All Square Entering Sunday Singles

By Sports NetworkSeptember 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PresidentGAINESVILLE, Va. -- Fred Couples, playing in his first international team competition in seven years, missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Saturday that could have given the United States the lead.
 
Instead, each side took 2 1/2 points in Saturday afternoon's four-ball matches as The Presidents Cup stands tied at 11-11.
 
Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson
Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson have teamed for a 3-0-1 record.
Couples, paired with Davis Love III, halved their match against Angel Cabrera and reigning U.S. Open champion, Michael Campbell.
 
Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk continued their strong play in their debut in team competition. The Americans, who went 2-0-1, took a 2-up decision against world No. 2 Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby.
 
The other point for the U.S. came in convincing fashion as their best team, Chris DiMarco and PGA Champion Phil Mickelson, slaughtered Peter Lonard and Nick O'Hern, 6 and 5.
 
Retief Goosen and Adam Scott proved to be Gary Player's top International duo once again on Saturday. They dismissed a formerly undefeated American tandem, Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank, 5 and 4.
 
Tim Clark and Mark Hensby provided the second full point for the International team as they handled Kenny Perry and Stewart Cink, 5 and 3.
 
The Couples/Love and Campbell/Cabrera match was back and forth on the front nine with the sides halving the first, then one of the teams winning the next eight holes.
 
Couples ran home an 8-foot birdie putt at the 11th to move the Americans, 1-up, and that's how it stayed for the next five holes. Cabrera, despite Campbell being away, rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the 17th and Couples missed from 15 feet out to square the match.
 
At the closing hole at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, Campbell drove into the right fairway bunker, while Cabrera and Love pulled their drives badly. Couples was the only player to find the short grass.
 
Campbell went first and hit his approach 22 feet below the hole. Love went through the green on the fringe and Cabrera missed right of the putting surface. Couples, from 113 yards out, knocked his approach to 8 feet, much to the delight of the American team stationed around the green.
 
Cabrera chipped past the hole, then Love ran his birdie try past the flag. Campbell's putt skirted the left edge of the hole and he was conceded par. Couples' putt missed right, meaning the matches will be tied with the 12 singles to play for the first time in Presidents Cup history.
 
Woods and Furyk won the last two holes Saturday morning in the foursomes to halve Singh and Appleby and the afternoon four-ball match was just as exciting.
 
The International pair built 1-up leads three times in the four-ball, but the Americans answered every time. Furyk canned a 20-foot birdie putt at the 13th and when Appleby missed from 15 feet, the match was even.
 
The U.S. looked to be in great shape to steal a win at 14 when both Americans were inside 20 feet at the par-3 hole. Singh missed the green, but converted a 15-foot par save from the fringe. Neither American found the bottom of the club, so they remained all-square.
 
Furyk missed a short birdie chance at 15, but Woods, who made only one birdie to Furyk's six, poured in an 18-foot birdie putt at 16 to go 1-up. Furyk had 12 feet for birdie and the match at 17, but missed left.
 
The Internationals needed a victory at the 18th to play Woods and Furyk even for 36 holes. Singh missed the green with his approach, but Appleby had 9 feet for birdie. Furyk was 15 feet from the hole and Woods, hitting last to the green, hit his second to 5 feet.
 
Singh missed his chip, then Furyk's putt lipped out on the left side. Appleby's birdie run came up short, and the match went to the U.S. side.
 
'It's nice to get out there and get a point,' admitted Furyk. 'We had a tough match out there. Both guys played well. Appleby, he knocked in some putts. I expected that last one to go in.'
 
Goosen and Scott won the first hole, but the U.S. tied things with a win at the third. Scott won the seventh with a 5-foot birdie putt and the Internationals won the eighth and ninth to go 3-up.
 
Scott holed a 4-foot par putt at the 11th to win that hole and move 4-up. The Internationals won 13 and closed out the match two holes later when a Verplank chip did not fall.
 
Goosen and Scott not only won the battle of the undefeated teams, but also wrote their names in the history book on Saturday. Their 3 1/2 points is the most by one pair in a single Presidents Cup. It was a record they held by themselves briefly.
 
'Today we played very well,' said Goosen. 'I played a little bit better today so I helped him out a bit. We play a similar sort of game. We gel well off each other.'
 
DiMarco stepped on the gas early in his match as he kicked in a 3-footer to win the first. With his partner in close, DiMarco sank an 18-footer for birdie at three, then Mickelson holed a 12-footer to win the seventh.
 
DiMarco kept up with his strong putting as he drained a 15-footer for birdie to win the eighth. The Americans captured the ninth to take a commanding 5-up lead through the turn.
 
The Internationals won No. 10 to stop the bleeding, but DiMarco hit an amazing second shot at the par-5 12th. The Internationals could not make birdie, so they conceded the hole.
 
Mickelson hit a spectacular second from the rough with his ball waist high on 13. His baseball swing produced an approach that stopped 6 feet from the hole, but DiMarco rolled in a 15-footer to win the match and tie the Presidents Cup record for largest four-ball victory.
 
'It was fun. We both hit a lot of really quality golf shots the last two days,' said DiMarco, who, with Mickelson, matched Goosen and Scott's record with 3 1/2 points about 15 minutes after the mark was set. 'It's always nice to look across the fairway and see Phil Mickelson as your partner.'
 
Hensby and Clark won the second and third holes, then dropped the fourth. The Internationals won five, six and seven and were 4-up.
 
Perry, who is 0-3 this week, and Cink never got closer than 3-down. When Perry missed a 14-foot birdie putt at the 15th, the Internationals claimed a full point.
 
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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”

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    Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

    Hoylake in 2006.

    That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

    So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


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    “I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

    With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

    “The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”