Match-by-match results from 41st Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 2, 2016, 9:45 pm

The U.S. dominated singles on Sunday and earned its first Ryder Cup victory since 2008, defeating Europe, 17-11. Here's how the foursomes matches played out:

Overall: U.S. 17, Europe 11

Day 3 singles
U.S. 7 ½, Europe 4 ½

Patrick Reed (U.S.) def. Rory McIlroy, 1 up
This was perhaps the greatest singles match in the history of the Ryder Cup through eight holes where they were trading blows like prized fighters. But it fizzled a little and both were clearly weary near the end. A Reed birdie on the par-5 16th hole was the final dagger.

Henrik Stenson (E) def. Jordan Spieth, 3 and 2
This match lived up to the hype but was overshadowed by the one ahead between McIlroy and Reed. A costly bogey for Spieth on the 13th hole put him 2 down, a margin that was too big to overcome against the man who has played as well as anyone in the world this summer.

Thomas Pieters (E) def. J.B. Holmes, 3 and 2
Pieters was sensational from beginning to end. On this day he collected seven birdies and completely overpowered a powerful Holmes. The victory gave the European rookie a 4-1 record. This won’t be the last time we see Pieters on a European Ryder Cup team.

Rickie Fowler (U.S.) def. Justin Rose, 1 up
Rose looked tired. Really tired. This was his fifth match of the week and he lacked firepower. Fowler should’ve won easier than he did but neither player had more than a 1-up advantage at any point in the match. Fowler called it a “pillow fight.” Sums it up.

Rafa Cabrera Bello (E) def. Jimmy Walker, 3 and 2
Another good match that no one was paying any attention to because others were higher profile. Both players had six birdies but Walker was too wayward at times and made four bogeys. Cabrera Bello didn’t lose a match all week, going 2-0-1.

Phil Mickelson (U.S.) vs. Sergio Garcia, halved
All the focus was on Reed-McIlroy early, but this may be the best complete singles match in Ryder Cup history. The two combined for 19 (yes, 19!) birdies. Garcia birdied the last four holes and Mickelson birdied four of the last five. A fitting result, although halves, in general, stink.

Ryan Moore (U.S.) def. Lee Westwood, 1 up
This match clinched the Ryder Cup for the Americans. Westwood was 2 up with three holes to play but Moore won all three holes to win the match. It wrapped up an abysmal week for Westwood (0-3) and continues a remarkable two-week stretch for Moore (2-1).

Brandt Snedeker (U.S.) def. Andy Sullivan, 3 and 1
Snedeker was the only undefeated American (3-0) and putted lights out all week. He was emotionally charged and delivered with key shot after key shot. Sullivan was scrappy but two bogeys in the last four holes cost him dearly. He ended the week 0-2 but played better than that indicates.

Dustin Johnson (U.S.) def. Chris Wood, 1 up
Surprisingly, this was close. DJ never had more than a 2-up advantage, but he did make seven birdies. Wood got off to a hot start but couldn’t sustain that momentum. The cup was already decided over the last couple holes so this result didn’t matter.

Brooks Koepka (U.S.) def. Danny Willett, 5 and 4
Believe it or not, this match was actually close through eight holes. But from that point forward Willett made two bogeys and Koepka collected two birdies. It got out of hand quick. Koepka shined in his first Ryder Cup, Willett went 0-3 and never found form.

Martin Kaymer (E) def. Matt Kuchar, 1up
This match was the last one on the course and was inconsequential. Kaymer won the 15th hole with a birdie to go 1 up and they halved the final three holes. Kaymer didn’t play well at all this week and collected his first and only point here against Kuchar.

Zach Johnson (U.S.) def. Matthew Fitzpatrick, 4 and 3
This was an ugly match and, thankfully, one that not many watched. If it would have come down to this one Europe was always going to be in trouble. Johnson only made three birdies on a day when birdies were flying everywhere. Fitzpatrick was overwhelmed and made four bogeys.

Day 2 fourballs
U.S. 3, Europe 1

Rory McIlroy-Thomas Pieters (E) def. Brooks Koepka-Dustin Johnson, 3 and 1
McIlroy and Pieters moved their record to 3-0 together this week. This one was billed as a heavyweight bout with all four players among the longest hitters in golf. It was great but Europe had more firepower. Pieters was 7 under and McIlroy was 4 under. They were sensational.

J.B. Holmes-Ryan Moore (U.S.) def. Danny Willett-Lee Westwood, 1 up
Neither team had more than a 1-up advantage all day and it was pretty decent golf considering that it got lost in the shuffle of the other higher-profile matches. Westwood played well through 10 holes but missed two crucial, short putts late in devastating fashion. Holmes made seven birdies.

