Europe surges into the lead at Ryder Cup - COPIED

By Doug FergusonOctober 4, 2010, 12:36 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – Europe could only dream of a Sunday like this at the Ryder Cup. It gave Tiger Woods his worst beating ever, hit all the right shots to spur on its foot-stomping, flag-waving crowd and kept the Americans from winning a single match.

Too bad this one won’t end until Monday.

The Europeans already had reason to be in a festive mood amid the rain and muck of Celtic Manor.

Bolstered by the sight of blue on every leaderboard, they won five matches and halved the last one when Francesco Molinari knocked in a 3-foot birdie putt and celebrated with his brother, Edoardo. That stretched their lead to 9 1/2 -6 1/2 .

Europe needs to win only five of the 12 singles match to reclaim the gold trophy.

“In my time – 20 years since I’ve been playing Ryder Cup – this is one of the greatest days for European golf we’ve ever had,” European captain Colin Montgomerie said. “To run a two-point deficit into a three-point lead was quite amazing. To stop America from winning a match, just fantastic.”

Lee Westwood, Europe’s leader in the team room and on the golf course, inspired from the start. He teamed with Luke Donald to demoralize Woods and Steve Stricker, who had never lost in six previous matches. Europe was 4 up when the matches resumed, and Westwood promptly knocked in a 30-foot birdie putt to win the hole. The cheer was heard by every match on the course.

More big putts followed until they had a 6-and-5 victory, the biggest rout of the week.

“When you’re playing Tiger, you just seem to up your game a little bit,” said Westwood, who is 6-1 in team matches against Woods. “I supposed he’s got nothing to win – apart from the point – but he’s got a big reputation.”

PGA champion Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter held off a rally to beat Phil Mickelson and 21-year-old Rickie Fowler. Mickelson set an American record with his 17th loss and headed into singles without having contributed a point.

Rain again soaked the course, forcing a five-hour delay and pushing the Ryder Cup into Monday for the first time in its 83-year history.

Europe was leading in all six matches when play resumed, and Montgomerie walked along the practice range repeating the same message he had delivered the night before.

“We know the Americans are going to come out fast,” he said. “But we are going to go out faster.”

What gave Europe such a big lead is that it finished stronger.

Even with Westwood and Donald making quick work in the opening match, and with Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy winning their first match against Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan in alternate shot, the remaining fourballs matches could have gone either way.

And over the last five holes in each match, they almost did.

Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar were the only Americans to lead in a match. They were 1 up playing the 18th until Francesco Molinari stuffed his wedge into 3 feet for a half-point that left Kuchar and his teammates sagging their shoulders as they trudged off the course.

Dustin Johnson, who joined Mickelson as the only American without a point, and Jim Furyk were on the cusp of a big rally until Johnson three-putted for bogey on the 14th to fall 2-down. They never caught up against Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher.

Jeff Overton introduced a new cheer to the European crowd – “Booooom, baby!!” – when he holed a shot from the fairway for eagle on the eighth. He and Bubba Watson squared the match, only for Peter Hanson to make a crucial birdie for the halve on the 15th, and Miguel Angel Jimenez to deliver a pivotal 15-foot birdie on the 16th in a 2-up victory.

Fowler holed out from a bunker for eagle on the 11th, and Mickelson’s birdie on the 13th helped the Americans tie their match. Mickelson then missed putts inside 8 feet to lose the next two holes, keeping European blue on the board.

“I saw guys fighting and not getting the result we were looking for,” Pavin said. “But we nearly did.”

The fans were swaying, stomping and singing a tune now so familiar to the Americans – “Ole, ole, ole, ole”—as Europe marched confidently off the 18th green and into the team room, momentum and history on its side.

Only once since this format began in 1979 has Europe had the lead going into the final round and failed to win. That was in 1999 at Brookline, when the Americans overcame a 10-6 deficit behind a home crowd that was raucous and unruly.

Montgomerie brought up those ugly memories when he met with his squad Sunday night after the matches.

“All this would be pointless today if this isn’t continued tomorrow,” Montgomerie said. “Yes, we are tired. The USA team must be tired, as well. But there’s no resting here for our team. We are going here as if it’s tied to try and win the singles session. That’s our goal. And there will be nobody backing down from that goal tomorrow.”

Pavin, a stoic personality throughout the week, was reminded of that great American comeback in 1999, when U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw said he was a big believer in fate and added ominously, “I have a good feeling about this.”

