Coffee Time for Europeans

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesIn two years, the Europeans will employ Nick Faldo as their Ryder Cup captain. The U.S might want to try Blake.
 
Whos Blake? Hes from downtown. From Mitch & Murray. Hes on a mission of mercy.
 
The 12 players on the next U.S. Ryder Cup team might not be familiar with Blake. But rest assured as soon as one of them got up to grab a cup of coffee, theyd know everything they need to know about him.
 
Paul Casey
It's almost coffee time for Paul Casey and the Europeans.
'PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN, he would exclaim. Coffee is for closers!
 
Alec Baldwin played Blake in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. He was sent in by the home office to motivate a sagging sales crew. He berates them. He belittles them. He uses more profanity than all of Samuel L. Jacksons characters combined.
 
Of course, this probably wouldnt work for the Americans. They wouldnt take too kindly to being treated this way. And Blake wouldnt be able to intimidate them with his $80,000 BMW or his fancy watch.
 
But perhaps he could at least instill in them the ABCs: Always Be Closing.
 
The Americans cannot close a match. The Europeans can. And thats why the Euros are in wonderful position to win this competition for the fourth time in the last five contests.
 
The score is 10-6, which means the home team has to only secure 4 more points to retain the Cup.
 
Its a similar scenario to that of seven years ago, when the Europeans led by the same margin entering the singles. They, of course, got blasted that Sunday at Brookline, with the Americans winning 8 of 12 points to earn their only win since 1995.
 
In 99, then U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw wagged his finger at all the doubting Thomases and famously said: Im a big believer in fate and Ive got a good feeling about this thats all Im going to say.
 
Lehman would like to believe in fate. He knows the similarities between this competition and that of seven years ago, including the fact that the PGA Championship was contested at Medinah on both occasions (for whatever that's worth).
 
'I can tell you that our team doesn't feel this is over by any stretch of the imagination,' said Lehman, who played on the '99 team and led the U.S. charge by winning the first singles match that Sunday.
 
'Do I have a feeling? I have a feeling that our team is going to play incredibly inspired golf tomorrow.'
 
But this ain't Boston. This is Ireland. This is a road game. This time, European captain Ian Woosnam isn't making the same mistakes of then captain Mark James. He has played everyone over the first two days, and he's not saving his top players for the bottom of the singles line-up.
 
Lehman wants to believe. This, however, he already knows: this European team is better than that European team. And, though Lehman might not admit it, this European team is better than this U.S. team.
 
Theyre hitting better shots; theyre making more putts; theyre holing out from off the green; theyre holing out from off the tee; they're having far more fun (which is easy to do when you're winning); theyre doing what they always seem to do.
 
Theyre doing everything that the Americans are not, which includes, most importantly, coming up clutch when a match is in doubt.
 
For a while Saturday afternoon, it looked like the U.S. might possibly crawl back into this event. They were leading three of the four foursomes matches early on. And, in the end, it was the Europeans who took 2 of the 4 points, as they have done in each of the first four sessions.
 
Over two days, various American teams have been leading after 14 holes and lost; leading after 15 holes and halved; leading after 15 holes and lost; all square after 16 holes and lost; and leading after 17 holes and halved ' twice.
 
The only U.S. team to win the 18th hole and wrest away some points was the one of rookie Zach Johnson and Chad Campbell, who were 1-down through 17 holes of their Friday foursomes and got a half-point against Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.
 
Campbell also teamed with rookie Vaughn Taylor in Saturdays foursomes and came back from a 1-down deficit after 16 holes to earn a half.
 
Its not the rookies who havent come through for the Americans; its the veterans.
 
The four U.S. Ryder Cup newbies have gone 1-2-4 to net 3 points. Nothing spectacular, but far from abysmal.
 
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, the Nos. 1 and 3 players in the world, have teamed four times to go just 2-2-0. Phil Mickelson is 0-3-1. Chris DiMarco is 0-2-1. David Toms is 0-2-1.
 
Outside of Woods and Furyk, Scott Verplank is the only player on the U.S. team with Ryder Cup experience to earn an outright win. He did so in Saturday mornings fourball session with Johnson ' and then was left out of the afternoon foursomes.
 
Verplank was a captains pick and played only once ' and, despite being selected because of his accuracy, wasnt used at all during the alternate-shot format.
 
