International Team Takes Early Lead

By Sports NetworkSeptember 22, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PresidentGAINESVILLE, Va. -- The International side took a 3 1/2 - 2 1/2 lead after Thursday's six foursomes matches at The Presidents Cup at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
 
The International side made a big statement in the opening match as two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen and Adam Scott dispatched world No. 1 Tiger Woods and Fred Couples, 4 and 3.
 
David Toms, Mike Weir and Trevor Immelman
Mike Weir and Trevor Immelman gave David Toms and Stewart Cink little to smile about.
The second match was halved between Americans Jim Furyk and Fred Funk and Internationals Vijay Singh and Mark Hensby.
 
Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco hung on for a full point for the U.S. side when they beat Nick O'Hern and Tim Clark, 1-up.
 
The fourth contest easily went to the American team of Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank. They trounced Peter Lonard and Stuart Appleby, 4 and 2.
 
Reigning U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and Angel Cabrera took out one of the best American teams, Davis Love III and Kenny Perry. The International captured the match, 2 and 1.
 
Thursday's final match was the most lopsided. The International team of Trevor Immelman, a surprising captain's pick by Gary Player, and Mike Weir, having one of his worst seasons, destroyed Stewart Cink and David Toms, 6 and 5.
 
'I think we're a little disappointed,' admitted American captain Jack Nicklaus. 'Tomorrow is another day. We're basically a half-point behind.'
 
Woods and Couples never got on track Thursday, specifically Couples, who hit only one fairway.
 
The International side won the fourth, then Couples missed a 3-footer at the sixth to drop the Americans 2-down. Scott rolled in a 7-footer for birdie at the seventh to go 3-up, but the Americans answered with a win at the ninth to make the turn 2-down.
 
Couples drained a 25-footer for birdie at the par-5 10th, but Goosen ran in a 15-footer on top of his to halve the hole. The Internationals won the 12th, then the U.S. pair was in trouble at 14.
 
Goosen, as he did all afternoon, lagged a long birdie try to tap-in range. Woods missed the green with his approach, then Couples duffed his chip. Woods had to hole his chip to halve the hole and extend the match, but his chip hit the back of the cup, but rimmed out.
 
'Some of the shortcomings for me come out in alternate-shot,' admitted Couples. 'Today I was out-classed by three guys and I couldn't help Tiger at all.'
 
The first match to make it the distance was the second match. Furyk injured his rib cage on the second hole, but recovered enough to help the U.S. take a 1-up lead at the turn.
 
The lead changed five times in the next five holes, but when Hensby stroked home a 3-footer for par, the International side led 1-up through 16.
 
Hensby went from hero to goat quickly as he lost his ball off the tee at 17. The Americans won with a routine par to square the match, then it was off to the closing hole.
 
At the 18th, Singh drove right in the trees, but Hensby failed to reach the green with the team's second. Funk barely got over a bunker with his second, but ended up with a great shot that stopped 20 feet from the hole.
 
Singh chipped to 3 feet, and Furyk barely missed his birdie try. The Americans conceded the Internationals very missable putt to give the sides a half.
 
The next match also went the distance, as Mickelson and DiMarco squandered a 2-up lead with seven holes to play. O'Hern hit a spectacular second shot to the par-5 12th to set up a short eagle putt by Clark. They squared the match one hole later.
 
The U.S. won the 14th to briefly go 1-up, but the Internationals won the next hole to draw even. Mickelson missed an 8-footer for birdie that would have given them a 1-up lead, but they got a reprieve when O'Hern's 3-footer for par did not fall.
 
DiMarco had a good look at birdie at 17 that would have closed the match, but both pairs left with pars. At 18, both teams had birdie putts from around 20 feet and neither converted, giving the U.S. their 1-up win.
 
'Chris and I were playing very well,' said Mickelson. 'We hit two bad shots on the back side that gave them a couple of holes. We were able to gut it out down the stretch.'
 
The fourth match went the Americans' way once they took the fourth hole. The sides traded wins at six and seven and when Appleby drove in a hazard at eight, the Internationals lost the hole and fell 2-down.
 
The Americans won No. 11 to move 3-up. The sides halved the next four holes and the Americans had two putts from 20 feet to win the match on 16. Verplank, the only rookie for Nicklaus' squad, rolled in the birdie putt to end the contest.
 
'We weren't quite in rhythm, but near the middle of the round, then at the turn, we started stringing together good shots and good putts,' said Verplank. 'I knew we were going to be a good team and today, we were.'
 
Love and Perry drew even when Perry sank a 12-foot birdie putt at the 11th. The two sides remained even until Campbell and Cabrera won the 14th. Perry missed an 8-foot par putt at the 16th and the U.S. were 2-down with two to play.
 
Perry atoned for the miscue at 16 with a 25-foot birdie putt at the 17th. Unfortunately for the U.S., Campbell ran home a 15-footer to halve the hole and win the match, 2 & 1.
 
'I think we gelled very well together as a team,' said Campbell. 'On the back nine, we holed a few crucial par putts, then I managed to finish off on 17.'
 
The anchor match was never close as Weir sank a 7-foot birdie putt on the first. The Internationals kept it going with wins at four, five, nine, 10 and 12 to make short work of the American team.
 
On Friday, there will be six four-ball matches with five foursomes and five four-balls on Saturday. All 12 players are in on Sunday for the singles matches.
 
Related Links:
  • Scoring - Presidents Cup
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
  • Getty Images

    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

    Getty Images

    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

    Getty Images

    Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

    La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

    "Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

    The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

    "That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."