Mickelson, Bradley a complementary Ryder Cup pair

By Randall MellSeptember 29, 2012, 6:10 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill Ryder Cup rout.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley teamed Saturday morning to blow out yet another European Ryder Cup juggernaut.

They embarrassed a pair of former No. 1 players in the world in a record drubbing.

They defeated Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, 7 and 6, in foursomes at Medinah Country Club.

How good is that? No Ryder Cup tandem has won by a larger margin in an 18-hole match. The rout equaled the beating Americans Paul Azinger and Mark O’Meara gave Nick Faldo and David Gilford in 1991. It also equaled the beating Americans Hale Irwin and Tom Kite gave Ken Brown and Des Smyth in ’79.

The victory boosted the Mickelson-Bradley duo to 3-0 this week.

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Bradley, by the way, becomes the first American rookie to win his first three matches since Mickelson did it in ’95.

They did not get a chance to make it 4-0 as partners. U.S. captain Davis Love III stuck to his plan to rest all of his players at least a match and sat down Mickelson and Bradley for the Saturday afternoon fourballs.

How good is this dynamic duo? The veteran and the rookie have rolled over three of the best tandems in Europe’s dominant Ryder Cup run the last 10 years. They wrecked Sergio Garcia and Donald’s perfect record (4-0) in foursomes by winning, 4 and 3, on Friday. They also knocked off the Northern Irish combo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in fourballs, 2 and 1.

Mickelson, 42, and Bradley, 26, may be from different generations in the game, but they think about the game in the same way.

“There are all kinds of golf brains, but these two have the same type,” said Jim “Bones” Mackay. “I have never seen alternate shot played like that.”

Mackay marveled at Mickelson’s clutch 7-iron to 3 feet that put away McIlroy-McDowell on Friday. He marveled even more at Mickelson’s shot at the 12th to beat Donald-Westwood. With the Americans in trouble after a pair of wayward shots through the trees, Mickelson recovered smartly, carving a wedge onto a ridge on the high, left side of the green. The gallery went nuts when the shot took the slope and trickled 40 feet downhill, nearly into the hole.

Mackay said Mickelson’s drawings in his yardage book are so detailed he knew exactly where to land the shot.

Bradley called Mickelson’s clinching shot at the 17th to close out Friday’s fourballs win the best shot he’s ever seen. He said Mickelson’s clinching shot at the 12th on Saturday was nearly as good.

“I told Phil when he got to the green that it was the second best shot I’ve ever seen,” Bradley said.

Mickelson and Bradley teamed to make six birdies in 12 holes on Saturday. That’s almost unheard of in foursomes (alternate shot). In a match behind them, McIlroy and McDowell didn’t make a birdie over their first 12 holes.

“To be able to share this experience with Keegan and to partake in his great play and his experience of the Ryder Cup has been really awesome,” Mickelson said. “We have had so much fun.”

Bradley continued to fuel Mickelson and the American galleries with high-octane emotion.

“That guy’s intense,” one spectator said with Bradley exhorting the crowd on the way to the ninth green.

Bradley’s probably a little too intense for Europe’s liking. After rolling in a 10-foot birdie to win the ninth hole, he let out a raucous “Wooo-hooo!” while pumping his fists at the crowd. At that point, the Americans were 5 up. Bradley reminds veteran Ryder Cup observers of the way Garcia so boldly and emotionally introduced himself to the event.

Few players attack the way Bradley does. He approaches his ball like a hockey player coming out of a penalty box.

The duo was irrepressible Saturday. Donald and Westwood watched them win the second hole playing out of the trees. They won that last hole the same way. Mickelson’s iron game was razor sharp all day.

No playing partners have had more fun this week than Mickelson and Bradley.

“It’s a little ying and yang,” said Steve “Pepsi” Hale, Bradley’s caddie. “Phil is so laid back and Keegan’s so intense. I think they bring out the best in each other and balance each other out.”

There’s a big brother and little brother phenomenon there.

“There is a real bond there,” Mackay said.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”