As for Pavin?

“Ben’s Ben, and I’m me,” Pavin said. “I’m going to put the guys out in the order that I think gives us the best chance to win.”

Montgomerie is leading off with strength – Westwood against Stricker, and the top part of his Monday lineup is loaded with some of his best performers at Celtic Manor, with McIlroy, Poulter and Donald at the top.

Pavin has Woods in the eighth spot against Francesco Molinari, while Mickelson is at No. 10 against Peter Hanson. Then again, it’s hard to figure out who is playing well for the Americans this week – especially after the beating they took on Sunday.

“We’re going to try to close the gap and see if we can make a run at this,” Mickelson said.

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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:

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New putter propels Hoffman to Fort Worth lead

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:30 pm

After sitting at home last week, Charley Hoffman decided it was time for a change.

The veteran estimated that he has been using the same version of a Scotty Cameron putter for the last five years, but heading into this week's Fort Worth Invitational he wanted to shake things up.

"I had an idea on Sunday literally coming out here that I wanted to have a little more weight in my putter," Hoffman told reporters. "I went with one that was sort of in my bag of putters at home that I could add some weight here."

The swap provided immediate results, as Hoffman opened with a 7-under 63 while picking up more than two strokes over the field on the greens to take a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Putnam. It was an all-around effort Thursday for Hoffman, as he missed only two greens in regulation and never faced a par putt longer than 5 feet.

"I was able to knock in some mid-range putts and played very solid," Hoffman said. "It was a nice, very stress-free round. It was fun to play."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, capping it with a Presidents Cup appearance and a runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge in December. While he has made nine cuts in 12 starts this year, his T-12 finish at the Masters remains his best result as he has struggled to turn top-20s into opportunities to contend.

Hoffman is making his seventh straight appearance at Colonial, where he tied for 10th in 2015. But he had never shot better than 65 before Thursday, when his decision to switch to a heavier Scotty Cameron model seemingly put a magnet on the bottom of the cup.

"Putting is a fickle part of the game," he said. "So hopefully the good mojo continues."

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McIlroy shoots 67, two off BMW PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 6:56 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.

Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.

The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.

McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


''Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 under par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),'' McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.

''I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.''

McIlroy is playing the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won The Open and the PGA Championship – his most recent major victories.

After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he'd seen them.

Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round – his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.

Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par – including making eagle at the 15th – to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par 5s to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.

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Stricker opens with 65 at Colonial despite back pain

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 6:45 pm

After four holes of the Fort Worth Invitational, things were looking bleak for Steve Stricker.

The ageless veteran was already 1 over when he tweaked his back playing his approach to No. 13, his fourth hole of the day at Colonial Country Club. He ended up making another bogey, but at that point his score took a backseat to the health of his ailing back.

"I tried to hit a pretty solid 6-iron and got right into the impact area, and actually felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot," Stricker told reporters. "Tried to walk to the green and that wasn't going so well. Kind of tightened up on me. I thought I was going to have to stop and just stand there for a minute, which I did a couple of times. It didn't look or feel very good for a while."

Slowly but surely, Stricker's back began to loosen up, and with it came a turnaround on the scorecard. Stricker had a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 5 under, highlighted by a hole-out from the greenside bunker for eagle on the par-5 first hole. Despite the rocky start, he ended up shooting a 5-under 65 to sit two shots off the early pace set by Charley Hoffman.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I just kept plodding along," Stricker said. "I knew there were some birdie holes out here if you can get it in the fairway. There are some short irons."

Stricker had a spot in one of the marquee early-round groups, but his score bettered both Jordan Spieth's 1-under 69 and defending champ Kevin Kisner's 2-over 72. Stricker told reporters that he planned to get his back checked after the round.

Stricker continues to straddle both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions while crafting a unique schedule, and his appearance this week in Fort Worth came at the expense of skipping the Senior PGA Championnship, a major on the over-50 circuit. But Stricker won at Colonial in 2009 and has now played four straight years on what he described as one of his favorite courses.

"I like to play here. I know I'm going to play John Deere, another favorite tournament of mine, and FedEx St. Jude looks like I am going to try to play in a couple weeks, try to get in the U.S. Open," Stricker said. "So it's just kind of picking them as I go, and seeing where I want to go and seeing what feels good to me at the time."