Match by match: Presidents Cup Day 2 fourballs

By November 18, 2011, 4:30 am

Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson (U.S.) d. Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa (International), 3 and 1

Forget Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. The Americans have found a new juggernaut pairing in Simpson and Watson.

They beat Ishikawa and Els in a reprise of their Thursday foursomes match.

'We got off to a pretty good start, but the pins were very hard today and were tough to get close to,' Simpson said.

The Americans struck first with a Simpson birdie at the par-3 third hole before giving it back to a par by the Internationals at the fourth.

A birdie by Watson at the sixth and par by Simpson at the seventh allowed the Americans to regain a lead they would not relinquish. The teams each won two holes on the back nine before the Americans went dormie. A par at the 17th gave the first point of the session to Simpson and Watson.

Watson is pleased with his partner.

'He's doing good right now, and I'm riding his coattails pretty good, and somehow we got two W's out of it,' Watson said.

For the first time in Presidents Cup history, the same pair has gone out in the opening match of the first two sessions and won.


Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day (International) d. Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson (U.S.), 1 up

For the first time in his Presidents Cup career, Woods has begun 0-2.

Woods and new partner Johnson lost a closely contested match against Aussies Day and Baddeley.

Only three holes were won by either side in the entire match, with just one coming on the back nine. 

Woods won his first and only hole of the opening two sessions with a birdie at the par-4 fourth. The 14-time major winner made just one more birdie in the round - at the par-5 15th – but it was only good enough for a tie on the hole.

Baddeley could not sink a putt to win on the 17th hole for the second consecutive day, but made good on the 18th. Hitting an iron off the tee to insure placement in the fairway, Baddeley found the green and made a critical two-putt for the clinching par.

'I felt like I let him down yesterday, so it felt great to come through today,' Baddeley said afterwards.

If Woods loses his next match, it will equal the longest skid of his Presidents Cup career. He lost the final three pairs matches at Royal Melbourne in 1998.


Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk (U.S.) d. Adam Scott and Kyung-tae Kim (International), 2 and 1

Mickelson and Furyk may each be struggling with their form, but have managed to win both of their opening Presidents Cup matches. They never trailed against  Scott and Kim.

The newly minted Hall of Famer and Furyk each won two holes though both struggled to maintain confidence on the greens.

'This is crazy because when you get wind like this on greens that are 14 on the Stimpmeter, it's very hard to putt,' Mickelson said. 'I hit a couple of good putts early on that didn't go in [which] affected my confidence.'

A day after torching Royal Melbourne against Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, Scott could only manage one birdie on the round.

Furyk made several critical short putts down the stretch, posting the Americans' score on all but one hole of the back nine. 

The '03 U.S. Open champion said his team's point came in ugly fashion.

'We ham-and-egged it out there pretty well today,' Furyk said.


Geoff Ogilvy and K.J. Choi (International) d. Bill Haas and Nick Watney (U.S.), 1 Up

Watney barely contributed, with the Americans using his score on just four holes. Haas was responsible for both American wins, including an eagle at the par-4 11th. Haas drove the green from 333 yards, leaving a 7-footer for a deuce. 

The two wins by the FedEx Cup champion neutralized early wins by Ogilvy with birdies at the fifth and sixth holes. 

Ogilvy took the final hole won in the match at the 12th after both Haas and Watney made bogeys following errant drives. 

Choi became the leading player for the Internationals. He is the only player on the team to record two wins.


Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar (U.S.) d. Y.E. Yang and Robert Allenby (International), 4 and 3

Stricker did not win a hole. Kuchar's score was the one used in all five holes won by the Americans. The duo did need Stricker's score for seven halved holes.

Kuchar won three of four holes between the third and sixth, two of them with birdies. Until Kuchar made birdie at the 12th hole to go 3 up, Stricker carried the team.

The duo clearly worked well together, playing 6 under in 15 holes.

Yang was paired with Allenby as part of captain Greg Norman's strategy to create five teams with an Australian serving as sherpa to their partner around Royal Melbourne. The 2009 PGA champion did the bulk of the work, however, contributing on 10 holes.


Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel (International) d. Hunter Mahan and David Toms (U.S.), 2 and 1

Maybe all it took for Goosen to get on track at Royal Melbourne was to pair with a fellow South African.

Goosen and Masters champion Schwartzel jumped out to an early lead as Goosen won the second and third holes. Schwartzel extended the lead to 3 up with a birdie at the short par-4 11th. 

