Whatever the reason, the Internationals have life

By Rex HoggardOctober 10, 2015, 12:58 pm

INCHEON, South Korea – However the Presidents Cup arrived at its compelling crossroads, be it fewer points or Phil Mickelson’s pointed comments, it now appears to be worth the price of admission.

The United States may well turn the 11th edition into another boat race on Sunday with 12 singles matches looming, but the foundation for fireworks that Nick Price envisioned when he lobbied for the current format at least delivered a one-point margin of error with the U.S. clinging to a 9 ½ to 8 ½ advantage.

And Mickelson’s ill-advised jab at the Internationals on Friday following a rules infraction that cost he and Zach Johnson a one-hole penalty didn't hirt either. “I feel like we spotted the Internationals’ best team [Jason Day and Adam Scott] two holes and they still couldn't beat us. Just saying,” Mickelson said.

Whatever the tonic, the one-point U.S. lead is the closest these matches have been through three days since the teams finished Saturday knotted at 11 points apiece in 2005; and since those matches, the two sides have split singles play with 30 points each.

“This is what we all came here for, for it to be exciting tomorrow,” said Price, who is taking his second turn as the International captain.

It could have been even closer but for the Internationals' inability to hold a lead in the morning foursome session when Day and Charl Schwartzel blew a 3-up advantage at the turn to lose to Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth on the last hole. Sangmoon Bae and Hideki Matsuyama, likewise, split their match with Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar after leading early.

But the matinee matches largely went to script, with the two sides splitting the session thanks to continued solid play from the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace as well as Bae and Matsuyama.

Bae and Matsuyama combined to post 10 birdies in 13 holes for a 6-and-5 victory over Jimmy Walker and Chris Kirk that included three consecutive birdies for Bae at the turn.

“That was one of the best matches I’ve ever played,” said Bae, who has provided a hometown spark for a gallery that has largely avoided partisanship.

The South Africans, Oosthuizen and Grace, were able to slip past the American power two-ball of J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson with a chip-in birdie at the 16th hole, becoming the first International team to go 4-0-0.

American captain Jay Haas’ counter came by way of Spieth, who could have beaten the International tandem of Day and Schwartzel single-handedly in the afternoon with eight birdies in 16 holes after combining for just two birdies during Friday’s fourball session when paired with Johnson.

Despite that timely play from all the familiar places and the advantage on the scoreboard, it was the rest of the world that seemed to be in charge after starting the week by dropping four of five foursome matches on Thursday.

“To me, it kind of feels like we're losing just because of what's gone on the last two days,” Zach Johnson said. “But our first day was substantial. That was a big day, a lot of positives.”

Much of that renewed vigor from the International team room could be traced to a format change this year that reduced the total number of points from 34 to 30, a move that Price argued would make the matches more competitive.

But then pinning the Internationals’ inspired play only on new math is a disservice to what has been the side’s most competitive start in a decade.

“I think the points change is huge. But these guys have played phenomenally well,” Price said. “It's both [the players and the new point structure], honestly. I can't actually single out one particular thing.”

While the reasons for the International side’s biennial swoon remain a mystery - from the challenges of getting 12 professionals from seven countries to play under one flag to a general lack of depth - in simplest terms, the rest of the world simply needed to play better.

That was Price’s message to his dozen on Thursday night after the Americans blitzed the home team, 4-1, in the opening session. Since then, the Internationals have outscored the United States, 5 ½ to 7 ½, and turned what has been a formality for more than a decade into an opportunity.

An International victory would be historic. No team that began the singles frame trailing has gone on to win the cup, but for the first time the rest of the world can envision a favorable ending that wouldn’t require either a classic comeback or collapse.

For Price and his dozen, it doesn’t matter whether it’s been Mickelson’s bulletin board miscue or the event’s new math or simply more putts dropping, the result has been a psychological shift that is impossible to ignore.

“We need to win this. This is massive for us. We need this tournament to be competitive and keep the Presidents Cup alive,” Oosthuizen said.

It’s hard to imagine the Presidents Cup is on life support, but Oosthuizen’s point is valid, because for the first time in a long time, neither are the International’s title hopes going into Sunday.

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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.”