Americans Fight Back Pull Within a Point
And they did so without the help of Tiger Woods.
With over 40,000 raucous ' but respectful ' fans on hand at The Belfry, Europe stormed to a 3-1 advantage after the morning four-balls. Still leading by two, at 4-2, the U.S. picked up a point and a crucial half by David Toms and Phil Mickelson to narrow the deficit.
Toms and Mickelson were 3-down with four to play when they won 15, 16 and 17 against Scotlands Colin Montgomerie and Germanys Bernhard Langer. Langer missed the green after Montgomerie hit the fairway at 18. Mickelson missed the fairway, but Toms hit the green.
Unfortunately for the Americans, the pin was on the back of the massive two-tiered putting surface and Toms couldnt muscle the ball within 80 feet.
Ball on the green, Mickelson used a wedge to chip 12 feet past the hole, from where Toms was unable to convert the par save.
'I have to tell you that was a lot of guts to try to hit a shot like that and get it close for his partner, where most of the people would have probably putted it,' U.S. captain Curtis Strange said of Mickelson's chip shot. 'I'm not going to second guess Phil Mickelson. I never wondered why he was doing it.'
Montgomerie nearly chipped in for birdie, but his ball coasted 10 feet past the cup. Langer then missed on the low side.
Still not in pocket, Mickelson had to make a three-footer ' which he did ' for the half.
'The half point was huge...huge from the numbers part of it, but huge for our pysche,' said Strange. 'If we do well Sunday afternoon, we might look back at that match and say that might have been the one that turned it around.'
After a dismal performance in the morning session, the team of Scott Verplank and Hal Sutton came off the bench to give the Americans a lift. They defeated Dane Thomas Bjorn and Northern Irelands Darren Clarke, 2-and-1.
Verplank, playing in his first ever Cup match, and Sutton were 2-down through 12 holes, but won 13, 14, 16 and 17. All but 16 were won with pars.
'You talk about the half point earlier, for (Sutton) to come out and do that, you can't believe what it does for his and the team's psyche of confidence,' said Strange.
The victory was surprising considering Bjorn and Clarke had taken out world No. 1 Woods and Paul Azinger in an epic four-ball morning match.
The Europeans combined to shoot a better-ball 10-under 62, while the Americans shot 63.
Two-down with two to play, Woods made a 12-footer for birdie at the 17th to force a final hole. Azinger then stuffed his approach shot at 18 to a foot.
'That's why Paul Azinger was picked on this team to suck it up and hit a shot like he did on the last hole,' Strange said.
After conceding the birdie, Bjorn rolled home a 20-footer to halve the hole and win the match. He sprung from the ground and into Clarkes arms as the two celebrated the triumph.
Woods traded in Azinger for good friend Mark Calcavecchia in the afternoon. The two were all square through 10 holes with Spain's Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, until the Englishman made a 25-foot birdie putt at the 11th.
Woods had a chance to halve the hole, but missed a three-footer. He then missed another three-footer that would have halved the 12th. The two teams tied each of the next five holes, giving Westwood and Garcia a 2-and-1 win.
'I just missed two crucial putts on 11 and 12. It turned the entire momentum of the match on 11,' Woods said.
Said Strange of Woods: 'He doesn't feel real good right now, and that's good. He's disappointed, which is good. He probably feels as though he let the team down a bit, which is good. And it makes you come back hungrier the next day.'
With his pair of defeats Friday, Woods Ryder Cup record dropped to a paltry 3-8-1. Calcavecchia suffered his first loss in alternate shot; his record is now 4-1-0.
Westwood, because of his struggles the past two seasons, was a question mark in European captain Sam Torrances mind. But he more than proved himself Friday.
The 29-year-old from Worksop made three birdies in a four-hole stretch to help lead his team to a 4-and-3 victory over David Duval and Davis Love III in four-balls. He and Garcia were the only two players to earn two points on the first day.
'As I say, the boy has a lot of talent, and he proved it this week,' Torrance said of Westwood.
Veterans Montgomerie and Langer never trailed in their first match, a 4-and-3 victory over Scott Hoch and Jim Furyk, and were cruising in match No. 2 until the 15th hole.
'We're going in disappointed,' Montgomerie said, but added, 'We're 4 to 3 up. And I'm sure if you'd ask Sam at the start of the day, I'm sure he would have taken that. To lead after the first day is a very important thing.'
The Mickelson-Toms team was the only one of the Americans to win in four-balls.
