All Square in South Africa

By Sports NetworkNovember 23, 2003, 5:00 pm
GEORGE, South Africa -- United States captain Jack Nicklaus and International team captain Gary Player decided to share the Presidents Cup Sunday after darkness stopped a sudden-death playoff.
 
Since the matches were tied 17-17 after the completion of Sunday's singles matches, there was a sudden-death playoff between two players, which were decided by the captains before the start of competition.
 
To no one's surprise, the two players in the envelope were Tiger Woods for the Americans and Ernie Els for the Internationals. The two met in the penultimate singles match and Woods dispatched Els, 4 and 3.
 
On the third playoff hole, the par-3 second, both players had close to 100 feet for their birdie tries. Woods ran his birdie putt 15 feet past the hole and Els came up seven feet short. Woods holed his clutch putt only to see Els run home his par save and halve their third hole.
 
After the third playoff hole, Player and Nicklaus came on to the green and agreed that there was not enough light to continue play. They got PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who oversaw the competition, on a cell phone and stated that they could not continue.
 
Several options were discussed from there. One suggestion was for Els and Woods to return Monday morning but that was dismissed by Nicklaus, who thought since it was a team contest, all 12 players should compete on Monday.
 
The players did not want to return to the The Links Course at Fancourt Hotel & Country Club Estates Monday morning, so that was quickly shot down.
 
The next point of contention came when Nicklaus suggested that since the U.S. won the last Presidents Cup in 2000, they should retain the Cup. The International team did not like that so the captains took their teams aside to discuss their options.
 
Nicklaus and his side said that in the spirit of the game, they would share the Cup. That was acceptable to the International team and so for the first time in five stagings, the Presidents Cup was shared.
 
'It's dark. It's absolutely pitch dark,' said Player. 'If we tied, America retained the Cup. My guys said, 'No, we play now.' I came back to Jack and he mentioned his team said, 'We're tied and we both hold the Cup.' The American team made a gentlemanly decision.'
 
'It's not about who wins or loses. We said that from day one,' said Nicklaus. 'Gary and I both want to win. All our players want to win. The game is bigger than that.'
 
Sunday's action saw one of the most amazing days of golf in international team competition. The U.S. trailed by three points at the start of the singles and it came down to the final match with the teams tied at 16-16.
 
Davis Love III won the 16th hole in his match after Robert Allenby hit his second into some tall grass left of the hole. Both players hit great shots into the par-3 17th but neither converted their birdie putts.
 
At the par-5 18th, Love missed his second short of the green, while Allenby sent his over the putting surface. Love chunked a chip that rolled back to him and he hit his fourth eight feet past the hole. Allenby chipped to three feet, then Love missed his par putt and Allenby won the hole to earn a halve and tie the matches at 17 apiece.
 
'It was pretty intense,' said Love. 'When their whole team showed up on 14, I was pretty sure, it was us. I just didn't hit a good 4-iron. I just didn't hit the shot coming in.'
 
For the playoff, Woods and Els met on the 18th tee and the two halved the par-5 hole with pars. The first hole was the next in the extra session and Els found the fairway while Woods landed in the right rough. Els missed the green with his second and Woods left himself with a 40-footer for birdie. Els hit his chip six feet short of the flag and Woods had a about three feet for par. The hometown favorite sank his par-saving putt and Woods also converted his so it was on to No. 2.
 
Both players hit errant 5-irons off the tee. The advantage belonged to Els after their birdie lags but Woods holed his par putt first, then pumped his fists as his 11 teammates cheered by the green. Els cooly drained his putt and brought the same reaction from his International mates.
 
Then the confusion.
 
'Our team really busted it this week,' said Woods. 'It's been such a great week. I think there was a little speculation on whether or not we should've played a playoff to begin with.
 
'I think it's the right thing to do (sharing the Cup). It's great for golf because of how special it has been for the country of South Africa.'
 
Els agreed with the decision, only after it was clarified that the Cup would be shared, not retained by the Americans. In the Ryder Cup, if there is a tie, the defending champion keeps the Cup, and Els and his teammates were satisfied after it was made clear this Cup would not go back to U.S., who won in 2000.
 
'If it's the same deal as the Ryder Cup, if it's a tie, the team that won it last time retains the Cup,' said Els. 'We wanted to clarify that. My team was not happy with that.
 
'Then what Jack and Gary did, and what both teams did was the right thing.'
 
While the finish will surely spark debate as to whether or not a playoff between two players should be used to determine the outcome of a team event, Sunday featured an amazing day of singles matches.
 
Four matches went to the 18th hole. American Jerry Kelly, celebrating his 37th birthday, held off Tim Clark, Kenny Perry defeated Zimbabwe's Nick Price and Chris DiMarco bested Australian Stuart Appleby.
 
Perry and Price halved only three holes in an epic battle that saw Price rebound from 3-down deficits twice to square the match. Perry had a three-footer to win the 17th and guarantee at least a half point for the Americans, but missed.
 
At the 18th, Perry two-putted for birdie from 15 feet. Price had eight feet to square the match but the putt never fell and the three-time major winner snapped his putter over his knee in frustration.
 
The DiMarco/Appleby match became very important. When it reached the 17th hole, Appleby could have won the Presidents Cup for the Internationals if he won his match.
 
DiMarco won the 16th to draw even, then stiffed his tee ball at 17 to six feet. Appleby was in with par and DiMarco rolled home the putt to go 1-up, then held off Appleby for the win.
 
'I'm proud of myself,' admitted DiMarco.
 
In the battle of major winners in 2003, U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk beat Masters winner Mike Weir from Canada, 3 and 1, in the opening match.
 
K.J. Choi handled American Justin Leonard, 4 and 2, but Charles Howell III dusted Australian Adam Scott, 5 and 4, in the next match. Jay Haas, the 49-year- old pick by Nicklaus, tamed Stephen Leaney, 4 and 3, but Nicklaus' other pick, Fred Funk fell to Peter Lonard by the same score.
 
Phil Mickelson's 2003 Presidents Cup experience did not get any better Sunday. He lost to 2001 U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, 2 and 1, to go 0-5 in the four- day competition.
 
Vijay Singh, the PGA Tour money champion, dismissed David Toms, 4 and 3, before Woods beat Els by the same margin.
 
Related Links:
  • Presidents Cup Scoring
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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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.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.