Match by match: Presidents Cup Day 2 fourballs

By November 18, 2011, 4:30 am

Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson (U.S.) d. Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa (International), 3 and 1

Forget Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. The Americans have found a new juggernaut pairing in Simpson and Watson.

They beat Ishikawa and Els in a reprise of their Thursday foursomes match.

'We got off to a pretty good start, but the pins were very hard today and were tough to get close to,' Simpson said.

The Americans struck first with a Simpson birdie at the par-3 third hole before giving it back to a par by the Internationals at the fourth.

A birdie by Watson at the sixth and par by Simpson at the seventh allowed the Americans to regain a lead they would not relinquish. The teams each won two holes on the back nine before the Americans went dormie. A par at the 17th gave the first point of the session to Simpson and Watson.

Watson is pleased with his partner.

'He's doing good right now, and I'm riding his coattails pretty good, and somehow we got two W's out of it,' Watson said.

For the first time in Presidents Cup history, the same pair has gone out in the opening match of the first two sessions and won.

Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day (International) d. Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson (U.S.), 1 up

For the first time in his Presidents Cup career, Woods has begun 0-2.

Woods and new partner Johnson lost a closely contested match against Aussies Day and Baddeley.

Only three holes were won by either side in the entire match, with just one coming on the back nine. 

Woods won his first and only hole of the opening two sessions with a birdie at the par-4 fourth. The 14-time major winner made just one more birdie in the round - at the par-5 15th – but it was only good enough for a tie on the hole.

Baddeley could not sink a putt to win on the 17th hole for the second consecutive day, but made good on the 18th. Hitting an iron off the tee to insure placement in the fairway, Baddeley found the green and made a critical two-putt for the clinching par.

'I felt like I let him down yesterday, so it felt great to come through today,' Baddeley said afterwards.

If Woods loses his next match, it will equal the longest skid of his Presidents Cup career. He lost the final three pairs matches at Royal Melbourne in 1998.

Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk (U.S.) d. Adam Scott and Kyung-tae Kim (International), 2 and 1

Mickelson and Furyk may each be struggling with their form, but have managed to win both of their opening Presidents Cup matches. They never trailed against  Scott and Kim.

The newly minted Hall of Famer and Furyk each won two holes though both struggled to maintain confidence on the greens.

'This is crazy because when you get wind like this on greens that are 14 on the Stimpmeter, it's very hard to putt,' Mickelson said. 'I hit a couple of good putts early on that didn't go in [which] affected my confidence.'

A day after torching Royal Melbourne against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, Scott could only manage one birdie on the round.

Furyk made several critical short putts down the stretch, posting the Americans' score on all but one hole of the back nine. 

The '03 U.S. Open champion said his team's point came in ugly fashion.

'We ham-and-egged it out there pretty well today,' Furyk said.

Geoff Ogilvy and K.J. Choi (International) d. Bill Haas and Nick Watney (U.S.), 1 Up

Watney barely contributed, with the Americans using his score on just four holes. Haas was responsible for both American wins, including an eagle at the par-4 11th. Haas drove the green from 333 yards, leaving a 7-footer for a deuce. 

The two wins by the FedEx Cup champion neutralized early wins by Ogilvy with birdies at the fifth and sixth holes. 

Ogilvy took the final hole won in the match at the 12th after both Haas and Watney made bogeys following errant drives. 

Choi became the leading player for the Internationals. He is the only player on the team to record two wins.

Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar (U.S.) d. Y.E. Yang and Robert Allenby (International), 4 and 3

Stricker did not win a hole. Kuchar's score was the one used in all five holes won by the Americans. The duo did need Stricker's score for seven halved holes.

Kuchar won three of four holes between the third and sixth, two of them with birdies. Until Kuchar made birdie at the 12th hole to go 3 up, Stricker carried the team.

The duo clearly worked well together, playing 6 under in 15 holes.

Yang was paired with Allenby as part of captain Greg Norman's strategy to create five teams with an Australian serving as sherpa to their partner around Royal Melbourne. The 2009 PGA champion did the bulk of the work, however, contributing on 10 holes.

Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel (International) d. Hunter Mahan and David Toms (U.S.), 2 and 1

Maybe all it took for Goosen to get on track at Royal Melbourne was to pair with a fellow South African.

Goosen and Masters champion Schwartzel jumped out to an early lead as Goosen won the second and third holes. Schwartzel extended the lead to 3 up with a birdie at the short par-4 11th. 

