US Takes Early Lead at Curtis Cup
In the morning foursomes (alternate shot), Blumenherst, of Scottsdale, Ariz., paired with Tiffany Joh of San Diego, Calif., for a nail-biting 1-up victory over Breanna Loucks and Florentyna Parker. Blumenherst and Joh held a 5-up lead after 12 holes but the GB&I duo rallied to cut the deficit to 1 down heading to the 18th green. After Joh missed her birdie attempt on No. 18, Parkers 6-footer for birdie slid by the hole, allowing the Americans to hold on for the narrow victory.
Lewis, of The Woodlands, Texas paired with Alison Walshe of Westford, Mass., for the USAs other foursomes victory Friday morning. Lewis and Walshe trailed 2 down to Elizabeth Bennett of England and Jodi Ewart of Scotland after five holes, but came back to earn a 3-and-1 victory for the USAs first point of the Match.
Blumenherst and Lewis then paired to earn the USAs final point of the day with a 3-and-1 victory over Bennett and Parker in the afternoons four-ball (better-ball) matches.
Its always nice to start off with two wins and help the team out a little bit, said Blumenherst, who was also a member of the victorious 2006 USA Curtis Cup team. Im also playing really well so its a good way to start the weekend.
The success of two of Americas most decorated collegiate players did not come as a surprise to USA Captain Carol Semple Thompson.
I did have very high expectations for both of them going into this, so Im not at all surprised that they played well, said Thompson, a 12-time Curtis Cupper for the USA. They teamed well together this afternoon to come back from three down.
Scotland teenager Sally Watson earned two points for the GB&I side, first pairing with fellow Scot Michele Thomson to earn a 1-up foursomes victory over Mina Harigae of Monterey, Calif., and Jennie Lee of Henderson, Nev. Watson then paired with Krystle Caithness, also of Scotland, to earn a 3-and-2 win over Joh and Meghan Bolger of Oakland Park, Fla., in the afternoons four-balls.
The two youngest American players, Harigae, 18, and 16-year-old Kimberly Kim of Hilo, Hawaii, earned the other USA four-balls point with a 3-and-2 victory over Thomson and Scotlands Carly Booth, at 15 the youngest player in the Match.
Harigae and Lee, who were 4 down to Watson and Thomson in the morning, rallied to close the deficit to one hole before losing on No. 18. Harigae said the comeback helped her in the afternoon match with Kim, the 2006 U.S. Womens Amateur champ.
It was a good momentum kind of thing, said Harigae, the reigning U.S. Womens Amateur Public Links champion. I felt really good and I was pumped because I started playing that back nine and then I just carried it on.
The teams will again play three foursomes and three four-ball matches Saturday. All eight players for each side will then play singles on Sunday. The USA needs nine points to retain the Curtis Cup, while GB&I needs 9 points to win the Cup back for the first time since the 1996 Match.
The Curtis Cup Match is a womens amateur team competition played every other year, with one squad from the USA and the other representing England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and Wales.
Results of the first round of foursomes (alternate shot) and four-balls (best ball) at the 2008 Curtis Cup Match, played Friday at the par-72, 6,638-yard Old Course at St. Andrews.
Stacy Lewis, The Woodlands, Texas, and Alison Walshe, Westford, Mass. (USA) def. Liz Bennett, Sway, England, and Jodi Ewart, Middleham, England (GB&I), 3 and 1
Sally Watson, Elie, Scotland, and Michele Thomson, Ellon, Scotland (GB&I) def. Mina Harigae, Monterey, Calif., and Jennie Lee, Henderson, Nev. (USA), 1 up
Amanda Blumenherst, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Tiffany Joh, San Diego, Calif. (USA) def. Breanne Loucks, Wrexham, Wales, and Florentyna Parker, Southport, England (GB&I), 1 up
Kimberly Kim, Hilo, Hawaii, and Mina Harigae, Monterey, Calif. (USA) def. Carly Booth, Comrie, Scotland, and Michele Thomson, Ellon, Scotland (GB&I), 3 and 2
Sally Watson, Elie, Scotland, and Krystle Caithness, Cellardyke, Scotland (GB&) def. Tiffany Joh, San Diego, Calif., and Meghan Bolger, Oakland Park, Fla. (USA), 3 and 2
Amanda Blumenherst, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Stacy Lewis, The Woodlands, Texas (USA) def. Florentyna Parker, Southport, England, and Liz Bennett, Sway, England (GB&), 3 and 1
Pairings for the second round of foursomes (alternate-shot) matches to be played Saturday morning at the par-72, 6,638-yard Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland (times are EDT):
3 a.m. ' Carly Booth, Comrie, Scotland, and Breanne Loucks, Wrexham, Wales (GB&I) vs. Kimberly Kim, Hilo, Hawaii and Jennie Lee, Henderson, Nev. (USA)
3:12 a.m. ' Sally Watson, Elie, Scotland, and Krystle Caithness, Cellardyke, Scotland (GB&) vs. Alison Walshe, Westford, Mass., and Stacy Lewis, The Woodlands, Texas (USA)
3:24 a.m. ' Liz Bennett, Sway, England and Jodi Ewart, Middleham, England (GB&) vs. Amanda Blumenherst, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Tiffany Joh, San Diego, Calif. (USA)
Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker
John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.
The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.
That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.
He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.
Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters
Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.
Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.
In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.
Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.
“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”
Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking.
Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup
In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.
Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.
Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
September can’t get here quick enough.
Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.
There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.
In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.
“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”
The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”
Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.
Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.
The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.
The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.
“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.
Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.
After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.
It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.
Tweet of the week:
Welp I didn’t get hit by a ballistic missile today so that’s a plus! #imalive— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 14, 2018
It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”
The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.