Americans Fight Back Still Trail

By Associated PressSeptember 18, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The Americans finally showed up at the Ryder Cup.
Playing with passion and pride that was missing the first day, the United States sent Oakland Hills into a 'USA! USA!' frenzy by rallying against the Europeans on Saturday.
Europe collected 6 1/2 points from eight matches Friday, the most overwhelming margin by either team after the opening day since the current format was put in place a quarter-century ago.
It was a different story on Day 2.
The Americans won a couple of better-ball matches and halved another before losing to the most unheralded European team in the final match of the morning. Paul Casey sank a 3-footer for par at the 18th, giving him and David Howell a 1-up victory over Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell.
Europe still held an 8-4 lead heading to alternate-shot matches in the afternoon.
'I feel great,' U.S. captain Hal Sutton said. 'We let it slip away a little bit at the end, but we played great and I'm proud of them.'
At least the U.S. team stemmed the tide of what appeared to be a European rout.
'It was either put up or shut up today,' American Chris DiMarco said.
Tiger Woods, smiling more in the first couple of holes than he did all day on Friday, was clearly more comfortable with Chris Riley as a partner than Phil Mickelson. The Woods-Riley pairing cruised to a 4-and-3 win over Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter.
The Americans salvaged another half-point when DiMarco and 50-year-old Jay Haas halved their match with Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. The Europeans had two chances to win, but Garcia missed an 8-footer for birdie at the 17th and Westwood watched a 12-footer slide by at the final hole.
'To get a half-point is great,' DiMarco said. 'That's their two powerhouses. I think they were figuring they had that one.'
Speaking of powerhouses, Europe's Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington were dealt their first defeat of this Ryder Cup after winning two matches on Friday -- including a tone-setting victory over Woods and Mickelson.
Davis Love III and Stewart Cink knocked off the European juggernaut, 3 and 2. Cink clinched it by sinking a 25-foot birdie from the fringe at No. 16.
Montgomerie sat out the afternoon, ending his record streak of 30 straight Ryder Cup matches that began in 1991.
Everything was different at Oakland Hills.
It was warm and sunny, the sky a brilliant blue -- a striking contrast to the chill, wind and clouds of the first day. The crowd of 38,000 was much more boisterous than it was on Friday, spurring on the American team.
'Sergio had to step away three or four times,' DiMarco said, urging the crowd to 'keep it up' in the afternoon.
Sutton chastised his team Friday night, taking blame for the pairings -- 'there was no karma' -- but telling his players that they had to take responsibility for their timid play.
As if to drive his point home, Sutton benched Mickelson for the morning matches, choosing to rely instead on Ryder Cup rookies DiMarco, Riley and Campbell.
Mickelson was already a target for changing equipment last week and then not playing the course the final two days of practice. He sure didn't help himself by hitting one tee shot that nearly struck his wife, then blowing any chance of gaining a crucial point with his final drive that struck an out-of-bounds fence, forcing Woods to take a one-stroke penalty.
Mickelson was reduced to the role of spectator in the morning, cheering on his teammates as they chopped into the European lead. Lefty came over to hug the Haas after the 50-year-old sank a birdie putt at No. 5.
'This is sure making me feel good,' Mickelson said.
He wasn't feeling so good after Friday's debacle.
'I didn't sleep. It was brutal,' Mickelson said. 'I looked at some of the pictures and I was so tight.'
Mickelson was back on the course in the afternoon, teaming with David Toms for a match against Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Levet. The rest of the lineup: Clarke and Westwood vs. Haas and DiMarco; Garcia and Luke Donald vs. Furyk and Fred Funk; and Harrington and Paul McGinley vs. Love and Woods.
European captain Bernhard Langer decided to rest the 41-year-old Montgomerie, whose career record dropped to 18-8-5 -- still the best winning percentage of any European.
'It doesn't matter who gets the points as long as we get them,' Monty said. 'Individual Ryder Cup records mean nothing to me at all. It's a team event.'
Montgomerie had warned that his team couldn't rest easy. He brought up 1999, when the Europeans led 6-2 after the first day and 10-6 after the second, only to fall victim to the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.
'We got off to a good start,' Montgomerie cautioned. 'That's all it is.'
The Americans were making that point on Day 2.
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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?

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    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”