Europeans Rout Americans on Day 1

By Associated PressSeptember 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Hal Sutton wanted his best two players to set the tone for the Ryder Cup. Did they ever.
 
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson got hammered in the morning and blew it in the afternoon, and the rest of the Americans followed suit Friday as Europe matched the largest first-day lead in Ryder Cup history.
 
This might have been the quietest day at a Ryder Cup, as most of the 38,000 fans sat in stunned silence watching Colin Montgomerie & Co. build a 6-1 lead without too much effort.
 
'I don't think we surprised ourselves,' Padraig Harrington said. 'That's what we set out to do.'
 
Montgomerie and Harrington were the ones who set the tone, making four straight birdies to start their opening better-ball match. They never trailed against Woods and Mickelson -- the American 'Dream Team' playing together for the first time in the Ryder Cup -- and won 2 and 1.
 
'Psychologically, it was almost worth two points to us,' Montgomerie said.
 
Europe didn't need the extra point. It had Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Darren Clarke also winning both their matches and again grabbing early momentum in these biennial matches.
 
'This was their day,' said Chris DiMarco, who teamed with Jay Haas in an alternate-shot match for the only U.S. victory on an otherwise bleak day. The other half-point came from Chris Riley, who made a 6-foot par putt on the 18th hole to enable him and Stewart Cink to halve their better-ball match.
 
Europe matched the largest first-day lead, first set by the United States in 1975 in an era before continental players were added to the mix and the Americans seemingly only had to show up to win the shiny gold trophy.
 
The Europeans must feel the same way. They have won the cup six of the last nine times, and there was nothing Friday to suggest these matches would turn out any differently.
 
It took the Americans 70 holes and 6 hours before they led in any match -- and not even that one lasted.
 
Woods and Mickelson seized early control against Clarke and Westwood in the alternate-shot match when Woods hit a towering 3-wood within 10 feet on the par-5 second hole. They won the next two holes for a 3-up lead, but that was gone by the 10th hole.
 
Mickelson, with one of several blunders, watched his wedge on the 11th spin off the front of the green and back into the fairway for a bogey that gave Europe its first lead in that match. And while the Americans scratched back to tie the match when Westwood couldn't get out of a bunker on the 17th, the final hole summed up their day.
 
Mickelson teed off on No. 18 with a 3-wood, and he sliced it so badly that it one-hopped off the out-of-bounds fence and stopped only a few feet away, leaving Woods no choice but to take a one-shot penalty drop away from the fence. They wound up with a double bogey and another loss.
 
Woods also started 0-2 two years ago at The Belfry.
 
Mickelson, who left himself open to criticism by switching equipment last week and not playing the course the last two days of practice, now has lost nine straight matches in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
 
Neither stopped to comment, sitting in a cart with their wife and fiancee as assistant captain Steve Jones drove them through a throng of reporters to the lockerroom.
 
Sutton was practically speechless.
 
'I'm going to have to look at the pairings pretty closely,' he said. 'I had a game plan for today, and the game plan (was) totally foiled. Tiger played pretty good, but not his best. Phil didn't play very well. We'll see.'
 
The other big loser was Davis Love III, who never got past the 16th hole in either of his matches.
 
European spirits were high, but they have been down this road before. They led 6-2 after the first day at Brookline in 1999, eventually losing in the face of an incredible Sunday comeback by the Americans.
 
'We got off to a good start,' Montgomerie said. 'That's all it is.'
 
Sutton showed up on the first tee wearing a Stetson hat -- a gift from the U.S. caddies -- that only enhanced the tough-guy image he talked up all week.
 
Maybe he should have left it on.
 
The Americans again played like they had everything to lose, and they almost lost every match. Riley, despite missing several birdie chances, saved the day with his par putt on the 18th.
 
Love and Chad Campbell, said by Sutton to be as 'strong as new rope,' combined to make only one birdie and suffered the worse loss of the day, 5 and 4, to Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
 
David Toms, the American star two years ago at The Belfry, didn't have a single birdie on his card as he and Jim Furyk barely put up a fight against Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald, losing 5 and 3.
 
'When you don't play great golf on a U.S. Open setup, that's the way it's going to be,' Toms said.
 
As for Woods and Mickelson?
 
'This might be one of the greatest teams every paired in U.S. history,' Sutton had said on the eve of the matches. 'They might even shoot 58.'
 
Instead, they ran into the best tandem at Oakland Hills -- Montgomerie and Harrington -- who seized control of the match on the opening hole and applied relentless pressure the whole way around. 'I think the Americans are under a little bit more pressure than we are,' Montgomerie said. 'But that is for you guys to figure out and analyze. Our job is to win. And that's what we've done this morning.'
 
And that's what they continued to do in the afternoon.
 
DiMarco and the 50-year-old Haas built a 2-up lead on the 10th hole and never led Jimenez and Thomas Levet get any closer. DiMarco, a jock in pleated trousters, was the most emotional player for the Americans, pumping his fist after every putt and urging the fans to make some noise.
 
'I want the guys to hear us,' DiMarco said.
 
Apparently, they didn't.
 
Love and Fred Funk never gave themselves good chances at birdie. Kenny Perry overshot the 15th green with a wedge in his hand just when he and Cink were gaining momentum.
 
Europe left the cool, overcast day cautiously optimistic. 'The U.S. team obviously has something to prove,' Harrington said. 'They're going to come out strong tomorrow, all guns blazing. It's going to be a tough day for us.'
 
Even when they played like world-beaters, the Europeans still like to see themselves as the underdogs.
 
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    Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

    Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

    Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

    “It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

    No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


    On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

    “Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

    “Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

    A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

    “But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

    It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


    Purse: $6 million

    Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

    Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


    Notables in the field

    Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Henrik Stenson

    • Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

    • Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


    Sergio Garcia

    • Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

    • Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


    Webb Simpson

    • Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

    • 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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    McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

    For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

    The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

    McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

    By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

    But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

    Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.