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Kisner scores helicopter ride to Georgia game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2017, 5:25 pm

ATLANTA – Early Friday at the Tour Championship Kevin Kisner put out a call for help via Twitter: “I need a helicopter to take me to Athens [Ga.] tomorrow after the round to make the game. Who has one in [Atlanta]?”

With a 1:45 p.m. (ET) tee time at East Lake on Saturday, Kisner, a Georgia alum, was going to be cutting it close if he was going to make the opening kickoff at the Georgia vs. Mississippi State game, which began at 7 p.m.

Within hours, East Lake Golf Club tweeted back, “We have lined up a connection for you. Please see our [general manager] if you still have a need.”

Kisner raced around East Lake in 64 strokes, took a quick shower and was airborne just after 6 p.m. on his way to the big game thanks to Justin Thomas who helped arrange for a local helicopter company – Helicopter Express – to land at the Charlie Yates Golf Course, which is next door to East Lake.

“I haven’t played the front nine good, ever. But I started making birdies and felt pretty good. I knew I had plenty of time until [Jason Day] shanked it on 16 and I told him to hurry it up,” joked Kisner, who is tied for second place and two strokes off the lead held by Paul Casey.

The ride to Athens was expected to take 25 minutes and the same helicopter was scheduled to bring Kisner back to Atlanta after he watches the game from the Georgia sidelines.

“Twitter’s a pretty amazing thing,” laughed Kisner, who will be paired with Casey on Sunday at East Lake in the day’s final group.

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Improved putting a focus for slumping Mickelson

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 3:12 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – For the U.S. side, one of the biggest question marks heading into this week is the state of Phil Mickelson’s game.

Mickelson was all out of sorts last week at the Tour Championship, where he finished last in the 30-man field, shooting 13 over par and finishing 24 strokes behind Tiger Woods.

Part of that poor play likely can be attributed to Mickelson looking ahead to this week, where the Americans will try to snap a 25-year winless drought on foreign soil. But Mickelson conceded Tuesday that his game still needs plenty of work before the Ryder Cup begins on Friday.

“I’m going to spend more time with the putter,” Mickelson said. “It’s Tuesday. We have two more practice rounds.”

Mickelson’s putting has been one of the strongest parts of his game this season – he was ranked 10th in strokes gained: putting – but he had two of his worst weeks of the year on the greens at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship. In each of those starts, he ranked nearly the bottom of the field in putting and lost an average of 1.3 strokes to the field each round. (His worst putting tournament of the year was the PGA Championship, where he lost an average of -1.6 strokes a round.)

But there were larger concerns. Of the 30 players in the field at East Lake, he was better than only two in the strokes gained: tee to green category.  

Overall, Mickelson doesn't have a top-10 on Tour since early May. 

“I don’t want to put too much time into it,” he said. “I’m not trying to get fine-tuned. I’m just trying to get posture, alignment, basic fundamentals matched up for the swing, so I have a little bit of work to do. I didn’t strike it the way I wanted to, but the last two weeks were the worst putting weeks of the year, and hopefully I can turn that around.”

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Woods will take time to savor success after Ryder Cup

By Will GraySeptember 25, 2018, 3:04 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – In the time since the last putt dropped at East Lake, Tiger Woods has been in the midst of an intercontinental whirlwind as he prepares for his Ryder Cup return. What he hasn’t had time for is savoring his drought-breaking victory.

Woods won the Tour Championship on Sunday for his first title in more than five years, a performance that drew congratulations and support from throughout the golf world and beyond. After his first practice round at Le Golf National, Woods admitted that his phone still hasn’t stopped buzzing.


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“I’m trying to return the text messages I’ve gotten, but I’m still well north of 150,” Woods said. “So it’s going to take me a little bit of time before I answer all that.”

Woods hasn’t had a chance to digest his triumph in Atlanta, having been whisked from his post-victory media requirements straight to the U.S. team charter to France. He explained that the only video highlights he’s seen from East Lake are the ones that have aired on a French news station in his hotel, giving him a quick glance of the throng of thousands that followed him up the final fairway.

While there’s work to be done this week as he looks to help the U.S. win in Europe for the first time in 25 years, he knows that a chance to exhale following a comeback season that exceeded even his own expectations is close on the horizon.

“I haven’t really had a lot of time to soak it in,” Woods said. “Post-Ryder Cup, it will be a different story. I’ll look back and soak it up, and really reflect on what really transpired that entire week.”

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Phil tries to negotiate a shot a side for Tiger match

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 2:58 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson is probably thankful his long-awaited showdown with Tiger Woods isn’t next week.

He’s not sure it’d be a fair fight.

Last week at the Tour Championship, Woods won his first event in five years while Mickelson finished last in the 30-man field, a whopping 24 strokes behind.


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The quality of Woods’ play of late (and Mickelson’s recent struggles) prompted Lefty to begin early negotiations Tuesday at the Ryder Cup.

“I’m trying to negotiate a shot a side,” Mickelson said, chuckling. “It didn’t go over well, but I’m still working on it. I’ve got some negotiating to do, given how well he played last week.”

Right now, Woods is significantly favored (-220) in the match at Shadow Creek.

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Woods: Huge TV ratings 'a big deal' for golf

By Jay CoffinSeptember 25, 2018, 2:56 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods won. Television rating spiked.

The only person surprised about the latter fact was Woods himself.

“I didn’t see the ratings, so I don’t know,” he said Tuesday at the Ryder Cup. “Are they good?”

Well, yes, they were.

NBC Sports’ final-round coverage of Woods’ victory at the Tour Championship on Sunday earned a 5.21 overnight rating, making it the highest-rated telecast in the history of FedExCup Playoffs and the highest-rated PGA Tour telecast this year, excluding majors.


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The rating to watch Woods’ 80th-career PGA Tour win was up 206 percent over last year’s Tour Championship.

“Sorry, I’ve been a little busy, so I haven’t looked,” he said. “If the ratings are, as you said, huge, especially against football on Sunday, you know, in the States, that’s a big deal, and for us to be able to promote golf like that and for me to experience a scene like we had on 18, the people running behind us and getting that excited.”

Coverage peaked from 5:30-6 p.m. ET on Sunday just as Woods was putting the finishing touches on his first victory in over five years. The 7.19 rating during that span trailed only peaks for the Masters (11.03) and PGA Championship (8.28). Live streaming minutes across NBC Sports digital platforms were up 561 percent over 2017.