Presidents Cup not a preview of the Ryder Cup

By Doug FergusonOctober 13, 2009, 2:52 am
Presidents CupSAN FRANCISCO – This had all the trappings of an international incident, at least by golf’s standards.

Retief Goosen removed his cap and appeared to be conceding a 3-foot putt. Goosen realized he had the score wrong and the putt meant something, so he moved back to the edge of the green and watched as Justin Leonard missed.

It was all a misunderstanding. No hard feelings. Leonard said so himself, confirming Goosen’s good intentions and blaming only himself for a bad putt that cost his team a point.
Ryder Cup trophy
The Ryder Cup is far different from the Presidents Cup. (Getty Images)
This was in the opening round of the Presidents Cup.

And if this had taken place in Wales next year at the Ryder Cup? Leonard couldn’t contain his laughter.

“You guys,” he said to a few reporters, “would have made it a much bigger deal.”

It’s not a good idea to compare the two cups, even in the aftermath of an impressive U.S. victory. The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup are nothing alike except for the size of the teams (12 players) and the excess of ceremonies and celebrities.

The golf was spectacular at times, and the Americans have rarely looked this strong. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were unbeaten in all five of their matches for the first time in a team competition.

Just don’t jump to any conclusions about the Ryder Cup next year. There is no comparison with the cups when it comes to the intensity, scrutiny, pressure and hyperbole. That doesn’t make it better, just different.

No one sprayed champagne Sunday afternoon from the clubhouse balcony at Harding Park, and not just because the public course doesn’t have a balcony, or even much of a clubhouse.

Woods delivered the cup-clinching point and didn’t know it, even after U.S. captain Fred Couples told him.

The Presidents Cup once was described as matches between the United States and an International team from Florida. That’s no longer true because two International players have homes in Arizona. And while the Presidents Cup features 24 of the world’s best players, all but one of them – 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa of Japan – is a PGA Tour member.

What makes the Ryder Cup so compelling, beyond its 80 years of history, is the pride of one tour (Europe) and the pressure on another tour (United States).

No one handles the spotlight as well as Woods. No other player in his generation has faced more significant shots. Still, one can’t help but wonder if he produces better shots at the Presidents Cup because the matches are more about amity than enmity.

Woods delivered the defining moment of this Presidents Cup when he holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, then twirled his club and struck a conductor’s pose upon hitting 3-iron from 218 yards into 8 feet for an eagle that was conceded, and a stunning foursomes victory in what turned out to be the pivotal match of the week.

Consider his top highlights from the Ryder Cup:

  • An eagle putt that he knocked across the green and into the water at Valderrama.
  • The pained expression on his face when Mickelson, his partner, hit a tee shot out of play on the 18th hole at Oakland Hills.
  • His caddie dropping a 9-iron into the River Liffey during a singles match at The K Club in Ireland.

To suggest that Woods has finally figured out team play is to get carried away with the results of one cup. He didn’t care any less before. He didn’t try any harder this time.

“I didn’t notice any more intensity,” Mike Weir said. “He’s always like that.”

Couples summed it up beautifully earlier in the week when he said the key to getting points from the world’s No. 1 player is to give him a partner who contributes, arguing that two-against-one is not a fair fight, even when Woods is involved.

Stricker pulled his share of the load and then some, although NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller was either playing favorites or not paying attention when he said of Woods, “If he didn’t have Steve Stricker as a partner, he would have lost both his matches (Saturday).” Woods carried their foursome match in the morning, then turned it over to Stricker’s awesome putting in the afternoon fourball.

They became the first Presidents Cup partners to win all four matches, and the first 4-0 team in any cup since 1979.

“It was a blast to play with him,” Stricker said. “I felt like I held up my end of the deal, which was a big concern for me coming into this because I knew I was going to play with him. I wanted to make sure I contributed, and I felt like I did at times.”

Sure, there are lessons that Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin can take from Harding Park.

“Sign up Michael Jordan,” Couples suggested.

Jordan said the Americans looked like a real team last week, meaning he hasn’t been paying attention, either. The Americans have always gotten along well as a team. They just couldn’t make putts. When putts go in, points go on the board, smiles broaden, everyone has a good time. It really is that simple.

Pavin surely saw that Woods and Stricker make great partners, and that Mickelson can play great with anyone. Pavin should take one thing away from Couples and Jack Nicklaus, captain of the previous three Presidents Cup teams. Instead of over-analyzing, they asked the players who they wanted as partners. It shouldn’t be that hard.

Next year is the Ryder Cup.

The players will be different, including the Americans. The audience will be greater, the stakes higher. And the scrutiny will be keener than ever. Especially if the Americans lose.
American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.