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Splitting (c)up? Spieth, Reed look prepped for new partners

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 26, 2018, 4:00 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – It’s the secretive topic of this Ryder Cup – that all signs point to the highly successful Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed partnership, if not altogether ending, at least taking a brief hiatus.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk has avoided the subject.

So has Reed.

Spieth has remained mum.

But practice-round pairings are typically an indication of how the captain is leaning, and it’s noteworthy that Spieth and Reed – who are 8-1-3 in team competitions together – were in the same group for only one of the two days here at Le Golf National. And when they were on Wednesday, they didn’t play together, as partners.

That means either Spieth and Reed have new dance partners this year, or they’re trying to mess with fans, media, and Thomas Bjorn and Co.

Instead, for the first two days of practice, there have been two constants:

Reed with Tiger Woods.

And Spieth with Justin Thomas.

Understandable, both of them, and it might be a beneficial move for each if they split up USA Golf’s version of the Dream Team.

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Reed has long been drawn to the tenacity and single-mindedness that made Woods an untouchable legend for more than a decade. He’s tried to model his career after Woods’, so much so that for years he even wore black pants and a red shirt on Fridays, to honor him. Woods was in charge of overseeing Reed’s pod at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and it was Woods whom Reed credited with calming him down before his epic singles match against Rory McIlroy. If he’s paired with his childhood idol this weekend, it’s easy to see Reed running through a wall for him.

Spieth and Thomas, obviously, make perfect sense, too: They’ve been friendly rivals since they were 12, they’re frequent practice-round partners and they’re intimately familiar with each other’s games.

“It would be cool; it would be fun,” Thomas said. “We know each other’s games well enough that you almost have another caddie if you need it. That may be something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to others, but it’s a pretty big deal in the grand scheme of things. It could be fun, but you just have to wait and see, I guess.”

Indeed, the answer will (mercifully) be revealed late Thursday afternoon, during the opening ceremony, but it’s a safe bet that Spieth and Reed will be broken up at some point, if not for all of the team sessions.

The timing is right for a split.

Spieth enters this Ryder Cup, for the first time, as one of the U.S. question marks. This season he has regressed with his iron play and putting, and though he nearly stole two majors, Spieth still wasn’t productive enough to qualify for the Tour Championship. That meant an extra week at home to rest, regroup and reassess.

Despite Spieth’s relative struggles, Furyk said Wednesday that he “loves where Jordan is right now” and raved about the 25-year-old’s increasing influence in the team room, as the de-facto leader of the 20-something brigade.

“For his age, he’s very mature, and all those guys his age group, when Jordan speaks, everyone seems to listen,” Furyk said. “He’s helped out a lot.

“Having a week off, having some fresh legs, a fresh mind, I would guess he’s chomping at the bit right now. He’s probably ready to go this week, and I think it’ll be a real good week for him.”

Reed’s form hasn’t been ideal, either. The Masters champion stayed hot into the early summer, but he’s posted just one top-10 in his past 10 worldwide starts, including a 29th-place showing in the 30-man field at East Lake. Reed might be one of the few, however, whose recent form can be discounted – like European igniter Ian Poulter, Reed turns into a different dude when Ryder Cup Friday beckons. 

Even with his new stature in the game as a major champion, Reed remains motivated by slights, whether real or imagined. It’s in his competitive DNA: He was overlooked as a standout junior; he was overlooked at Augusta State, despite going 6-0 in NCAA match play; and maybe he was even overlooked in the run-up to the 2014 matches at Gleneagles, with his well-established reputation as a talented but combustible personality. Before he earned the “Captain America” nickname, there were whispers about with whom Reed could pair. In one of his few brilliant moves, 2014 captain Tom Watson matched Reed with Spieth, a fellow Texan and America’s darling.   

Heading into the opening session, Reed said, “The biggest thing was, for me personally, I felt like I had something to prove. I felt like I had to come out and prove to myself that I can go out and play well and win my matches, just to validate that mindset that I have, that I belonged here.”

By week’s end, there was no doubt.

Reed and Spieth thrived together, going 2-0-1 as one of the lone bright spots for the Americans. But they also were an unconventional pair with an awkward internal dynamic.

“We just want to beat the crap out of each other, to be honest,” Spieth said a few years ago. “We’ve always seemed to play well in the same groups, and part of it is because we want to beat each other. We’ve always wanted to.”

They took a break for the 2015 Presidents Cup, playing together for just one victorious fourballs match, before settling into their expected roles at both Hazeltine and Liberty National.

Overall, they have been nearly unbeatable together, solidifying themselves as one of the best American duos. For much of the past two decades, the U.S. has struggled to find consistency and continuity among its partnerships, but they seemed to have found that missing piece in Reed, 28, and Spieth, 25, both of whom seem destined for at least another half-dozen cups.

Now, it appears, they’ll continue to be teammates but not necessarily a ready-made pairing.  

It’s a calculated risk that Furyk seems likely to take – even if he’s not yet ready to discuss it.

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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.