U.S. in total control, but not Tiger

By Doug FergusonNovember 19, 2011, 7:02 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – So much about this Presidents Cup resembles the last time it was played at Royal Melbourne 13 years ago, from the sudden drop in temperatures to Tiger Woods winning only one point to a final day that holds so little drama.

The difference is the team on the verge of hoisting the gold trophy.

The Americans built a big lead Saturday morning in the foursomes matches, with Woods finally rewarded with a point, then turned back a rally from the International team in the worst of the weather in the afternoon by capturing the final two matches.

“We needed those two points really bad,” U.S. captain Fred Couples said. “And they got them for us.”

Hunter Mahan delivered the most emotional moment of the week, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th right after Jason Day charged up the Australian crowd with an even longer birdie putt which he celebrated as if the match would be extended. Instead, Mahan and Bill Haas had a 2-and-1 win.

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Moments later, Jim Furyk finished off the wild day with a clutch bunker shot on the 16th hole, and Nick Watney secured a par on the final hole for a 1-up decision over Adam Scott and Ernie Els that changed everything.

Those last two wins gave the Americans a 13-9 lead going into the 12 singles matches Sunday, a deficit from which no team has recovered in the 17-year history of this tournament.

The largest rally in any team event was when the Americans came from four points down to win the 1999 Ryder Cup. International captain Greg Norman didn’t wag his finger and say he had a good feeling about this, as Ben Crenshaw did at Brookline.

He wasn’t giving up, either, nor was his team.

“It’s going to have to be a remarkable day tomorrow,” Scott said. “But we have a shot. That’s all we can ask for. It’s not over.”

The only time the International side has won this event was at Royal Melbourne in 1998, when it had a nine-point lead going into the Sunday singles and the Cup was won as breakfast was still being served.

Woods was 1-3 that year going into the final day, only he wasn’t alone. None of the Americans played well, leading to their worst loss ever in any team competition.

Woods finally put up a point Saturday morning in foursomes with Dustin Johnson. It wasn’t pretty, but they forged ahead with a few pars and Woods ended the match by rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt. In the afternoon, Woods couldn’t buy a putt. Despite putting for birdie on every hole – only one of those from off the green – he missed nine putts from about 15 feet and closer.

That included the 18th hole, when he missed a putt for a halve, and K.T. Kim knocked in a 6-foot par to give him and Y.E. Yang their first win of the week.

“It’s all about making putts in match play, and we didn’t do that,” Woods said. “It just one of those things where that’s how it all turns out. But hey, right now we’ve got a nice lead. And hopefully, tomorrow we can get the four-and-a-half points we need.”

Webb Simpson will lead off the singles session against Kim, with Woods in the 11th spot against Aaron Baddeley.

The International team, which has won the Presidents Cup only once since it began in 1994, was hopeful that being in Australia would lead to another win, just like in 1998. Back then, it got plenty of help from its local players. With five Australians on this year’s team, it hasn’t worked out that way.

Robert Allenby, a captain’s pick, is the only player on either side to not win a point. Scott is 1-3, while Baddeley and Day have faltered on the back nine throughout the week. Geoff Ogilvy is the only Australian with a winning record, as he and K.J. Choi won a tight match Saturday afternoon against Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker.

The Americans continue to dominate the foursomes matches, as they have the last three years with a combined 25 ½ - 7 ½ margin. Most peculiar about this day, however, was the weather.

It started with a warm breeze and occasional rain. It ended in a steady rain, temperatures that plunged and a wind out of the opposite direction from when the day started.

“I’ve been coming to Melbourne for quite a few years,” said Els, who teamed with Ryo Ishikawa for the International’s only point in the morning foursomes. “I’ve played the north breeze and the southwesterly. But today was quite amazing. It blew from the north, and then it turned around and came from the south. We’ve had it all this week.

“Yesterday it was rock hard … and today it was almost blowing like in Scotland.”

The stars of the American team have been Furyk and Phil Mickelson, who have yet to lose a match. They were 3-0 as a team until Couples sat Mickelson out Saturday afternoon, ending his streak of 32 consecutive matches played in this event, dating to the first session in 1998.

Furyk teamed with Watney and watched the Presidents Cup rookie hole one big putt after another.

“I felt like we went through about three different seasons today,” Furyk said. “It was a tough day and a long day for those who played 36, and this morning was big for us to go 4-1 in five matches. And we hung on this afternoon, getting a point in those last two matches. We put ourselves in good position and have to come out firing tomorrow.”

Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel handed Simpson and Bubba Watson their first loss of the week in the opening foursomes match in the afternoon. Even though the Americans rallied, it was the first time they had lost a session since singles in 2007 at Royal Montreal.

It still wasn’t enough for them to lose control. In wild weather, the Americans kept their big lead.


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

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

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Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm