Deutsche Bank may act as final Ryder Cup qualifier

By Rex HoggardAugust 27, 2014, 9:56 pm

NORTON, Mass – Not that the powers at the PGA of America would ever admit to it, but the race for the final three spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team is down to a 72-hole qualifier, known in these parts as the Deutsche Bank Championship.

While it is patently unfair to designate the previous 46 events used in the qualifying process afterthoughts, that logic really doesn’t matter to the half-dozen or so hopefuls who will set out on Friday at TPC Boston looking to make one last impression on U.S. captain Tom Watson before he announces his three picks on Tuesday evening in New York City.

Captains used to make their picks following the PGA Championship when automatic qualifying ended. But thanks to Paul Azinger’s nip/tuck of the U.S. Ryder Cup selection process in 2008, the additional time to make selections is more for the players than it is for any captain.

In short, these last two weeks are professional golf’s version of a working interview and Watson has made it clear the pressure, at least right now, is squarely on the players.

“I’ve laid down the gauntlet for those who want to be on the team; play well and I will give you a look. Don’t play well and I won’t,” Watson wrote in a recent captain’s blog.

Of course, following Monday’s final round the pressure will land squarely on Watson’s shoulders. Before then it’s up to the would-be heroes to make a statement, and last week Hunter Mahan spoke the loudest.

The window Watson will use to make his picks likely stretches back a few weeks, giving the captain a competitive snapshot in his search for the hottest hand, and before his victory at The Barclays, Mahan – who finished 25th on the U.S. point list but according to current projections would have moved to 15th after last week’s win – had been trending in all the right ways.

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After missing the cut at the RBC Canadian Open, Mahan finished tied for 15th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and seventh at the PGA Championship.

Proving the adage that you can only want something so much, Mahan long ago embraced the long view when it came to his Ryder Cup chances, telling your scribe at the PGA, “I can’t do any more. You have to want it the right amount. You can’t over try. You have to keep working and trusting in what you are doing each day.”

Keegan Bradley, who was 13th on the point list, would also appear to be high on Watson’s radar, but his play in recent weeks (missed cut at the PGA and T-53 at The Barclays) may hurt his chances. Working in Bradley’s favor, however, is his undefeated record in team play paired with Phil Mickelson in 2012 at Medinah and a fiery demeanor.

Brandt Snedeker, 20th on the point list, also seems to have preferred player status, and a long relationship with Watson, and has played consistently during this audition period, finishing tied for 12th at the Bridgestone, 13th at the PGA and fifth at the Wyndham Championship before missing the cut at The Barclays.

After a scorching summer, Brendon Todd (No. 12 in points) has faded in the run up to the final cut. He’s not posted a finish better than 45th (Bridgestone Invitational) in his last four starts, and likely needs a big week in Boston to have any chance.

“My goal is to have a good FedEx Cup and if I were to have a win or a top-3 (finish) maybe I would be looked at as a captain’s pick. I don’t think he’s going to pick very many rookies,” Todd said.

The same could be said for Ryan Moore, who finished 11th on the U.S. point list and has one top-10 finish (Bridgestone Invitational) in his last four starts, Chris Kirk (No. 14), Ryan Palmer (No. 18) and Harris English (No. 16), who would all be rookies on this year’s team.

Jason Dufner (No. 10) hasn’t played since the PGA Championship when he withdrew with a neck injury and isn’t in the field this week at TPC Boston.

The two wild cards heading into the final 72 holes would be Webb Simpson and Kevin Na, Nos. 15 and 17 on the final points list, respectively.

Simpson played on the 2012 Ryder Cup team and sandwiched a tie for fifth place at the Wyndham Championship between two missed cuts, but has history at the Deutsche Bank Championship (he won the event in 2011) and the added bonus of having paired well with Bubba Watson in both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

While Na, who made a late-season push in an attempt to earn a spot at this year’s matches in Scotland, is finally healthy and he tied for ninth place last week at The Barclays. A good week at TPC Boston could make Na the surprise selection on Tuesday night.

Or at least give Captain America something to think about. Until then it will be the collection of potential picks that will be doing all the thinking.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”