Presidents Cup grades are in

By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2011, 9:00 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Report cards for the Presidents Cup, including captains Norman and Couples.


Jim Furyk (5-0-0) A+

The line: No other way to slice it, he paired brilliantly with Phil Mickelson, stunned Adam Scott and Ernie Els for a key point on Saturday and rolled over Els in singles play to stem an International rally. Perfect.

Bill Haas (1-3-1) C

The line: Royal Melbourne was always going to be a tough draw for a true rookie, particularly when paired with Geoff Ogilvy in Sunday singles, and his pedestrian record was not entirely unexpected.

Dustin Johnson (1-3-1) D

The line: A singular talent and consensus future team member, but DJ’s play in Australia – as well as last year’s Ryder Cup (1-3-0) – is a concern.

Matt Kuchar (1-3-1) C-

The line: Got off to a fast start but struggled the rest of the way. His steady game should be a natural fit for match play but it hasn’t worked out that way.

Hunter Mahan (4-1-0) A

The line: Put last year’s heartbreak in Wales behind him by quieting the crowd with a 23-foot walk-off at No. 17 on Saturday and took it to Jason Day in Sunday singles to all but end the International comeback.

Phil Mickelson (3-1-0) B

The line: Perfect through three team sessions, Lefty asked to sit on Saturday afternoon and conceded the first three holes to Adam Scott in a Sunday rout.

Webb Simpson (3-2-0) B+

The line: In the leadoff position Simpson and Bubba Watson set a surprising tone for the Americans and he was narrowly beaten by K.T. Kim, 1 up, in singles.

Steve Stricker (2-2-0) B

The line: He was rusty when he arrived at Royal Melbourne and failed to rekindle the magic with Woods. Although he said his ailing neck was “fine,” the veteran gets style points for his gritty performance.

David Toms (3-1-0) A

The line: In what may be his last Presidents Cup, Toms was a steadying force for Couples and delivered a crucial Sunday point.

Nick Watney (2-1-1) A-

The line: He seemed to mature with each match and showed a surprising amount of poise in his 3-and-2 victory on Sunday over Choi, one of the International side’s top performers.

Bubba Watson (3-2-0) B

The line: It was a tale of two weeks for the flamboyant American, going 3-0 in the leadoff spot with Simpson to start before finishing with consecutive losses that included a singles blowout to Ryo Ishikawa.

Tiger Woods (2-3-0) B-

The line: The search begins anew for another partner for Woods, or a good chiropractor for Stricker, but “red shirt’s” line is misleading. He hit the ball better than advertised and didn’t get a lot of help from his partners.

Captain Fred Couples (2-0) A

The line: Couples’ laissez faire style was unquestionably validated given the Americans' perceived disadvantage at Royal Melbourne, Stricker’s injury and the uncertainty of how Woods would play.

Match by match: Presidents Cup singles recaps

Hoggard: Unconventional U.S. captures Presidents Cup


Robert Allenby (0-4-0) F

The line: A captain’s pick based on his resume at Royal Melbourne and, some say, his passport struggled mightily and is now 8-16-3 in six Presidents Cups.

Aaron Baddeley (1-3-1) C+

The line: With “Badds” the numbers don’t tell the entire story. Despite his record, he played well in some of the week’s most intense matches and should be a staple on future teams.

K.J. Choi (3-2-0) B

The line: The “Tank” was clutch all week for Norman, starting with his steady performance against Woods and Stricker on Day 1. Let the chants begin now, “Choi for captain in 2015.”

Jason Day (1-3-1) D

The line: The top-ranked International player didn’t produce the spark Norman had envisioned when he paired him with Baddeley and his Sunday singles collapse will sting for some time.

Ernie Els (1-4-0) C

The line: The future captain showed steady leadership paired with Ryo Ishikawa and putted better than he has all year, but one expects more production out of a proven winner.

Retief Goosen (3-2-0) B-

The line: Not the best of weeks for the South African, but he continued to build on a phenomenal fourball record, going undefeated in best-ball play to improve to 10-2-1 in six Presidents Cups.

Ryo Ishikawa (2-2-0) C+

The line: The “Bashful Prince” arrived late and did little to help Els in his first three team matches, but salvaged his week with a big win over Bubba Watson on Sunday.

K.T. Kim (2-2-0) B

The line: Ishikawa told Norman the South Korean rookie is one of the world’s best at match play and Kim didn’t disappoint. After being benched early Saturday he played the weekend in 2-0.

Geoff Ogilvy (3-1-1) A-

The line: The Melbourne native was solid as expected but that did little to temper his disappointment. He’d been dreaming of this since 1998, the last time the matches were played at his beloved Royal Melbourne.

Charl Schwartzel (3-1-1) A-

The line: The South African may be the game’s most underrated player and considering his victory this year at Augusta National his solid week at another Alister MacKenzie gem was not entirely unexpected.

Adam Scott (2-3-0) C

The line: Norman leaned on him all week, starting with his high-profile pairing with Woods on Thursday, but the Internationals needed more from him.

Y.E. Yang (1-3-0) D

The line: Teamed with Kim to stun Woods and Johnson late Saturday, but was otherwise a non-story.

Captain Greg Norman (0-2) C

The line: The “Shark” will be criticized for the Allenby pick and seemed to over-think some of his pairings. In two turns as captain Norman had no answer for the Americans' domination of the foursome sessions.

Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.

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Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

Joel Dahmen had a 64.

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''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.

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With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.

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Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.