Ryder Cup Role Reversal

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTAFFAN, Ireland -- One team has never enjoyed such depth, with seven players in the top 20 and none lower than No. 52.
The other?
Tough at the top, but carrying four rookies whose names would barely be recognized by their mailman.
It's the same old story at every Ryder Cup, with one delicious twist.
Tom Lehman
Captain Tom Lehman's team goes into the Ryder Cup as the decided underdogs.
The roles are reversed.
Underdogs no more, all eyes are on Europe to extend this era of dominance over the Americans when the Ryder Cup gets under way Friday at The K Club in what is expected to be the biggest sporting event ever in Ireland.
The Europeans used to have a chip on their shoulder. Now they hoist a 17-inch gold cup proudly over their heads, having captured the Ryder Cup four of the last five times and seven of the last 10.
Colin Montgomerie, who has won more Ryder Cup points than Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson combined, referred to this European team as the strongest assembled in some time.
And that wasn't a boast.
'No, that's just pure fact,' he said. 'If (captain) Ian Woosnam had picked all 12, he wouldn't have gotten very far from where we are. We are a good team. We hope to be the first European team to win three times in a row. We'd love to be part of that.'
There is nothing to suggest that won't happen.
Two years ago at Oakland Hills, the Europeans embarrassed Woods and Mickelson on their way to an 18 1/2 -9 1/2 victory, their largest margin since the Ryder Cup began in 1927. The time before that, they hammered the Americans in singles -- a U.S. birthright in golf -- to win at The Belfry.
Never mind that the Americans counter with a 1-2-3 punch of Woods, Jim Furyk and Mickelson, the top three players in the world ranking. Or that Americans have captured 20 of the last 28 major championships since their last Ryder Cup victory in 1999.
Raise the flags, play the national anthems, and Europe turns into a world beater.
'This year, we are definitely the underdogs,' Woods said.
It could lead to some interesting dynamics over three days of golf's most intense competition.
Europe long has rallied around the perceptions that its players are inferior, and that its tour is like a second-class citizen. They have played the underdog card for so long, and so effectively, that they now are trying to convince everyone they have no chance.
Having won seven of the last 10 times, it hasn't been easy.
'I think the U.S. team is up for it,' Padraig Harrington said. 'They're going to go in with the same attitude that Europe has gone into the two times, trying to prove a point.'
That's not the only turnaround.
Team spirit appears to be strong in the U.S. camp. The 12 players looked like a team for the first time when all of them -- Woods and Mickelson included after rearranging their schedules -- took a charter flight to Ireland at the end of August for two days of practice at The K Club and general goofing around.
That caught Europe's attention.
'We know the Americans have come over to The K Club, first time ever the American team has traveled before the event as 12,' Montgomerie said. 'They mean business, and so do we.'
Woods was criticized in 2002 for practicing at dawn on his own, before the rest of his team had breakfast. Two years ago, Mickelson decided not to practice on Wednesday, and the day before the Ryder Cup was found practicing on the adjacent course.
Now, the turmoil in the weeks leading up to the Ryder Cup falls to Europe.
Montgomerie criticized Jose Maria Olazabal for skipping the final qualifying event in Europe.
'It surprised us all that he's not here -- someone who lives for the Ryder Cup,' Monty said in Germany.
European captain Ian Woosnam has been criticized for not keeping his players in the loop during the summer, and it led to angry words from Thomas Bjorn when he found out he had been left off the team while watching television in a bar.
What could give Europe a rallying point is having Darren Clarke back on the team.
Clarke has been playing under constant turmoil the last two years as his wife, Heather, battled cancer that spread throughout her body and finally claimed her life on Aug. 10, leaving behind two young children. Clarke, from Northern Ireland, stopped playing after the British Open and did not return until the Madrid Masters this weekend.
It will be emotional, no doubt, to see him line up with the European team and play for continental pride before an Irish crowd.
'I wouldn't be playing if I thought it would hurt the team,' Clarke said this week from Spain, his voice choking. 'Heather was always very much behind me all this time, kicking me out of the house to go and play in tournaments. She would have wanted me to play.'
Clarke is close to the Americans, too, especially Woods. They played together a few times over the last year, sharing thoughts over coping with death. Woods' father, Earl, died in May after a lengthy battle with cancer and Woods took more than two months off, returning at the U.S. Open and missing the cut for the first time in a major.
'It will be great for him to play,' Woods said. 'It will be fantastic for him to have teammates around him. I still think it's going to be hard because every player has his wife there, and it's going to be hard in that environment at times. He knows that. But you have to deal with it one day, and it might as well be now. He was playing well when all this happened.'
Clarke was among five rookies for Europe in 1997 that contributed eight points to another victory over the Americans, a scene that has become familiar over the years. Philip Walton won the decisive match in 1995 at Oak Hill, and Paul McGinley delivered the clinching putt at The Belfry four years ago.
Now, these unknowns play for the Stars & Stripes.
The United States revamped its qualifying process for this Ryder Cup with hopes of getting players at the top of their games going into the matches. With the points at quadruple value this year, all it took was for a few players to get hot, and that's what happened.
But no one expected it to be Vaughn Taylor, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich. Two of them (Taylor and Wetterich) have never competed in match play at any level. Wetterich had never met Woods until the week after he made the team.
Advantage Europe? Not necessarily.
'The unknown is never welcomed in any situation,' Montgomerie said. 'The rookies in the past on these Ryder Cups, on both teams, have performed actually quite well. Who knows what to expect?'
None of the rookies has any experience in such a pressure-packed event like the Ryder Cup. Then again, experience has been more like scar tissue for a U.S. team that usually goes home without the trophy.
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    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”