Watson missing two hottest players on U.S. team

By Jason SobelSeptember 12, 2014, 7:51 pm

ATLANTA – Back at his home in Kansas, Tom Watson must be watching the last few PGA Tour events with clenched fists. He must be wistfully examining the developments. He must be feeling pangs of regret every time a leaderboard flashes across the screen.

All for reasons he easily could have avoided.

Two weeks ago, the United States Ryder Cup captain announced his three wildcard selections to the roster. Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson will each join the team at Gleneagles. Excellent golfers, proven winners, experienced competitors.

And yet, the choices still left plenty of observers befuddled. After all, since accepting the captaincy, Watson has persistently claimed he wanted hot hands entering the festivities.

Well, just two weeks before the first shot will be struck in Scotland, the two hottest hands are both American players – and neither of them are on the Ryder Cup team.

Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel are not only 1-2 in the FedEx Cup standings, they are currently listed in reverse order atop this week’s Tour Championship leaderboard. Meanwhile, Bradley didn’t qualify for the season finale and Simpson and Mahan are tied for 25th place in the 29-man field.

That’s not to say any of them was the “wrong” pick, because that won’t be determined until they actually compete overseas. But they certainly don’t fall in line with the captain’s personal edict.

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Watson shouldn’t be blamed for not seeing these performances in his crystal ball. He shouldn’t be blamed for making what he considered were the best choices for his team at the time.

No, here's where the blame can be traced to the captain: There exists no rule which states these wildcard picks must be decided by a certain date. As captain, Watson could have mandated that he was moving the announcement back two weeks in order to choose players who were in form.

There’s no reason why he couldn’t have done this. Did they need time to prepare passports? Heck, every pro golfer in the world has an updated one. To ensure they’d have tailored uniforms? Every candidate was fitted for clothes long ago. To get the hotel rooms set? It’s not too difficult to change names on a room – especially when that room is being held for a Ryder Cup team member.

It even made sense logistically. Unlike previous years, the current schedule includes an off week between the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup – which ostensibly would have given three picks a full week to prepare for the rigors of the competition.

Such a move would have been very much within Watson’s jurisdiction, too. In fact, it wouldn’t even be an original concept. Just six years ago, Paul Azinger pushed the captain’s picks announcement back three weeks, from its previous spot directly after the PGA Championship.

Moving it back this year might have resulted in a different team dynamic – not that the two guys for whom it likely could have affected are whining about the situation.

“I don't feel like I deserve to be on this team,” said Horschel, who won last week’s BMW Championship. “Two weeks doesn't mean you should be on a Ryder Cup. It may mean you may be the hottest player, but doesn't mean you've played a good enough year to be on the team.”

“I don't care anymore than I did a week or two ago,” added Kirk, who took the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago. “I mean, it's not really that big of a deal. Those guys that he picked are great players, and they're going to go do great. I'm a little tired, and I'm looking forward to my rest.”

They’re not the only players who potentially could have made a last-minute rally, either. Of the top 13 on the leaderboard at East Lake, 10 are U.S.-born players – and seven (Horschel, Kirk, Kevin Na, Ryan Palmer, Cameron Tringale, Russell Henley and Bill Haas) aren’t members of the Ryder Cup team.

Many of ‘em wish they still had a chance.

Palmer hit an approach shot to 18 inches for a tap-in birdie on the eighth hole Friday. His playing partner and European team stalwart Sergio Garcia turned to him and exclaimed, “I’m glad you’re not on the Ryder Cup team!” – a compliment by any measure.

“I think it would be a good question to ask the PGA,” Palmer said. “Why is it chosen so early?”

Horschel, who will take a two-stroke lead into the weekend, isn’t asking that question. But he has been asked a question recently from the man in charge of the team.

“Tom Watson sent me a text the other night,” he divulged. “It's exactly what I thought it was going to be, just sort of said, ‘Where was this sooner?’ People said, ‘Does Tom Watson think he's kicking himself?’ I said, ‘No, he's not kicking himself. He's going to kick me for not playing better sooner.’”

Maybe he isn’t kicking himself, but there’s no doubt he’s watching on TV at home. It won’t be much longer until Watson arrives in Scotland, understands that he’s without the two hottest U.S. players and realizes he’s not in Kansas anymore.

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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

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”