Like Sutton and Verplank, Stewart Cink came off the sidelines to help his squad. He paired with Furyk and beat Irishmen Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, 3-and-2. Harrington was the only European player to compete in both Friday matches and fail to earn a point.
As promised, U.S. captain Curtis Strange played all 12 of his team members on Day 1. Torrance kept Swedes Jesper Parnevik and Pierre Fulke and Welshman Phillip Price on the bench.
Saturdays matches will consist of four foursomes (alternate shot) in the AM, and four four-balls (better-ball) in the PM. They will play 12 singles matches on Sunday. A team must win 14 points to win the Matches. Being the defending champions, the U.S. can retain the Cup by earning a 14-14 tie.
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches
Spieth, McIlroy get back on track at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – What a difference a week makes.
Players speak in unison about a desire to peak four times per year when the major trophies are on the line. But it’s a soft science, easier said than done. Sometimes the key is to play your way onto the biggest stages, while other times the best practice is to build reps far away from the PGA Tour rope line.
Jordan Spieth got to Shinnecock Hills the weekend before the U.S. Open began, logging two full practice rounds before sitting down for his pre-tournament interview. Rory McIlroy went to an even further extreme, basically establishing residency in the Hamptons while playing every top-100 golf course within a 20-mile radius.
They were concerted efforts, carefully calculated plans of attack that both men hoped would yield a second U.S. Open title. They also blew up in their faces in record time.
Spieth was 4 over after just two holes at Shinnecock, while McIlroy played his first 11 in 10 over. Just like that, the best-laid plans got lost in the knee-high fescue as one of a finite number of legitimate shots at major glory went by the wayside before lunch was served.
Both players snuck off the premises well before the course became the weekend storyline, each bearing the battle scars of a missed cut. But given a chance to quickly reverse their fortunes, they both took full advantage at the Travelers Championship.
Spieth has spoken openly in recent weeks about the wars he continues to wage with his own game, as his putter has been downgraded from balky to outright uncooperative. Just as things started to turn around on the greens at the Memorial, his reliable ball-striking began to fade. A full-blown game of whack-a-mole has ensued.
“It’s certainly a testing year for me, and it’s a building year,” Spieth said. “It’s one where I can actually come out stronger. I’ve kind of looked at it that way the last couple months.”
It’s also been difficult for Spieth simply to get out of the gates in recent weeks. His third-place showing at the Masters remains a high water mark, but it was the product of a scintillating finale that came after starting the day well off the pace. Spieth remains candid about the fact that he has lacked a quality chance to win this year, one that he has previously defined as being within six shots of the lead entering Sunday.
All of those factors combined to make his opening 63 especially satisfying, as he returned to TPC River Highlands as defending champ and quickly grabbed a share of the lead, once again carving up a lush layout where he has nothing but positive memories.
“First rounds have been tough for me, trying to do a little bit too much. Trying to get shots back when I drop one and trying to have to birdie easy holes,” Spieth said. “The putter is starting to look better to me, so I can play a little bit more conservatively and still get a lot out of the round.”
McIlroy was alongside Spieth and Zach Johnson before a bogey on the final hole, but even a 6-under 64 matched his low round of the season on Tour. The Ulsterman downplayed his eye-popping score at Shinnecock entering a fresh week, noting that his tee-to-green performance where he hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation during the second round might be good enough to win this week at a more vulnerable venue.
It appears his thesis has merit, albeit through one round.
“I did a lot of similar things to what I did today. It’s just a completely different animal,” McIlroy said. “Like, it’s nice getting off to a good start here. But as I keep saying, I’m not playing that differently now than I did last Thursday, and it’s a 16-shot difference.”
Just like his last competitive round, McIlroy missed only one green in regulation. But this time the stat line portends even greater potential, as he also led the field Thursday in driving distance, strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: tee-to-green.
McIlroy’s ceiling remains absurdly high, as demonstrated by the way he surged from the pack to win at Bay Hill and seemingly took early command of the BMW PGA Championship without breaking a sweat. It also doesn’t need lowering after a couple errant days on a grand stage.
“I played really well today. I feel like the work that I did over the weekend sort of started to pay off already,” McIlroy said. “Being able to work the ball both ways was something I wasn’t quite as comfortable doing last week.”
Despite flooding their respective scorecards with birdies, neither Spieth nor McIlroy created any distance from the field on a day when low scores were ripe for the picking. A total of 22 players opened with rounds of 66 or better, including four major champions not named Spieth or McIlroy.
But after pouring time, effort and energy into last week’s major and watching it all go so horribly wrong, this was a day to remember that sometimes the solutions are closer than the recent results make them appear.
“I’ve been sticking to the process. I’ve been very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year. So it’s nice to see a good score,” Spieth said. “Just glad. The first rounds have been kind of detrimental to me, so it’s nice to be in the thick of things.”
Spieth shares Hartford lead; Rory 1 back
Just a few miles north but light years removed from the difficulty of Shinnecock Hills, the PGA Tour returned to week-in, week-out normalcy with the Travelers Championship. Here's what happened in the first round at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.:
Leaderboard: Zach Johnson (-7), Jordan Spieth (-7), Rory McIlroy (-6), Peter Malnati (-6), Brian Harman (-6)
What it means: The two biggest names in the field, Spieth and McIlroy, are looking for a boost of confidence after missing the cut in the U.S. Open. Their scores look good, but McIlroy won't be happy about closing with a bogey.
Round of the day: Johnson and Spieth both put up 7-under 63s. Johnson, after a relatively pedestrian 2-under front nine, caught fire on the back, making six consecutive birdies on holes 11-16. A three-putt bogey at the 17th ended the run, and he parred the last for his 63. Spieth, the defending champion, put up two birdies and an eagle on the front and four more birdies on the back. Like Johnson, he had only one blemish, a bogey-5 on the drivable par-4 15th when he hooked his drive into the water.
Best of the rest: McIlroy, Malnati and Harman each shot 64. Malnati eagled the 15th and followed that with birdies at 16 and 17 and a back-nine 29. Harman had a rare birdie on the 444-yard 18th for his 64, but McIlroy threw away a shot at the closing hole to fall out of a share of the lead. His right foot slipped as he was hitting his approach shot, and he missed the green. After taking a drop to get away from a sprinkler head, he was unable to get up and down.
Biggest disappointment: Bubba Watson, a two-time winner of this event, could manage no better than an even-par 70. Two-under through 11 holes, he bogeyed three of the next four.
Shot of the day: Can we safely say that Spieth likes the bunkers at River Highlands? Last year he got up and down from one at the 18th hole to get into a playoff, then he holed out from the same bunker to win the playoff. On Thursday he worked his magic at the par-5 sixth hole, sinking his sand shot for eagle.
Biggest storyline going into Friday: Most eyes will be on Spieth and McIlroy, to see if they're over they're U.S. Open funks and gearing up for The Open Championship.
NBC Sports Group to Showcase Top Players in Women's Golf With Comprehensive Coverage of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, June 25-July 1
Golf Channel and NBC to Combine for More Than 40 Hours of News, Tournament and Instruction On-Site from Kemper Lakes Golf Club, Most in Tournament History
KPMG Ambassador Phil Mickelson to Join Golf Central on Monday, June 25 Live from Soldier Field
Condoleezza Rice and Olympians Nancy Kerrigan, Hilary Knight and Maia Shibutani to Headline KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit Wednesday, June 27
ORLANDO, Fla., June 21, 2018 – Featuring one of the strongest fields of the year, NBC Sports Group will dedicate more than 40 hours of comprehensive on-site news, tournament and instruction coverage of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – most in tournament history – Monday, June 25 - Sunday, July 1. Taking place at Kemper Lakes Golf Club near Chicago, the third LPGA Tour major of the season will be headlined by World No. 1 Inbee Park, No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn, No. 3 Lexi Thompson, ANA Inspiration champion Pernilla Lindberg and defending champion Danielle Kang. In 2017, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was the most-watched women’s major championship of the year.
“Through the partnership with KPMG, the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship has been elevated to become one of the most impactful weeks of the year in women’s golf,” said Molly Solomon, executive vice president of content, Golf Channel. “As the broadcast partner for the championship, we strive to elevate our coverage each year to celebrate not only the best players in women’s golf but also female leaders in the workplace through the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.”
BROADCAST TEAM: Live tournament coverage of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be anchored by Dan Hicks, joined by Paige Mackenzie and Gary Koch in the broadcast booth. Tom Abbott will report from an on-course tower, with Kay Cockerill, Jerry Foltz and Mark Rolfing walking the course. Steve Sands will conduct player interviews.
NBC SPORTS GROUP TO IMPLEMENT POPULAR “PLAYING THROUGH” ENCHANCED COMMERCIAL BREAKS: Making its debut on NBC at the Ryder Cup in 2016, Golf Channel and NBC will implement the popular “Playing Through” enhancement in an effort to elevate the viewing experience for fans tuning in to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. NBC Sports Group is partnering with several national advertisers to present select commercial breaks in utilizing “Playing Through,” which will employ a split-screen model for a select number of national commercial breaks. This enhanced break will display both the commercial with audio as well as a continuous feed of the tournament action.
COMPREHENSIVE ON-SITE NEWS COVERAGE: Golf Channel’s signature news programs, Golf Central and Morning Drive, will provide comprehensive, wraparound news coverage throughout the week, produced on-location at Kemper Lakes Golf Club. In addition to daily shows, Golf Central will present special player news conference shows Tuesday and Wednesday, June 26 and 27, at 5 p.m. ET.
Rich Lerner will anchor Golf Central’s live coverage alongside LPGA major champion Karen Stupples and Arron Oberholser beginning Wednesday, June 27, with Lisa Cornwell reporting and conducting player interviews. Chantel McCabe will set the stage each day on Morning Drive with on-site interviews and analysis, with Paige Mackenzie joining her Monday-Wednesday.
PHIL MICKELSON TO JOIN GOLF CENTRAL LIVE FROM SOLDIER FIELD MONDAY, JUNE 25: Kicking off KPMG Women’s PGA Championship week will be the KPMG Windy City Skills Challenge, taking place at Soldier Field in Chicago on Monday, June 25. KPMG Ambassadors Phil Mickelson and Mariah Stackhouse along with athletes from the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Fire, Red Stars and Skywill be conducting a special clinic and skills challenge event with local youth organizations. Mickelson will join Golf Central live from Soldier Field on Monday following the conclusion of the skills challenge.
SCHOOL OF GOLF ON-SITE AT KEMPER LAKES: School of Golf will air Tuesday at 7 p.m. from on-site at Kemper Lakes Golf Club, with Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal hosting a special short-game episode. Scheduled guests include 2018 U.S. Women’s Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn and her coaches, Golf Channel Academy coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, as well as LPGA major champion Morgan Pressel.
KPMG WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP SUMMIT: Golf Central will offer news coverage of the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, which will be hosted on-site Wednesday, June 27, featuring an assembly of accomplished leaders in sports, business, politics and media to inspire the next generation of women leaders. 66th Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Olympians Nancy Kerrigan, Hilary Knight and Maia Shibutani will headline the gathering. NBC Sunday Night Football sideline reporter Michele Tafoya will serve as master of ceremonies. The summit will be streamed live on Wednesday on Golf Channel Digital. In addition, portions of the summit also will be streamed via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live.
DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: Golf Channel Digital will feature expanded editorial content during KPMG Women’s PGA Championship week. GolfChannel.com senior writer Randall Mell will report from Kemper Lakes Golf Club with columns and daily blogs, and Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will contribute to Golf Channel’s social media platforms with exclusive behind-the-scenes content throughout the week. Golf Channel and NBC also will integrate social media throughout the telecasts, incorporating social media posts from players and fans using the hashtag #KPMGWomensPGA.
News and tournament action surrounding the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship can be accessed at any time on any mobile device and online via Golf Channel Digital. Fans also can stream NBC Sports’ coverage of live golf via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports app.
GOLF CHANNEL / NBC LIVE TOURNAMENT AIRTIMES(all times Eastern):
Thursday, June 28
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Friday, June 29
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday, July 30
Sunday, July 1
The PGA of America and KPMG joined forces with the LPGA Tour in 2015 to create a world-class major championship that not only sustains the 60-year legacy of the former LPGA Championship, but also aims to elevate women on and off the golf course. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship provides a platform to inspire the next generation of women leaders through the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit and the KPMG Future Leaders Program.
-NBC Sports Group-
Garcia (73), Fleetwood (74) off to slow starts at BMW
PULHEIM, Germany – Sebastien Gros carded a 4-under 68 in windy conditions to lead by one shot after the opening round of the BMW International Open on Thursday.
The Frenchman had four birdies to take the lead before the turn, and a six-footer on the 15th hole moved him two ahead. But a bogey on the next hole left the 28-year-old Gros just one ahead of Jorge Campillo, Scott Jamieson, Aaron Rai and Henric Sturehed.
Sturehed eagled the par-5 No. 13 to take the lead in the morning at the Gut Laerchenhof club.
Christofer Blomstrand, Nico Geyger, Mark Tullo, Victor Perez, David Howell and Nicolai von Dellingshausen are a further stroke back on 2-under 70.
Defending champion Andres Romero was among a large group at 1 under, including 2013 winner Ernie Els and three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.
Romero is bidding to be the first player to retain the title.
Local favorite and 2008 champion Martin Kaymer shot 72, ahead of Sergio Garcia (73) and Tommy Fleetwood (74).