How U.S. Ryder Cup pairings could play out

By Rex HoggardSeptember 22, 2014, 7:45 pm

If U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson had an idea of how his pairings for this week’s matches were going to shape up he wasn’t letting on.

To a man, those who were bound for Gleneagles and this week’s Ryder Cup remained very much out of the loop just a week ago at the Tour Championship.

“I haven't spoken yet with Tom. I'm sure he wasn't going to bother me (at the Tour Championship),” Jim Furyk said following his final round at East Lake. “But I'm guessing we'll talk about that this week. When we land and arrive over there in Scotland, we'll be ready to go.”

It doesn’t seem likely Captain Tom will utilize a “pods” system like the one 2008 captain Paul Azinger created, at least not officially. That’s not his style.

Instead, Watson appears to be leaning toward a more informal approach with heavy input from assistant captain Steve Stricker.

As of Sunday at the Tour Championship there had been little if any contact between the team and their captain, but many players had spoken to the captain’s lieutenants.

“I’ll tell you the assistants have. Stricker called me. I don’t know if he’s called everybody, but he did want to get my thoughts,” said Zach Johnson, who will be playing his fourth Ryder Cup.

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At 65, Watson will rely heavily on Stricker’s insight as well as any individual player preferences. Johnson, for example, has plenty of history in both Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup play and, depending on the format, would be a relatively easy choice for America’s top matchmaker.

In 2010 at Celtic Manor he went 1-1 in foursomes play with Hunter Mahan and the duo also won a fourball match at the 2009 Presidents Cup.

“I’ve got my preferences. There are certainly guys I’d like to pair with depending on the format and there are certain guys I’m not so sure they should even look at for me depending on the format,” Johnson said.

“Fourball? It really doesn’t matter. Foursomes? Maybe a little bit of strategy. The (brand of) golf ball is a little bit of an issue. Likeness of games and chemistry of certain individuals should be a part of that as well.”

Furyk, who after Phil Mickelson will be the United States’ most experienced player this week, would also be an inspired pairing for Johnson. “I’d think we’d be great,” Johnson said.

Rickie Fowler should also be low-hanging fruit for the U.S. captain. He paired with Furyk at the ’10 matches and is a regular partner of Mickelson’s during practice round matches on Tour.

Fowler & Co. even gave Watson some early scouting two weeks ago at the Tour Championship when he paired with Jimmy Walker, one of three rookies on this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team, in a nine-hole, fourball match on Wednesday at East Lake.

“I played with Jimmy (Walker) this week and I’ve played with Furyk and Phil quite a bit (in) best-ball games,” said Fowler, who birdied the ninth hole at East Lake to beat Johnson and Jordan Spieth in their impromptu match. “I thought those were the guys who stood out.”

Watson may have also given a glimpse at his lineup card with his three captain’s picks. Keegan Bradley, who went undefeated in team play paired with Mickelson two years ago at Medinah, was his first pick; and Webb Simpson has played a combined seven team matches (2012 Ryder Cup and 2011 Presidents Cup) paired with Bubba Watson. The duo is 5-2-0 over that stretch, including a 2-1-0 record at Medinah.

Matt Kuchar has proven himself the ultimate swingman in international play, having paired with six different partners in four international matches with varying degrees of success; and Spieth seems to be on everyone’s “wish” list considering his play at last year’s Presidents Cup when he went 2-1-0 in team play.

Watson’s wildcard may be Patrick Reed, a rookie playing his first international team match of any kind. Reed rubbed some of his peers the wrong way when he announced earlier this year at Doral that he considered himself a “top-5 player” and according to various sources Fowler has been the only player on the team who has shown a willingness to pair with him at Gleneagles.

Based on Watson’s first turn as captain in 1993 it seems likely he would lean heavily on his veterans on Day 1. This is, after all, the same man who made 51-year-old Raymond Floyd and Lanny Wadkins his captain’s picks his last time around.

But just as the PGA of America broke the mold when it named Watson this year’s captain, the 2014 team was prepared for a Ryder Cup that was not exactly by the book.

“We’ll see once we get over there and see where Tom’s at,” Fowler said.

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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.”