Mickelson, Bradley a complementary Ryder Cup pair

By Randall MellSeptember 29, 2012, 6:10 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill Ryder Cup rout.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley teamed Saturday morning to blow out yet another European Ryder Cup juggernaut.

They embarrassed a pair of former No. 1 players in the world in a record drubbing.

They defeated Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, 7 and 6, in foursomes at Medinah Country Club.

How good is that? No Ryder Cup tandem has won by a larger margin in an 18-hole match. The rout equaled the beating Americans Paul Azinger and Mark O’Meara gave Nick Faldo and David Gilford in 1991. It also equaled the beating Americans Hale Irwin and Tom Kite gave Ken Brown and Des Smyth in ’79.

The victory boosted the Mickelson-Bradley duo to 3-0 this week.

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Bradley, by the way, becomes the first American rookie to win his first three matches since Mickelson did it in ’95.

They did not get a chance to make it 4-0 as partners. U.S. captain Davis Love III stuck to his plan to rest all of his players at least a match and sat down Mickelson and Bradley for the Saturday afternoon fourballs.

How good is this dynamic duo? The veteran and the rookie have rolled over three of the best tandems in Europe’s dominant Ryder Cup run the last 10 years. They wrecked Sergio Garcia and Donald’s perfect record (4-0) in foursomes by winning, 4 and 3, on Friday. They also knocked off the Northern Irish combo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in fourballs, 2 and 1.

Mickelson, 42, and Bradley, 26, may be from different generations in the game, but they think about the game in the same way.

“There are all kinds of golf brains, but these two have the same type,” said Jim “Bones” Mackay. “I have never seen alternate shot played like that.”

Mackay marveled at Mickelson’s clutch 7-iron to 3 feet that put away McIlroy-McDowell on Friday. He marveled even more at Mickelson’s shot at the 12th to beat Donald-Westwood. With the Americans in trouble after a pair of wayward shots through the trees, Mickelson recovered smartly, carving a wedge onto a ridge on the high, left side of the green. The gallery went nuts when the shot took the slope and trickled 40 feet downhill, nearly into the hole.

Mackay said Mickelson’s drawings in his yardage book are so detailed he knew exactly where to land the shot.

Bradley called Mickelson’s clinching shot at the 17th to close out Friday’s fourballs win the best shot he’s ever seen. He said Mickelson’s clinching shot at the 12th on Saturday was nearly as good.

“I told Phil when he got to the green that it was the second best shot I’ve ever seen,” Bradley said.

Mickelson and Bradley teamed to make six birdies in 12 holes on Saturday. That’s almost unheard of in foursomes (alternate shot). In a match behind them, McIlroy and McDowell didn’t make a birdie over their first 12 holes.

“To be able to share this experience with Keegan and to partake in his great play and his experience of the Ryder Cup has been really awesome,” Mickelson said. “We have had so much fun.”

Bradley continued to fuel Mickelson and the American galleries with high-octane emotion.

“That guy’s intense,” one spectator said with Bradley exhorting the crowd on the way to the ninth green.

Bradley’s probably a little too intense for Europe’s liking. After rolling in a 10-foot birdie to win the ninth hole, he let out a raucous “Wooo-hooo!” while pumping his fists at the crowd. At that point, the Americans were 5 up. Bradley reminds veteran Ryder Cup observers of the way Garcia so boldly and emotionally introduced himself to the event.

Few players attack the way Bradley does. He approaches his ball like a hockey player coming out of a penalty box.

The duo was irrepressible Saturday. Donald and Westwood watched them win the second hole playing out of the trees. They won that last hole the same way. Mickelson’s iron game was razor sharp all day.

No playing partners have had more fun this week than Mickelson and Bradley.

“It’s a little ying and yang,” said Steve “Pepsi” Hale, Bradley’s caddie. “Phil is so laid back and Keegan’s so intense. I think they bring out the best in each other and balance each other out.”

There’s a big brother and little brother phenomenon there.

“There is a real bond there,” Mackay said.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."