You Oughta Know: Inside the Sunday singles

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 30, 2012, 3:00 am

MEDINAH, Ill. – Twelve points are up for grabs Sunday at the Ryder Cup and Europe needs eight of them to retain the hardware. The odds are stacked against the Europeans, but the Americans came back from the same 10-6 deficit to win the Ryder Cup in 1999 at Brookline. Our experts at Medinah broke down each of the 12 singles matches. Here are some things you oughta know.

12:03PM ET: Bubba Watson vs. Luke Donald

Talk about a contrast in styles. Watson bombs it and shapes it; Donald hits it straight and is incredibly consistent. Should make for a great opening match that can dictate the day’s momentum.

12:14PM ET: Webb Simpson vs. Ian Poulter

Poulter is 3-0 and it’s difficult to imagine that he won’t find a way to be 4-0. This is a must-have match for Europe, as Poulter is its pulse.

12:25PM ET: Keegan Bradley vs. Rory McIlroy

Hands down the match of the day. Bradley is 3-0 and the high-energy player the Americans need out early. McIlroy has not played particularly well and needs this match to salvage a decent week.

12:36PM ET: Phil Mickelson vs. Justin Rose

Paired with Bradley, Lefty has been unstoppable, posting his best Ryder Cup showing (3-0) since his rookie campaign in 1995 and should have plenty in the tank after asking to sit out Friday’s fourball session. Still, Rose clipped Mickelson in singles in 2008 (3 and 2) and has been solid.

12:47PM ET: Brandt Snedeker vs. Paul Lawrie

The rookie Snedeker had played inspired golf this week (1-1) and is fresh off an $11.4 million haul last week at the Tour Championship, while Lawrie (0-2) hasn’t looked sharp. This could be a big point for the U.S.

12:58PM ET: Dustin Johnson vs. Nicolas Colsaerts

It may not be the day’s most pivotal match – although at sixth in the lineup and the U.S. side 4 1/2 points from victory it certainly could be – but it will be the most entertaining. DJ is fourth on Tour in driving distance and the Muscles from Brussels is first on the Euro Tour in distance. Bombs away.

1:09PM ET: Zach Johnson vs. Graeme McDowell

There will be a whole lot of grinding in this one. Johnson (2-1) has a better record this week than GMac (1-2), but singles is an entirely different story. McDowell has never lost in singles, and one of those wins was a pressure-packed, cup-clinching victory over Hunter Mahan.

1:20PM ET: Jim Furyk vs. Sergio Garcia

His record in team play may be spotty (5-14-3) but Furyk is actually 4-2-1 in singles. Unfortunately he’s also 1-5-1 lifetime against El Nino.

1:31PM ET: Jason Dufner vs. Peter Hanson

Dufner has acquitted himself well in his first Ryder Cup, going 2-1 in team sessions. He could end up making quick work of Hanson, too, as the Swede had played only one session (a Friday fourball loss) this week.

1:42PM ET: Matt Kuchar vs. Lee Westwood

Kuchar is 2-0 in this Ryder Cup but has lost his two singles matches in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup play. Poulter waxed him, 5 and 4, in Wales two years ago. While Westwood is normally tough in the Ryder Cup, he’s off his form. He’s also just 2-5 in Ryder Cup singles. 

1:53PM ET: Steve Stricker vs. Martin Kaymer

Confidence might be the issue in this match. Stricker can’t be feeling good going 0-3 this week or missing that 6-foot putt at the 18th Saturday that would have won a half-point for him and Woods. Still, in Kaymer, he gets a man who has slumped this summer and lost the only match he has played this week.

2:04PM ET: Tiger Woods vs. Francesco Molinari

It’s peculiar Woods was put in the anchor match, where his outcome isn’t likely to matter. But Woods is a Tale of Two Tigers this week. Davis Love III can’t be quite sure what he’ll get from him. No matter, Molinari better get off to a fast start. Woods has been awful on the front nine at Medinah this week and spectacular on the back nine.

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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.