Captain Love excited about Ryder Cup team

By Randall MellAugust 13, 2012, 2:51 pm

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Davis Love III isn’t feeling so lonely today in his U.S. Ryder Cup quest.

Love did more than beam over the eight Americans who secured automatic qualifying spots in the wake of Sunday’s conclusion of the PGA Championship. He announced two new assistant captains on Monday and made it clear there are at least three veteran players who have an edge as he prepares to make his four captain’s picks on Sept. 4 after the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Love announced that Jeff Sluman and Scott Verplank will be assistant captains for the Sept. 28-30 matches at Medinah Country Club. They’ll join previously named assistants Fred Couples and Mike Hulbert.

Love also made it clear that Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk are players to beat in this three-week run-up before he announces his captain’s picks. He also appears to be looking hard at Rickie Fowler. Not coincidentally, those four just missed making the team on points, finishing 9th through 12th in the final standings.

While Love may be leaning toward those players, he made it clear a hot player can change his mind.

“Yeah, I think there are definitely some guys that have to play their way in,” Love said. “And there are some guys that have to come to me and tell me, `Hey, I'm hurt or I'm not ready or I'm not playing well, you may want to take a different look the next few weeks.’

“Nobody is out, and nobody is really in. This is a big three weeks.”

Love also mentioned Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Bo Van Pelt, Bill Haas and David Toms as possibilities.

The Wyndham Championship is this week with the FedEx Cup’s The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship following before Love makes his picks. While Love won’t be keeping the points list going the next three weeks to see how prospective picks stack up, he and his captains will keep some statistical data to help them.

“I think it's going to come down to a gut decision,” Love said.

Love said personalities, how a player fits into a team and into pairings, will be important factors. He specifically mentioned how Bubba Watson and Fowler were a good fit as the unofficial comic relief in the team quarters at Wales two years ago. Stricker, he said, is perfect for a Tiger Woods pairing and Furyk can pair up with anyone.

The final eight who made the team on points were Woods, Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson.

Notably, all eight have won PGA Tour events this year with Woods winning three and with Watson, Dufner and Johnson each winning two. Two qualifiers won majors (Watson, Masters; Simpson, U.S. Open). The team is so deep that Mahan didn’t make the final eight despite having two wins this year.

Three of the eight will be Ryder Cup rookies (Dufner, Bradley, Simpson).

The downside for Love is that among the five Ryder Cup veterans who qualified, none has a winning record in the Ryder Cup. Woods is 13-14-2. Mickelson is 11-17-6. The team’s cumulative Ryder Cup record is 29-38-1.

Still, Love is undaunted.

“I'm excited about those eight,” he said. “I'm excited about Medinah.  I'm excited about the way this team's shaping up.  I'm very nervous of the next three weeks of having to pick four more guys.”

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 146th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Royal Birkdale, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”

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Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:43 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.

According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.

Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:

Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).

Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).

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Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.

Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.

Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

“I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”

Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.

“Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.

On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.

“These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”

Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.

More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.

Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.

Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.

“He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”

Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.

He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.