Mickelson salvages pride with win

By Associated PressOctober 4, 2010, 11:33 pm

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Phil Mickelson salvaged some pride with his first win in this Ryder Cup, a 4 and 3 pounding of Sweden’s Peter Hanson in singles.

The world’s second-ranked player finished the team portion of the matches 0-3. That pushed the total number of losses in his eight Ryder Cup appearances to 17 – one more than Raymond Floyd and the most by a U.S. player.

“Every one of us can look back on a match and say that this could have been the deciding factor, that could have been the deciding factor,” Mickelson said after the U.S. lost 14 1/2-13 1/2.

“I want to try to be a leader, and the best way to lead is through play. … And when I didn’t win any of my first three points, I felt more disappointment than I’ve ever felt, because this was an opportunity for us to win here in Europe. The fact that we came so close, and I let some of these opportunities to gain points for our team slide, it does hurt more than some of the past losses.”


ONCE IS ENOUGH: Even though Colin Montgomerie said last week that he wouldn’t consider another stint as Europe’s captain, Lee Westwood decided to give it a shot.

Discussing Montgomerie’s legacy in the Ryder Cup – eight appearances, five wins, an unblemished record in singles as a player and now this victory as captain – Westwood said, “It’s difficult to talk about it when he’s 15 feet down the table from me.

“I grew up watching Colin. … Sorry, that’s not meant in a bad way, that, Colin. It’s not meant to make you feel old. But you know, unless he wants to do it next time, it’s the cherry on the top, isn’t it, when you can become a winning captain?”

Westwood barely finished talking when Montgomerie cut off any further speculation.

“I would just say to finish off that, that this is a one-hit time. I’m delighted that Europe has won this trophy, and I will not be doing this again, I can assure you,” Montgomerie said.

“We have a number of fantastic vice captains, plus (Jose Maria) Olazabal, and one of those five, I’m sure, will be your next European Ryder Cup captain who will defend, hopefully defend the trophy at Medinah in 2012,” he added. “It will not be me.”


THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Handed a convenient alibi, Jim Furyk handed it right back.

Earlier in the week, the teams debated whether playing in the FedEx Cup would help or hurt a player. Some thought it would help them stay sharp, others that it would result in fatigue.

Nine members of the U.S. team qualified for the 30-man field compared to just one from Europe. Considering the soggy course conditions and the number of matches jammed into the third session – when Europe took 5 1/2 of a possible 6 points and built a 9 1/2-6 1/2 lead going into Monday’s singles – Furyk was asked whether winning the FedEx cost him his legs here.

He earned a half-point in the alternate-shot match, but lost both his better-ball and singles matches.

“I’m not making any excuses. I didn’t play the first session, so basically, I slept all week,” Furyk said. “I got to sleep in no matter what. So I’ve got no excuse, no regrets. I’m well rested, and I said it after I won the FedEx Cup in the media room there, if you can’t get up for a Ryder Cup, you can’t get up.'

“There’s 12 guys here that were committed to trying to win the Cup, trying to bring it back to the United States, and we have got no excuse for ‘I was worn out.’ I had a week off before going to Atlanta, so playing two weeks in a row is not tough, trust me.”


OLE! OLE! OLE!: The Ryder Cup might take a back seat to the Olympics and World Cup in terms of global popularity. But when it comes to serenading the players, the fans in Wales were the equal of any.

Supplementing the “Ole! Ole! Ole!” chant that has become a staple of European sporting events, fans rocked the grandstands at Celtic Manor nearly every time the Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari passed by, singing “There’s only two Molinaris …” to the tune of “Guantanamera.”

When Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell passed by during a match against American opponents, the chants became “We’ve got G Mac, you’ve got Big Mac!”

Fans even greeted the fog wafting above the valley where the Twenty Ten course sits.

“Foggy, foggy, foggy!” one grandstand alongside the first tee chanted.

“Oi, oi, oi!” the other roared back responsively.

The singing also produced one of the most sportsmanlike moments of the final day. Europe’s Martin Kaymer was playing Dustin Johnson in singles when fans launched into “He’s got your major, he’s got your major!” The reference was to Kaymer’s win at the PGA Championship, where Johnson grounded his club in a bunker at the 18th hole and after being penalized, finished one shot out of the playoff in which Kaymer beat Bubba Watson.

Upon hearing it, Kaymer put up his hands calling for the fans to stop. They did.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”