Notes American long hitters meet long rough

By Doug FergusonSeptember 29, 2010, 3:50 am

Ryder Cup

NEWPORT, Wales – This might be the longest-hitting American team ever in the Ryder Cup. If they don’t hit it straight off the tee at Celtic Manor, it might not matter.

While the fairways are plenty wide, the rough is every bit as thick as it was in 2004 at Oakland Hills.

Dustin Johnson, as long as anyone at the Ryder Cup, only hit driver off the tee on the par 5s during his practice round Tuesday. As for the rough, he described it as so deep that anything more than a 6-iron away, he would not be able to get it on the green.

“You have to be pretty conservative off the tee,” Johnson said.

It doesn’t help that rain moved over the Twenty Ten course Tuesday afternoon, and heavy showers were expected Wednesday. The grass could get even thicker when the matches get under way on Friday.

“The rough is so thick out there, and they are worried about our captains driving carts in the rough so that they didn’t knock it down,” Jim Furyk said. “I joked in our meeting that maybe they are afraid of losing a couple carts in it because it’s about as thick and as long and difficult as we’ve ever seen in my career.

“So length is great, but if you can’t put it in play, it’s not so good.”

European captain Colin Montgomerie said he did not ask that the characteristics of Celtic Manor be changed to cater to his team. He wanted it set up so that the best team wins.

Even so, this is a European Tour course – Graeme McDowell won the Wales Open a few weeks before winning the U.S. Open – and it should favor the home team.

McDowell, however, recalled the rough being patchy without a summer of growth. He found Celtic Manor quite different now.

“It’s not patchy anymore,” McDowell said. “It’s just thick. You miss fairways, you’re going to be punished. The course has some length to it and the driving is a premium this week. You have to drive the ball in the fairway, preferably long. I know that works everywhere, but it certainly works this week, for sure.”


PRACTICE WELL SPENT: The wallets belonging to Englishmen Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher were considerably lighter after Tuesday’s practice round with teammates Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald.

“I’ve got nothing left,” Poulter said. “They cleaned Ross and myself out. Paddy had two eagles, which was quite interesting.”

However, just moments earlier, European captain Colin Montgomerie said in the interview room that wild-card selection Harrington had made three eagles.

“No,” said Poulter, noting that what would have been Harrington’s third actually “horse-shoed out from 40 feet.”

Not that it made much difference.

“They made an awful lot of eagles out there,” Poulter added, with a rueful smile. “Good for them.”

As he headed for the door, someone asked Poulter what the wagers were. He simply rolled his eyes.

“Too much,” he said. “I need to go to the cashpoint (ATM machine) right now.”

Phil Mickelson rarely plays golf anywhere without some cash on the line, and Tuesday was no different. On the eighth hole, Rickie Fowler stuffed a wedge to 4 feet, while Mickelson came up 25 feet short. Mickelson conceded the putt, then knocked his birdie putt into the back of the cup to match his birdie. “Nice push there, Rickie,” Lefty said with a grin.

While the sum wasn’t disclosed, Mickelson’s partner – Dustin Johnson – was relatively glum in saying the match against Fowler and Bubba Watson ended in a draw.

NO PODS: Paul Azinger rode his pod concept to a Ryder Cup win and a book to motivate businessmen. That doesn’t mean Corey Pavin will be copying his plan.

Pavin has remained largely mum about how he plans to lead his team to a second straight win. But team member Stewart Cink said Tuesday that, if there is a pod plan, the players don’t know about it.

“There has not been the kind of communication about it,” Cink said. “They may be doing that more in assistant captains and captains’ meetings, but there has not been quite as much black and white expressed to us.”

Azinger gave much of the credit for the 2008 U.S. win to a system used by the Navy to train SEALs in which they are paired in small groups and do everything together. He grouped players based on their personalities and they practiced, ate and played together the entire week.

“Last time, it worked really well because it was something that was unique and new and we were all sort of desperate for something to hang onto because we had lost all those Ryder Cups in a row and we just latched on it and went with it all the way,” Cink said.

That doesn’t mean Cink thinks it’s such a good idea for this year’s team.

“I think it would be a little risky for a captain to just copy that system exactly, just because, you know, that was Paul Azinger’s plan,” Cink said. “That wasn’t like the U.S. Ryder Cup team official agenda. That was Zinger’s deal, and he did that really well and the players really took hold of it well. To copy that system, I don’t know would be the right thing to do.”


PUTTING TIP: Steve Stricker, one of the best putters in golf, isn’t one to takes a lot of advice on the greens.

Except when it comes from Tiger Woods.

“Tiger looked at me today,” Stricker said. “We’ve talked about our strokes over the years and he gave me a good little pointer, and it’s something that my caddie and I mentioned last week, something in my setup that didn’t look quite right.”

Woods noticed that Stricker’s hands were too low before he takes the putter back. The heel of his putter usually is well off the ground, and Stricker said his caddie noticed that it was lower last week at East Lake. He just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the setup.

“It felt like my old self again today,” Stricker said.


DIVOTS: Lee Westwood is playing in his seventh Ryder Cup, although he is assured of something new this week—a partner. None of Westwood’s previous partners in fourballs and foursomes made this year’s team—Nick Faldo, Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie and Soren Hansen. … The Americans are trying to make fans in Wales. Assistant captain Jeff Sluman was handing out lapel pins of the American flag to the fans, as were some of the players. … Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods made their Ryder Cup debut in 1997. Woods has played on only one winning team, in 1999. Furyk has played on two winning teams because Woods missed 2008 recovering from knee surgery. “Finally won something more than Tiger Woods,” Furyk said.

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: