U.S. in total control, but not Tiger

By Doug FergusonNovember 19, 2011, 7:02 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – So much about this Presidents Cup resembles the last time it was played at Royal Melbourne 13 years ago, from the sudden drop in temperatures to Tiger Woods winning only one point to a final day that holds so little drama.

The difference is the team on the verge of hoisting the gold trophy.

The Americans built a big lead Saturday morning in the foursomes matches, with Woods finally rewarded with a point, then turned back a rally from the International team in the worst of the weather in the afternoon by capturing the final two matches.

“We needed those two points really bad,” U.S. captain Fred Couples said. “And they got them for us.”

Hunter Mahan delivered the most emotional moment of the week, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th right after Jason Day charged up the Australian crowd with an even longer birdie putt which he celebrated as if the match would be extended. Instead, Mahan and Bill Haas had a 2-and-1 win.

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Moments later, Jim Furyk finished off the wild day with a clutch bunker shot on the 16th hole, and Nick Watney secured a par on the final hole for a 1-up decision over Adam Scott and Ernie Els that changed everything.

Those last two wins gave the Americans a 13-9 lead going into the 12 singles matches Sunday, a deficit from which no team has recovered in the 17-year history of this tournament.

The largest rally in any team event was when the Americans came from four points down to win the 1999 Ryder Cup. International captain Greg Norman didn’t wag his finger and say he had a good feeling about this, as Ben Crenshaw did at Brookline.

He wasn’t giving up, either, nor was his team.

“It’s going to have to be a remarkable day tomorrow,” Scott said. “But we have a shot. That’s all we can ask for. It’s not over.”

The only time the International side has won this event was at Royal Melbourne in 1998, when it had a nine-point lead going into the Sunday singles and the Cup was won as breakfast was still being served.

Woods was 1-3 that year going into the final day, only he wasn’t alone. None of the Americans played well, leading to their worst loss ever in any team competition.

Woods finally put up a point Saturday morning in foursomes with Dustin Johnson. It wasn’t pretty, but they forged ahead with a few pars and Woods ended the match by rolling in a 25-foot birdie putt. In the afternoon, Woods couldn’t buy a putt. Despite putting for birdie on every hole – only one of those from off the green – he missed nine putts from about 15 feet and closer.

That included the 18th hole, when he missed a putt for a halve, and K.T. Kim knocked in a 6-foot par to give him and Y.E. Yang their first win of the week.

“It’s all about making putts in match play, and we didn’t do that,” Woods said. “It just one of those things where that’s how it all turns out. But hey, right now we’ve got a nice lead. And hopefully, tomorrow we can get the four-and-a-half points we need.”

Webb Simpson will lead off the singles session against Kim, with Woods in the 11th spot against Aaron Baddeley.

The International team, which has won the Presidents Cup only once since it began in 1994, was hopeful that being in Australia would lead to another win, just like in 1998. Back then, it got plenty of help from its local players. With five Australians on this year’s team, it hasn’t worked out that way.

Robert Allenby, a captain’s pick, is the only player on either side to not win a point. Scott is 1-3, while Baddeley and Day have faltered on the back nine throughout the week. Geoff Ogilvy is the only Australian with a winning record, as he and K.J. Choi won a tight match Saturday afternoon against Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker.

The Americans continue to dominate the foursomes matches, as they have the last three years with a combined 25 ½ - 7 ½ margin. Most peculiar about this day, however, was the weather.

It started with a warm breeze and occasional rain. It ended in a steady rain, temperatures that plunged and a wind out of the opposite direction from when the day started.

“I’ve been coming to Melbourne for quite a few years,” said Els, who teamed with Ryo Ishikawa for the International’s only point in the morning foursomes. “I’ve played the north breeze and the southwesterly. But today was quite amazing. It blew from the north, and then it turned around and came from the south. We’ve had it all this week.

“Yesterday it was rock hard … and today it was almost blowing like in Scotland.”

The stars of the American team have been Furyk and Phil Mickelson, who have yet to lose a match. They were 3-0 as a team until Couples sat Mickelson out Saturday afternoon, ending his streak of 32 consecutive matches played in this event, dating to the first session in 1998.

Furyk teamed with Watney and watched the Presidents Cup rookie hole one big putt after another.

“I felt like we went through about three different seasons today,” Furyk said. “It was a tough day and a long day for those who played 36, and this morning was big for us to go 4-1 in five matches. And we hung on this afternoon, getting a point in those last two matches. We put ourselves in good position and have to come out firing tomorrow.”

Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel handed Simpson and Bubba Watson their first loss of the week in the opening foursomes match in the afternoon. Even though the Americans rallied, it was the first time they had lost a session since singles in 2007 at Royal Montreal.

It still wasn’t enough for them to lose control. In wild weather, the Americans kept their big lead.


Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."