The Americans managed just a single win in the match, taking the 14th with a par after three players missed the green at the gusty par 3.

Toms and Mahan beat themselves by hitting just 14 of 34 combined greens in regulation.



Watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidents Cup live on Golf Channel. Tournament air times: Golf Channel Friday 3PM-midnight and Saturday 6:30PM-12:30AM. NBC coverage Saturday at 8AM and Sunday at noon. (Note: all times are ET)

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Path down the not-so straight and narrow

By Brandel ChambleeApril 24, 2018, 6:30 pm

Try as I might, I can’t remember a single one of my professors at the University of Texas asking me what we would like to be tested on. What I would have given if my freshman classical lit teacher, Miss Gross (really her name), had asked if we preferred Hemingway, the master of the short story, to the Russian novelist who apparently got paid by the word, Leo Tolstoy. The innate laziness of students, individual bias and consensus, as it turns out, runs counter to the academic goals of professors and Miss Gross had the temerity to think she knew better than her students what curriculum would be appropriate for a proper education.

She was right, of course, but “consensus” has become much more en vogue, as the world via social media bows to groupthink. This has become more evident in universities, politics and even golf, where the game has become almost unrecognizable from what it once was. 

The top-five players in the world (Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose) rank 128th, 126th, 108th, 127th and 100th, respectively, in driving accuracy. The top-five players in the world are pitiful at what Ben Hogan called the single most important shot in golf. Hogan looked at his target through a scope, these players use a scattergun. Yes, I know we now have something called strokes gained: off the tee, but given the current status of the game that is just a metric to tell us who the longest, straightest, most crooked players are. 

The hardest thing to do in golf is to hit the ball long AND straight. 



Hogan not only understood this, he obsessed over the idea and spent a lifetime building a golf swing that allowed him to hit the ball as far as he could and as straight as he possibly could. His only metric was the ribbon width fairway of a U.S. Open. The reason Hogan would be sick to his stomach if he walked up and down the ranges of PGA Tour events today is because many of the golf swings are built for half of this equation, to hit the ball long. In fairness this is not the player’s fault, at least not as far as they know. 

The most popular golf course architect remains Alister MacKenzie, a man who died over 80 years ago. MacKenzie’s guiding philosophy was to build courses that brought the greatest pleasure to the greatest number and his work, aesthetic gems like Cypress Point and Augusta National, built on ocean cliffs and on a former nursery farm, have gained immense and lasting fame. 

But perhaps more enduring, and I argue more damaging to the professional game, is his philosophy of design to appeal to the greatest number. 

Wanting to imitate links golf, MacKenzie favored little rough, few fairway bunkers, the imitation of nature for aesthetic appeal and rolling greens and surrounds. Testing professional golfers was never the primary objective. Understandable given that when MacKenzie was designing golf courses the game was, besides being much harder than it is now, relatively new in the United States. Making it more popular was the goal. 

Players, professional and amateur, loved the forgiving nature of his designs, and budding architects wanting to imitate MacKenzie’s work, adopted philosophies along similar lines. To this day when having a debate with a group of Tour players or golf course architect nerds, the consensus will be to have little or graduated rough off of the tee, “to allow for the recovery” they will say, followed by “to give the greatest pleasure to the greatest number.”

The year MacKenzie died, 1934, was notable: it was the year what is now called the Masters began, it was the first year the PGA Tour began recognizing the leading money winner and, far less widely known, it was the first year of a three-and-a-half decade reign for Joseph C. Dey as executive director of the USGA.

“From the moment I met him I could tell he was in charge of the game of golf,” Jack Nicklaus once said about Dey.

Dey shepherded golf in the United States and almost single-handedly instituted a uniform code of rules for the USGA and the R&A and helped start five USGA championships and four international team competitions. Beyond that, he was the man in charge of setting up the courses for the U.S. Open. 

His course setups were not built around consensus, they were driven by one simple overriding philosophy: to find the one player who was most in control of his emotions, mind and golf shots. U.S. Opens were often punishing to the best players and unforgiving, both off of the tee and around the green. There was no thought to the recovery, which is by definition bowing to the next shot. U.S. Opens were about great execution of the shot at hand, right here and now. The demands of precision were intimidating but they made the best players think. Hogan, in particular, thought longer and harder than anyone about the demands of a U.S. Open, and conquering them. 

