Scott eager to play for Presidents Cup winner

By Doug FergusonOctober 2, 2013, 11:54 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – Adam Scott was in the middle of all the chaos in South Africa as darkness gathered.

Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, in a sudden-death playoff to decide the 2003 Presidents Cup, halved three straight holes and could barely see the last two putts fall. Both teams and captains were on the second green at Fancourt when a tie was proposed. That's when U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus reminded International captain Gary Player that the Americans would retain the cup as the defending champion.

''Let's keep playing!'' Scott demanded over the din.

He was 23, two months removed from his first PGA Tour win. It was his first Presidents Cup. The burst of emotion got the attention of his teammates. The teams eventually agreed to share the cup. Scott would not have guessed it would be as close as he would get to being on a winning team at the Presidents Cup.


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The 10th edition of the Presidents Cup starts Thursday, and the odds do not exactly favor the International team.

It has seven rookies, and while all but Hideki Matsuyama have played a fair amount on the PGA Tour this year, Scott is the only team member to have won – at the Masters for his first major, and The Barclays during the FedEx Cup playoffs.

The American team is regarded as one of the strongest ever for any cup – all 12 players are among the top 30 in the world ranking, and four other players from the top 30 were left out (Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney and Bubba Watson).

The matches are at Muirfield Village, were Tiger Woods has won five times and Matt Kuchar won in June. The Americans have never lost the Presidents Cup on home soil, which is not all that unusual considering they have only lost once since the Presidents Cup began in 1994.

''I understand that and how it looks on paper,'' Scott said Wednesday after the final day of practice. ''It's hard to write off guys who are top 60 in the world, because on any given day, anyone can beat anyone. And we've seen that a million times, especially in 18-hole match play. Yeah, I see how that looks. I also see seven guys here for the first time pumped up and ready to go. And I think that's giving me a great feeling about a new experience in the Presidents Cup after having a run of really big defeats.''

The Presidents Cup gets started with Jason Day and Graham DeLaet taking on Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker in the first of six fourballs matches. It's the first time since 1996 that the better-ball format has been used in the opening session.

Scott is taking the youngest player on the International team – 21-year-old Matsuyama – as his partner against Bill Haas and Webb Simpson. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, undefeated in three matches last year at the Ryder Cup, take on Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

International captain Nick Price made sure a veteran played with a rookie, except with seven newcomers, he had no choice but to put two rookies together – Branden Grace and Richard Sterne in the anchor match against Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.

Els is the veteran of this International team, especially with five other players from southern Africa. But when the younger players talk about the week and the importance of winning, Scott's name always gets mentioned.

Perhaps a green jacket can make the voice a little stronger.

''Scotty is really determined,'' said Marc Leishman, who will partner Angel Cabrera against Woods and Kuchar. ''He has not been on a winning side. Ernie has been vocal, as well; Angel, too. All the experienced guys are really motivated and determined to win. Think they are getting sick of being on the wrong end of this competition.''

“It's getting to the point where ''competition'' might be a little strong. The last three President Cups have been a rout.

''I feel it's really important for the Internationals to get a win,'' Scott said. ''We need to make this thing really relevant, make it a real competition, because it's gotten a big lopsided the last few outings. I think we've got a team that can win this week, but the only way we can do it is by playing good and wanting it more than the Americans. The last few days have been about building our spirit and our feeling to that point where we want to get out there tomorrow and want it badly.''

The Americans have never trailed after any session dating to Sunday singles in 2005.

The International team has been talking about the need to win for the last 10 years. The difference this year is that not many expect that to happen at Muirfield Village. As much as Price can lean on experience from Scott and Els, the seven rookies might be the key. They don't have experience in the Presidents Cup. They don't have experience losing, either.

''The guys who have not been here want to start on the right foot,'' Scott said. ''And the guys who have played in several ... want to turn this around and get a win. And so I think everyone is coming in very determined to put ourselves in front and try and win as many sessions as we can.''

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.