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Masters leader Reed, the man many love to hate

By Randall MellApril 8, 2018, 12:54 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Patrick Reed chipped in for eagle at the 15th hole Saturday at the Masters and let loose a howl so fierce you expected it to send ripples across the pond there.

Fiery, pugnacious and combative.

That’s Reed at his best, stoking the embers of whatever burns within him.

It’s the guy Americans love, and Europeans hate to see emerge at the Ryder Cup.

It’s the guy he has been trying to awaken on bigger stages, outside the biennial international team event.

To be sure, Reed was able to rouse that persona Saturday, after hearing the roar Rory McIlroy created right in front him, after McIlroy made eagle at the eighth to tie him for the lead.

“I feel like I was able to tap into it a little bit today,” Reed said. “When I get to eight, my lead's gone, I'm all‑square, and to be able to all of a sudden go birdie, birdie, birdie and get back up by three ...”

That’s how Reed answered McIlroy.

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Reed rolled in a 9-footer for birdie at the eighth, a 25-footer for birdie at the ninth and another 9-footer for birdie at the 10th to jump three shots ahead of McIlroy.

It felt like Reed was wagging his finger at McIlroy all over again, the way he did in their terrific singles battle at the Ryder Cup two years ago, when McIlroy rolled in 70-footer for birdie at the eighth hole at Hazeltine and Reed rolled one in right on top of him.

Except Reed didn’t wag his finger Saturday.

“There's a lot of stuff you can do at the Ryder Cup that you can't do at Augusta National,” Reed said.

Reed is such a force on the Ryder Cup stage, but he hasn’t been able to conjure that same formidable presence in major championships. He has won five PGA Tour titles, but he’s 0 for 16 in majors.

But maybe he’s beginning to find it. He tied for second at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow late last summer. And here this week, he is playing like the dynamo who mows over Euros with such delight every other year.

With a 5-under-par 67, Reed took a three-shot lead on McIlroy going into Sunday’s final round, a five-shot lead on Rickie Fowler. He’s looking to make his first major memorable, slipping into a green jacket.

After answering McIlroy, Reed kept pounding the field on the back nine, making eagles at the 13th and 15th holes. There were triumphant fist pumps with each of them.

“I feel like, with that kind of fiery side of me, if I'm not playing the kind of golf I need to be playing, if I hit that one shot, I can pump myself up, and try to get going, and try to flip that switch,” Reed said.

Reed said that fiery spirit can lift him up when his game’s sagging.

“Also, same way if I'm playing really well,” Reed said. “I almost feel like I can kick it into another gear, and go even deeper.

“It's just one of those things that I've been working on, trying to tap into Ryder Cups more and more, and try to play some solid golf.”

Reed, 27, knows his pugnacious nature makes him a lightning rod, with his backstory of conflict stirring emotions in those who root for him and against him.

In 2014, he boldly shushed the crowds at Gleneagles in the Ryder Cup. He dares to don Tiger’s red-and-black ensemble on his own PGA Tour Sundays (though he’ll be wearing a special Masters’ pink this Sunday). And there was that football game in South Bend, Ind., last year, when he miffed Georgia fans posing for photos wearing Notre Dame attire in a Bulldogs-Fighting Irish game. He used to be a Bulldog, before things turned sour there.

Reed was booted off the Georgia team back in college, but this state is still a special place to him. He left the Bulldogs to lead Augusta State to back-to-back national championships.

Reed was asked what it is about him that can stoke such strong feelings from the social media mob who like rooting against him.

“I don't know,” he said. “Why don't you ask them? I have no idea, and honestly I don't really care what people say on Twitter or what they say if they are cheering for me or not cheering for me. I'm out here to do my job, and that's to play golf. I feel like if I'm doing it the right way, then that's all that really matters.”

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U.S. Amateur playoff: 24 players for 1 spot in match play

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.

Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.

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They'll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th at Pebble Beach, where Tom Watson chipped in during the 1982 U.S. Open and went on to win.

The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.

Stewart Hagestad had the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach, to move into a tie for 10th after opening with a 76 at Spyglass Hill. The 27-year-old Hagestad won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earned low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

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On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

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"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."