Hogan had a Euclidean determination to build a golf swing that would withstand the greatest pressure in the game, U.S. Open pressure. What he built was an immaculate marriage of tenacity and technique, a swing that transfigured the game and remains the single most compelling example of beauty in golf. Now try to imagine what his swing would have looked like if driving the ball straight were of very little importance.

Sure Hogan gets credit for building the golf swing, but Dey should get the assist. If the executive director of the USGA had sought a consensus and conferred with the players, it’s doubtful that his setups would have been as demanding. Necessity being the mother of invention though, Hogan invented something nobody had ever seen before or since. 



Which brings me back to the state of the game today, where players flail away with impunity off of the tee, claiming to be great drivers of the ball because of something called strokes gained: off of the tee. The implications here are far reaching, far more than just being able to scatter shots all over a course and still win. 

Because golf course setups have become far more forgiving – owing to the MacKenzie philosophy, incessant complaints and suggestions of the players and to the social media chorus that we want more birdies ­– players seek to launch shots as high as they can, with as little spin as they can, with as long of a driver as they can handle. Distance has become a means to an end so much, that many are crying for a roll back of the ball when all that needs to happen is to roll back to an era when one man had the guts and the acuity to not listen to the players, or the pervading philosophy of fairness.

Imagine if the U.S. Open and several other events returned to this demanding philosophy. Players out of necessity would choose balls that spun more, heads that were smaller so they could shape shots, shots that would start lower for more control and golf swings would evolve to find the balance of distance and accuracy. In time an athlete would come along who could solve the puzzle of how to hit the ball far and straight. 

Players are not hitting the ball so far today because that’s the way the game is going, they are doing so because the set ups of golf courses do not make them think. 

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Finau returns to action 3 weeks after Masters injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 24, 2018, 6:22 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Nearly three weeks have passed since Tony Finau suffered a gruesome high-ankle sprain while celebrating a hole-in-one at the Masters.

And to some surprise, he’s already back on the course.

Finau was on the range at TPC Louisiana on Tuesday morning, preparing to return to competition alongside fellow Utah resident Daniel Summerhays at the Zurich Classic. After a half-hour warmup session in which he was able to shift into his left side, he walked slowly but without a limp.

“The only way we’re going to know where we’re at with the mobility is to continue to do what my foot normally does – and that’s walking and playing golf,” he said. “With this golf course and the setup of the tournament” – a flat course, with two days of alternate shot – “what better way to gauge where we’re at than by playing this tournament?”

Finau said that he mostly tried to stay off his injured ankle and foot the week after the Masters. Last week was more physical therapy and strength training, to test his limits. He’s been working with the Utah Jazz trainers, as well as the physical therapists at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center, to return to the Tour as quickly as possible.

“The journey is far from over as far as dealing with the foot,” he said. “I’ve dealt with ankle injuries before, and they can linger. I don’t think it’s going to be 100 percent for a while, but I do feel like it’s ready to go and play and compete and continue to get better as I do that.”


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Finau said he was shocked by the amount of support he received after his fluke injury in the Par 3 Contest – “A lot of guys who I didn’t know had my number reached out” – and that he only posted the gruesome photos of his leg after the Masters, so that fans knew what he endured to tie for 10th (including a Sunday 66) in his first start at Augusta.    

“I didn’t want anybody to think that I had excuses,” he said. “I’m there to play. I was ready to play once my tee time came around. Obviously people knew the scenario I was dealing with, but after the fact people could respect the process I had to go through throughout the week, during the round, after the round, taping it, and then seeing the condition it was in.

“Hopefully people were able to respect what I was able to do with limited action on my left side.”  

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Longtime pals Furyk, Duval the 'rustiest' Zurich team

By Ryan LavnerApril 24, 2018, 5:58 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Jim Furyk and David Duval are the winningest two-man team here at the Zurich Classic, combining for 30 PGA Tour titles during their careers.

These days, they’re also known for something else.

“We’re probably the rustiest team in the field,” Duval said with a laugh Tuesday. “Certainly the least rounds played.”

Of the 80 teams in the field at TPC Louisiana, the Furyk-Duval partnership may have raised the most eyebrows.

Furyk, 47, has scaled back his schedule over the past few years, after dealing with a variety of injuries. As the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, he also has more on his mind than choosing clubs and reading greens. Duval, 46, has made only 11 Tour starts since 2014, transitioning instead to the broadcast booth.


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And yet they’re here, together, paired for just the second time in a Tour event. Furyk found that hard to believe. Of the dozens of rounds these two aging warriors have played over the past two-plus decades, they teed it up together in only one Tour event – the 2002 Invensys Classic at Las Vegas.

