Europe Takes Two Point Lead on Day 1

By Sports NetworkSeptember 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- Colin Montgomerie holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to earn a half and give the Europeans a two-point lead after Friday at the 36th Ryder Cup.
The European side, the two-time defending champion and winner of four of the last five Ryder Cups, is ahead 5-3 at a soggy K Club. Rain came down several different times, but play was never halted.
Colin Montgomerie
Colin Montgomerie reacts to his match-tying putt on the 18th hole Friday afternoon.
Montgomerie and Lee Westwood birdied the last to earn a half against Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco in Friday's final match of the foursomes, or alternate-shot session.
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk got the Americans on the board Friday morning with a fourball victory, but struggled late in their foursomes match. They lost the final two holes to give Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald a 2-up victory.
'I did struggle in probably the first six, seven holes in the morning,' admitted Woods. 'But I got it turned around and hit some really good shots, and this afternoon, I actually hit it pretty good.'
Not all of the news late in Friday's matches was bad for the Americans. Chad Campbell and Ryder Cup rookie Zach Johnson birdied the last three holes to earn a halve against Irishmen Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.
Friday's other foursomes match featured another close contest. David Toms and Stewart Cink birdied the 15th hole, then held on for pars as they halved their match against David Howell and Henrik Stenson, who came off the European bench Friday afternoon.
In the morning fourballs, the European side grabbed a 2 1/2 - 1 1/2 lead. Woods and Furyk toppled Harrington and Montgomerie, 1-up.
Cink and rookie J.J. Henry fought back to earn a half against Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson, while Garcia and fellow countryman Jose Maria Olazabal dispatched Toms and Brett Wetterich, 3 and 2.
In the final fourball match, Darren Clarke, competing in the Ryder Cup a little over a month after losing his wife Heather to cancer, teamed with good friend Westwood to best Mickelson and DiMarco, 1-up.
'I'm obviously very, very pleased that I got a point, that Lee and I have got a point for the team,' said Clarke. 'It was always going to be a big morning for me. I said I'll get myself through this week, and so far I think I've done that pretty well.'
As difficult as it is to be trailing, the American team can take solace in one thing. At this point in 2004, at home, the U.S. trailed 6 1/2 - 1 1/2 en route to the worst loss in history, an 18 1/2 - 9 1/2 drubbing.
'Obviously there were a lot of tight matches,' said American captain Tom Lehman. 'We didn't make a lot of putts. That would be the one thing that I would say was the difference in the day between the two teams. I felt like our team hit a lot of good putts, but didn't make many. The European team definitely made the putts they needed to when they had to.'
In what turned out to be the final match on the course, Montgomerie and Westwood took the lead with a birdie at the 13th. Mickelson and DiMarco only needed par at 14 to square the match, but took a 1-up lead with a birdie at the par-5 16th.
DiMarco had the honor on the tee at the difficult 17th and drove well right of the fairway. Mickelson hit a spectacular approach that landed on the green and the two posted a two-putt par that halved the hole.
At the par-5 last, DiMarco hit the team's second into a greenside bunker. Montgomerie ripped a 3-wood on to the front portion of the putting surface. Westwood ran his long eagle putt 6 feet past the hole, while Mickelson blasted out 10 feet short of the stick.
DiMarco missed his birdie try, but Montgomerie did not.
Mickelson and DiMarco weren't the only highly-tauted American team that played poorly in foursomes. Woods and Furyk, the only U.S. winners in the morning against Montgomerie and Harrington, double-bogeyed the first when Furyk's drive landed against a tree and never took the lead from there.
They were 2-down when Donald drained a birdie putt at the 12th, but Woods and Furyk, ranked first and third in the world, respectively, clawed back. Furyk holed a long birdie putt at 13, then Woods knocked the team's tee ball stiff at the par-3 14th. The Europeans had a birdie look, but missed and conceded the Americans birdie to tie the match.
At the par-4 17th, Furyk missed a 10-foot birdie putt and lost the hole since Garcia hit the team's approach inside 3 feet. The Europeans were armed with a 1-up lead heading to the final tee.
Woods drove into the fairway, but Furyk hit a hybrid-club left into the water. That allowed the Europeans to win the 18th with a par and walk off with a 2-up victory.
'I hit the ball way on the toe and made a poor swing from over the top,' said Furyk, referring to his errant shot at 18. 'So I have no excuse there. I made a bad swing.'
In the opening foursomes match, the Americans had plenty of chances for birdies, but could not get the flat stick working. That is, until late in the match.
Campbell and Johnson were 2-down with three holes to play and at the par-5 16th, Johnson reached the green in two and Campbell lagged it down to 2 feet. Johnson tapped in the birdie putt to cut the deficit to 1-down.
Johnson rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the 17th, but McGinley followed him in the hole from 9 feet to halve the hole. At the 18th, Harrington drove into the right rough and McGinley had to lay up with the team's second. Johnson put the Americans on in two and it came down to short games.
Harrington put the team's third over the green, but McGinley chipped to concession range. The Irish duo made par, but Campbell ran the eagle putt 4 feet past the hole. Johnson calmly stroked home the birdie to win the hole and halve the match.
'It's obviously disappointing. The boys finished well,' acknowledged Harrington. 'They finished birdie, birdie, birdie, which is what was asked. They certainly deserved a halve, even though we feel a little bit disappointed with the halve.'
Cink and Toms birdied the second to win the hole, but the Europeans birdied three to square the match. Europe remained ahead through most of the match and when Howell's drive found water at 15, the match was even.
Both teams had birdie looks at 18. Toms' 25-footer lipped out of the hole, but Howell narrowly missed his birdie putt to end the match in a halve.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

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    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

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    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''