Presidents Cup report card: U.S. team

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 7, 2013, 12:40 pm

Keegan Bradley (2-2-1)

Grade B

The lowdown: He’s now teamed with Phil Mickelson to post a 5-1-1 record over the last two years. While it may seem insignificant now, his birdie putt to halve Sunday morning’s foursomes match was a huge momentum-saver at the time.

Jason Dufner (3-1-0)

Grade A-

The lowdown: Don’t let the baby face fool you. The guy packs a hard golf punch. His ball striking was stellar with Zach Johnson in Thursday fourballs and Saturday foursomes. He took down surprisingly strong Brendon de Jonge in singles.

Bill Haas (2-2-1)

Grade B

The lowdown: He was better than the record shows. Haas and fellow Demon Deacon Webb Simpson were spectacular in Thursday fourballs while managing a half point against a hot Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama. Haas played well with three different partners.

Zach Johnson (3-1-0)

Grade A-

The lowdown: He was so sick early. As in flu-like symptoms. And he was so sick late. As in so good. He made Branden Grace feel sick in that 4-and-2 rout.

Matt Kuchar (3-2-0)

Grade B+

The lowdown: Took some nerve to call Tiger Woods 'my Carlton” in his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air celebratory routine. Teaming with Tiger’s never easy because of all the expectations that go with it.

Hunter Mahan (2-2-0)

Suzann Pettersen
Grade B+

The lowdown: Got off to a rough start with consecutive team losses and was benched for the second foursome session, but improved his Presidents Cup record to 10-7-1 and put the first points on the board for the U.S. with his 3-and-2 singles victory over Hideki Matsuyama.

Phil Mickelson (2-2-1)

Grade B

The lowdown: Played terrific golf in Friday’s foursomes match alongside Keegan Bradley and showed a few spurts of brilliance. Can’t be docked any credit for losing in the last singles match, which he believed would be inconsequential from the start.

Webb Simpson (2-1-2)

Webb Simpson
Grade B-

The lowdown: He admittedly doesn’t play his best golf at Muirfield Village and may have been carried by Bill Haas in a few team matches, but Simpson’s usual brand of solid long game and precise short game was enough to post three full points.

Brandt Snedeker (2-3-0)

Brandt Snedeker
Grade C+

The lowdown: The American ran into Jason Day a few too many times – including a tough singles loss – but delivered in the weekend team sessions when the U.S. essentially put the cup away.

Jordan Spieth (2-2-0)

Grade B-

The lowdown: For the first time in his young career the rookie showed nerves on Thursday and was fortunate to play with Stricker, who was quietly one of America’s most consistent performers. Still, no one is second-guessing Couples’ decision to make him a pick.

Steve Stricker (3-2-0)

Grade B

The lowdown: The veteran was a calming influence on Spieth and showed a surprising amount of resilience following last year’s letdown at the Ryder Cup when he failed to earn a point. He looked tired in singles against Els and may have played his last Presidents Cup.

Tiger Woods (4-1-0)

Tiger Woods
Grade A

The lowdown: It may not have been his best golf, but it was good enough. Woods was the only player with four points, found himself a new partner in Matt Kuchar and clinched the winning point for a third straight time.

Fred Couples  Captain

Fred Couples
Grade A

The lowdown: Captain Cool rubs off on his team in the best way. If this guy ain't going to sweat these matches too much, his team ain't either. Couples' cool confidence is infectious.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.