Americans Shutout Internationals on Day One
Prior to play, Kiwi Michael Campbell, flanked on both sides by the International and American teams, performed the Haka - a Maori war dance - on the putting green outside the clubhouse. The Maori are New Zealand's indigenous Polynesian people.
'It's simply challenging our opponents,' Campbell said of the Haka.
The U.S. willingly accepted that challenge on Thursday.
Tom Lehman and Phil Mickelson got the U.S. off on the right foot by routing Australians Greg Norman and Steve Elkington 5-and-4. The match only lasted 14 holes, not one of which was halved.
The four other matches were closer, but all ended with the Red, White and Blue on the winning side. In a battle of Presidents Cup rookies, Stewart Cink and Kirk Triplett bettered Retief Goosen and Mike Weir 3-and-2. Hal Sutton and Jim Furyk topped Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby 1-up, the same score Tiger Woods and Notah Begay beat Vijay Singh and Ernie Els. David Duval and Davis Love III also won by the same 1-up score over Nick Price and Carlos Franco.
The Americans used the hard, fast greens at the Robert Trent Jones golf course to their advantage; the same way in which they did the first two times the event was contested in Prince William County, Va. Through five matches in 1996, The U.S. led 4-1. At the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994, the U.S. swept the first five matches, though it was Four-Ball. That year, the Americans went on to soundly defeat the Internationals 20-12.
Thursday, both teams sported black ribbons on their hats in honor of the 17 men and women who died on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen last week.
Mickelson/Lehman vs. Norman/Elkington
Steve Elkington struck the first shot of the 4th Presidents Cup, but it was Tom Lehman who drew first blood. Lehman sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 1st to take a 1-up lead. The U.S. never trailed in the match.
Norman and Elkington, who both underwent hip surgery this year, spent the better part of the day trying to find the firm Virginia greens. Despite squaring the match at the 2nd, Norman and Elk lost holes 3-8. They did manage to win the par-3 9th with a birdie, but carded a front-nine 41 to enter the inward half 5-down to the American squad.
Lehman and Mickelson maintained a 5-up advantage over the first four holes on the back nine, and closed out the match by posting a par 5 at the 14th.
'We've been looking forward to this day for the past two years,' said Mickelson. 'We wanted to comeback from the shellacking we took (in 1998). We did that today.'
Triplett/Cink vs. Weir/Goosen
They were the third match out, but the second to come in. Playing in their first professional team match-play competition, Triplett and Cink looked like wily veterans on Thursday. The two rookies put on a picture-perfect display of how to play alternate shot golf. Cink stuck the approach shots; Triplett converted the putts.
Leading 1-up through 11 holes, Triplett drained a six-foot birdie putt at the 12th to go 2-up. The Americans then went 3-up with another birdie putt by Triplett. Sporting a baseball cap rather than his trademark bucket hat, Triplett made his third birdie in as many holes to take a commanding 4-up lead with four holes to play.
Fellow rookies Goosen and Weir managed to win the 15th to cut their deficit to 3-down, however, Triplett rolled in a 30-foot birdie at the 16th to win the match 3-and-2, as the Internationals were conceded their birdie putt. The U.S. now held a 2-0 overall lead.
'I set him up with some pretty good birdie putts and he drained them all,' Cink said of his teammate. 'Kirk had an awesome day putting.'
Sutton/Furyk vs. Allenby/Appleby
In two previous Ryder Cup and one President Cup matches, Furyk was a perfect 3-0 in singles competition. However, he was 0-7 in team play.
Thursday, Furyk collected his first personal team victory. He and Sutton were cruising through 12 holes, before the Aussies pulled a birdie out of their hat at the 13th to cut the American's lead to 1-up.
Sutton made a 3-foot par putt at the 16th to reclaim a 2-up lead with two holes to play. But a bogey at the 17th opened the door for the International squad to earn at least a half-point.
It wasn't to be.
Sutton smoked his tee shot at the par-4 18th. Furyk then stuck his approach shot from 181 yards inside that of the Internationals. The Aussies weren't able to convert their birdie putt, leaving the U.S. with two putts to win the match, which they did, 1-up.
'We had plenty of chances (to close out the match),' said Sutton. 'They hit a great shot on the 13th out of the rough and we were in the fairway. That kind of took the wind out of our sails. Then we missed a few putts, but fortunately, we came out on top.'
Woods/Begay III vs. Els/Singh
It was considered the match of the day and it lived up to its billing. Former college buddies Tiger Woods and Notah Begay won the first hole and staked themselves to a 3-up lead through 10 holes. That's when Els and Singh woke up.
At the par-3 11th, Begay hit his tee shot six feet from the cup, but Singh responded by sticking his to within two feet. Woods missed his birdie putt, while Els made his to get within 2-down.
Singh and Els went on to square the match by winning the 12th and 13th holes with a par and a birdie, respectively.
The turning point came at the par-5 14th. Following a monster drive by Tiger, Begay hit a fairway wood from 221 yards, which barely cleared the water, onto the green. Singh had a 10-foot birdie putt to halve the hole but couldn't convert. Woods and Begay two-putted for birdie and a 1-up lead. It stayed that way for the remainder of the match.
The 16th hole provided the event's first true show of sporting emotion. Faced with a 20-foot par putt to halve the hole and maintain their 1-up advantage, Woods dropped the putt, pumped his fist and traded high-fives with his teammate and caddie. Els was forced to make a five-foot par save just to halve the hole.
'Obviously, the 16th was a big blow,' said Els. 'What can you say? We've got a long way to go. We have 36 holes tomorrow. It's a big day. We can get it back tomorrow.'
Duval/Love III vs. Price/Franco
The day's final match was the most closely contested on the first day. Neither side led by more than 1-up until the U.S. put together back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes to go 2-up with three holes to play.
Struggling with his flatstick all day, Price finally made a putt at the 17th to go 1-down entering the final hole. However, the Zimbabwean came up short with his approach to the home hole. Franco narrowly missed chipping-in to halve the match, leaving the Americans with two putts from the fringe to win 1-up.
This is the first time in the four-year history of the Presidents Cup that only five matches were played on the first day. Friday, there will be 36-holes of competition scheduled with five morning Four-Ball matches and five afternoon Foursomes. Friday Morning Four-Ball Matches
Sutton/Azinger vs. Campbell/Goosen
Lehman/Roberts vs. Weir/Elkington
Furyk/Duval vs. Price/Norman
Woods/Begay III vs. Maruyama/Franco
Mickelson/Love III vs. Els/Singh
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.