Match recaps: U.S. clinches cup

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 6, 2013, 8:23 pm

OVERALL: U.S. 18 1/2, INTERNATIONALS 15 1/2

SUNDAY SINGLES: INTERNATIONALS 7 1/2, U.S. 4 1/2

Match 23: Ernie Els (INTL) defeats Steve Stricker (USA), 1 up

What some said would be an impromptu putting lesson for Els – who struggled at times during the week on Muirfield Village’s greeens – turned into a match-play clinic with the South African never trailing and pulling away with a clutch birdie at No. 16.

Match 24: Hunter Mahan (USA) defeats Hideki Matsuyama (INTL), 3 and 2

For those who may have forgotten, Muirfield Village is a ball-striker’s golf course and Mahan put on a shot-making show. The American was 4 under through 16 holes and improved his Presidents Cup singles record to 3-1-0.

Match 25: Jason Dufner (USA) defeats Brendon De Jonge (INTL), 4 and 3

The laser-like iron play that helped Dufner win the PGA Championship this year was back on display to the misfortune of de Jonge. Dufner was all over the flagstick with stellar ball-striking.

Match 26: Jason Day (INTL) defeats Brandt Snedeker (USA), 6 and 4

The Australian went 5 under through 14 holes and blew away Snedeker to put the Internationals' first point on the board in the singles frame and ended his week with a solid 3-1-1 record.

Match 27: Graham DeLaet (INTL) defeats Jordan Spieth (USA), 1 up

For those who couldn’t make it to Muirfield Village for the conclusion of the final foursomes session on Sunday, the Canadian put on another show at the 18th hole, holing out for birdie at the last for the second time in less than seven hours to complete an inspiring week for the rookie.

Match 28: Adam Scott (INTL) defeats Bill Haas (USA) 2 and 1

The Masters champ hit his tee shot to 10 feet at the eighth hole, buried the birdie putt to take a 1-up lead and never looked back.

Match 29: Zach Johnson (USA) defeats Branden Grace (INTL), 4 and 2

Johnson was in command early and never wavered. He won the third hole, draining a 25-foot birdie to take a 1-up lead. He never trailed the rest of the way.

Match 30: Marc Leishman (INTL) defeats Matt Kuchar (USA), 1 up

This match was tight all the way, with Leishman looking as if he were going to give away his 1-up lead at the 18th hole. He buried a 14-foot putt for par there to halve the hole and win his match.

Match 31: Tiger Woods (USA) defeats Richard Sterne (INTL), 1 up

It was fitting that for a third straight Presidents Cup, the clinching point came from Tiger Woods. Hampered by a lingering back injury down the stretch, Woods won the 16th hole with a par to take the lead and didn’t relinquish it.

Match 32: Charl Schwartzel (INTL) defeats Keegan Bradley (USA), 2 and 1

After grabbing the lead on the 10th hole, Bradley lost three straight starting on No. 14, posting two double bogeys and a par on the par-5 15th. Schwartzel was solid if not spectacular throughout the round.

Match 33: Webb Simpson (USA) halved with Louis Oosthuizen (INTL)

Simpson grabbed the lead with a birdie on the second hole and never gave it up – until the final hole when, with the overall total no longer in doubt, he conceded to Oosthuizen, giving each a halve.

Match 34: Angel Cabrera (INTL) defeats Phil Mickelson (USA), 1 up

Each player believed this one was simply for pride – until things started tightening up. “I got to 12 or 13,” Mickelson said, “and they were like, ‘Your match is going to count.’ I was like, ‘What?’” As it turns out, it counted – but only for posterity’s sake. A par for Cabrera on the last was the difference.


SATURDAY/SUNDAY FOURSOMES: U.S. 3 1/2, INTERNATIONALS 1 1/2

Match 18: Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (INTL.) halve Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson (U.S.)

The session’s most heated match, with the Internationals rolling out to a 3-up lead before darkness halted play. The U.S. won the 14th, the first hole of the restart, but bogeyed the 16th to set up the week’s best exchange at the 18th when DeLaet chipped in from in front of the green and Bradley holed a 10 footer for the halve. And yes, there were plenty of fist pumps.

Match 19: Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson (U.S.) def. Richard Sterne/Marc Leishman (INTL.), 4 and 3

The only match from the final foursome session to finish on Saturday thanks to a fierce American rally. The Internationals built a 2-up lead before the Americans played their last eight holes in 6 under, including a holed-out wedge by Johnson at the 15th hole to complete the walk-off.

Match 20: Bill Haas/Steve Stricker (U.S.) def. Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (INTL.), 4 and 3

A new partner for Stricker but a familiar result. The U.S. tandem was 6 under through 15 holes, a filthy alternate-shot card, and stunned what had become the International’s best team.

Match 21: Ernie Els/Brendon de Jonge (INTL.) vs. Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar (U.S.), 1 up

The undefeated American power tandem rallies after falling three holes down through 14 holes with an eagle at the 15th and birdie at No. 16, but Kuchar fails to convert a 7 footer at the 17th to square the match and the Internationals provide their teams only full point in the session.

Match 22: Webb Simpson/Brandt Snedeker (U.S.) def. Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel (INTL.), 1 up

When the Internationals dissect what went wrong this week they may start with this match. The South Africans rolled out to a 3-up lead, playing the first eight holes in 4 under, but imploded when play resumed, playing Nos. 13 to 17 in 5 over to assure the Americans win the second foursomes frame.