Phil Mickelson-Matt Kuchar (U.S.) def. Martin Kaymer-Sergio Garcia, 2 and 1
Have to hand it to Mickelson. He went two matches this day. After getting smoked in the morning he was remarkable down the stretch and birdied three of the last four holes to close it out. It was Kuchar early, Mickelson late. Garcia was essentially fighting alone as Kaymer continued to be out of sorts.

Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed (U.S.) def. Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson, 2 and 1
Oddly, Spieth and Rose were afterthoughts in this match. Stenson played great but Reed was otherworldly. Honestly, this had to be the best Reed has ever played. He drained putts all over the lot, holed out for eagle on the sixth hole and did everything he needed to do. It was an amazing performance.

Day 2 foursomes
Europe 2 ½, U.S. 1 ½

Rory McIlroy-Thomas Pieters (E) def. Rickie Fowler-Phil Mickelson, 4 and 2
Europe was 3 up after seven holes and Mickelson drained a long par putt on No. 8 to keep it from going to 4. The Americans then won the next two holes to pull close. But McIlroy and Pieters were both animals throughout and there was no way they were going to be denied.

Brandt Snedeker-Brooks Koepka (U.S.) def. Henrik Stenson-Matthew Fitzpatrick, 3 and 2
Match was close all along and was all square on the 13th tee. But Snedeker and Koepka both made incredible putts over the next three holes and put it out of reach. After Reed-Spieth, surprisingly, this has been the second-best U.S. duo.

Justin Rose-Chris Wood (E) def. Jimmy Walker-Zach Johnson, 1 up
This one was way closer than it should’ve been. Europe was 3 up after 13 and then played tight and sloppy. It went to the last hole but Johnson hit his approach over the back of the green on a hole the Americans had to win for any hopes of a halve.

Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed (U.S.) vs. Sergio Garcia-Rafa Cabrera Bello, halve
Biggest shocker of the week. Hands down. Not because it ended up as a halve, but because of how it happened. The U.S. was 6 under through 12 holes and 4 up at that point. But they bogeyed three consecutive holes (Nos. 13-15) and squandered all momentum. Huge, huge momentum swing. Felt like a victory for Europe.

Day 1 fourballs
Europe 3, U.S. 1

Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose (E) def. Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed, 5 and 4
The Americans made six birdies and got absolutely smoked. Stenson made five birdies and Rose made four to avenge a morning foursomes loss to the same U.S. team. Set the tone for Europe in the afternoon.

Sergio Garcia-Rafa Cabrera Bello (E) def. J.B. Holmes-Ryan Moore, 3 and 2
How do you know it’s the Ryder Cup? Because Sergio Garcia makes important putts. The all-Spanish duo combined for seven birdies and easily won. Holmes was out of sorts and Moore held his own but couldn’t do it alone.

Brandt Snedeker-Brooks Koepka (U.S.) def. Martin Kaymer-Danny Willett, 5 and 4
Seven total birdies for the Americans helped produce the rout. Willett made only two birdies but Kaymer played horribly. The two-time major champ recorded a score for his team only three times in 14 holes.

Rory McIlroy-Thomas Pieters (E) def. Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar, 3 and 2
McIlroy played with his second different rookie of the day. This one was closer than it should’ve been. Europe was 4 up after 13 but the U.S. won the next two holes when Europe tightened up. Ultimately the hot start (five birdies in the first seven holes) was the difference.

Day 1 foursomes
U.S. 4, Europe 0 

Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed (U.S.) def. Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose, 3 and 2
The best U.S. team was just too much to handle and made five birdies including one from 20 feet on the 16th hole to end the match. Both Spieth and Reed were spectacular. Europe only made one birdie.

Phil Mickelson-Rickie Fowler (U.S.) def. Rory McIlroy-Andy Sullivan, 1 up
Americans were 2 down after six holes and 2 down after 14 holes. But they somehow won the next three holes to secure the match. There was tons of pressure on Mickelson and this was Fowler’s first outright win in the Ryder Cup.

Jimmy Walker-Zach Johnson (U.S.) def. Sergio Garcia-Martin Kaymer, 4 and 2
Walker made a key par save on 12 to get the match to even, then the Americans won the next four holes in a row. Europe only made two birdies in a match where they were heavily favored.

Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar (U.S.) def. Lee Westwood-Thomas Pieters, 5 and 4
Europe was horrid with bogeys on the first two holes and a double bogey on the seventh. Europe didn’t hit a fairway in the first nine holes. Pieters was overwhelmed. Westwood was mediocre.

Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

"The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

“Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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McIlroy gets back on track

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

He is well ahead of schedule.

Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

Everything in his life is lined up.

Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.