U.S. Ryder Cup team taking shape as deadline nears

By Rex HoggardAugust 3, 2016, 6:30 pm

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Brooks Koepka struggled up the hill behind Baltusrol’s 18th green. There was no limp, but it wasn’t easy.

In his first start since straining ligaments in his right ankle the week before the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the 26-year-old was on his way to a T-4 finish at the PGA Championship.

Not bad for a guy who seemed to begin the week closer to the DL than the top of leaderboard.

Koepka admitted that if it had not been a major, and he wasn’t fighting for a spot on this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team, he probably wouldn’t be playing the PGA. All week, he endured daily treatments, icings and tapings of his ailing ankle.

“It’s not fun to watch yourself go from third to ninth [on the Ryder Cup points list] especially since we were playing so well. It’s not fun, but we have to figure it out,” said Koepka, who was outside automatic qualifying on the U.S. points list before the PGA.

Koepka’s finish at Baltusrol, however, has moved him to fifth on the points list. He's not a lock yet, but Koepka's very close, and it's given both the player and the U.S. captain some breathing room.

“We talked before The Open about not pushing it and being ready for the PGA and playoffs, and Ryder Cup,” U.S. captain Davis Love III told GolfChannel.com on Sunday. “At the PGA we talked about taking it easy in the heat on practice days, and that he would be the most rested guy in the field. My dad always said I could take a month off and not forget how to play.”

Love had said all along the PGA, which was worth double the Ryder Cup points, would be when his team started to truly take shape. The eight automatic qualifiers will be set on Aug. 28 following The Barclays. There are still four events for players to make a move, but for Love some key pieces fell into place at Baltusrol.

With his victory at the PGA, Jimmy Walker vaulted from 29th on the list to fourth, virtually assuring him a spot at Hazeltine.

“I thought about that all year,” said Walker, who went 1-1-3 in 2014 at his first Ryder Cup. “I saw Davis this week and I told him, ‘Man, I'd love to be on your team.’”

Patrick Reed, who was one of the bright spots for the U.S. team two years ago at Gleneagles, also picked up some ground with his tie for 13th place at the PGA, moving up one spot from 11th to 10th on the points list.

But while Walker and Koepka’s play may have made things easier for Love, there remains a list of building decisions for Captain America.

Rickie Fowler struggled on the weekend at the PGA and tied for 33rd, dropping from 10th to 12th. It seems likely he’ll drop even further in the coming weeks since he’s not playing this week at the Travelers Championship or the following event so he can compete in the Olympics for the United States.

Love has four captain’s picks, announcing three on Sept. 12 following the BMW Championship and his final pick on Sept. 25, with a host of top players currently outside the automatic qualifiers, including Fowler, Reed, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar.

There is also the possibility Love could get creative with his picks, balancing what is currently a relatively young team with some veteran leadership.

Before his runner-up finish at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and his fourth-place showing at The Open, Steve Stricker was entirely content with his upcoming role as vice captain at this year’s matches. But his play has vaulted him from 71st on the points list in early June to 26th with three starts to improve his prospects.

“It really wasn’t on my radar too much until after Troon. I’ve had a couple of good tournaments recently, but I’m really starting to play nicely. After doing what I did at Troon it’s got my attention,” said Stricker, who added he would likely step down as vice captain if he makes the team. “I have to show Davis and everyone else that I’m legit and I can still play. It’s going to have to be something special, but I know I can do it.”

Jim Furyk, who is also one of Love’s vice captains, could also make a bid for a pick, moving to 21st on the points list this week; and a late victory – say, Watson at this week’s Travelers Championship where he’s already won twice – by any of the potential captain’s choices could create movement in the ranks.

“This week is double points. Guys could make some big changes this week,” Love said at the PGA. “So we're starting to think about the list a little bit more, but obviously after this week, we can solidify it a little bit better, start thinking about who might be picks.”

As Love predicted, the PGA Championship provided some Ryder Cup answers, but there are still plenty of questions.

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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.”