Teams arrive in Wales as US gets set to defend

By Doug FergusonSeptember 27, 2010, 11:29 pm

Ryder Cup

CARDIFF, Wales – A young woman working at the Celtic Manor this week did a double take when she saw Corey Pavin getting into a golf cart. She didn’t realize he was the U.S. captain. What got her attention was what he was holding.

“Is that the Ryder Cup trophy?” she said excitedly before holding up her credential to show an image of the gold chalice.

Pavin and the American team own the real thing. The question is whether they go home with it.

After a night of travel on a charter flight out of Atlanta, the defending champions arrived in Wales for the Ryder Cup matches they will try to win on foreign soil for the first time since 1993.

U.S. Ryder Cup team
The U.S. Ryder Cup team arrived in Wales Monday. (Getty Images)
Europe is considered the stronger team on paper with two major champions, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer, and a 12-man side that has produced 17 victories this year, five of those on the PGA Tour. The perception of strength also is based on who didn’t make the team – Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia.

European captain Colin Montgomerie isn’t buying into that.

“Yes, we might be favorites,” he said. “But I don’t see it as much as you guys might be putting this together. This will be very, very close and very competitive, as they always are.”

The Americans have the top two players in the world ranking, which in this case might be misleading. Tiger Woods has not won a tournament all year – he hasn’t even come close – while dealing with an embarrassing scandal that cost him his marriage. Phil Mickelson won the Masters, but he has been in the top 10 only once in the last three months.

Even so, Pavin has reason to feel his U.S. team is ready to defend.

Jim Furyk won the Tour Championship on Sunday, making him the third U.S. team member to win a FedEx Cup playoff event. Matt Kuchar won The Barclays, while Dustin Johnson won the BMW Championship.

“I like the way Team USA is playing right now,” Pavin said. “I think there’s a lot of guys that have been playing well, and that’s always a good thing. Any captain is going to want his players to be up on their game. But then again, anything can happen during a week of golf. I just would like my guys to be out there and be comfortable, relaxed, and get some good practice in the next couple of days.”

They were plenty relaxed on the way over.

It was the first time since at least 1997 the entire American team came over on the same plane. Some travelers and airport workers were stunned Sunday night to see Woods leaning against a wall having a casual conversation with Mickelson as the U.S. team, wives and caddies gathered outside one of the gates in the international concourse.

Odds are Woods and Mickelson weren’t talking fourballs strategies. That experiment of them playing together didn’t work so well in the 2004 matches at Oakland Hills.

Montgomerie already has told his players their partners, and Pavin has given his players an indication of who might be playing, and when. He just wasn’t about to reveal anything until the opening ceremony Thursday.

“I have a very good idea of what we’re going to do,” Pavin said. “We’ve talked about it quite a bit, and the players have an idea of the direction that I’m going to go. But there’s no reason for me to discuss it too much until I actually write the pairings down on paper and turn them in.”

Some pairings could become clearer when the teams begin practicing on the Twenty Ten course at Celtic Manor, the first golf course specifically designed with a Ryder Cup in mind.

Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson took in a few holes of practice, Stricker dressed in a blue rain suit. The sky was gray and dreary, and rain was in the forecast for much of the week.

Celtic Manor otherwise looked ready to stage the biggest team event in golf. The grandstand behind the first tee was in the shape of an amphitheater, with towering bleachers behind the 18th green, and a stage already erected for the opening ceremony. Casual observers might not know if they were at a golf tournament or Woodstock.

It was an otherwise routine day, the big news that both captains have asked their players not to use Twitter or Facebook during the Ryder Cup. Stewart Cink and Ian Poulter each have more than a million followers.

Montgomerie doesn’t tweet. More strange to him is not playing.

“Strange in many ways,” Montgomerie said. “Biggest event in my golfing career and I’ve come here with no clubs. Quite weird, really. I stood on the first tee on Friday when I arrived. Had my own thoughts about ever playing in the Ryder Cup. And after this great honor and responsibility that this is, I intend to do my utmost to try to make the team in 2012.”

The first order of business, however, is getting that gold trophy away from Pavin and the Americans.

 

Getty Images

Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

Getty Images

In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”

Getty Images

Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

"Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

"I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

"I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

Getty Images

Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

"Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

"I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."