Two Cups Too Many for All the Presidents Men

By Associated PressSeptember 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- One cup is over. Another cup is about to begin.
 
The question is whether a world-class collection of players at Royal Montreal have enough left to fill the Presidents Cup with the kind of golf that has made these matches so compelling over the last few years.
 
Tiger Woods, who plays fewer golf tournaments than any other star, will be competing for the sixth time in nine weeks. Ditto for Phil Mickelson, who usually shuts it down this time of year. Even an ironman like Vijay Singh has spent an awful lot of time inside the ropes, skipping only two weeks since August.
 
Mike Weir
Mike Weir practices Tuesday before the home country crowd. (WireImage)
Blame that on the FedExCup, a four-week bonanza that ended only nine days ago for 16 players in the Presidents Cup. It only figures to get tougher next year, with the Ryder Cup scheduled for the week after the TOUR Championship.
 
As much as players are cursing the schedule, it could turn out to be a blessing.
 
'You would think that you're pretty prepared to be here, maybe more so than years past, because of playing so much golf recently,' David Toms said Tuesday. 'I think that's something they need to take a look in the future, how much golf is being played at this particular time. For us this year, I know we have a lot of guys who are coming in and playing well, and it should be an advantage for us.'
 
Indeed, the FedExCup could be a good barometer for these matches when they get under way Thursday.
 
Woods is playing a lot of golf, but playing well. He has won four of the five tournaments he has played dating to the Bridgestone Invitational, including his last two to easily win the FedExCup. The other two playoff events were won by Phil Mickelson (Deutsche Bank) and Steve Stricker (Barclays).
 
Since all 24 players from the United States and International teams are PGA TOUR members, an even better barometer might be the 30-man field at the TOUR Championship.
 
Ten Americans were at East Lake, the exception being Toms (No. 32) and Lucas Glover (No. 35). The International team had only six players in the Tour Championship, and two of the players -- Mike Weir and Retief Goosen -- didn't even qualify for the 70-man field the previous week at the BMW Championship.
 
'Our team has been really playing well,' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said. 'I think they are well prepared.'
 
Nicklaus tried to make the case the International team is stronger on paper, which is usually the norm. Comprised of players from all but European countries, the team has an average world ranking of 18.5, with Weir the lowest at No. 46. The United States has an average ranking of 21.9, with Glover the lowest at No. 61.
 
International captain Gary Player, however, was quick to point out the United States was top-heavy in the world ranking with Woods, Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Stricker the new 'Big Four.' It is believed to be the first time in the 21-year history of the world ranking Americans have occupied the top four spots.
 
While the International team looks good on paper, it hasn't looked good in competition lately. The most recent winner is K.J. Choi at the AT&T National in July. Angel Cabrera hasn't done much since his U.S. Open victory in June, and Singh played five consecutive tournaments over par until finishing 10 under at easy East Lake.
 
Even so, Player had reason to believe 'the stage is set for another great match.'
 
The last two have been so close they essentially were decided by one shot -- Chris DiMarco's 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole of the final match in 2005 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia. The matches ended in a tie in South Africa in 2003.
 
'I think that the whole 'on paper' is kind of a farce,' Furyk said. 'If we have a tour that's deep enough where 100 guys can go out on any week and win a tournament, then 12 of the best players from any side can go out and win that week. A lot of it is momentum. Obviously, you don't want to get behind early.'
 
Closing out matches is equally important, as the International team learned last time.
 
Of the 12 matches that went to the 18th hole in 2005, the Americans won five and halved seven. That included DiMarco's match against Stuart Appleby that set off a rare but wild celebration with Nicklaus at the center.
 
'To be on the losing end, it was pretty gutting,' Appleby said. 'The entire team felt like I did.'
 
Appleby is one of only three players on the International team who have known the feeling of winning the Presidents Cup. The others are Ernie Els and Singh, the three of them on the 1998 that whipped the United States in Australia.
 
Appleby looks at that '98 team and wonders how it did so well. It featured Frank Nobilo, who was nearing the end of his career, and Carlos Franco, who was making his way through Q-school.
 
'We've come a long way as an International team, and we need to start winning,' he said. 'We have the desire. We all want to be here. But we have to taste victory. It's been a while.'
 
Related Links:
  • United States Report Card
  • International Report Card
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
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    Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

    Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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    Cut Line: Farewell to the mouth that roared

    By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

    In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

    Made Cut

    Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

    “I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

    Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

    A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

    The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

    The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

    “I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

    Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

    “The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

    It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

    “It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

    Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

    For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

    Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

    Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

    It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


    Missed Cut

    By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

    Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

    While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

    Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

    Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.

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    S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

    SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

    Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

    Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

    ''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

    Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    ''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

    She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

    Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

    Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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    'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

    By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

    JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

    At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

    With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

    Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

    The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.


    Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

    CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


    The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

    Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

    Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

    ''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

    ''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

    Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

    ''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

    ''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

    Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.