How the US Team is Shaping Up
Woods has five worldwide wins this year, including a pair of major triumphs. He has played particularly well since his Grand Slam hopes were dashed at the British Open. He has a win, a runner-up and a fourth-place finish over his last three starts.
If there is one concern Captain Curtis Strange may have its Tigers Ryder Cup record. In two previous appearances, Woods is 3-6-1. Hes 1-1 in singles play, 1-2-1 in foursomes and 1-3 in four-balls.
Mickelson is ranked second in the world, but first in fickleness. He has two PGA Tour victories this season and a pair of top-3s in the Masters and U.S. Open. However, you never know when an opening 64 will be followed with three straight rounds of 75 or higher, like at The Players Championship, or when Sunday will be 10 strokes lower than Saturday, like at the PGA Championship.
Mickelson withdrew from the Bell Canadian Open due to a minor back injury he said he incurred while lifting luggage; though, a spokesman said he would be fine by the Matches.
The lefthander is making his fourth Cup appearance. He has an impressive 6-3-2 record, including a flawless 3-0 record in singles.
Recorded his first sub-70 score since May in the final round of the WGC-NEC Invitational. He has seven missed cuts and a withdrawal in 19 starts this season. His best finish ' and his lone top-10 ' came in a tie for fourth at the Memorial.
Duval would have entered the 2001 Ryder Cup ranked third in the world, thanks to his British Open victory, but has now fallen outside the top 10.
He went 1-2-1 in his maiden Matches, in 1999.
Perhaps the streakiest player on tour. He has five top-10 finishes and eight missed cuts in 23 events.
Calcavecchia has health issues from head to foot. His back causes the most concern; hes been known to roll around in the middle of the fairway during a round to stretch the area.
The 42-year-old is playing in his fourth Ryder Cup, but his first since a dubious appearance in 1991. Calcavecchia crumbled under the pressure that Sunday, finishing triple-bogey, bogey, triple-bogey, bogey to blow a 4-up lead with four holes to play in halving his singles match with Colin Montgomerie.
His overall record is 5-5-1. Hes 4-0 in foursomes, but 0-4 in four-balls.
Coming off a three-win season a year ago, Toms has yet to win this year. The 2001 PGA Champion missed the cut in his title defense, and didnt finish inside the top 35 in any major.
The Ryder Cup rookie is consistent, however, with 20 cuts made in 22 starts, including eight top-10s.
DAVIS LOVE III
Despite a myriad of top-10 finishes, Love has only one victory since April of 1998. Hes been playing better as the season has progressed, though. Love missed five cuts in his first 10 starts, but hasnt since missed a weekend. He finished runner-up in Hartford and at the Western.
Love is 6-8-3 in four prior Matches. Hes 3-1 in singles.
Hoch won twice as a 46-year-old in 2001, but like many on both teams has yet to find the same form in 02. He skipped the entire month of May due to problems from his LASIK surgery.
Surprisingly, his best performances have come in a tie for fifth at the ridiculously long U.S. Open and in a tie for eighth at the British Open, which he has only played five times in his career.
This is Hochs second Ryder Cup. He went 2-0-1 in 1997.
Furyk won the Memorial and has eight top-10 finishes; however, he has also missed six cuts ' as many as the last three years combined.
He's played well of late, tying for 10th at the Buick Open; finishing ninth at the PGA Championship; and tying for sixth in the NEC.
He is 2-4 in two prior Cup appearances. Both of his victories came in singles play.
Captain Strange professes not to be worried about the 44-year-old, but his recent record seems cause for concern.
Sutton has missed 14 cuts in 23 starts this season. His best finish is a tie for 12th at the Colonial.
He was diagnosed last August with sleep apnea, a medial condition in which breathing stops repeatedly during sleep. Sutton is afforded rest by sleeping hooked up to a portable oxygen tank.
Suttons 1999 Ryder Cup appearance was his first in 12 years. He went 3-1-1 and provided emotional leadership. His overall record in three Matches is 6-4-4.
Cink has had a disappointing season, with three top-10s compared to seven missed cuts. Hes put together back-to-back rounds in the 60s only four times this year.
The Ryder Cup rookie hasnt won on tour since the 2000 MCI Classic.
After being named a captains selection in 2001, Verplank went out and won the Bell Canadian Open. He hasnt won this year, but has played steadily, missing only three cuts and earning four top-10s in 21 starts.
Verplank is one of three U.S. Ryder Cup rookies.
Azinger was more than a sentimental choice a year ago. He missed only one cut the entire season and ended 33rd on the PGA Tour money list.
This year, he has sprayed in an occasional top-10 and missed cut to go along with several mediocre results.
He last played in a Ryder Cup in 1993, the year he won the PGA Championship. He has a 5-6-2 record in three appearances.
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches
13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest
Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.
Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, part of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward the back-right hole location, about 25 feet away, closer than both Fleetwood and Johnson.
“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”
Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back after the opening round. He tied for second here a year ago.
Johnson is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings.
McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi
It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.
Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.
Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.
“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”
Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.
“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.
This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.
Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59
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."
Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot
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.'"
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."