Kuchar only American to break par in Round 1

By Rex HoggardAugust 11, 2016, 8:34 pm

RIO DE JANEIRO – Davis Love III normally doesn’t watch golf on TV, but if the U.S. Ryder Cup captain tuned in for Day 1 coverage from the Olympics he likely didn’t like what he saw.

Only one of the four Americans in this week’s field managed to post a score under par – Matt Kuchar, who opened with a 2-under 69 – and collectively Team USA was 5 over par to begin their Olympic week.

The good news for the Americans is there is no team competition at this year’s Games. The bad news is if they hope to contend for any medals on Sunday they’ll need a dramatic change of fortune over the next three days.

Rickie Fowler four-putted his first green for a double bogey-7 to set an ominous tone for the United States on his way to a 4-over 75, which left him tied for 56th in the 60-player field.

“Rough start, frustrating with the putter. I feel like I had everything good to go and struggled with the pace of the greens, and I feel like I was hitting a lot of good putts,” said Fowler, who added that the greens for Round 1 were faster than they had been in practice rounds.


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Bubba Watson endured similar putting woes with two three-putts on a windy first day and finished with a 2-over 73; while Patrick Reed rallied after a poor start with birdies at Nos. 16 and 18 for a 1-over 72 that left him tied for 34th place.

The lone reason for optimism for the U.S. team is that officials went with the standard 72 holes of stroke play and all four Americans contended they hadn’t played their way out of the event.

“I couldn't have hit the ball worse and couldn't putt worse,” Reed said. “There's still time. It's not a sprint; it's a marathon. If we post some low numbers, we might be able to climb up that board.”

Although Love likely wouldn’t give much weight to just a single round, three of the four Americans this week in Rio are currently outside of qualifying for the U.S. Ryder Cup team with only Reed, holding the final spot at No. 8, assured a trip to Hazeltine for this year’s matches.

While 18 holes of stroke play can’t compare to the unique pressure of the Ryder Cup, for the American team – which is the only country with more than two players in the Olympics – the event had taken on a team persona.

“We're pulling for our own team, right, and so when we look up, or I looked up and I saw Matt Kuchar and I was watching him, he makes a putt. I'm like, yes, no, wait, he's trying to beat me,” Watson said.

They may be wearing the same uniforms, but essentially these Games are as self-absorbed as any other event they play, and all four seemed to embrace the every-man-for-themselves philosophy after a difficult start in Rio.

On Tuesday, Fowler suggested the U.S. team could sweep the podium this week and take gold, silver and bronze, which was more a nod to how many players the Americans have in Rio than it was a boastful prediction. On Thursday, a more subdued Fowler acknowledged an American sweep, which the U.S. women accomplished when golf was first played in the Olympics in 1900, had become much more difficult.

“Unfortunately not the start I was looking for. I know the other boys other than [Kuchar], they are not too satisfied, either,” Fowler said.

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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