Main event: Phil and Keegan draw Rory and Sergio

By Randall MellSeptember 25, 2014, 4:53 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – The anchor match of the opening session of the Ryder Cup intrigues as a heavyweight bout that makes everything else feel like the undercard.

USA’s Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley vs. Europe's Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

Yes, all the matches matter equally - they’re all worth a point - but Match No. 4 pits the best American team from 2012 against the world No. 1 (McIlroy) and world No. 3 (Garcia). It pits Mickelson against McIlroy, whom Mickelson poked fun at Wednesday, when he said American players get along just fine and aren’t in litigation against each other like the Euros. He was making light of McIlroy and Graeme McDowell being in a legal wrangle over contracts McIlroy has with an agent they once shared.

“You have to like all the contests, but the last contest, that's the striking contest,” U.S. captain Tom Watson said. “That's the one that’s kind of the main event, you'd have to say. You all know that. It's not rocket science here. That's what we're going to be looking at tomorrow. We're going to be looking at the first three matches, and 'Oh, yeah, there's Sergio and Rory playing Phil and Keegan.' Looking forward to that. I know that and you know that. But again, every match is really important.”

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Mickelson and Bradley swept all three matches they played together at Medinah two years ago, winning in routs. None of their matches reached the 18th green. They were a dynamic duo, with Mickelson playing off Bradley’s exuberance and emotion. They whipped the formidable European team of Garcia and Luke Donald 4 and 3 in foursomes and thumped the team of Donald/Lee Westwood 7 and 6 in foursomes.

If you’re handicapping this match, though, you have to make McIlroy and Garcia the clear favorites based on form. World No. 1 McIroy won the British Open and PGA Championship this summer. Garcia won the Qatar Masters earlier this year with seven finishes of fourth or better.

Mickelson is enduring his first winless season in more than a decade. Bradley is also winless this year.

McIlroy and Garcia were fired up about being paired together for the first time in a Ryder Cup.

“Sergio is one of my closest friends on tour, and we always got along well,” McIlroy said. “I think that it was only a matter of time before we got together in the Ryder Cup and played. What a great way to start, obviously, against Phil and Keegan. So, it's an exciting match. I again couldn't ask for a better partner. He's playing fantastically well. I know that I can rely on him, and he's such a solid player.”

Garcia is 16-8-4 in Ryder Cup play. He endured that loss to Mickelson/Bradley two years ago when teamed with Donald in foursomes.

“Obviously, Keegan and Phil played really well at Medinah a couple years ago," Garcia said. “It will be nice to go out there and play well and play like we know how to play, and take a point away from them. I think would be very important.”

McIlroy also lost to the Bradley/Mickelson team when paired with McDowell in foursomes at Medinah, but McIlroy defeated Bradley in singles there. Mickelson is 1-4 in Ryder Cup matches against Garcia. He was 0-4 until teaming with Bradley to beat him at Medinah.

“We have our work cut out for us, but we're on top of our games as well, and hopefully we'll have a good match,” Mickelson said.

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.

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Woods fires shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

“I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.