Punch Shot: Biggest question marks at Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2014, 12:45 pm

There are lots of unknowns entering the 40th Ryder Cup. Who are the biggest question marks on both sides? The GolfChannel.com team on site in Gleneagles, Scotland offers its opinion.

By JASON SOBEL

Phil Mickelson is the biggest question mark for the U.S. team.

I don’t mean that as a sign of disrespect to the 10-time Ryder Cupper, but coming off a FedEx Cup playoff run during which he often spoke of his frustrations before literally vanishing overnight, there’s no telling which Mickelson will show up this week at Gleneagles.

Throughout most of the year, he looked tired – and maybe even injured at times. But this event has a way of replenishing the fuel supply, and pairing with Keegan Bradley should get him as excited as he’s been in a long time.

For the European side, the biggest question mark is Victor Dubuisson.

The Frenchman has been deemed an enigma by teammates. He’s the wildest of wildcards that we’ve seen at the Ryder Cup in a long time, which is to say that he could thrive in the match play format and become a driving force for the Europeans, but he could also just as easily flame out under the intense spotlight of a high-pressure environment.

Dubuisson certainly has the short game and flair for the dramatic necessary to succeed here, but it remains to be seen whether the rookie can triumph in this type of atmosphere.


By RANDALL MELL

It’s tempting to say any of the American rookies. You don’t know how Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Jimmy Walker will react under Ryder Cup pressure for the first time. It’s also tempting to say Phil Mickelson, because Lefty is the most decorated American in the Ryder Cup ranks, but given Mickelson’s struggles this year, how much do we really expect? The biggest question mark is Jim Furyk. He’s a decorated and respected American veteran who will be expected to lead. And unlike Mickelson, Furyk brings very good form to Gleneagles. Furyk’s Ryder Cup record, though, isn’t good. He’s 9-17-4. He didn’t have a good Ryder Cup at Medinah two years ago, losing a pivotal match to Sergio Garcia in singles that helped the Euros mount their epic comeback. He has won just one match over the last two American Ryder Cup losses. If Furyk turns his Ryder Cup fortunes around, will the Americans follow suit? 

On the European side, Ian Poulter is the largest question mark. With his impressive Ryder Cup record (12-3), his aura and leadership role, Poulter is a symbol of European dominance. His form has been off this year, but it doesn't matter. He still embodies the European spirit in these matches. If Poulter goes down early and hard, will the Euros follow?


By REX HOGGARD

When U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson looks at Phil Mickelson it’s still not clear whether he sees a leader or a liability.

Lefty did, after all, go undefeated in team play in 2012 at Medinah paired with Keegan Bradley and has assumed the role of elder statesman in the U.S. locker room.

But he is also the same player who failed to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time in his Hall of Fame career this season and if not for a late push at the PGA Championship would not have earned an automatic spot on this year’s Ryder Cup team.

Perhaps an even more concerning question for European captain Paul McGinley is what to expect from Ian Poulter, the wild-eyed magician of Medinah who has earned, as many of his contemporaries figured, a lifetime exemption onto the Continent’s team with his inspired play.

But the Englishman begins his fifth Ryder Cup in perhaps the worst form of his career, posting just a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour in 2014. There is no question that McGinley should have made Poulter one of his captain’s picks, but there will be plenty of questions when he sets out on Friday.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.