Europe rallies for 5-3 lead over U.S. after Day 1

By Associated PressSeptember 26, 2014, 7:53 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – For the first time in eight years, Europe is ahead after the first full day of play at the Ryder Cup.

Europe grabbed a 5-3 lead after Friday's two sessions at Gleneagles – even though big guns Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter contributed only half a point.

But it was an improbable half point that felt like a win, gave the home side a momentum boost and could prove decisive in the final outcome as Europe bids for its eighth victory in 10 Ryder Cups.

''We've seen in the Ryder Cups over the years how important momentum switches are and how it can really have a domino effect,'' European captain Paul McGinley said. ''So when the surge came from America at the end of the session this morning, for our guys to react as well as they did in all four matches, shows real strength of character.''

The last time the Europeans led after the opening day was at the K Club in Ireland in 2006. They went on to win 18 1/2-9 1/2. The Americans led after the first full day in each of the last three Ryder Cups.

Trailing the United States 2 1/2-1 1/2 after the morning fourballs, the Europeans won three of the alternate-shot matches in the afternoon. More dramatic was the late rally by McIlroy and Garcia, who came from two shots down with two to play to halve with Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.


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McIlroy made a 30-foot birdie putt at the 17th and Garcia hit a beautiful approach from the rough on the 18th to set up another birdie.

''That was probably as good as a win, to come back from where they were,'' McGinley said.

The No. 1-ranked McIlroy and No. 3 Garcia had lost their fourballs match in the morning, beaten 1-up by Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. Until the late comeback, it looked like McIlroy would become the first No. 1 player to lose two Ryder Cup matches on the same day since Tiger Woods in 2002.

''Sergio and I battled for all 36 holes out there today,'' McIlroy said. ''It was a long day for both of us, and just glad that we were able to contribute something to the cause today.''

He called the half-point a ''mini-victory.''

''It definitely is a huge halve in terms of momentum for the European team going into tomorrow,'' McIlroy said. ''It was huge. For Sergio and I, it's just nice to be able to walk away from today with at least something.''

The afternoon began with Lee Westwood and Jamie Donaldson pulling Europe level by beating Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar 2 up. Westwood, playing in his ninth Ryder Cup, enjoyed his role as mentor to the Welsh rookie.

''I love it, kind of watching somebody take to it like a duck to water,'' he said.

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson won their second match of the day, beating Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson 2 and 1. Rose said he wouldn't complain if he's picked to play in both sessions again on Saturday.

''There's so many good players on this team but you can only field eight a day,'' he said. ''So if that's what's called of us, we'll be up for it.''

Graeme McDowell and French rookie Victor Dubuisson secured the final point, defeating Mickelson and Bradley 3 and 2. It's the first time Mickelson and Keegan have lost together in the Ryder Cup after four straight wins.

''Very fortunate to be playing alongside a player who I think really is Europe's next superstar,'' McDowell said of the 24-year-old Dubuisson, the youngest player on the team. ''I really believe that. He was awesome today. He didn't miss a shot.''

In the morning, the Americans seemed to strike a big psychological blow by taking down McIlroy and Poulter. Three rookies played a huge part in the U.S. effort.

In a stunning performance, 21-year-old Jordan Spieth and 24-year-old Patrick Reed – the youngest pairing in Ryder Cup history – beat Poulter and Scottish rookie Stephen Gallacher 5 and 4.

U.S. captain Tom Watson had singled out Poulter as the one player the Americans wanted to target – even more than McIlroy. Poulter had won seven consecutive Ryder Cup matches and was the catalyst of Europe's remarkable comeback in Medinah two years ago. This was Poulter's heaviest Cup defeat ever.

''We couldn't manage to get it done today, so it's a shame,'' said the Englishman, who went without a single birdie. ''We don't hole enough putts, that simple.''

Watson said he was proud of his rookies, but decided not to send them out for the afternoon foursomes, something which proved to be a mistake.

''I said, 'I know you're going to be mad at me, but you'll be playing tomorrow for sure,''' Watson said.

 

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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.