Notes Tiger Sergio Ready for One Another

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- Tiger Woods didn't say much, but the look in his eye and his short answer showed he was aware of Sergio Garcia's comments in Switzerland, and more than willing to play him.
Woods is 7-11-2 in the Ryder Cup, a performance Garcia duly noted three weeks ago during the European Masters.
'Fortunately for us, he doesn't have a great Ryder Cup record,' Garcia was quoted as saying. 'So I'm looking forward to hopefully going out there and meeting him two or three times.'
Garcia has played with Woods three times in the final group. Woods won all three, including the British Open at Royal Liverpool this summer.
'As far as the Sergio comments, hopefully we can get together out there and play,' Woods said.
Garcia denied making the comments but did not back down.
'I definitely don't mind playing him,' he said. 'I've played him before in the Ryder Cup, and I've been fortunate enough to do pretty well against him. I guess I've had some nice partners.'
Garcia is 2-1 against Woods at the Ryder Cup. He and Jesper Parnevik beat Woods and Tom Lehman in foursomes in 1999; Garcia and Lee Westwood beat Woods and Mark Calcavecchia in foursomes in 2002; and Woods and Davis Love III beat Garcia and Westwood in fourballs that same year.
The Irish must have wondered what all the fuss was about.
True, the wind was howling and the rain went horizontal as a storm moved into the area. That's not unusual in these parts. But it was enough for Ryder Cup officials to shut down The K Club for three hours Wednesday, giving them time to inspect the damage.
The course reopened at 9:45 a.m., after forcing fans to wait in parking lots that were miles away.
'We were worried about all of the structures and what we call 'loose impediments' that were around the site until we could conduct a full review in daylight,' Ryder Cup tournament director Richard Hills said.
Gusts were about 40 mph, and Hills said anything beyond that could have created dangerous situations for spectators. He was more worried about tables, chairs and umbrellas taking flight than any problems with grandstands or three-story corporate chalets.
The storm was from remnants of Hurricane Gordon, which steadily has weakened as it crossed the Atlantic. Ireland's state forecasting system says the weather will remain wet or storm on Thursday, with more rain Friday.
What will that do to the practice rounds?
'These are top professionals of Europe and America. They have played here before,' European Tour chief George O'Grady said. 'I don't think our forecast is so bad that we won't be able to play tomorrow, but we'll do everything we can to start on time Friday.'
The weather raised a couple of issues, however.
The opening ceremony is Thursday near the practice range, and that might have to be moved indoors. Officials also acknowledged a Monday finish is possible. Rules officials also are debating whether to play preferred lies, meaning players can clean mud off their golf balls and replace them in the fairway.
Captains Tom Lehman and Ian Woosnam will have to agree on that.
'We will resist the temptation of playing preferred lies as far as we possibly can,' O'Grady said. 'But if both captains wish to do it. ... I don't think it would demean the tournament.'
Paul McGinley of Ireland said he believes bad weather will favor the home team if it continues through the weekend.
'The Americans, I know they were cringing when the plane landed in Dublin airport and it was blowing an absolute gale and lashing rain,' McGinley said.
The U.S. team is usually known for its sense of fashion, if not its good play in recent Ryder Cups. But Woosnam might have done the Americans one better with his attention to detail on rain suits.
'I spent six months working on the rain suits, because I know what the weather can be like here,' Woosnam said. 'I've tried to get the very best out of the waterproofs.'
Woosnam's main duty this week is pairing players with different games, personalities and even languages, while somehow making it work.
He can draw on his own Ryder Cup playing days for some help.
Woosnam remembers being paired in 1993 with Bernhard Langer of Germany, who has a reputation for calculating everything down to the smallest detail.
Before the alternate shot match, Langer told Woosnam he could leave him 101 or 80 meters for any approach shot. During one match, he asked Woosie how long of a shot to leave into the green.
'Just hit it down there, it doesn't bother me. I'll just get on with it,' Woosnam said.
The pairing might have been apples and oranges, but it worked. Woosnam and Langer won, 7 and 5, in the opening match over Payne Stewart and Paul Azinger. Oddly enough, it was the only time the two were paired in foursomes.
Woosnam isn't totally up to speed on how this course might play into his hands.
A reporter asked him Wednesday about how The K Club works nicely if he chooses to pair a big hitter with a short hitter in foursomes. The par 5s are all even-numbered holes (Nos. 4, 10, 16 and 18), allowing the long hitter to hit the tee shot. The par 3s are even-numbered holes except for No. 3.
'I haven't thought of that,' Woosnam said as the room broke up in laughter. 'I think that's something we'll discuss; we're going to have a team meeting tonight and we're going to have a look at that. That's a good point, who is going to be comfortable hitting more often off the par 3s than the others.'
It's been quite a year for Brett Wetterich, the only player to go from Q-school to the Ryder Cup in one year. Along the way, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati.
That might have been the biggest surprise of all.
'I don't think my high school really liked me too much, and it was kind of weird when they called me and said they were going to induct me into their Hall of Fame,' he said.
And why didn't he get along with the school?
'I don't know if I should go into that one,' Wetterich said. 'I spent a lot of time in the principal's office, I should say.'
Other athletes who went to Oak Hills include Mark and Kim Rodenbaugh, who were part of the U.S. Olympic swimming team in 1984; former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Bill Wegman; and Pete Rose Jr.
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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

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    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

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    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

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    Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

    So much for that.

    Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

    He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

    What’s the difference now?

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

    “I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

    Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

    “I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”