SATURDAY FOURBALLS: U.S.  4, INTERNATIONALS 1

Match 13: Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (USA) defeat Ernie Els/Brendon de Jonge (INTL), 2 and 1

Trailing 2 down at one point, Mickelson posted four consecutive birdies starting at the 11th hole to turn things around. He and Bradley improved to 5-1-0 as partners over the past two years.

Match 14: Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (INTL) defeat Steve Stricker/Jordan Spieth (USA), 2 up

After the match, Day said of his partner, “Oh, man. This guy is clutch.” Indeed, it was DeLaet who birdied 16 for a 1-up lead, but a tight approach on the final hole by Day eventually sealed the victory.

Match 15: Bill Haas/Webb Simpson (USA) defeat Angel Cabrera/Branden Grace (INTL), 4 and 3

The Wake Forest connection took the lead on the opening hole and never trailed in this one. Haas was especially on his game, hitting multiple approach shots so close that they led to conceded birdies.

Match 16: Brandt Snedeker/Hunter Mahan (USA) defeat Louis Oosthuizen/Carl Schwartzel (INTL), 2 up

You can’t win if you never lead and that was the issue facing the South African duo in this one.  In an evenly contested match, Mahan and Snedeker took a lead on the third hole, but never led by more than 2 up.

Match 17: Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar (USA) defeat Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (INTL), 2 up

Facing a first loss together at 1 down with six to play, the U.S. duo caught fire. Woods birdied 13, Kuchar birdied 14, Woods eagled 15 and Kuchar birdied 18 to clinch it. They moved to 3-0-0 as partners this week.


FRIDAY FOURSOMES: U.S. 3, INTERNATIONALS 3

Match 7: Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (USA) def. Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (INTL), 4 and 3. 

Mickelson and Bradley made eagle at the fifth to square the match and begin a torrid run of eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie on the way to a front-nine 30. After a rain delay halted play at the turn, they came out and won the first three holes to go 6 up with six to play.

Match 8: Ernie Els/Brendon de Jonge (INTL) def. Bill Haas/Hunter Mahan (USA), 4 and 3.

De Jonge continued his stellar play in his rookie Presidents Cup. He holed a birdie at the second hole with Els holing one at the third to put the Internationals 2 up in the match. They led the rest of the way.

Match 9: Steve Stricker/Jordan Spieth (USA) defeat Branden Grace/Richard Sterne (INTL), 2 and 1

The U.S. duo never trailed in this one, jumping to a 2 up lead at the turn and extending it to 4 up before Stricker holed a 6-foot par putt to close it out. The team’s oldest and youngest players are now 2-0-0 together and will be paired again in Saturday’s fourballs session.

Match 10: Angel Cabrera/Marc Leishman (INTL) defeat Webb Simpson/Brandt Snedeker (USA), 2 and 1

After an opening match thrashing, Cabrera and Leishman finally showed signs of life on the topsy-turvy back nine in this match. They won the 11th and 12th holes to go 2 up; lost the 13th and 14th to drop to all square; then won the 15th and 17th to win the match.

Match 11: Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar (U.S.) def. Louis Ooshuizen/Charl Schwartzel (INTL.), 4 and 2

The American tandem of Carlton and Kuchar, sorry, Woods and Kuchar, were solid again, teaming to go 8 under through 16 holes and steamroll the South African tandem. The U.S. duo remains undefeated at Muirfield Village.

Match 12: Hideki Matsuyama/Adam Scott (INTL.) def. Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson (U.S.), 2 and 1

The Americans rallied when play resumed early Saturday with three consecutive birdies starting at No. 13, but Scott and Matsuyama close them out with steady pars at the 16th and 17th to keep the Internationals from dropping their eighth consecutive foursomes session.


THURSDAY FOURBALL: U.S. 3 1/2, INTERNATIONALS 2 1/2

Match 1: Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (INTL.) def. Brandt Snedeker/Hunter Mahan (U.S.), 1 up

The American duo grabbed a quick 3-up lead, but that differential was cut to 1 up by the turn and was erased on the 15th hole. Day’s lengthy birdie putt on the final green of his home course gave the Internationals their first point of the day.

Match 2: Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (INTL.) halve with Bill Haas/Webb Simpson (U.S.)

This one likely felt like a win for the Internationals, who never led in the match. Scott was the main man with an eagle and six birdies, but it was the rookie who came up big, hitting a laser at the last hole to claim a half-point.

Match 3: Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel (INTL.) def. Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (U.S.), 2 and 1

Call it a Tale of Two Sides. The U.S. pair led after six of the front nine holes and never trailed, but the Internationals grabbed a lead on the 11th and never relinquished it, as a Schwartzel birdie on 17 sealed the deal.

Match 4: Steve Stricker/Jordan Spieth (U.S.) def. Ernie Els/Brendon de Jonge (INTL.), 1 up

Despite an absolute birdie barrage by first-timer de Jonge, the oldest and youngest members of the U.S. side took turns rolling in a bevy of putts themselves in a match that featured the best overall play by any foursome.

Match 5: Matt Kuchar/Tiger Woods (U.S.) def. Angel Cabrera/Marc Leishman (INTL.), 5 and 4

Woods and Kuchar combined to post eight birdies in 14 holes, following each victorious hole with a celebration directly out of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” As Kuchar said of the idea afterward, “That was definitely all me.”

Match 6: Zach Johnson/Jason Dufner (U.S.) def. Branden Grace/Richard Sterne (INTL.), 5 and 3

The U.S. tandem took a lead on the opening hole with a birdie from Johnson, then went 2 up with a second-hole birdie from Dufner and never led by less than that, easily disposing of the International team’s only all-rookie pairing.

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


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After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


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Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.