Notes Cinks big comeback Overtime for Poulter

By Doug FergusonFebruary 18, 2010, 7:41 am
2007- WGC-AccentureMARANA, Ariz. – Stewart Cink didn’t have reason to hope he would survive the first round of the Match Play Championship.

Edoardo Molinari of Italy already was 4 up through seven holes, and as Cink walked up to the par-5 eighth green at Dove Mountain, he found his ball in the middle of a desert bush.

“Didn’t look very promising,” he said.

It was a familiar position for the British Open champion. Two years ago in the championship match against Tiger Woods, Cink also was 4 down through eight holes and never recovered.

This match worked out better.

“I played one of the best nine holes I’ve ever played,” Cink said after his 2-up victory. “I really just drove it well. I made a couple of key putts and holed out a bunker shot, and just kept applying the pressure.”

Back to No. 8.

Molinari hit into a fairway bunker, had to lay up and hit wedge to 30 feet. Cink hit 2-iron a little to the right, and was surprised to see where it landed.

“I really started thinking about Delta’s schedule back to Atlanta,” he said.

But he hacked it out into the rough, got up-and-down for par and halved the hole. Two holes later, he began his comeback by winning the 10th, 11th and 12th. Cink squared the match with a birdie on the 14th and took his first lead with a 15-foot birdie on the 17th.

Cink credited Padraig Harrington, who rallied twice from big deficits to beat him.

“I didn’t like being 4 up and then going back to even. It’s hard to play golf in that circumstance. And that’s how I felt like my opponent felt today,” Cink said.

Next up for Cink is Sean O’Hair.

OVERTIME: Ian Poulter against Justin Leonard promised to be a good match between players of similar distance off the tee who are good fighters. It lived up to its billing.

Leonard was on the verge of going 3 up after nine holes when Poulter found a fairway bunker at No. 9 and hit it heavy, headed for the desert. It barely cleared a cactus, hit the cart path for more roll, and he hit wedge to 3 feet for par.

Poulter eventually squared the match with a birdie on the 13th, took the lead with a 25-foot birdie from the fringe on the 14th and appeared to be in control until Leonard made a birdie on the 18th.

Then came overtime, and Poulter was sure he had it won.

Leonard went into the desert and had to take an unplayable lie. His first drop was headed into another unplayable lie until it hit a rock and bounced forward, closer to the hole.

“A huge break, because he could drop again,” Poulter said.

Leonard took a successful penalty drop and barely reached the front of the green 100 feet away. Poulter hit 9-iron to 5 feet.

Poulter was watching the 1999 Ryder Cup on TV, and remembers the putt heard ‘round the world. But not this one.


“I turned to my caddie and said, ‘If he makes this one, I’m walking in,”’ Poulter said. “This putt broke four times. It was good all the way and stopped 6 inches short of the hole.”

Little wonder that Poulter referred to Leonard as “one tough cookie.”

NATIONAL PRIDE: The Americans had 20 players in the Match Play Championship, which was not a record low for this event.

Only eight of them advanced to the second round, which is a record.

Three of them were eliminated in All-American opening matches – Jim Furyk over Scott Verplank, Brian Gay over Kenny Perry and Matt Kuchar beating Anthony Kim.

They still have more players than any other country. England has six players remaining, while Australia has three.


Stenson was in bed with flulike symptoms, but still tried to give it a shot.

“The first tournament of the year in America didn’t really turn out the way I had hoped,” Stenson said. “As soon as I tried to start to hit balls, it was an out-of-body experience. It was no point, really.”

Why bother playing?

Stenson is a PGA Tour member this year, meaning he has to play 15 events. This counts toward the 15.

The good news is that he can head back home and not worry about missing the birth of his second child, due in a week. He plans to return in time for Doral the second week of the Florida swing.

DIVOTS: Five players who had never competed in the Match Play Championship won their opening matches – Ryo Ishikawa, Nick Watney, Matt Kuchar, Brian Gay and Ross McGowan. … Robert Karlsson, playing for the fifth time in this event, won his first match by beating Rory Sabbatini in 20 holes. … Tim Clark has gone retro, using a yellow golf ball.

STENSON WD: None of the alternates showed up at Dove Mountain, so maybe Henrik Stenson did them a favor. The big Swede at least made it through one hole before conceding his match.
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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

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Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: