McDowell adds Ryder Cup to growing resume

By Associated PressOctober 4, 2010, 11:32 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Graeme McDowell’s day began later than most, which was fine with him. The last player off the tee in the Ryder Cup, he wanted nothing more than a nice relaxing round of golf, followed by some celebrating with the rest of a European team that seemed to be on its way to an easy win at home.

What he got was the toughest back nine of his life, and a place in Ryder Cup history.

Enjoying his golf one minute, he was shaking inside the next. Like a condemned man heading to the gallows, he knew it would soon be his turn.

Results from the 38th Ryder Cup

Session 1 Fourballs
Session 2 Foursomes
Session 3 Foursomes
Session 3 Fourballs
Session 4 Singles

“I didn’t want it to come down to me, that’s for sure,” McDowell said. “I hoped these guys beside me were able to do the job and my caddie was going to give me the nod at one point to relax and to know that we had done the job.”

The job, though, was his. McDowell knew it from the minute he got to the 10th green, looked up at the leaderboard and started to do the math.

The Americans were surging. The Europeans were just trying to hang on.

“I was imagining losing and I was imagining winning in the same breath,” McDowell said. “There was a lot of negativity in my head.”

Such is the pressure of the Ryder Cup, which brings out emotions players never knew they had. Just a few months ago McDowell won a U.S. Open by having the steely resolve to make par on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, but this was something different.

“This is another stratosphere compared to Pebble Beach,” McDowell said.

Indeed, his final match at Ryder Cup meant everything, and McDowell delivered just when it seemed everything was slipping away.

A brilliant birdie on the difficult 16th gave him some breathing room. A 4-iron to just off the green on the par-3 17th did the rest.

A day that began with Europe comfortably ahead and McDowell’s match against Hunter Mahan being played for little more than bragging rights, ended with McDowell in the center of a wild mass of people who raced onto the 17th green to celebrate.

The party traveled to the 18th green, to the balcony of the Celtic Manor clubhouse where McDowell ran down a long line of fans, slapping hands with anyone who wanted to touch Europe’s new golfing hero.

It was a remarkable scene for the 31-year-old from Northern Ireland, who in the space of less than four months went from being a decent player on the European Tour to a major champion and now the man who saved Europe from itself on the first Monday in Ryder Cup history.

He somehow was able to conquer his worst fears when they very nearly got the better of him.

“I can safely say that I’ve never felt that nervous on a golf course in my life before,” McDowell said.

The win came on the same course where McDowell’s magical run began the first week in June, when he shot 64 and 63 in the final two rounds to win the Welsh Open. That moved him into position to make his second Ryder Cup team, and two weeks later he stunned the golf world with a gritty final round to become the first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open.

Not a bad season for any player, but nothing compared to this.

“Obviously, I was out there trying to win it for me, for my 11 teammates, for Colin, for Europe, for all of those fans out there,” McDowell said. “It was a different level completely to what Pebble Beach was, and this is why this golf tournament is extremely special and will continue to be one of the greatest – probably the greatest golf event on the planet.”

McDowell always figured to be in the spotlight in this Ryder Cup, if only because European captain Colin Montgomerie always intended to match him with countryman Rory McIlroy, a 21-year-old superstar in the making. The two played decently together, going 1-1-1 in team matches, but McDowell was struggling with his swing and not doing anything to indicate that he would shine in the finals.

Montgomerie thought differently, making a strategic decision to hold McDowell in reserve and send him off in the final match just in case things turned sour for a European team that came into the day with a 9 1/2 -6 1/2 -point lead that seemed almost insurmountable.

Montgomerie knew what happened at Pebble Beach. He figured a player who could withstand the pressure to win his first major championship could withstand the pressure of being the closer if it somehow came to be.

“There was a reason Graeme was there and it worked out brilliantly,” Montgomerie said.

While McDowell knew from the 10th green on that his match was going to count, he wasn’t sure how much until he hit his drive on the difficult 16th hole and was walking to the ball in the middle of the fairway. By then, what had been a 3-up lead had shrunk to a one-hole lead, and McDowell had lost the previous hole with a flubbed chip.

Word reached McDowell on the fairway that Rickie Fowler had birdied the last four holes to salvage a half point for the Americans. Now, instead of simply needing to tie his match for Europe to win, McDowell needed to win it.

His 6-iron shot headed for the green and finished 15 feet away, as the crowd roared and his teammates gave each other high-fives. Then McDowell stroked the putt and it caught the right edge, falling in for a birdie that put him 2-up with 2 to go.

“The greatest second shot and greatest putt that I’ve hit in my career,” McDowell said.

Not long after, the greatest celebration of his career began.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”

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Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

"Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

"I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

"I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

"Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

"I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."