U.S. dominates another Presidents Cup

By Rex HoggardOctober 6, 2013, 10:57 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – The exhibition felt more like another evisceration.

Too vivid?

How about this: Despite some truly inspired performances by International captain Nick Price’s team, the only time the American team found itself in harm’s way over four damp days was when a wayward squirrel named Sammy crashed the team room.

As hard as Price & Co. planned and plodded to make this Presidents Cup a game, this wasn’t a fair fight. It hasn’t been for some time, but a fitful week of starts and stops at muddy Muirfield Village proved to be the latest indication of the event’s lack of relevance.

“This is a pretty tall order,” an emotional Price allowed after the final foursomes collapse set up the singles formality on Sunday. “I just hope the golfing gods are on our side this afternoon.”

Presidents Cup: Articles, videos and photos

It’s not a higher power that has rendered this biennial bash a non-story. That liability rests on PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s shoulders.

Earlier this year Price, former captain Greg Norman and future captain Ernie Els pleaded with Finchem to give the Internationals a fighting chance and reduce the number of foursome and fourball matches, the idea being fewer team bouts would favor the Rest of the World’s perceived lack of depth.

Instead, Finchem allowed for a format change – this year’s event started with a fourball session instead of foursomes, with which the Internationals have struggled – and the United States rolled to an 18 ½ to 15 ½ victory to improve to 8-1-1 in the matches.

And it really wasn’t that close.

Don’t get it twisted – the Internationals fought. They fought like a wild squirrel trapped in an assistant captain’s golf cart. But when Round 4 play finally ended early Sunday the visiting team was down 14-8 and the home side needed to win just four of the 12 singles matches to keep the cup.

It would have been the largest comeback in Presidents Cup, or Ryder Cup, history. The Internationals needed a Medinah-like miracle and then some. But then the Europeans only had to dig themselves out of a four-point hole and they had Ian Poulter.

For Davis Love III, last year’s Ryder Cup captain and an assistant this time for Fred Couples, the déjà vu was impossible to ignore.

“We flashed back last night,” Love said. “It was me and Fred and Jay (Haas) and Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson) and Hunter (Mahan) talking about how we were going to do the pairings. It was hard for me all week because I felt so bad about it. It was like, here’s what we said we were going to do at Medinah, we know now.”

Lesson learned.

Mahan, in the singles leadoff position, set the tone, quickly dispatching surprise rookie standout Hideki Matsuyama, 3 and 2, and Jason Dufner added another point when he beat another newcomer, Brendon De Jonge, 4 and 3.

There were tense moments after the Internationals won four of the first six matches. Couples, who is notoriously low key, may even have felt nervous with five matches remaining on the course. The math was straightforward: If the International team won the final five matches they would force a tie.

“I must have asked 500 times, ‘How are we getting this fourth point?’” Couples said.

The answer? Tiger Woods. Who else?

Sent out in the ninth spot, it seemed unlikely the world No. 1’s point would count, but shortly after a particularly forceful swing at the 15th hole nearly sent Woods to his knees with back pain, it became clear his point would be pivotal.

Woods took a 1-up lead when little-known Richard Sterne hit into the grandstand at the 16th hole, then calmly two-putted from 36 feet at the last to secure the winning point for the third consecutive Presidents Cup.

“I was just trying to hang on,” said Woods, who found a new partner at Muirfield Village in the form of Matt Kuchar. “The problem was, I knew I wasn't feeling good, and if I happened to mess up 18 and we had to continue playing until it's been decided. I was like, 'I really don't want to play anymore. Just can I win, can I halve this last hole, somehow?' And it ended up being that way.”

This marks the fifth consecutive match that the Internationals failed to finish closer than three points to the Americans and the title drought has now been run to 15 years.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom for the Internationals. A pair of young stars emerged in Graham DeLaet – think Poulter without the wardrobe stipend – and Matsuyama and two long-term potential power pairings in DeLaet and Jason Day and Matsuyama and Adam Scott.

Combined, those four players contributed 11 points and considering his team included seven rookies and little room to hide any weaknesses, Price’s post-match assessment was only slightly less dark than the gray skies that blanketed Muirfield Village for most of the week.

“Our rally this week in a couple of the sessions, and particularly today, showed how much fight we've all got in us,” Price said. “We all wanted this badly, but 9 ½ (points, what his team needed to win the cup in the singles session) is almost an unobtainable task.”

Even Els, whose inevitable turn at captain seems certain to wait considering his play at this week’s matches (3-2-0), allowed for a glimmer of hope the next time the Rest of the World meets America’s best in 2015 in Korea. “It’s closer than you think,” he said.

Perhaps, but from 30,000 feet this still has all the markings of a homecoming game for the United States.

If International captains past and present really want to turn the tide in the biennial blowout they may want to make another run at Finchem in an attempt to increase the number of singles matches. The U.S. has won just one of the last three Sunday singles sessions at the Presidents Cup and we all know America’s singles record in the Ryder Cup.

But on Sunday, Medinah and The Meltdown felt like another lifetime for the Americans.

Relaxed, if not rested, the U.S. side responded to nearly every move Couples made at Muirfield Village, the byproduct of the captain’s laid-back lead and a six-point advantage heading into the final frame.

Media types always want to know why the U.S. team plays so well at the Presidents Cup but tightens like an ailing Achilles’ at the Ryder Cup. The answer could be found in Mickelson’s mood Sunday as players marched out to end the muddy marathon.

“This morning everybody was worried about when their tee times were and Phil comes in and says, ‘I tell you what. I’m going last and I don’t want my point to count,’” Love said. “You guys get out there and win this thing. I want to come giggling down the fairway.”

Like clockwork, only the Americans were giggling at the Presidents Cup.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.”