But dont let questionable decisions or the Americans failures denigrate what the Europeans have done thus far. They have truly been spectacular through two days.
 
Now, they just have to get off to a good start on Sunday. Keep the crowd in it. Dont let the front-loaded Americans steal away momentum. Keep doing what theyve been doing.
 
Now, they just have to close it out. Go get that coffee.
 
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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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    Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

    Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

    The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

    “Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

    Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

    But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

    Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

    “It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

    There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

    It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

    “It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”

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    Rain expected to shower Carnoustie Friday morning

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:43 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – By the end of the day Friday, we’ll be able to determine which side of The Open draw ended the first two rounds at Carnoustie with more favorable conditions. With rain expected for most of Friday morning, it seems those who played early/late may be more pleased.

    According to Weather.com, there is a 75 percent chance of rain beginning at 2 a.m. local time Friday here in Scotland. That percentage vaults up to 95 percent by 7 a.m., with the first tee time scheduled for 6:35. At 11, the number drops to 55 percent. After 2 p.m., the percentage chances of rain are 25 percent and below for the remainder of the day.

    Temperatures during the day are expected to be from the low 50s to the low 60s and winds will vary between 14-18 mph, again per Weather.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    This is The Open’s official weather report for the weekend:

    Saturday: A dull start with some drizzle possible. Staying cloudy for much of the day but gradually becoming brighter with a chance of some sunny intervals during the afternoon and evening. Winds light and variable in direction but should predominantly settle in to a SSE 8-12mph during the afternoon. Max temp 20C (68F).

    Sunday: Often cloudy but mainly dry. A better chance of some decent sunny spells compared to Saturday. Most likely the windiest day of the Championship; SW 12-18mph with gusts 20-25mph. Feeling warm, especially in any sunshine with a max temp of 23C (73F).

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    Bandaged Woods 5 back after even-par 71

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods arrived Thursday with therapeutic tape on the back of his neck.

    Carnoustie’s back nine inflicted even more pain.

    Playing in the most difficult conditions of the day, Woods’ progress was stalled by two late bogeys as he settled for an even-par 71 that left him five shots off the lead at The Open.

    “I played better than what the score indicates,” he said. “It certainly could have been a little bit better.”

    Woods created a stir when he showed up with black kinesiology tape on his neck. Afterward, he said that his neck has been bugging him “for a while” and that Thursday was merely the first time that the tape was visible.

    “Everyone acts like this is the first time I’ve been bandaged up,” he said, smiling. “I’ve been doing this for years.”

    Woods said that the discomfort didn’t really affect his swing, other than a few shots “here and there.” It didn’t seem to affect his score, either, as he went out in 2 under before a few stumbles on the back nine.

    On the fast, baked-out turf, he played conservatively off the tee, using driver only once and 3-wood just twice. Apparently he didn’t need the added distance, not with his 6-iron traveling 240 yards. He tried to play to his spots, even if it routinely left him more than 200 yards for his approach.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    That’s the strategy he employed at Hoylake in 2006, where he hit driver just once and captured the third of his Open titles. Despite some of the similarities in firmness, Woods said that Carnoustie presents a different challenge off the tee.

    “These fairways are very small,” he said. “They’re hard to hit right now. They’re so fast, and they’re so moundy.”

    Finding the fairway wasn’t the chief problem for Woods on Day 1, however. He missed just four fairways but found only 11 greens.

    More damaging to his score was his play on the par 5s. Despite having only an 8-iron in, he failed to birdie each of the two par 5s and then bogeyed Nos. 10, 13 and 15 to squander his early momentum.

    Though the draw here won’t be a significant factor – or at least not like in recent years, with a wide range in scores from morning to afternoon – it’s clear that Woods (in game 47 of 52) encountered the most difficult of the conditions Thursday, with the wind gusting to 20 mph and the fairways running even faster after another sun-splashed afternoon.

    Still, his opening 71 was one of the better scores in the late wave.

    “He hit it good,” said playing partner Russell Knox. “He plotted his way around, which I expected him to do, and he was very conservative off the tee. It’s kind of fun to watch him do that, to be honest.”

    Even more fun would be a major with Woods in contention.

    He hasn’t broken par in the opening round of his last eight majors. Indeed, for Woods, these slow starts have been the real pain in the neck.