By Randall MellOctober 12, 2009, 2:39 am
Presidents Cup

SAN FRANCISCO – The Internationals never had a chance.

 That’s what it sounded like in the aftermath of the United States’ 19 ½ to 14 ½ Presidents Cup victory Sunday at Harding Park.

There were intangible forces almost as formidable as an American team stacked with the top three players in the world.

There was Michael Jordan’s motivational speech before the United States took the turf Sunday, and there was captain Fred Couples’ highly unusual incentive-laden game plan and there was a boisterous home crowd nastier than your average Ryder Cup crowd.

Hunter Mahan Camilo Villegas Presidents Cup
Hunter Mahan defeated Camilo Villegas 2 and 1 during Sunday's singles matches at Harding Park. (Getty Images)

Couples said his players were moved by Jordan’s speech, but they were equally moved knowing they were playing for a chance to claim one of the NBA Hall of Famer’s jerseys from his days with the Chicago Bulls.

Couples let players know MVP efforts would be rewarded with the presentation of four of Jordan’s official game jerseys.

Woods, Stricker and Anthony Kim ended up walking away with one. So did Phil Mickelson’s wife, Amy, who made a surprise appearance at the team dinner Saturday night.

As motivation goes, Couples said it was highly effective. The Jordan jerseys were like gold. Everyone wanted one.

The Internationals might have found the prizes fitting. They complained that the American crowds were about as well behaved as an NBA crowd.

“If you walked around and heard some of the stuff, you would be amazed,” Norman said.

Robert Allenby of the Internationals was more specific about the nature of the crowds.

“I would say 50 guys got thrown out this week for bad attitudes,” he said. “It was like playing a U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.

“There were a lot of people saying things like, `You guys [stink]’ That was nothing. There was swearing.

“The police were really good, though. They went straight to them and handcuffed them.”

How often did Allenby see that?

“More than once,” he said.

And then there was the American team.

Woods, Phil Mickelson and Stricker lived up to their billing as the top three players in the world rankings. They combined to lose just one match all week, Stricker’s fall to Geoff Ogilvy in singles.

The effort leads you to believe we may be on the verge of another golden era in American golf.

Apologies to Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and players of their generations, but we’re talking American team golf.

With Sunday’s victory, the Americans ran their streak of international team victories to three straight.

OK, it barely qualifies as a streak, but since the Presidents Cup joined the Ryder Cup in the team mix in 1994, that’s never happened before. The Americans had never won more than two in a row before this run. For a bunch of players who not so long ago were skewered for being uninterested in this team thing, they’re looking an awful lot like a dynasty in the making.

Head’s up, Europe. You’re next with the Ryder Cup scheduled in Wales next year.

Corey Pavin, the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, had to like what he saw on his scouting trip here this week.

The Americans didn’t just win. They ran up the score.

The victory came in a flurry of knockouts.

The Americans needed just five of the 12 points available in singles Sunday to secure the victory, and they got the first four of them in convincing fashion before the Internationals gained their first point. This thing was over with half the matches still in progress.

Bam, boom, bam, boom, bam.

It was nearly that quick.

In fitting fashion, Woods claimed the winning point with the most personally satisfying victory of the day to run his record to 5-0 for the week.

Woods thrashed Y.E. Yang 6 and 5 nine weeks after Yang beat him in a head-to-head Sunday duel to win the PGA Championship.

It wasn’t that long ago when the Americans were criticized for not embracing these team competitions, for dreading the annual events and all the responsibilities that came with them. They were considered too self-centered to care about melding as a unit. The low point was their loss at Oakland Hills in 2004, when American captain Hal Sutton controversially paired Woods and Mickelson, the Nos. 1-2 players in the world. The lack of chemistry was palpable and seemed to prove the point that America’s best tour pros were incompatible as teammates.

The Americans proved something whipping the Europeans without Woods at Valhalla in the Ryder Cup last year. Captain Paul Azinger made team chemistry a strength with his popular pod system where he paired players in four-man community pods. The Americans proved something again this week with Woods looking like he could fit into any pod while playing better than he’s ever played in a team event.

The Woods-Stricker pairing overwhelmed the Internationals. They went 4-0 together.

“It was a fun thing to have Tiger and Steve beat up on everybody,” Couples said. “Every tournament Tiger plays, everyone wants to know what he’s shooting and where he’s at. The Presidents Cup is no different. So for him and Steve to win every match, we basically shut their team down from saying, `Hey, we have them where we want them.’ They won every time, and I think that was a boost for us.”

It made it feel like the Internationals never had a chance.

USGA/Chris Keane

Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.

Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.

Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.

“The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”

Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.

Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.

“Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”

The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.

“It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.

On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.

On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.

“I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”

A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.

“Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.

The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.

The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.

“He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”

Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.

Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.

Getty Images

Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''

It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.

But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.

She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''

Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''

Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''

Getty Images

Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

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Peterson confirms plans to play Finals

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Tour Finals.

Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.

Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.