Internationals in big hole at Presidents Cup ... again

By Rex HoggardOctober 8, 2015, 9:28 am

INCHEON, South Korea – On Wednesday, International captain Nick Price was asked what he wanted the leaderboard to look like after Day 1’s matches at the Presidents Cup.

“5-0,” Price laughed. “To be honest, what am I supposed to say? How am I supposed to answer that one?”

The final outcome turned out to be pretty close to Price’s prognostications, but it wasn’t the team he’d hoped would dominate the opening foursomes session.

The Americans rolled over the International side on Thursday at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea by winning four of five matches and setting a foreboding tone at what Price had optimistically dubbed a crucial year for the rest of the world.

The only good news for the International captain was that if it wasn’t for a format change that reduced the total number of points available this week from 34 to 30 his side could have been even further in the hole after a day that has become far too familiar.

For the eighth time in 11 Presidents Cups the Americans won the opening-day session and extended the International losing streak in team sessions that now stretches back to Day 2 at the 2007 matches.

“Today was a tough day for us,” the International front-man allowed. “But, having said that we are only five points into 30 and there’s a long way to go.”

For all the things the Presidents Cup is missing – a general lack of animosity that makes the Ryder Cup such a contentious competition, being an often-mentioned candidate – it is an utter lack of competitiveness that has defined the biennial meeting for more than a decade and a half.

That didn’t change on a postcard-perfect fall day in South Korea. Of the 79 holes played on Thursday the United States led 59 of them, compared with just nine for the Internationals, and all of those came courtesy of Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace who defeated Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed, 3 and 2, for Price’s only point.

Price again shouldered the burden for his team’s poor performance just as he did two years ago at Muirfield Village and remained hopeful that his dozen still had time to turn the rising tide, but it won’t be easy against a U.S. side that has looked to be running downhill since they arrived in Asia.

“The first-day blues or shock are over,” Price predicted.

Thursday felt more like shock and awe for the reeling Internationals and it shouldn’t have been a surprise.

For three days there was a confidence that bordered on brash within American circles, so much so that Dustin Johnson only half-joked that as long as he gave his partner Jordan Spieth his normal looks, somewhere in the 15-foot range, they would be good in the day’s anchor match.

The big American wasn’t too far off with Spieth doing what he’s done for the majority of this season, and it started early with the world No. 1 rolling in a 20-footer at the second hole for a 2-up lead that the U.S. never gave up on their way to a 4-and-3 victory.

Add to that tandem U.S. captain Jay Haas’ version of the Bash Brothers in the form of Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes – who rolled over Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, 3 and 2, in the day’s opening match – and it’s hard to imagine where the International team will find the firepower to keep this from becoming another blowout.

Price needed production from the top (Scott and Matsuyama) and bottom (Jason Day and Steven Bowditch, which is arguably his best team) of his lineup and didn’t get it.

Conversely, Haas’ version of laissez faire captaining was pulled straight out of Fred Couples’ playbook and produced Freddie-esque results.

The U.S. captain largely let his players dictate his pairings, telling the media on Wednesday when asked about the Spieth and Dustin Johnson duo, “What Jordan wants, Jordan gets right now.”

Yet for all the armchair quarterbacking that is sure to follow another black Thursday for the Internationals, the outcome had nothing to do with what Price may or may not have done. All the format tinkering in the world isn’t going to help the rest of the world convert putts, and that’s what this boiled down to, again.

Rickie Fowler, who is now undefeated with Jimmy Walker in five team matches dating to last year’s Ryder Cup, rolled in birdie putts from 10 feet (No. 3), 9 feet (No. 4), 20 feet (No. 10) and 14 feet (No. 13) and Spieth was, well Spieth.

“Bottom line is it comes down to making putts, in any format. But in alternate-shot, it seems like putts are that much more heavy,” Zach Johnson said. “There's more gravity and weight to it. My guess is we probably made a few more putts today.”

After another dominant opening-day performance the magic number for the U.S. team after Thursday’s rout is now down to 11 ½ points; that’s how many more the defending champions need to collect to claim the cup for the ninth time.

It’s an all too familiar position for Price, who paused when asked how he thought his team might be able to dig themselves out of another early deficit before channeling his inner Ben Crenshaw.

“It’s a gut feeling. It’s not a stat, it’s what you feel in your gut and after talking with my team, what did Ben [at the 1999 Ryder Cup] say, ‘I have a feeling,’” he said.

Price & Co. still have three days to turn this into a match, but without a dramatic Friday rally the Internationals will need something as epic as a Brookline-like miracle to salvage this match.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.