Americans Remain One Down

By Sports NetworkSeptember 23, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PresidentGAINESVILLE, Va. -- Friday's four-ball session saw injuries, a disagreement on the role of the captain, a weather delay that lasted over an hour and the International team maintaining their lead over the United States.
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk helped Tiger Woods win his first better-ball match in the Presidents Cup.
Each team captured three points on Friday, giving the International team a 6 1/2 - 5 1/2 lead after two days of The Presidents Cup at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
The most intriguing match saw Americans Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods win the anchor match against Stuart Appleby and Mark Hensby, 3 and 2. Furyk injured his ribs on Thursday and waited until the last possible minute to stay in the match. Woods hurt his back and received treatment on the course Friday.
'Sore. It's sore,' said Woods, who won his first four-ball match in his fourth Presidents Cup.
'They're doing better,' acknowledged Furyk, referring to his ribs. 'I had a lot of movement today. I wasn't playing in any pain. I have no complaints today.'
Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco halved their match with reigning U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and Argentina's Angel Cabrera. Adam Scott and Retief Goosen continued their strong play for the Internationals with a 3 and 1 win over Fred Couples and David Toms.
Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank remain undefeated for the United States as they posted a 2 and 1 victory over Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir. Fred Funk and Stewart Cink halved their match with world No. 2 Vijay Singh and Tim Clark.
Davis Love III and Kenny Perry continued to struggle as they fell 3 and 2 to Peter Lonard and Nick O'Hern.
There was a weather delay that lasted over an hour as severe weather came through the area. When the teams headed back to the range, captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were engaged in a conversation about coaching.
Player's vice-captain Ian Baker-Finch was coaching players, which is a violation of the rules. Only the captain is allowed to advise the players, but Player designated Baker-Finch as the one who could give advice.
'There was a misunderstanding,' said Player. 'Jack said when we discussed it, 'no big deal.' He was concerned we were both giving advice, which we really can't do.'
Woods and Furyk won the first hole and never trailed. They were 2-up when the delay came, but Woods hit a pitching-wedge to 2 feet to set up birdie at 11. Furyk sank a 25-foot birdie putt at 12 and the U.S. was 4-up.
Appleby birdied the 14th to give the Internationals some life. Hensby ran home a short birdie putt at 15 and all of a sudden, the U.S. was only 2-up.
Furyk took care of the match at No. 16. His partner was in the right rough, but Furyk's approach hopped over the hole and stopped 8 feet from the cup. He sank the birdie putt to give his side the point.
'They made two nice putts there and all of a sudden we've got to come down 16,' said Woods. 'Jimmy decided to play his three best shots all day. Perfect timing.'
Funk and Cink never fell behind, but lost their 1-up lead when the Internationals won the ninth. Cink sank a 15-foot birdie putt to put the Americans ahead at the 11th, but Clark knotted the contest with a birdie putt from the fringe at the 13th.
The Internationals handed their foes the 16th when Clark missed from 6 feet and Singh failed from a few feet closer. Singh ran home a 4-footer for birdie at the 17th to square the match with a hole to play.
Singh badly missed the fairway when his drive struck a photographer at 18. Clark was in the fairway with both Americans and the approaches were not spectacular. Cink went over the green, Clark came up short and Funk was 50 feet away. Singh knocked his second to 15 feet.
Clark and Funk both left themselves with 4-footers for par. Cink's chip nearly fell in the hole, so the Americans were conceded par. Singh badly pulled his birdie try that could have won, so the match was halved.
The first match saw the Americans grab a 1-up lead at the second hole, but the Internationals evened it when Cabrera rolled in a 10-footer at the fifth.
Campbell and Cabrera won the eighth to move 1-up, then extended the margin with a win at the 12th. DiMarco looked like he would cut that score with a 7-foot birdie putt at the 14th, but the putt ran all the way around the hole before lipping out.
The Americans responded, capturing the 15th and DiMarco riled the gallery up with a 10-footer for birdie at 17. Campbell putted first for the Internationals and missed a 6-footer, then Cabrera's 15-footer did not fall so the match was all-square with one to play.
Mickelson and DiMarco both missed long birdie putts, but were in with par at the last. Campbell found a bit of bad luck as his approach at 18 spun back to the fringe. His chip from 25 feet lipped out and it was up to Cabrera to win the match. Cabrera's 20-footer never touched the hole, so the match was halved.
'He's one of the toughest guys we have on tour. I'm proud he's on the American side. I'm proud to have him as my partner,' gushed Mickelson. 'The birdies he had on 15 and 17 were two of the most impressive birdies.'
Scott and Goosen continued their fine play from Thursday when they thumped Woods and Couples, 4 and 3. The Internationals moved 4-up through the first six holes, but the Americans fought back.
They cut the gap in half by the 12th hole and when Couples rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the 13th, the U.S. side trailed 1-down. Couples made a tough 6-footer to halve the 14th, but missed a putt shorter than that at 15 and dropped the Americans to 2-down with three to play.
Couples looked like he got one back for the U.S. at 16, but his 12-footer for birdie horse shoed the hole. The Internationals won No. 17 for the 3-and-1 victory.
'Adam played very well today,' said Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open winner. 'A few times I hit it in the middle of the lake. I struggled today, but he kept his game.'
Leonard and Verplank trailed early, but squared the contest when Verplank drained a 6-footer at the ninth. Verplank continued his fine play with a short birdie putt at the par-5 12th and a 15-footer at No. 13, both American wins.
Immelman and Weir got back to 1-down when they took the 15th, but Verplank slammed the door shut at 17. His approach spun back to 3 feet and he converted the birdie putt to give this team their second win in as many matches.
Lonard and O'Hern jumped on Love and Perry to the tune of a 5-up lead at the turn. The American duo fought back with three straight wins from the 10th, but the deficit was still 2-down.
The U.S. side looked to be in trouble with Lonard in close at the 16th, but O'Hern stole the show with long birdie putt. Love missed his chance to halve and extend the match.
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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.”

