Monty Ready to Lead Team

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 25, 2002, 4:00 pm
SUTTON COLDFIELD, England ' Three years and over 3,000 miles removed from Brookline, Mass., the sounds are as clear as ever.
He can still hear the taunts, the jeers; the personal degradations that drove his father out of the gallery, but drove him exceed his expectations.
Colin Montgomerie has long been the target of American insults. Its a cycle. People push, he complains. Then they push harder. And sometimes a push isnt even needed.
But even his most staunch of opponents cringe at the way the robust, but thin-skinned Scot was treated in the last Ryder Cup.
Unruly American fans heckled Montgomerie incessantly over those three days of competition. He responded, not by trading verbal jabs, but by winning 3 points for his team.
When Im in that position, I fight like I never have before, I suppose, he said Wednesday. I holed putts I wouldnt normally have.
The more that was said, the better I became.
Not all of his Brookline memories are negative, however. Montgomerie recalled his Sunday singles match against the late Payne Stewart, when, after the U.S. had clinched victory, Stewart forfeited a chance at a halve in his match and awarded Montgomerie the victory.
When he won the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, the first thing he said was he was thrilled to be on the Ryder Cup team, Montgomerie said. It meant so much to him to represent his country. And to have drawn against me, if you like, of all people, in the singles match was ' Im sure that it hurt his game, as well as it did my own.
And it was a shame the way it finished. Hed had enough; Id had enough, and he picked my ball up at the last, Ill never forget that.
This week is Montgomerie's sixth tenure as a European Ryder Cupper, but his first in nearly a decade that he hasnt been his teams top player.
The 39-year-old has yet to win anywhere around the world in 2002; he has multiple European Tour victories each of the last nine years. Hes dropped to 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Some of his problems have been physical. A bad back has twice forced him to withdraw from a tournament; it almost cost him a chance to compete this week.
There have been times over the last two months where I really thought I wasnt going to ' I was going to have to take the rest of the year off. There were times I didnt think I was going to play, he said.
But play he will, and likely in all five matches. Montgomerie has played in every match each of the past four Ryder Cups. He has a career record of 12-7-4, going 3-0-2 in the singles.
I like match play; I like a one-on-one situation, he said. I like to see my opponent playing alongside me as opposed to 150 other guys spread all over the course. I prefer that idea.
Over the first two practice days, Montgomerie has been paired with Englishman Lee Westwood. Westwood usurped the Scot at the top of the Order of Merit (money list) in 2000, ending his seven-year reign as Europes best.
But the 29-year-old from Worksop has fallen on hard times over the last two years. Winless since 2000, he has dropped from fifth to 148th in the world rankings.
Lee Westwood has played very, very well the last two days, and hes very confident and I would take him as a partner. Id be very happy to have him as a partner, Montgomerie said.
Ive had a few battles with him over the years in European tournaments, and I can vouch for him in a strong way.
Montgomerie is one of only two players (Bernhard Langer) who competed in the last Ryder Cup at The Belfry, in 1993. And with four first-timers on the team, he has taken a leadership role.
Its a nice position to be in, he said. Its a position that I like and thrive on, if you like. Rookies have come up to me already and asked certain questions and certain ideas about whats what.
It might be a little bit frightening to ask certain questions, but they could ask me and I could relate to whatever. So I feel I have that sort of on-course role. Obviously not an off-course role because thats down to the captain.
This Ryder Cup will be different for Montgomerie, a far cry from the last. Jeers will turn into cheers; provocations into praise.
And for the first time in a long time, the No. 1 target is off his back.
The first time since we came here in 93 that I havent had that position when Im playing in the Ryder Cup. And I think it does bring its pressure on, being the No. 1 player in Europe, he said.
If youre expected to do something, its always quite difficult to achieve. Its always putting more pressure on ones self.
And now I dont have that pressure, if you like, and stress, and Im more relaxed because of that.
Coming off a Ryder Cup in which he played his best golf ever in America, and suffered his worst experience at the same time, Montgomerie has plenty of motivation to keep the Cup on the continent.
But if he needs one more bit of inspiration, he need only look to his captain.
'I think it would be nice to sort of finish Sam Torrance's career, if you like,' Montgomerie said. 'It means an awful lot to him. He's a very emotional man, and I know him very well. He's from the same - not just the same country as me, but the same county as me in Scotland.
'It would be nice to finish off his career with a win, for his sake.'
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches
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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

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After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

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Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

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Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

“I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.

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“I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

“This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.