Great Britain and Ireland Open Four-Point Advantage
Saturday morning's matches were contested in cold, rainy conditions and the pace of play was extremely slow, with the final match taking six hours to complete.
In the morning's featured match, European Ryder Cuppers from past and present went 17 holes before a winner was crowned. Continental Europe captain Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, the most successful European Ryder Cup team of all time, beat Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, both members of the 2002 Ryder Cup team, 2-and-1.
In Saturday morning's other matches, Paul Lawrie and Paul Casey from the Great Britain & Ireland team bested Thomas Bjorn and Niclas Fasth from the Continental European team, 2-and-1.
Colin Montgomerie, the team captain for Great Britain & Ireland, teamed with Ian Woosnam to defeat Robert Karlsson and Mathias Gronberg, 4-and-3.
The anchor match between Great Britain & Ireland's Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood and the Continental European's pair of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Raphael Jacquelin was the only match to reach the 18th green.
Jimenez squared the match after he chipped in for birdie at the par-3 17th but players once again struggled on the difficult final hole at Druids Glen Golf Club.
Jimenez landed in the first cut of rough off the tee and had no choice but to lay up short of the green at the par-4 hole. His ball landed in the right rough short of a lake guarding the putting surface. Jacquelin's metal-wood approach ended up in a left greenside bunker and he was never a factor in the hole after finding the sand.
Westwood was in the fairway but his metal-wood shot splashed in the water, effectively taking him out of the hole. Clarke, who bombed his drive considerably farther than his three playing partners, knocked a 3-iron to 10 feet.
Jimenez could not get up and down for par while Clarke two-putted for the par and the 1-up victory.
Ballesteros, the swashbuckling Spaniard for whom the competition is named, drained a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 14 to give the Continental Europe team a 2-up advantage.
Three holes later, the Spaniards held their 2-up lead when Ballesteros found the right, greenside bunker off the tee. Harrington nestled his tee ball five feet from the stick, looking to give the Great Britain & Ireland team a good chance of cutting the deficit.
Ballesteros, who has lost his form that made him one of golf's dominant figures in the '80s, had some magic left in him. He holed out from the bunker for birdie, which gave the team their only point of the morning session.
'It was a memorable day for both of us, playing together again and shooting 6-under-par for the back nine,' said Ballesteros. 'Playing with Jose, there is always the guarantee he is going to play well. It was a fantastic way to finish a special match.'
Olazabal was so impressed with his partner that he got on his knees and bowed in praise after the chip fell.
'It was a special day for both of us, just like the old days,' said Olazabal, who has an 11-2-2 record with Ballesteros as his partner at The Ryder Cup. 'It was really special for me, to watch him chip in from the bunker at the 17th. It was amazing and you don't get many days like that. Seve did what he's done so often in the past and I had to get down on my knees to applaud that shot. That's Seve!'
Montgomerie and Woosnam, who never played together in a Ryder Cup despite being on the same team four times, won the ninth hole before Woosnam ran home a seven-foot birdie at No. 10 to go 2-up.
Montgomerie holed an 18-foot putt for a win at No. 11 and the match was over after he birdied the 15th.
Casey dropped in a two-foot birdie at the 14th to go 1-up and Lawrie followed with a 15-foot birdie at the next hole to take a 2-up lead that would never be challenged.
Full scores from the Seve Trophy
Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational
Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.
The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.
Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.
Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.
Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.
Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.
Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA.
New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.
Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.
Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.
Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.
Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.
Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions.
Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might
Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.
“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”
Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”
“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”
Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)
Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”
Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.
“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"
As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.
Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”