Notes Tiger vs Lefty in Set Up

By Associated PressJune 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Padraig Harrington assessed his game as ``shabby'' heading into the U.S. Open. In other words, he's right on course for a good week.
As is his custom, the 33-year-old Irishman found himself struggling a bit Tuesday, hoping to cram in enough work before the first round to contend again in this event. He has three top 10s in seven previous starts.
``I'm the sort of person that on a Tuesday is kind of trying to gather everything together,'' Harrington said. ``I always look to my weaknesses before I start a tournament and try and get them up to strengths. That's always the same feeling every tournament, certainly every major, is that I'd like another week.''

Not that he would change anything.
``Yeah, I've won when I've played shabby nearly every event,'' Harrington said. ``I usually play very well when I'm in that form.''
His season started off well enough, with his first PGA Tour victory coming in the Honda Classic. Since then, he's fallen into a bit of funk, and a tie for ninth in New Orleans is his best effort in five starts since. Harrington missed the cut last week at the Booz Allen Classic.
Still, he would like nothing more than to become the first European to win the Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
``To be honest, the courses in Europe are being set up with about 22-, 24-yard fairways like this and the rough is intended to be heavier than it is here,'' Harrington said. ``You know it's going to happen sooner or later. We're going to get a few wins in the U.S. Open.''
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson take different approaches to their preparations for majors. Both seem to work.
Much as Jack Nicklaus did in his prime, Woods prefers to take the previous week off and practice. Mickelson usually plays in a tournament to get himself ready, believing he'll concentrate better the next week.
``I think it's a matter of personal preference,'' Mickelson said. ``I found that playing the week before, I was in a better frame of mind competitively, fresh and sharp, and when Thursday comes, I've only had three days of competitive golf off, as opposed to 10 or 11. So that seems to get me a little more focused on the round at hand.''
Last week, Mickelson finished in a tie for 29th at the Booz Allen Classic at Congressional Country Club, while Woods spent the time in Pinehurst. And the way Woods sees it, committing to a tournament might deprive him of a chance to get better, even if he has to travel halfway across the country to see swing coach Hank Haney.
``I think it's a personal preference, because I know if I play a tournament, if you get a rain delay and get rained out, I mean, there goes a whole day of practice,'' Woods said. ``I can always either practice at home, (and) if there's rain coming, I can fly to Dallas and practice in Dallas with Hank. If you play a tournament, you're locked in.''
With temperatures in the mid-90s with high humidity, the weather was quite steamy Tuesday at No. 2. It's supposed to be just as warm Wednesday, with cooler temperatures expected by the weekend.
Either way, it won't be a problem for Chris DiMarco, who endured similar conditions last week at the Booz Allen along with the rest of the field.
``It couldn't be any hotter than it was last week,'' he said. ``You just have to stay hydrated. I think I drank a bottle of water a hole last week, and I didn't go to the bathroom once. It was sweating out of you. You just deal with it.''
DiMarco has dealt with the pressure that comes with a major very well in the past year, losing in playoffs in the past two. He hasn't won on tour since 2002 but still is having one of his best seasons -- he's seventh on the money list.
And not even a stiff neck slowed him down. When he arrived at the Wachovia Championship in May, he nearly was forced to withdraw with the injury, but he was able to compete. The pain eventually subsided, and he pronounced himself fit for the Open.
``It actually helped me,'' DiMarco said. ``I used to crack my neck all the time, and since that week, I haven't had to crack it. I was always worried I was going to snap my spinal cord, so I don't worry about that anymore.''
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

  • Tee Times - U.S. Open

  • Photo Gallery from Pinehurst

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

    Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

    “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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    The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

    “The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

    The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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    Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

    There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

    That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

    Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

    Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

    “We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

    But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

    The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

    That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

    Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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    Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

    “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

    While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

    For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

    “I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

    But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

    Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

    They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

    “I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

     Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

    “Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

    Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

    It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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    Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

    By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

    We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

    But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

    One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

    It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

    And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

    Hey, whatever works.

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    Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

    By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

    Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

    The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

    “I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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    Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

    “I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”