The Americans managed just a single win in the match, taking the 14th with a par after three players missed the green at the gusty par 3.

Toms and Mahan beat themselves by hitting just 14 of 34 combined greens in regulation.

Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Friday 3PM-midnight and Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)

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G-Mac has Ryder Cup on mind with Genesis in grasp

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 2:12 am

LOS ANGELES – Graeme McDowell is four years removed from his last start in a Ryder Cup and golf is more than seven months away from this year’s matches, but then it’s never too early to start daydreaming.

Following a third-round 70 that left him tied for third place and just two strokes off the lead at the Genesis Open, McDowell was asked if the matches are on his mind.

“I feel like I've got a lot of things to do between now and getting on that team,” he said. “Standing here right now it's probably not a realistic goal, but if I continue to play the way I'm playing for the next few months, it may start to become a realistic goal.”

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

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McDowell began his week at Riviera Country Club fresh off four consecutive missed cuts and has drifted to 219th in the Official World Golf Ranking. But his play this week has been encouraging and the Northern Irishman has always relished the opportunity to play for Europe.

“Deep down I know I'm good enough, but I've got to show, I've got to put some results on the board, I've got to take care of my business,” he said. “The greatest experience of my career bar none, and I would love to play another couple Ryder Cup matches before it's all said and done.”

McDowell does have a potential advantage this year having won the French Open twice at Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches.

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Bubba on McGrady block: 'Just trying not to get hurt'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:56 am

LOS ANGELES – A detour to the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game didn’t keep Bubba Watson from leading this week’s Genesis Open, although an on-court brush with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady nearly derailed his chances for a third tournament win.

Watson enters the final round at Riviera with a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay after firing a 6-under 65 in the third round. The day before, the southpaw left the course around lunch time and headed across town to participate in the All-Star festivities, where during the celebrity game he tried to score 1-on-1 over McGrady.

Watson’s move into the lane went about as well as you’d expect given their five-inch height disparity, with McGrady easily blocking the ball into the stands. According to Watson, he had only one thought as McGrady came barreling towards him across the lane.

“When I saw him, all I saw was, ‘This is my moment to get hurt,’” Watson said. “This big tank is about to hit me, and I was like, ‘Just knock it into the stands. Just don’t touch me.’ So it worked out, he didn’t touch me so it was good.”

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Watson’s attempt went against his wife Angie’s advice to avoid the paint area, but it provided a fun moment for a player used to carving up fairways and greens – not to mention the guy who played 15 seasons in the NBA.

“Well, he’s got like just under 800 blocks for his career, so I gave him one more, you know?” Watson said. “It was just, it was a blast. I wanted to see how good he was, see if he could miss it. He hasn’t played in a while.”

Watson took some heat on Twitter from his PGA Tour peers for the rejection, but few were still laughing as he rocketed up the leaderboard Saturday with five birdies and an eagle. Now he has a chance to win this event for the third time since 2014 – even if he doesn’t plan to go toe-to-toe with McGrady again anytime soon.

“Some guys wanted to try to win MVP, so I was trying to pass it and let them have their fun and their moment,” Watson said. “I was just trying not to get hurt.”

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Spieth on third-round 69: 'Putter saved me'

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:37 am

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth has spent the last few weeks talking about his putting for all the wrong reasons.

Two weeks ago when he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open he lost 3.76 shots to the field in strokes-gained putting, and last week he wasn’t much better.

It looked like more of the same at the Genesis Open when he lost about a half stroke to the field on Day 1 with 29 putts, but since then his fortunes on the greens have gotten progressively better.

“I thought each day last week I progressed,” said Spieth, who needed just 24 putts on Friday and moved into a tie for 20th after taking 26 putts on Day 3.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

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Spieth said he started to feel things turn around at Pebble Beach after working with his swing coach Cameron McCormick and Steve Stricker, who has become something of a putting sounding board for players on Tour.

“I got set up really nice. I got really comfortable on the greens even though they were very difficult to putt last week and this week,” said Spieth, who rolled in a birdie putt of 14 feet at No. 12 and a par putt of 35 feet at No. 14. “Any putt, I either made it or I left it just short today. It was one of those days that with the way I struck the ball, it was an off day, but that putter saved me and allowed me to shoot the lowest score so far this week.”

Spieth’s third-round 69 is his best of the week and moved him to within seven strokes of the lead, which is held by Bubba Watson.

