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Stock Watch: Bad trend for veteran Tour caddies

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 19, 2017, 12:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Marc Leishman (+8%): Remember Billy Horschel’s sprint to the FedExCup title in 2014, with a close call in Boston, a win at the BMW and then a clean sweep at the Tour Championship? Leish might be copying that winning formula.

Anna Nordqvist (+5%): Still not 100 percent from her bout with mono, Europe’s best player summoned the goods when she needed it most at the Evian, playing an 11-hole stretch in 8 under and prevailing in a playoff in bone-chilling conditions.

Patrick Cantlay (+3%): If only they still handed out a Comeback Player of the Year award. After sitting out more than two years because of a back injury and a personal loss, the former amateur star reached the Tour Championship after only a dozen starts. Stud.

J-Rose (+2%): Got his heart ripped out at Augusta, but it looks like he has finally recovered, running off three consecutive top-10s in the playoffs and rolling straight into East Lake, one of his favorite venues.

Jerry Kelly (+1%): Apparently, the senior circuit suits him well – he has nearly as many victories in the past four weeks (two) as he had in 22 years on the big tour (three).


FALLING

Hideki (-1%): The Japanese star led the FedExCup race after the PGA Championship. Three consecutive finishes outside the top 20, and now he’s all the way down to seventh – a potentially big hit to his bank account.

Veteran Tour caddies (-3%): After the Jason Day-Colin Swatton split, five of the top 10 players in the world now have caddies with no prior looping experience on Tour. A new trend, perhaps: Bros before pros?

Ariya Jutanugarn (-4%): It was her older sister, Moriya, who stole the show at the Evian. Kid sis, who rose to No. 1 in the world in June, has missed the cut or withdrawn from seven of her past eight events.

Rory (-5%): His PGA Tour season is over, and he now has two more starts to extend his streak of eight consecutive years with at least one win. The way he’s currently playing, well, that seems unlikely.

LPGA major season (-7%): So, what was the most memorable major moment this year? The rules debacle with Lexi? The 54-hole Evian decision? Not a great look.

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Tiger helped calm down Reed before epic RC match

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 3:30 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods apparently played a pivotal role in getting Patrick Reed ready for that epic Ryder Cup singles match against Rory McIlroy – all by cracking a joke on the range.

Then a U.S. vice captain, Woods noticed that Reed was too amped up during the warm-up for the opening singles match.

“He’s watching me warm up, and he’s like, He needs to calm down. He needs to chill out,” Reed recalled. “I was hitting the ball sideways – I was just like, Let’s go.


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“But he pulled me aside. Cracked a little joke to calm me down a little bit” – what the joke was, Reed wouldn’t say, but you can probably guess that it was unprintable – “and I was able to bring that adrenaline level down to manageable, rather than sitting there on high rev.”

It didn’t take long for Reed to explode again.

In one of the most entertaining matches in Ryder Cup history, Reed and McIlroy traded blows for the first eight holes at Hazeltine, combining for eight birdies and an eagle before settling down. Reed eventually won the match, 1 up, after rolling in a birdie putt on the final green.

“It’s something that was hard to make sure you stayed up in that mind frame and also that level that you could play,” Reed said. “You get so amped up, it’s hard. It’s hard to figure out how far you’re going to hit the ball, but at the same time, if you’re so even-keeled in the other direction, it’s hard to get yourself up to get going. You only have 18 holes.

“The good thing is I’ve been able to manage that really well, and luckily I was able to have Tiger there to help me out there on Sunday.”

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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.”


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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.