U.S. maintains lead on Day 2

By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2011, 11:08 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia – The Americans kept the lead in the Presidents Cup, and they still don’t have a point from Tiger Woods.

In some of the toughest conditions ever at Royal Melbourne, Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day earned a small measure of redemption by holding on to beat Woods and Dustin Johnson on the 18th hole, helping the International team split the six fourball matches Friday.

The Americans lead 7-5 going into a double session Saturday with 10 points at stake.

Woods is 0-2 for the first time ever in this event, and the first time in any team competition since he and Phil Mickelson lost their opening two matches at the 2004 Ryder Cup.

The state of his game was tough to measure, as was the case with any other player. The wind was vicious. On a sand-belt course with fast greens, the most telling statistic was that 13 holes in the six matches were won with pars – a rarity in the better-ball format.

International captain Greg Norman, who knows Royal Melbourne as well as anyone, poured water on the 18th green to drive home just how hard it was. The green repelled the water down the slope, none of it absorbed in the firm turf.

“There’s probably nowhere else in the world where that would happen,” Norman said.

Norman was mostly impressed with Baddeley and Day. One day after they bogeyed the last two holes and had to settle for a halve, Baddeley came through in the clutch with a tough par on the last hole – right after Woods nearly chipped in for birdie from behind the green – to help keep the International team in the game.

“I was very disappointed yesterday. I feel like I let Jason down,” Baddeley said. “So it was great to come through today and make par on the last hole.”

Woods was the only American without a point. His game looks fine. The numbers are shocking.

Hoggard: Rough day at Royal Melbourne

Match by match: Day 2 fourball recaps

His partnership – Steve Stricker in foursomes Thursday, Johnson in fourballs Friday – has won only one hole in two matches. That came on the fourth hole Friday when Woods rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt, complete with a fist pump that is rarely seen these days. The lead lasted only four holes, however, as Baddeley and Day squared the match with a par on the eighth.

Baddeley made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 13th to go 1 up, and Woods and Johnson couldn’t catch up. They just didn’t have enough birdie chances and when they did, they couldn’t make them.

“Just trying to hit the greens, that was a heck of an accomplishment,” Woods said. “Wedges weren’t holding, balls were oscillating on the greens, you’ve got to play the wind on putts. It was a tough day.”

Woods and Johnson will give it another shot Saturday, paired in the foursomes session. They will face Adam Scott and K.J. Choi.

The north wind is considered the toughest at Royal Melbourne. The wind blows harder on links courses in the British Open, but these greens have far more slope and most are elevated. The premium is on precision, and even that isn’t always enough.

“It’s carnage on a golf course like this today,” Adam Scott said after he and K.T. Kim lost to Mickelson and Jim Furyk. “Thank goodness it’s match play and we weren’t actually counting our strokes.

“Today is a day where it’s hard to feel like you’re playing well.”

Ernie Els, a multiple winner at Royal Melbourne, said it was the fastest he has ever seen the greens because of the heat and wind. Officials did not cut the greens overnight, fearful of wind blowing golf balls all over the place.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it an 11 today,” Norman said about the conditions as the round began.

The Americans managed just fine.

Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, the leadoff match for the second straight day, again beat Els and Ryo Ishikawa, closing them out on the 17th hole. Mickelson and Furyk also remained perfect, with Furyk making a birdie on the 17th for a 2-and-1 victory.

The International team won the last two matches. Geoff Ogilvy, who grew up next door at Victoria Golf Club, holed a bunker shot on the fifth hole to give him and Choi a lead they never lost. More importantly, Ogilvy holed a 6-foot par putt on the 18th to take down Nick Watney and Bill Haas, a team that still has not had the lead in two matches.

Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel, South Africans with three majors between them, won on the 17th hole against David Toms and Hunter Mahan.

Toms and Mahan are one of five teams that have yet to be split up. Els and Ishikawa will try to get their first point Saturday, while Simpson and Watson, and Mickelson and Furyk, are paired again. The other team that remains intact is Baddeley and Day, who go into Saturday with a lot more confidence after their big win.


Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Friday 3PM-midnight and Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.


Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:


Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''