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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Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 14, 2018, 10:40 pm

Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.

Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.

Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.

Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 10:07 pm

CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs

Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.

''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''

The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.

''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''

Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.

Full-field scores from the SAS Championship

''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''

The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.

''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''

Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.

''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.

Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.

Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.

The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.

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Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 5:29 pm

WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.

The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.

Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.

Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.

English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).

The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.

Full-field scores from the British Masters

A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September

Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.

His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.

There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.

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Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2018, 1:46 pm

For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.

Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.

"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.

Full-field scores from CIMB Classic

CIMB Classic: Articles, photos and videos

The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.

"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."

Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."