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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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x