Notes Verplank MIA Miller Irritating US

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- Scott Verplank must be wondering why Tom Lehman picked him for the Ryder Cup.
 
After not playing on the first day of the matches, Verplank -- an alternate-shot specialist because he is among the straightest hitters in golf -- was sent out in a fourballs match Saturday morning. He and Zach Johnson produced the only U.S. victory.
 
Then Verplank returned to the bench.
 
'I would be lying if I told you I wasn't disappointed and feel like I shouldn't have another chance or two,' Verplank said. 'But I'll have another chance tomorrow, and hopefully ... we'll still have a chance as a group to win. That's what we're all here for.'
 
Even so, it was peculiar.
 
Only one other American to make the team as a captain's pick has played only one team match -- Paul Azinger in 2002, the year the Ryder Cup was delayed one year because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
 
Stranger still was that Lehman told Verplank on Thursday night that he would not play in either match Friday, which would indicate it didn't matter how anyone performed in the opening session.
 
Verplank finished 20th in the Ryder Cup standings, so it was considered a bold move for Lehman to take him.
 
'One of the things that I think our team needs is somebody who can really putt and really can chip, who can drive the ball, put it in the fairway, who is a tough, tough, tough competitor, who will never quit, never give up,' Lehman said of Verplank the day he picked him.
 
Apparently, that didn't come with a guarantee to play.
 
Johnson made all the birdies in their 2-and-1 victory, although Verplank's contributions were quiet. He was in virtually every hole, assuring the Americans no worse than par.
 
'It was a team effort, regardless of what anybody says,' Johnson said.
 
Verplank said Lehman approached them on the 13th hole to tell Johnson he would play in a foursomes match Saturday afternoon.
 
'I said, 'Am I playing this afternoon?' And he said, 'No,'' Verplank said. 'And I said, 'We're going to win this match. I'd like to play.' But he already had it set. And fortunately, we won the match.'
 
Verplank tried to say all the right things, although it was an awkward handshake with Lehman after his fourball victory, and Verplank walked away shaking his head.
 
After a team meeting Saturday evening, Lehman said Verplank was fine.
 
'I'm sure he's disappointed -- or was disappointed -- and that's what makes him such a great competitor,' Lehman said. 'I simply felt that this afternoon, we needed to put what I considered to be our best teams out there.'
 
Verplank said ultimately he cared only about winning. A captain's pick in 2002, he played both foursomes matches and went 2-1 in another U.S. loss.
 
'If we win the Ryder Cup, captain Lehman is going to look like a genius,' Verplank said. 'And that's what I'm hoping.'
 
DRESS CODE
Ian Woosnam and Tom Lehman have to guess how the other captain is going to arrange his team for each session of matches. Apparently, they don't trade secrets on uniforms, either.
 
Both teams arrived on the first tee Saturday morning wearing dark slacks and blue shirts, and the only way to tell them apart was when the Americans put on their black sweaters.
 
The Americans kept their same uniforms for the afternoon, while the Europeans switched to a lavender top.
 
SMALL MAN AND A BIG HEART
The sure sign Europe is in the lead is when Colin Montgomerie turns into a standup comic.
 
Sergio Garcia was asked about the attributes of captain Ian Woosnam, especially after Europe built a 10-6 lead.
 
'He might be a short man, but he's got a huge heart,' Garcia said.
 
Monty interrupted.
 
'He IS a short man,' Montgomerie said of the 5-foot-4 captain. 'There's no question about that, Sergio. He is a short man with a very, very big heart.'
 
'But I think he's grown about 3 inches this week,' Garcia countered.
 
MILLER TIME
Johnny Miller might have been getting on the nerves of U.S. players without even knowing it.
 
Ryder Cup officials made available NBC Sports' raw feed, which included the chatter during commercial breaks. Miller had no shortage of material, whether it was Tiger Woods' sloppy game or Scott Verplank needing to 'wake up' because his partner, Zach Johnson, was making all the birdies.
 
Once it was pointed out the raw feed was going to the U.S. team room, it mysteriously ended.
 
There was talk the U.S. players decided not to speak to NBC, but Chris DiMarco said that wasn't the case and that players weren't even listening.
 
'We don't flatter him that way,' he said.
 
Miller's most infamous line at the Ryder Cup was in 1999, when it was suggested Justin Leonard should have sat out a team match Saturday when Europe was dominating. Miller said Leonard should have stayed home.
 
The Americans rallied around that remark, winning at Brookline when Leonard holed a 45-foot putt on the 17th.
 
'Since then, nobody really hears anything he says,' Verplank said. 'I don't think he's important enough to inspire Tiger or Phil.'
 
JUNIOR CHEERLEADERS
The gang in U.S. team clothes hanging around the 16th green Saturday morning was doing its best to cheer on their fellow Americans.
 
It was the junior Ryder Cup team, just back from their matches in Wales, and they were determined to make their voices heard over that of thousands of European supporters in the nearby bleachers.
 
The crowd had been serenading the Europeans with a rousing 'Ole, Ole, Ole,' and the U.S. juniors tried to come up with their own version of the song. Failing that, they reverted to a basic 'USA, USA' chant.
 
That's what greeted Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood as they arrived at the green with Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. The group kept it up as the two Europeans arrived at Clarke's ball, which was just off the back edge of the green only a few feet away from them.
 
Then they stopped, except for one unfortunate cheerleader who kept going.
 
'Didn't you get the memo?' an amused Westwood asked him.
 
Clarke wasn't exactly intimidated. He walked up to his ball in the muddy rough and calmly chipped it into the hole, sending the crowd into a frenzy and giving the Euros a win.
 
Next to the green, though, things grew suddenly quiet.
 
DIVOTS
Zach Johnson made seven birdies as he and Scott Verplank won their fourballs match Saturday morning. That's more birdies than Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson made combined in their two fourball matches at the Ryder Cup. ... Mickelson now is 1-7-1 in his last nine Ryder Cup matches. ... Europe's captains picks (Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood) have contributed half of Europe's 10 points. ... Sergio Garcia didn't play Tiger Woods on Saturday, but he still took a shot at him. Asked why the Europeans got along so well, Garcia said it was important to laugh about bad shots and give encouragement. 'You don't give them any weird looks or anything like that,' he said. It was a reference to the last Ryder Cup, when Woods looked disgusted after his partner, Phil Mickelson, hit a 3-wood on the final hole at Oakland Hills that one-hopped off a fence and cost them the match.
 
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    Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

    By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

    Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

    Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

    He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

    "It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

    "I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

    Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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    Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

    After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

    ''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

    Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

    Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    ''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

    Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    ''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

    Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

    Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

    ''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

    Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

    Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

    Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

    ''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

    Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

    The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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    Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

    By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

    "It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

    "So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

    "I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

    "So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

    "So I know it's right around the corner."

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    Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

    ''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

    Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

    Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

    Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

    ''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

    He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

    ''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

    Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

    ''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

    Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

    ''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

    Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

    ''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

    He said his game has long been unpredictable.

    ''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''