Cup rookie Wilson helps lead Euro charge

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Oliver Wilson is no longer Oliver Who?
 
The European Ryder Cup rookie hardly played like one during his debut match Saturday at Valhalla. Wilson, a 28-year-old from England relatively unknown in these parts, teamed with Henrik Stenson to stun Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim, 2 and 1, in a foursomes match that ended with a putt Wilson wont soon forget.
 
He rapped in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to cap a stirring rally from four holes down and validate Faldos decision to start Wilson in the morning over Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
 
Not bad for a player still looking for his first professional victory.
 
I knew if I kept getting chances Id hole one, Wilson said. I thought it was a bit closer heading up to the green, so when I got up there and it was farther I still thought it was holeable.
 
Was it ever.
 
Wilson left the read up to Stenson then calmly dropped it in, giving the Europeans an improbable victory when Mickelson failed to make his 20-foot birdie.
 
Ive been waiting to hole that putt all year, Wilson said. You know, Ive done quite a few things like that in my amateur career and its annoying that I havent done it as a professional. I love team competition and theres no better stage to do it on.
 
The giddy celebration afterward seemed unlikely after a nightmarish opening six holes for the Europeans. Though Wilson overcame his first-tee jitters and drilled it right down the middle, the Europeans quickly went four down and looked overmatched.
 
Wilson, however, never panicked.
 
He might be the first player to make a Ryder Cup team without winning, but he earned the 10th spot through his consistency. Wilson had four runner-up finishes and finished in the top 10 seven times. And he relied on that consistency in his Ryder Cup debut, aiming for fairways and greens with hopes the Americans would cool off.
 
We felt like theyre not going to keep up that kind of play, Wilson said. Its almost impossible to keep making that amount of birdies out there. We were due to make a few.
 
Turns out, they didnt really have to. Mickelson and Kim, who had electrified the crowd on Friday, started spraying shots all over the place. They made a mess of the seventh, bogeyed the eighth, missed a birdie chance at the 10th then followed with bogeys at 14 and 15, giving the Europeans the lead for the first time.
 
Nick came up to me on 7 before the second shot and said Just start that magic in a minute now, and it seems like we did and fought well, Stenson said. Oliver had some great putts that just wouldnt drop, and we said he was due to make one. And he did.
 
It wasnt, however, good enough to earn a spot in the lineup Saturday afternoon.
 
Wilson, the only player on both teams who did not play on Friday, was still on the course when Faldo told him he would be sitting out the afternoon fourball matches. Disappointed, Wilson turned his anger into a positive.
 
It probably spurred me on a little bit, Wilson said. We just kept pressing on and it just made it a bit more important.
 
The unlikely victory gave the Europeans a much-needed boost and brought praise from his teammates.
 
Thats a fantastic comeback, Graeme McDowell said. I thought it was going to be a tough morning for him, his first match foursomes, thrown right into the mix when Europe is behind. But what a comeback for the guys.
 
Especially for the steady Wilson, Europes mystery man no more.
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
  • Getty Images

    Woods leads by three; McIlroy in final group

    By Doug FergusonSeptember 22, 2018, 10:41 pm

    ATLANTA – Tiger Woods is three shots ahead and one round away from capping his comeback season with a victory.

    Woods played the most dynamic golf he has all year with six birdies in his opening seven holes, building as much as a five-shot lead before he cooled off for a 5-under 65 and a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy in the Tour Championship.

    He has the 54-hole lead for the first time since his last victory in 2013 at the Bridgestone Invitational. He has never lost an official tournament when leading by more than two shots.

    Woods has never been in better position to show he's all the way back.

    It will be the first time Woods and McIlroy (66) play in the final group Sunday on the PGA Tour.

    Getty Images

    Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

    By Tiger TrackerSeptember 22, 2018, 10:25 pm

    Tiger Woods fired a 5-under 65 on Saturday to build a three-stroke lead over Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy at the Tour Championship. We tracked him.


    Getty Images

    Highlights: Tiger fires 65, takes 3-shot lead at East Lake

    By Nick MentaSeptember 22, 2018, 10:25 pm

    Following a Saturday 65 at East Lake, Tiger Woods will take a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose into the final round of the Tour Championship.

    Woods, 12 under for the week, will be paired with McIlroy in the final round on Sunday, as he hunts his 80th PGA Tour victory and his first win in five years.

    The 14-time major winner ran away from the field early, making birdie on six of his first seven holes to go ahead by as many as five.

    Woods immediately claimed the outright lead with a birdie at No. 1, whipping the Atlanta crowd into an early frenzy.

    Following a 4-foot par save at the second, Woods moved ahead by two and reached 9 under par when he played this approach from 144 yards and sank this 8-footer for birdie at the third.

    One hole later, Woods reached double digits at 10 under par when he poured in a bending 21-footer that just crept over the lip.

    He made it four birdies in his first five holes when he bombed a 320-yard drive, wedged to 7 feet, and converted again.

    He looked in danger of not capitalizing on his first crack at a par-5 after he came out of a fairway wood on his second shot, but a splash from the bunker and a make from 6 feet gave him his fifth circle in six holes.

    He went Vintage Tiger at the seventh, playing this fairway bunker shot from 172 yards to 5 feet, setting up his sixth birdie in his first seven holes and advancing him to 13 under, five clear.

    Looking to make the turn in 29, Woods instead missed the green at the par-3 ninth, failed to get up and down for par, and had to settle for 5-under 30.

    Following pars at 10 and 11, he started looking this approach up and down at the 12th, leading to his seventh birdie of the day.

    Woods saw his lead decrease from five to three when he bogeyed the par-4 16th and Rose birdied. Woods missed the fairway and green and then failed to pull off an aggressive flop shot up a steep slope.

    Woods looked in position to pick up one more stroke at the par-5 18th, but proved unable to get up and down for birdie from the back bunker. Instead, he wrapped up a closing par and back-nine 35.

    Getty Images

    DEFCON Tiger: Woods' Saturday lights Twitter ablaze

    By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Tiger Woods grabbed the Tour Championship lead and the sports world by the throat Saturday, making birdie on six of his first seven holes in his third round and sending social media into a frenzy.

    Here's a sampling from athletes, journalists and celebrtiies, and we'll start with two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry.