Calcavecchia Ready for Ryder Cup Rebound

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 18, 2002, 4:00 pm
Youve been asked to deliver an extensive speech before your entire company. Its a reasonable request; youre a likable, well-spoken individual ' one of the teams best.
You speak before a crowd measuring into the thousands. Lights beating down and eyes glaring, you stand tall and authoritative for 25 minutes. Only five minutes left. Then it happens.
A note-card is out of place. No. 12 goes to No. 14. You scramble for unlucky 13, but its not there. Youre lost. You look up and see faces cringing; people uncomfortably adjusting in their seats.
The thoughts are there, but not the ones needed to form the appropriate words. You stumble, you sweat, you panic. Youre toast ' and everyones a witness.
This was Mark Calcavecchia in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Leading Colin Montgomerie 4-up with four to play, he finished with nothing more than a halve.
What happened over those final four holes was shocking. Painful to watch and embarrassing to endure.
It started with a triple bogey at the 15th, and continued with a bogey at the 16th. But when Montgomerie hit his tee ball into the water on the par-4 17th, it seemed Calcavecchia was back in command.
Instead, he hit a low, dying flare that skipped once before drowning in the water hazard right of the fairway. He then missed a 2 -foot putt for double bogey to lose his third straight hole.
Number 4 came courtesy of a bogey at 18.
Afterwards, the 1989 British Open champion walked to the nearby beach at Kiawah Island and began crying uncontrollably ' to the point where paramedics had to treat him for hyperventilation.
To make matters worse, that turn of events came on the heels of a Sunday collapse two years prior at The Belfry, when Calcavecchia lost his singles match to Ronan Rafferty after hitting two shots into the water on the final hole.
Calcavecchia didnt lose his match in '91, nor did that collapse cost his country their first Ryder Cup victory since 1983. The U.S. won back the Cup, 14 - 13 , at The War by the Shore.
Still, there was an emptiness inside of Calcavecchia.
I just had the feeling like I lost the Ryder Cup in 1991, and thats what I couldnt deal with, he said.
Fast-forward 11 years and Calcavecchia is once again representing the Red, White and Blue. Hes won five times on the PGA Tour since his last Cup appearance, and set the tours 72-hole scoring record along the way. But most of all, Time has fully salved Kiawahs wounds.
Its good to be back on the team, he said. This Ryder Cup, I know Ill have a much better mental attitude going into the thing, saying Im one of 12 guys, and all I can do is my best.
Despite competing in his first Cup in over a decade, only Davis Love III (four appearances) has more experience than Calcavecchia. In 1999, Hal Sutton was in a similar situation.
It was 12 years since I played and I was in my 40s and didnt think Id ever get to play again, said Sutton, a team member in 1985, 87 and 99. Im well versed in what hes feeling and I think he should be very proud of his accomplishment to get back on the team.
Sutton went 3-0-1 in his Ryder Cup return, providing the team with points and emotional leadership.
Calcavecchia might not be a clubhouse Patton, but hes a birdie general, capable of marching past an opponent.
The 42-year-old has a career 5-5-1 record in three previous Matches (1987, 89 and 91). He says he likes the comfort of better-ball, but is 0-4 in that format compared to 4-0 in alternate shot.
I dont know what Im going to play or how much Im going to play. A lot depends on how well Im playing, he said. Hopefully, Ill be physically all right and able to play in all five matches.
Calcavecchias primary physical concern ' among many ' is a bad back. The 21-year tour veteran isnt shy about rolling around in the short grass mid-round to soothe the soreness.
As bad as his back has been, his game hasnt been much better this year. Coming off a victorious 2001 campaign that helped him finish fourth in the Ryder Cup standings, he has one top-10 in his last 11 starts.
I havent had a great year by any stretch, he said. But that doesnt mean that I wont play great at the end of September.
If Calcavecchias cards are in order this time, he can help his team keep the Cup. In the process, he can ' never erase ' but replace those tearful memories stored in historys vault with ones more fitting one of the teams best.
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup
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Garcia bounced in Austin: 'On to Augusta'

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 6:55 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – For the 16th time in his career, Sergio Garcia’s week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play ended earlier then he would have hoped, but this time he has plenty of distractions to ease the sting.

Garcia lost his Saturday morning match to Kyle Stanley, 3 and 1, marking the 15th time in his Match Play career he’s failed to advance to Sunday, but at least he has plenty to keep him busy with a newborn at home and his return to the Masters looming in two weeks.

“On to Augusta,” said Garcia, who is not playing next week’s Houston Open. “It's exciting. Obviously when we get there, it's going to be interesting to see how we feel and everything. But it is definitely exciting.”

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Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to win last year’s Masters, his first major triumph, so his return to Augusta National will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

His duties as defending champion will include hosting Tuesday’s Champions Dinner. No word on Garcia’s menu for the event, but various sources have confirmed it will be something “Spanish.”

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.

Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.

Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.

Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.

Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.

Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.

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JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.

Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.

“It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.

Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.

Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.

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But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.

“He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”

Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”