2012 Ryder Cup nearly ended in a tie

By Jason SobelSeptember 19, 2014, 12:00 pm

When is a tie not a tie? When is a tie celebrated with the thrill of victory from one party and mourned with the agony of defeat from the other? When is a tie met with unequal and opposite reactions?

This is not an existential riddle on the theory of competition. It’s what can happen at the Ryder Cup every time – and almost did two years ago.

For those who have blocked the final day at Medinah from their memories, here’s a quick recap: The U.S. team entered Sunday’s singles matches ahead 10-6, but quickly started to lose momentum. Luke Donald won the first match for Europe, then Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy. All told, the Europeans won each of the first five matches on the ledger and three of the next six. When Martin Kaymer holed a 6-foot putt on the final green, it was all over. Europe had won the Ryder Cup.

Well, sort of.

With 14 points, Europe had actually only retained the Cup. Amidst the team’s tear-soaked hugs and rabid champagne-spraying and cries of “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole…” one final match remained on the course.

Tiger Woods versus Francesco Molinari.

The previous night, in what can be viewed as either full confidence in his unassuming Italian ball-striker or front-loading his lineup, European captain Jose Maria Olazabal decided to place Molinari in the anchor position, setting up a singles rematch from two years earlier.

“It was actually great for me to see that he and all the vice captains had enough trust in me to put me in that position,” Molinari recently said in an email, “even if I knew that there was a big chance that the match could be over before coming down to our match.”

It’s a tenuous position, playing in that final match on a Ryder Cup Sunday afternoon. The available point could mean everything, the entire contest hinging on the outcome. Or it could mean nothing at all, fate being determined before the twosome has a chance to intervene.

While on the course throughout the day, Molinari tried to sneak a few peeks at leaderboards to figure out whether his point would be necessary.

“I remember definitely looking at one on the 11th fairway and seeing Tiger doing the same,” he recalled. “I did the math quickly and I saw that there was a chance for the match to come down to the last two games. I didn’t really get much info from the vice captains, only on the 16th fairway. Miguel Angel Jimenez came close to me after the tee shot and told me, ‘We need your point.’”

Some 25 minutes later, focused on his match while simultaneously trying to catch a glimpse of his teammate, Molinari watched Kaymer and opponent Steve Stricker up ahead on the 18th green.

“I was on the 18th fairway,” he explained. “It was hard to understand what was going on at first, because I first saw Stricker holing his putt and I didn’t know if it was for a win or a halve. Then I watched Martin putting his ball down and studying his putt, so I understood he could still win the point. When he holed the putt, it was a very strange moment because I could see everyone going mad in front of the green. I was watching them from a distance and obviously a part of me wanted to run down the fairway to celebrate with them.

“It took a lot of the pressure off, pretty much all the pressure I had.”

Europe had retained the Ryder Cup with what equaled the largest comeback in history. That was it. It was over.

Except … that wasn’t it. It wasn’t over.

Molinari was torn between running down the fairway and soldiering on, until his captain commanded that he wanted him to keep playing.

A win, Olazabal told him, would be better than a tie.

“I think there was a lot of confusion made of what happened next,” Molinari said. “I didn’t know what to do. ‘I was thinking, ‘Should we just pack in and not play the last? Should I concede the hole? Should I speak to Tiger to see what he wants to do?’ I turned towards Jose Maria, who was on the fairway in tears. He came close to me and said that I had to keep focused on what I was doing because the match was not over yet and if I could win the hole, we would have won the match instead of halving it.”

Here’s where the situation gets a little sticky. According to those on the European side, a win was better than a tie, even if the end result was the same. However, according to those on the U.S. side, a loss was the equivalent of a tie, because both ensured they wouldn’t take the Cup.

And so, amidst a jubilant celebration for Europe and shell-shocked lamenting for the U.S., the final match continued.

Woods was 1 up on the final hole, but unceremoniously made a bogey. That left Molinari with a 4-footer for par to halve the match and give Europe a 14½-13½ victory. Before he had a chance to hit the putt, though, his opponent offered a quick, “That’s good.”

Woods was asked about the concession directly after the match and explained his rationale thusly: “It was over. We came as a team and the Cup had already been retained by Europe, so it was already over.”

“I was surprised,” Molinari said, “but again, after Martin had holed his putt there was a surreal atmosphere around us. I wasn’t really expecting anything as it was a whole new situation for me.”

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe no one would have cared whether the teams tied if the final result was the same anyway. Maybe conceding that final putt simply saved the competition from any messy asterisks which would have been necessary for the history books.

A tie in this circumstance wouldn’t have really been a tie. It would have caused unequal and opposite reactions from the separate parties. Lost in the mixed celebration and sadness following the last Ryder Cup, though, is the story of how it very nearly happened this way.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 9:00 am

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson