''It's maybe easy to forget when we are out here, since it's our job, but you can make a real difference with the people that come to watch you play,'' Hend said.


AWAY ON HOLIDAY: Professional golfers spend so much time on the road that it's not unusual to miss birthdays or holidays, or in the case of Anirban Lahiri, the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali.

Lahiri says he hasn't been home in India for Diwali since he was 14.

''When we were playing junior golf, all the tournaments were scheduled around the school holidays, and Diwali is obviously a school holiday,'' he said last week in Malaysia. ''And then when you're a pro, especially now, the Asian Tour schedule really picks up. So yeah, I've probably been on the road for the last 14, 15 Diwalis.''

Lahiri referred to it as a hazard of work, though the holiday still carries deep meaning wherever he is. Among the traditions are exchanging sweets and presents with close friends and family.

''It's fun because it's family times and it's friends time. I miss that,'' he said. ''So in a way, it's Diwali every time I go back for me because I get to do all those things that other people get to do at Diwali.''


DIVOTS: Of the 80 juniors who qualified for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National next year, three are returning for the third time - Megha Ganne of Holmdel, New Jersey; Treed Huang of Katy, Texas; and Vanessa Borovilos of Toronto. Huang won his age group (7-9) in 2014. ... Hideki Matsuyama went over the $20 million mark in career PGA Tour earnings with his tie for fifth last week in Malaysia. ... With her runner-up finish last week, LPGA Tour rookie Sung Hyun Park became the first woman to top $2 million this year. ... Padraig Harrington is playing in Spain for the first time in nine years at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The average of the PGA Tour player of the year over the last four seasons is 25.8.


FINAL WORD: ''The perception sometimes of the team coming together ... has a lot to do with the outcome. We always look a lot happier during a winning year. We always look a touch more sad during a losing year. It seems as though winning cures all.'' - Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk.

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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 9:20 pm

Tiger Woods was in almost total control of his game for the majority of his third round Saturday at PGA National. And although he was once again bit by the Bear Trap, the 14-time major winner tapped in for birdie at the par-5 18th to post a round of 1-under 69 and fight his way back to even par for the week.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

Unfortunately, the Bear Trap would ensnare Tiger for the second day in a row. Woods, whose iron play had looked as crisp as it had in years, sailed approaches long and left at both the par-15th and 17th, leading to bogeys which erased the two birdies he worked so hard to secure.

But just like on Friday, Woods rallied back with a late birdie, this one at the home hole, to steal back a shot.

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O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”