U.S. leads Ryder Cup 10-6

By Jay CoffinSeptember 30, 2012, 12:01 am

MEDINAH, Ill. – Tiger Woods hasn’t won a match this week but the Americans have built a commanding 10-6 lead after two days at the Ryder Cup. Go figure.

It’s simple math: The U.S. must earn 4 1/2 of 12 possible points during Sunday singles at Medinah to claim its second consecutive home Ryder Cup over the reeling Europeans.

After entering the day with a 5-3 lead the U.S. won the morning foursomes 3-1 to put the pressure squarely on Europe to win the afternoon session to make these matches more interesting. Europe continued to struggle on the greens but managed a 2-2 tie in afternoon fourballs.

“We haven’t lost a segment yet,” U.S. captain Davis Love III said. “We'll go tomorrow and try to keep that string going.”

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The 10-6 U.S. lead is large, but it’s the same score that the Americans came back from to beat the Europeans in the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline, marking the biggest comeback in cup history.

Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson started off the afternoon with an easy 5-and-4 victory over Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari. The U.S. made nine birdies in a 12-hole stretch, including four consecutive by Simpson on Nos. 8-11.

“We got in our rhythm,” Watson said. “I did the par 5s and he did the rest and that’s pretty much all we did.”

Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar held a lead for most of the back nine against Nicolas Colsaerts and Paul Lawrie but made a hiccup bogey on No. 16 to square the match. But Johnson, who was even par for the first 16 holes, drained a 25-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th to help secure the match.

“It was probably the loudest roar I’ve ever heard,” Johnson said. “That was definitely, in that situation, one of the best putts I’ve ever made.”

Ian Poulter was the only bright-shining star for Europe. He moved his record to a spotless 3-0 paired with Rory McIlroy in a 1-up victory over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. McIlroy played poorly and contributed with only two birdies, but Poulter was possessed on the greens, making key putt after key putt during a five-birdie stretch on Nos. 14-18.

'Wow, five in a row,' Poulter said. 'It was awesome. I got world No. 1 by my side backing me up. It allows me to go ahead and hit some golf shots.'

Meanwhile, Woods is an imperfect 0-3 paired with Steve Stricker this week. They went 0-2 on Friday and both were benched for Saturday morning foursomes, it being the first time in Woods’ Ryder Cup career he hasn’t played in a session. The duo went out together fresh in the fourballs but were defeated by Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald, 1 down.

In fairness to Woods, Stricker was no help in either fourball match. Woods had five birdies on the back nine Friday and lost to a hot Colsaerts. He made another five back-nine birdies Saturday to cut a 4-down deficit through nine holes to 1 down after 13. But Donald made a kick-in birdie on No. 17 that sent Team Europe to the home hole with the lead.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.