This might have been worst U.S. Ryder Cup loss

By Randall MellOctober 1, 2012, 2:14 am

MEDINAH, Ill. – The Americans never stood a chance.

Even with a commanding 10-6 lead going into the Ryder Cup’s Sunday singles, they were doomed.

There were just too many mystical forces working against them in a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 loss at Medinah Country Club.

There were the Europeans playing in Seve Ballesteros’ Sunday blue, the garb once fancied by the man who became a legend escaping from more tough spots than Houdini. The Euros had his emblem on their shirt sleeves. They had his silhouette on their golf bags. Mostly, they showed they had his indomitable spirit in their marrow.

“I think if Seve could have written this script, he would have written it exactly like this one,” Europe’s Graeme McDowell said.

Ballesteros would have liked the way Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia dug themselves out of holes Sunday to win vital matches. Rose was 1 down to Phil Mickelson with two holes to play but poured in birdie putts at the 17th and 18th holes to win. Garcia was also 1 down at the 17th but likewise won the final two holes to defeat Jim Furyk.


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“I have no doubt in my mind that Seve was with me today,” Garcia said. “Because there’s no chance I would have won my match if he wasn’t there.”

There was another force working against the Americans.

There was September in Chicago.

The Americans confirmed no lead is safe in this city in September. Cub fans know this better than anyone, and now the folks who live here have another epic collapse to remember, one as stunning as the Cubs’ blown pennant in ’69.

The way the Americans struggled Sunday, you had to wonder if they were playing on the same type of turf used at Wrigley Field.

You had to wonder if a guard at the front gate of Medinah turned away a restaurant owner wanting to bring his billy goat inside with him to watch Sunday’s finish.

And now you have to wonder if that Chicago cop who helped a desperate Rory McIlroy make his tee time with a police escort will be looking to rent a room from Steve Bartman.

Apparently, beating the Americans has become as easy as rolling out of bed.

Saying he confused the U.S. Central Time Zone with its Eastern Time Zone, McIlroy arrived just 10 minutes before his tee time with the police escort. He didn’t hit a single shot on the practice range but was 2 up on Keegan Bradley after six holes and went on to beat him, 2 and 1.

“We’re all kind of stunned,” American captain Davis Love III said. “We know what it feels like now from that ’99 Ryder Cup. It’s a little bit shocking.”

Love was on that ’99 team that won at Brookline in the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history. The Europeans on Sunday equaled that historic comeback in winning for the fifth time in the last six Ryder Cups, the seventh in the last nine.

With the Europeans charging early Sunday, you had to wonder if ’99 U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw was watching somewhere with a bad feeling about this.

Olazabal was on that European team that lost so epically. He was in the middle of the chaos when Justin Leonard holed an improbable bomb at the 17th at Brookline to set up the United States’ victory. Leonard rolled that putt in against Olazabal.

Asked on Saturday night, if, like Crenshaw, he had a “good feeling” about what was going to happen on the final day, Olazabal said he believed.

“I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing, and they did,” Olazabal said.

Sunday was a sad day for the Americans, but it was a great day for golf, a spectacular Sunday of dizzying dramatic turns.

The Ryder Cup proved yet again it is the best event in golf, a spectacle even more magical than the Masters, if that’s possible. The golf is so much larger in the Ryder Cup, it feels like it ought to be played on Mount Olympus. The thrills are so much grander, the heartache so much more severe.

Unfortunately for the Americans, they’re becoming more familiar with the heartache.

Steve Stricker felt the sting of another Ryder Cup as deeply as anyone.

With the first five players Europe sent out Sunday winning, the match boiled down to Stricker on the final hole in the second-to-last match. After lipping out a 6-footer for par at the 17th to fall 1 down to Martin Kaymer, Stricker knew the match’s outcome was on him. He had to win the 18th or Europe would retain the cup.

Stricker watched Martin Kaymer halve the hole by sinking a 6-foot putt at the last to deal the Americans yet another Ryder Cup disappointment.

“I just didn’t get it done,” Stricker said. “I’m a little stunned. I can’t really believe what happened to us.”

The Americans have been dealt some bitter blows in the Ryder Cup. There were the back-to-back record routs in 2004 and ’06, but this might have been the worst loss of all. The collapse coming with the Americans feeling as if they had one hand on the cup makes the loss that much harder to swallow.

Tiger Woods endured his fifth consecutive Ryder Cup loss.

No other American Ryder Cupper has ever played on five consecutive losing teams.

Mickelson has now played on seven losing Ryder Cup teams. No American has been on more losing teams.

Mickelson’s Ryder Cup record is now 14-18-6. Woods is 13-17-3. No Americans have lost more matches than Mickelson and Woods.

American veteran Jim Furyk felt the sting, too. He bogeyed the final two holes to lose to Garcia. In a year in which Furyk endured losing the U.S. Open and the WGC-Bridgestone with late stumbles, Furyk drove home just how important the Ryder Cup has become.

“This is the lowest part of my year,” Furyk said.

It was a wild, wondrous Sunday that ended with it feeling like the Americans never stood a chance.


Relive Day 2 Ryder Cup matches Monday at 8 p.m. ET and the singles matches Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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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.