U.S. takes lead into final day at Presidents Cup

By Doug FergusonOctober 5, 2013, 11:35 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – The Presidents Cup has a familiar feel in so many ways.

Players leave every night in darkness and resume matches the next morning when it's almost as dark. The rain never leaves, with another half-inch accumulating on top of a previous inch of rain that led to yet another delay Saturday. The ball doesn't bounce when it lands on the green. It splats.

And the International team is still trying to figure out what it has to do to beat the Americans.

When another long day ended at Muirfield Village, the Americans were assured of the lead going into the final round of singles matches. Zach Johnson took care of that with a wedge from 115 yards that disappeared into the cup for eagle on the 15th hole as he and Jason Dufner completed the only foursomes match with a 4-and-3 victory.


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Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar were doing their part, having won every match they played. Woods delivered another signature moment in the Presidents Cup, hitting a fairway wood that plopped down 4 feet below the pin for an eagle that was conceded and a 2-up lead that allowed them to rally for a fourballs win earlier Saturday.

Woods and Kuchar were 2 down at the turn in their foursomes match against Ernie Els and Brendon De Jonge.

''This guy is a horse – holy cow!'' Kuchar said. ''He played some incredible golf today.''

Still to be determined was how big the lead was going to be.

The other four matches were to be completed Sunday morning – weather permitting – and the Americans were leading 11 1/2 to 6 1/2. They were 2 up in one match, while the Internationals were 3 up and 2 up in two others. The fourth match was all square, momentum on the American side.

''Well, it's not over,'' International captain Nick Price said. ''We've still got a lot of golf to play tomorrow, and I have the utmost confidence in these guys that they can turn those two games around. We don't want to go into the singles with too much of a deficit.''

Since the Presidents Cup began in 1994, no team has ever trailed going into singles and won outright. The Americans were three points behind in 2003 and rallied for that infamous tie in South Africa.

''The U.S. has really been unrelenting,'' Price said. ''They have just played superbly the last three days. Any slip from us and we find ourselves one or two down very quickly.''

The final hour was another example of that.

Early in the foursomes session, the board was filled with blue International scores on the front nine. Steve Stricker and Bill Haas warmed up their putters and went from 1 down to a 2-up lead through 10 holes. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who rallied earlier in a fourballs match to win, were 3 down through seven holes when Mickelson made two big putts that led to them squaring the match through 14 holes.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel were 3 up over Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker through 12 holes.

''We're still in pretty good shape,'' Price said. ''If we can turn one of these games around tomorrow, it would make our life a lot easier going into singles.''

But not that easy. The Americans have a 5-1-3 advantage in the singles session at the Presidents Cup, the only loss coming in 2007 at Royal Montreal when they started the final round with a seven-point lead.

The International team was doing well to stay in range until one session put it in a big hole.

The long day began with Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman coming up with big shots late for a 2-and-1 win, which enabled the Internationals to scratch out a 3-3 draw in foursomes that began on Friday. It was the first time since 2005 that the Internationals won a foursomes session.



But in fourballs, everything changed. Mickelson and Bradley made seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch to go from 2 down to a 2-and-1 win over Els and de Jonge. Woods and Kuchar were never in control of their match against Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama until Woods took over.

He hit an approach to 5 feet for birdie on the 13th, Kuchar finally made a putt with a 7-foot birdie on the 14th and Woods drilled that fairway wood into the 15th for eagle. He crouched and extended his arms as he marched along, and the 2-up lead was too much for the International side to overcome.

Woods was not made available for interviews. The second of two questions on a transcript the PGA Tour distributed mentioned that he was 3-0 and asked how his week was going so far.

''So far 3-0,'' Woods replied.

The Americans wound up going 4-1 in the fourballs scheduled for Saturday morning. It was the most lopsided session this week, but it was enough to make the International team face another tough climb if it wants to take home the gold cup it has won only one time – 15 years ago.

''We had close games that went the U.S. way,'' Price said.

The lone International win in fourballs came from Jason Day and Graham DeLaet, who gave Stricker and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth their first loss. The American tandem of young and old – Stricker at 46 is the oldest player on either team – fell behind for the first time all week. Stricker's birdie on the 15th tied the match, only for DeLaet to stuff his tee shot to 6 feet for birdie on the 16th for a lead they held.

Dufner sat out the morning fourballs. Mahan, along with Spieth, sat out in the afternoon foursomes. U.S. captain Fred Couples was pleased that both contributed when it was their turn to play.

He has gotten that out of all his players – each one has contributed at least a point his week. On the International side, Branden Grace and Richard Sterne have been shut out. Sterne was with Leishman in the afternoon foursomes. They were 2 up through seven holes until Johnson and Dufner won six out of the next eight for another American point.


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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.