A tough day at Royal Melbourne

By Rex HoggardNovember 18, 2011, 7:31 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Fourball is supposed to be fun, but this felt more like a forced march.

Officials at the Presidents Cup raced players out onto Royal Melbourne about two hours earlier than originally planned on Friday because of an approaching storm and straight into grinding gridlock.

Winds that whipped to 35 mph and greens dialed up to 14 on the Stimpmeter added up to rounds that stretched to nearly six hours. But the only number that mattered to U.S. captain Fred Couples was 7-5, America’s advantage through two days of play at Royal Melbourne after a 3-3 draw on Friday.

That the away team held serve in the sand-belt wind tunnel was a best-case scenario for Captain America. That they did it without a point from Tiger Woods is all at once concerning and comforting for Couples.

“It was not much fun out there, I'm sure, for any of them,” he said.

Not that Woods played poorly, particularly on a day that International captain Greg Norman called “on a scale of 1 to 10 this was an 11.” Paired with Dustin Johnson the man who went undefeated in the 2009 Presidents Cup dropped a 1-up match to Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day that, at least to Woods, may have felt like a split decision.

For the day Woods was even par with two birdies including a twisting 25-footer at the fourth hole, his first of the week for his first lead of these matches. That advantage, however, lasted only three more holes in a seesaw match that was ultimately decided by Baddeley’s clutch putting.

Match by match: Day 2 fourball recaps

“We are extremely proud of the way Aaron Baddeley bounced back from yesterday,” said Norman in reference to Baddeley’s Day 1 foursome halve after leading 2 up with two holes to play.

“I know he was kind of gut-wrenched a little bit by what happened on the 18th, but to see what he did, holing that 3 ½-footer for a win on the last hole did him a world of good, did the team a world of good.”

Baddeley, who missed a short putt on the 17th on Thursday, rolled in birdie putts of 9 feet at the 11th hole, 4 feet at the 15th hole and 3 ½ feet at the last to secure a crucial point and give the Australian galleries something to cheer.

For the better part of two days the Melbourne masses have been largely quiet, so much so one tournament official wishfully suggested, “We need the Internationals to do well.”

Some have said these matches, a lopsided affair with the Americans winning six of the first eight editions, need an International victory or risk slipping into irrelevancy. All they really need is parity, a Sunday shootout that goes to the grittiest regardless of final outcome. For two days Norman’s multicultural crew have at least left open the possibility.

Baddeley and Day were welcomed to the 18th green by chants of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Ow, Ow, Ow,” and Geoff Ogilvy’s chip-in from a sand-belt sinkhole at the fifth rattled the eucalyptus.

There is no accounting for competitive capriciousness – a truth that was painfully evident for all regardless of flag or ball flight on Day 2 – but with 22 matches still to play the hole Norman’s crew dug themselves into on Thursday suddenly doesn’t seem as daunting.

Not that anyone struck quickly on Friday. Day 2 at Royal Melbourne was slow. Slow like this Presidents Cup felt more like Pebble Beach, complete with “Crosby Weather.” Glaciers melt faster than this, the combination of conditions and a crusty golf course.

It took the Woods-Johnson fourball two hours and 58 minutes to play nine holes and things only got harder from there.

“It’s just tough out there. Both teams didn’t make a lot of birdies,” Woods said. “You’re just trying to hit greens today. That was quite an accomplishment and even then you had to play wind on putts, even uphill putts.”

It was a harsh truth that at least partially explains the languid pace of play. On the seventh hole Woods and Johnson loitered on the far side of the green silent as Baddeley, one of the game’s best putters, studied an 18-inch par putt. Under normal circumstances that could be interpreted as gamesmanship. On Friday it was just the game.

The two least-spoken words at Royal Melbourne on Day 2 were “that’s good.” Well that, and “Tiger wins.” The captain’s pick is the only member of Couples’ crew who hasn’t won at least a half-point, yet that didn’t stop the captain from sending him out in Saturday morning’s five foursome matches. Instead, Nick Watney and Steve Stricker, who has been slowed by a neck injury since the Tour Championship and was expected to miss at least one session, will sit for the U.S.

“There are not many times where (Woods) doesn't win a point through a couple of rounds,” Couples said. “He played very well today. Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley threw it all at them, and they won 1 up. . . . I think Steve Stricker can't go five rounds; I wouldn't do that to him. So we went back with Tiger and Dustin tomorrow, and we are hoping that they come out and play well and get a point.”

It’s a testament to American golf that the U.S. is a 2-point conversion clear without any production from Woods. That the Americans did it in conditions that weren’t fit for a wombat was enough to bring a smile to Couples’ face on a day when there wasn’t much for anyone to smile about.

Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Friday 3PM-midnight and Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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