Watson doesn't gamble with opening fourball pairings

By Jason SobelSeptember 25, 2014, 5:51 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – It was nearly three full months ago – just before Independence Day, coincidentally enough – and Tom Watson was talking about the Ryder Cup. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Since being named to the role of captain two decades after he last held the position, very few of his conversations haven’t veered into this territory.

As the last United States captain to win on foreign soil, Watson owns a unique perspective into the strategy of trying to triumph when the crowds and the weather and the bounces and maybe even the golf gods are all engineered to keep you from doing just that. He’s had time to think about it. He’s had time to consider every fitting analogy for this exact scenario.

So when he’s asked about it, he doesn’t flinch. Instead, Watson props himself up on the edge of his chair and leans forward as if he’s issuing top secret information. Then he offers an explanation that sounds at once elementary in nature and yet also completely appropriate and justified.

“It’s kind of like going to the casino,” he said. “They’ve got the advantage. You just have to play better or get lucky, but you can beat them. You can win at the casino; you can win at the Ryder Cup.”

With his opening fourball pairings, Watson essentially played the game by the book. He didn’t take a major gamble at this threatening casino, didn’t split kings or bet on snake eyes or move his entire stack of chips all-in.


Video: Breaking down Day 1 fourball matches


Instead, the captain named three teams that should have come as little surprise to those who have been paying attention during the interminable lead-up to Friday’s festivities and a fourth which only comes as slightly unforeseen.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were always going to be a team since their first pairing at Medinah two years ago; Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson were embedded together the moment the latter was announced as a captain’s pick; Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker have meshed in recent weeks and formed a cohesive duo; and while the all-rookie team of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed could be considered a bit unexpected, he found two players who enjoy each other’s company and are each supremely confident in their own ways.

“They weren't exactly the way I thought about it,” Watson admitted of his four opening twosomes, “but I wasn't really too concerned about the pairings when I first came in. It was too early. Why go through all that exercise when you didn't have enough information to make the pairings? Obviously you look at Phil and Keegan, and Webb and Bubba, and it turns out, yeah, they are going to make good pairings together. I believe that.

“The other pairings, I really didn't know. I wanted to get a feel for the players and how they wanted to play with each other, and who I thought would be best to be out there playing with each other. It became a lot more concrete once we got here.”

All of which makes sense, because Watson is a concrete kind of guy. There’s not a lot of hemming and hawing when he speaks. He’s opinionated – and he isn’t afraid to share those opinions.

But he also believes strongly in facts, and what they can teach him. He plays percentages. He won’t take a risk if it outweighs the potential reward.

Each of these values can be found in his initial pairings. Watson falls somewhere in the middle of the captain’s spectrum, between Hal Sutton forcing Tiger Woods and Mickelson to play together, and Fred Couples essentially letting his players make their own pairings at the Presidents Cup.

On foreign soil, he understands the importance of playing the house odds.

“I have talked to them about the crowds,” he divulged. “I said, ‘Don't expect the cheers to be as loud for you when you have a winning hole versus the Europeans.’ I told them a couple things that I told the last Ryder Cup team. ‘If you can make the crowd go silent, and at the end of the matches on Sunday, if you can watch those stands empty, you've done your job.’”

These are the types of things Watson knows, because he speaks from experience. None of his dozen team members were around when he captained the U.S. to victory in 1993; hell, a few of ‘em had just been born.

He might be criticized for sitting Jim Furyk, the top-ranked player on his roster. Or Matt Kuchar, the smiley assassin. There will be second-guessing for as long as the Ryder Cup exists, but for this format, on this day, Watson stayed true to himself and his words. He played the best odds.

“This is what golf is all about,” he said after announcing his lineup. “Right here, match play, us against them. This is what it's all about.”

For a man who compared trying to win in enemy territory to walking into a casino, Watson didn’t take a major gamble with his first pairings. Now he knows, just like at those gaming halls, his team has to play better or get lucky.

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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