All thats left is the golf

By Doug FergusonOctober 1, 2010, 2:00 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Good thing for the Americans the Ryder Cup ultimately comes down to golf shots, not style points.

U.S. captain Corey Pavin, his voice unsteady at the opening ceremony Thursday, introduced the 11 players on his squad and was about to sit down when he realized each team had 12 to a side.

He overlooked Stewart Cink, one of his captain’s picks.

Then came the lineups for the opening session, with Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the third slot. It was the first time since 1999 that Woods was not in the first match, leading European captain Colin Montgomerie to suggest the Americans were trying to hide him.

Leading off for the Americans in fourballs is Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, a big hitter whose driver broke on the range.

Asked if Europe already felt it was 1-up based on Pavin’s gaffe, Montgomerie said:

“I suppose that was a mistake. He just missed the one. He read the wrong name, but that was just unfortunate. I think he was very, very good in covering his tracks. It went very well. It was a first-class show up there.

“And yes,” he added, “we are 1 up.”

Europe had other reasons to feel confident about winning back the Ryder Cup when the matches get under way Friday. It has not lost on its home soil since 1993, and the crowd can play such a huge role in golf’s biggest bipartisan event.

It was evident on the final day of practice, when fans gave a standing ovation from the bleachers behind the greens on the back nine of Celtic Manor just at the sight of the European players approaching the green.

By Sunday, all that matters are the points on the board.

The Americans, who won two years ago at Valhalla to end a decade of European dominance, need only 14 points from the 28 matches to take the 17-inch gold trophy back home.

“I cannot wait,” said Ian Poulter, who will join Ross Fisher in taking on the Woods-Stricker tandem. “This crowd tomorrow is going to be electric. The roar on that first tee will be sensational. I can’t wait to hear it and I can’t wait to get pumped for it. I can’t wait to give them some feedback.”

The big mystery was the weather.

Celtic Manor already is lush and soggy from rain in recent weeks, and the forecast is for more rain and blustery wind for most of the day. And while Montgomerie said he didn’t try to alter the setup, it has become clear that the best strategy is to play out of the short grass.

This is one of the longest American teams in history. But the straightest?

They should find out immediately with a compelling match – Mickelson and Johnson, who play big-money games just about every week on tour, going against Lee Westwood and PGA champion Martin Kaymer, Europe’s best player and its most recent major champion.

For Westwood, it will be his first competition in six weeks while he recovered from a calf injury. Playing his seventh Ryder Cup, he went to Montgomerie a few days ago and asked to be in the leadoff match.

Montgomerie had thought about U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy leading off.

“It was just seen that Lee should hit the first shot,” Montgomerie said. “I think it’s a real honor to do that, and I’ve had that honor twice. And it’s only right that Lee Westwood at this time should have that.”

McDowell and McIlroy, the duo from Northern Ireland, play in the second match against Georgia Tech alums Cink and Matt Kuchar. For now, that deprives fans of a McIlroy-Woods match of any form. McIlroy had said he would “love to face” Woods, and Woods countered with a no-nonsense “Me, too,” that stirred Ryder Cup tensions.

Stricker is the 12th partner for Woods in this event – two short of the Ryder Cup record. But everyone saw this one coming. They went 4-0 at the Presidents Cup last year, the first tandem in any cup to do that in 30 years.

“Hopefully, Tiger and I can go out there and do the things that we know how to do,” Stricker said. “And, hopefully, it’s good enough for a win.”

Montgomerie stoked speculation, however, by feigning surprise that Woods was in the middle of the lineup.

“I was expecting Tiger to go first or fourth,” he said. “I think Tiger being hidden is a different move. But, as we all know, every point is important wherever it might be. It’s a very difficult game, mind you, probably the two best putters on the U.S. team.”

He was even more surprised to see Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton – a pair of rookies whom many consider the most likely affected by Ryder Cup nerves – in the final spot against Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald.

In doing so, Pavin sat out Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.

Furyk is the only American with three victories this year, including his $11.35 million payoff for winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup on Sunday.

“He’s been counting the money, and he’s been very tired,” Pavin said with a laugh.

Mahan went unbeaten in all five matches at his Ryder Cup debut two years ago. Pavin said only that four players have to sit, and he planned to get all 12 a match on Friday.

“If you have any better suggestions, I’d love to hear them,” he said. “I guess it’s a little too late for those suggestions.”

Nothing matters now.

Starting Friday, it’s all about winning holes, winning matches, putting up points. The morning fourballs are to be followed by four alternate-shot matches in the afternoon.

Montgomerie made it clear how badly he wants to get his team in front quickly, putting his best two teams at the top of the lineup.

“My goal is to lead Friday evening if at all possible,” he said. “It’s all set up for that. That’s the plan.”

Watch: Koepka holes out from off the green at 16

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 5:36 am

Brooks Koepka faced a stiff challenge from Gary Woodland on Sunday in South Korea, but eventually it came time to end the suspense.

Having clung to a slim lead for much of the back nine, Koepka looked as though he was going to have to scramble just to save par when he missed the green at 16. 

Instead, caddie Ricky Elliott was able to leave Koepka's putter in the bag.

That holeout combined with a bogey from Woodland at 17 put Koepka ahead by three, allowing him to walk to victory and to the top of the world rankings.

Getty Images

Koepka wins CJ Cup, ascends to world No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 5:07 am

Brooks Koepka eagled the 72nd hole Sunday to cap off a final-round 64, win the CJ Cup and supplant Dustin Johnson as the new No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here's how Koepka took over the golf world Sunday in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-21), Gary Woodland (-17), Ryan Palmer (-15), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-15), Jason Day (-12), Scott Piercy (-12)

What it means: This is Koepka's fifth career PGA Tour victory but only his second in a non-major, following his maiden win back at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Up four to start the day, Koepka saw his lead evaporate as Woodland rocketed up the leaderboard and kept pace with him for much of the back nine. But every time Sunday's result appeared in doubt, Koepka reclaimed his lead in dramatic fashion. He nearly aced the par-3 13th to go ahead by two and later holed out for birdie at the par-4 16th to go up three with two to play. He finished par-eagle at 17 and 18 to shoot a back-nine 29 and close out his third victory in the last five months. With the win, Koepka ascends to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

Round of the day: Ryan Palmer set a Nine Bridges course record when he birdied his final seven holes in a row en route to a bogey-free round of 10-under 62 and a solo third-place finish.

Best of the rest: Woodland played his first 16 holes in 9 under par to storm from five back and catch Koepka atop the leaderboard. But his furious Sunday charge finally came to an end when he failed to get up and down for par from the back bunker at 17. He carded his 11th birdie of the round at the 18th hole to sign for 63 and finish solo second.

Biggest disappointment: In retrospect, Woodland called it correctly on Saturday when he said: "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can. You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number." Woodland put as much pressure on Koepka as he could. He went out and posted that number. Koepka never blinked.

Shot of the day: Koepka's holeout at the par-3 16th, which put him ahead by three, unofficially ending the proceedings:

Quote of the day: "To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid. I don't think this one is going to sink in." - Koepka

Getty Images

Watch: Koepka nearly aces par-3 13th Sunday

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 4:24 am

Just when it looked like he was facing a legitimate challenge Sunday, Brooks Koepka responded with a near-ace.

Up four to start the final round, Koepka saw his lead disappear as Gary Woodland raced up the leaderboard to tie him at 13 under and then 14 under.

Unfazed, the three-time major winner birdied the par-5 12th to regain his outright lead and then followed up with this tee shot at the 218-yard, par-3 13th.

And just like that, the tap-in birdie put Koepka back ahead by two with five to play.

Getty Images

Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.