Game on: Captains, players arrive in Chicago

By Doug FergusonSeptember 24, 2012, 11:54 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – Jose Maria Olazabal stepped off the plane carrying the Ryder Cup, a familiar sight considering that Europe has won six of the past eight times.

It was who followed the captain off the plane that showed how much the dynamics of this event have changed over the years.

Olazabal flew over from London with only three of his 12 players – Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari and Ryder Cup rookie Nicolas Colsaerts.

Everyone else was already here.

Five of the Europeans – Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Peter Hanson, Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia – have homes at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla.

Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, among four players who were in Atlanta on Sunday for the Tour Championship, are moving to south Florida. Luke Donald lives about 45 minutes away on the north side of Chicago.

It wasn't that long ago that Team Europe came over together because that's where so many lived and played – Howard Clark and David Gilford, Sam Torrance and Mark James, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie.

Olazabal didn't see that as a problem.

''Obviously, when you look at some of the European players, they have their home base here,'' he said. ''They play the Tour over here. They are very familiar with the golf courses around here, with their opponents, and in that regard, I think they feel really more comfortable with the whole situation of coming here to the States to play the Ryder Cup. It has changed in that respect and also that they have realized through the years that they have been able to compete against the players here.

''And that somehow boosts your confidence, and that is a very important part when you are playing match play.''

Still, there was a certain charm about having the team arrive as one.

U.S. captain Davis Love III remembers his first Ryder Cup in 1993 at The Belfry, when Tom Watson assembled his group in New York and spoke of a grand adventure to Europe with the sole purpose of bringing back the cup.

Golf is different now.

''I miss that a little bit,'' Love said. ''We all gather and fly over. They fly over here. That was a really cool thing. But I think what we have got now is a much bigger event.''

Noting that so many of the world's best players are at Medinah Country Club, Love said that golf has become ''incredibly better.''

''What we have in our team rooms now and the camaraderie between the two teams is just incredible, and it's amazing how much it's changed over the years,'' Love said. ''And we're playing against our friends, but it's still as intense – maybe even more – because we are more familiar with them.''

One thing hasn't changed.

Both teams desperately want that 17-inch gold trophy.

Europe is coming off a 14 1/2 - 13 1/2 win two years ago in Wales, a week of slogging through the rain that forced a Monday finish that made everything worth the extra day when it came down to the final match, with Graeme McDowell delivering the winning point.

Medinah, the tree-lined course that has hosted five major championships, doesn't look anything like those events. Love has asked for the rough to be virtually eliminated and the greens to be slick as ever, hopeful that's an advantage to a U.S. team that he tried to stock with good putters.

Even though Europe seems to have owned this event, The Americans have lost only once at home in the past 15 years – at Oakland Hills in 2004.

''We are playing here against a very strong team,'' Olazabal said. ''We are playing away. The crowds are going to be rooting for the home team really strong, so in that regard, we have to be prepared for that. I think I've said it all along, I think both teams are pretty much even, and it's going to be a close match. From that point of view, I don't see any favorites, and it will have to be decided, obviously, on the golf course.''

The golf course was relatively quiet on a sunny, breezy day in the Chicago suburbs, which began with temperatures in the 40s and warmed beautifully by late afternoon.

Steve Stricker drove from his home in Wisconsin straight to Medinah, dressed in shorts as he worked on his chipping and putting. Keegan Bradley, one of four Americans making their Ryder Cup debut this week, also was practicing along with Matt Kuchar. Assistant captain Fred Couples took four players to the movies.

Tiger Woods, FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner were due to arrive Monday night.

The first official practice day is Tuesday, along with the team photos. Love said his pairings for the opening day on Friday were close to being finished, and the Tuesday practice sessions would offer a strong hint whom he has in mind as partners.

Both sides have been busy.

The entire U.S. team and five of Europe's team members reached the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship. Snedeker has had only one week off dating to the British Open, while Kuchar has missed only two weeks.

Love jokingly said Snedeker would have been at Medinah earlier except that he had to go to the bank and deposit the $11.44 million he won Sunday at East Lake from his victory in the Tour Championship that gave him the FedEx Cup title.

''Brandt doesn't ever need a week off. He's perpetual energy,'' Love said. ''But I've been stressing to them to make sure that they get some rest and that they are prepared. We have four guys at the movies with Freddie this afternoon, four guys out chipping and putting and we've got another four coming in all during the afternoon. I think they are taking it easy today, and they will be ready to go.''

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Tiger putts way into contention at The Open

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 5:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.

Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.

“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.

Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.

“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”

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TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 4:58 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:

• THAT WAS AWESOME!

At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.

• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.

• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.

• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.

• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.

• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.

• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”

Yes, yes it is.

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Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open

By Grill Room TeamJuly 21, 2018, 4:55 pm

It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.

Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:

Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.

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Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 4:10 pm

Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.

Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.

No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.


No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.


No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.


No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.


No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.


And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.


Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.


Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.