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Bouncing back: Watson seeks a third Riviera win

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:25 am

LOS ANGELES – Yeah, but can Tracy McGrady smoke a 7-iron from 203 yards to kick-in range for eagle on Riviera Country Club’s opening hole?

The way Bubba Watson’s mind drifts there’s no telling if, as he began his day at the Genesis Open, he revisited his play from Friday night at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. If he did, it would have been an apropos conclusion after McGrady sent his weak floater into the cheap seats midway through the second quarter.

Either way, Watson made it clear playtime was over on Saturday. The eagle at the opening par 4 ½ sent Watson on his way to a third-round 65 and the outright lead at the Left Coast event that’s starting to feel like a second home for the lefthander.

In 11 starts at Riviera, Watson already has two victories. A third on Sunday could get folks talking about renaming the layout Bubba’s Alley. Or not.

What is certain is that Watson has emerged from a funk that sent him tumbling outside the top 100 in the world ranking and he’s done it in quintessential Bubba style.

If Friday’s detour to the celebrity game received worldwide attention it was only a snapshot of Watson’s Tinseltown itinerary. He taped a segment for Jay Leno’s Garage show, visited with Ellen DeGeneres and watched a taping of The Big Bang Theory. You know, L.A. stuff.

Oh, and he’s curved and carved his way around Riviera with signature abandon.

“You've got to hit shots from every different angle, you've got to move it right to left and left to right, so it's just fun,” said Watson, who also led by one stroke when he won here in 2016, his last victory on the PGA Tour. “Then the greens are the equalizer so it makes me look like I putt as good as the other guys.”

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He “hammered” a 7-iron from 203 yards at the first to 1 ½ feet for his opening eagle, chipped in at the sixth to begin a run of four birdies in five holes and played the three par 5s in 3 under to move into a familiar spot after enduring his worst season on Tour in 2017 when he failed to advance past the second playoff event.

That he’s turned the tide in Los Angeles is as predictable as it is peculiar. Despite Watson’s record at the Genesis Open, Riviera wouldn’t seem to be the tonic for all that ails Bubba.

Ask a player - any player will do - the keys to playing Riviera and the answers range wildly from it being a bomber’s course to the need for ball-striking precision. But the word that comes up with regularity is "patience."

“Patience and pretty much just not being stupid, to be honest,” Justin Thomas said when asked the key to his third-round 67 that left him tied for eighth place. “Just stop trying to hit at pins with 5-irons and 6-irons, and when I hit in the rough, realize just try to make a par. When I get in places, when I'm out of position, realize that sometimes even bogey is what I need to make.”

While that thought dovetails with conventional wisdom, Watson’s not exactly known for his patience.

“Oh, for sure I do. Haven't you seen me in the last 12 years?” Watson laughed when asked if he had patience on the course. “The tougher the golf course, the more focus I have. The tougher the shot, I've been able to focus better. When I get my mind on something, I can focus and do pretty well at the game of golf.”

While Bubba drifts between artist and antagonist with ease, both on and off the golf course, his primary challenge on Sunday is the picture of thoughtful composure.

Patrick Cantlay, who returned to the Tour last season after struggling with back issues for years, began the third round with a share of the lead but quickly faded on the front nine. He rallied on the closing loop with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 18, where he capped his day with a 54-footer that assured him a spot in Sunday’s final threesome. Although he’s just 25 and playing his first full season on Tour, Cantlay’s approach to the game is patently different from Watson’s.

“I feel like if I can just engage and not worry about where I am on a particular hole or what's going on and I just engage and stay present in whatever I'm doing at that particular time, it all turns out better than what you would expect,” explained Cantlay, who attended nearby UCLA and played dozens of practice rounds at Riviera. “Making sure you stay present and having that confidence in yourself that if you just click in and focus, it all will be good and that's kind of the head space I'm in.”

It will be a clash of wildly contrasting styles on Sunday – Watson, who admitted he “(doesn’t) focus very well,” and Cantlay, whose approach to the mental side of the game borders on the clinical.

One player relishes the challenge of hyper-focus, the other is Bubba, but that’s not to say Watson is void of patience, only that he needs to be properly motivated.

“Like last night when Tracy McGrady was coming at me, I was focused on not getting hurt and I didn't, so it worked out,” Watson smiled.

And besides, T-Mac can’t bomb it like Bubba.