“I know we played a lot on Mondays and Tuesdays,” Furyk said. “So playing in a tournament, that’s going back 15 years ago. I can’t remember last week who I played with, so …”

More vivid are his memories of their time together on what was then known as the Nike Tour.

“We had a span there where I think we played eight to 10 weeks in a row and we played practice rounds together,” Furyk said.

Duval mentioned the idea of teaming up at the Zurich last year, and Furyk accepted. This is just a one-off, a chance for old friends to reconnect, even if their own expectations are low.  

“When the folks out there go play golf, their idea of golf is hanging out with their buddies, right? Folks that they love playing golf with, enjoy being around,” Furyk said. “That’s what this event gives us. To get back together is really what it’s all about.”

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GOLF ADVISOR EXPANDS TRAVEL CONTENT TO BETTER SERVE THE AVID TRAVELING GOLFER

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 24, 2018, 4:30 pm

 New Golf Channel Travel Series, Golf Advisor Round Trip, and Fan Trip Experiences Highlight Additions

 Preview Clip: Golf Advisor Round Trip: Danzante Bay

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 24, 2018) – The leading source of golf course ratings and reviews, Golf Advisor, is expanding how it super-serves the traveling golfer. The Golf Advisor portfolio now will include a new Golf Channel travel series and premium travel experiences at world-class resorts and clubs.

“Since founding Golf Advisor in 2014, the site has grown dramatically to become the number-one course rating and review platform in the game. Golfer’s opinions are complemented with a veteran staff of writers, including Matt Ginella, Bradley Klein and Brandon Tucker, that provide expert travel advice on how to maximize your experience,” said Mike Lowe, vice president and general manager, Golf Advisor. “Now, we are excited to be elevating the brand and its offerings to not only showcase some of the most exciting golf destinations in the world on Golf Channel, but also to allow the traveling golfer to come along with us.”

Premiering May 2 at 8 p.m. ET, Golf Advisor Round Trip, will be a 30-minute series taking viewers around the world to showcase amazing golfing destinations. Matt Ginella, who has traveled more than a million miles since he began reporting for Golf Channel in 2013, will serve as series host and become Golf Advisor’s Editor-at-Large.

“There is no better education than travel, and it’s a buyer’s market in the world of destination golf,” Ginella said. “It’s a dream come true for me, my crew and the entire Golf Advisor team to be given the chance to inform, inspire and entertain our viewers and followers, alike, and to tell the stories about the places they may venture to next.”

In addition to his role as television host, Ginella also joins an expert Golf Advisor editorial team, including award-winning golf travel, history and architecture journalist Bradley S. Klein, Senior Managing Editor Brandon Tucker and other leading voices in golf travel.

The Golf Advisor Round Trip premiere episode will visit the stunningly beautiful Danzante Bay on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, and will feature its dramatically picturesque golf course that runs through beaches, cliffs and canyons, and was designed by famed architect Rees Jones. Watch a clip from the show Here.

Other destinations scheduled to be featured on Golf Advisor Round Trip in 2018 include:

  • Big Cedar Lodge, a wilderness resort experience in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.
  • Reynolds Lake Oconee, golf in the rolling lake country of northern Georgia.
  • Myrtle Beach, S.C., one of the world’s most popular golfing destinations offering more than 90 courses.
  • Ireland, one of the world’s most popular international golfing destinations and home to some of the most iconic golf courses.

Golf Advisor Getaways will provide opportunities for individuals and groups to travel with Ginella and other Golf Advisor personalities to the destinations featured on the Golf Channel series. They will serve as host and trip “captain,” responsible for organizing itineraries that not only include great golf, but also destination side-trips, entertainment and varied dining experiences. More information can be found on how to join these trips at www.GolfAdvisor.com/getaways.

Scheduled Golf Advisor Getaways in 2018 include:

  • Sept. 9-12:  Big Cedar Lodge
  • Oct. 14-17:  Reynolds Lake Oconee
  • Dec. 6-9:  Danzante Bay

As a rapidly growing digital destination for the avid golfer, Golf Advisor has achieved record growth in the last year, highlighted by all-time records across various key metrics (pages views +16%; unique visitors +32%). The site features more than 700,000 user-generated golf course reviews of more than 15,000 golf courses around the world from its active community of golfers, as well as its popular Best of Lists.

 -NBC Sports Group-