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    How will players game-plan for Carnoustie?

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:31 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Thomas took a familiar slash with his driver on the 18th tee on Monday at Carnoustie and watched anxiously as his golf ball bounced and bounded down the fairway.

    Unlike the two previous editions of The Open, at what is widely considered the rota’s most demanding test, a particularly warm and dry summer has left Carnoustie a parched shade of yellow and players like Thomas searching for answers.

    Under the best circumstances, Carnoustie is every bit the unforgiving participant. But this week promises to be something altogether different, with players already dumbfounded by how far the ball is chasing down fairways and over greens.

    Brown is beautiful here at Royal Dark & Dusty.

    But then it’s also proving to be something of a unique test.

    Where most practice rounds at The Open are spent trying to figure out what lines are best off tees, this is more a study of lesser evils.

    Tee shots, like at the par-4 17th hole, ask multiple questions with few answers. On his first attempt, Thomas hit 2-iron off the tee at No. 17. It cleared the Barry Burn and bounded down the middle of the fairway. Perfect, right? Not this year at Carnoustie, as Thomas’ tee shot kept rolling until it reached the same burn, which twists and turns through both the 17th and 18th fairways, at a farther intersection.

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    “A hole like 17 in this wind, the trick is getting a club that will carry [the burn],” said Thomas, who played 18 holes on Monday with Tiger Woods. “If that hole gets downwind you can have a hard time carrying the burn and keeping it short of the other burn. It’s pretty bizarre.”

    The sixth hole can offer a similar dilemma, with players needing to carry their tee shots 275 yards to avoid a pair of pot bunkers down the right side of the fairway. Yet just 26 yards past those pitfalls looms a second set of bunkers. Even for the game’s best, trying to weave a fairway wood or long-iron into a 26-yard window can be challenging.

    “Six is a really hard hole, it really just depends on how you want to play it. If you want to take everything on and have a chance of hitting an iron into a par 5, or just kind of lay back and play it as a three-shot hole,” Thomas shrugged.

    It’s difficult to quantify precisely how short the 7,400-yard layout is playing. It’s not so far players are flying the ball in the air, particularly with relatively little wind in the forecast the rest of the week, so much as it is a question of how a particular shot will run out after it’s made contact with the firm turf.

    As the field began to get their first taste of the bouncy fun, one of the earliest indications something was askew came on Sunday when Padraig Harrington, who won The Open the last time it was played at Carnoustie in 2007, announced to the social world that he’d hit into the burn on the 18th hole.

    “This time it was the one at the green, 457 yards away,” the Irishman tweeted. “The fairways are a tad fast.”

    Most players have already resigned themselves to a steady diet of mid-irons off tees this week in an attempt to at least partially control the amount of run-out each shot will have.

    Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, hadn’t played a practice round prior to his media session, but could tell what’s in store just from his abbreviated range session on Monday. “Extremely baked out,” he said.

    The conditions have already led Spieth and his caddie, Micheal Greller, to conjure up a tentative game plan.

    “You might wear out your 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you’re used to,” Greller told him.

    But even that might not be the answer, as Tommy Fleetwood discovered on Sunday during a practice round. Fleetwood has a unique connection with Carnoustie having shot the course record (63) during last year’s Dunhill Links Championship.

    The Englishman doesn’t expect his record to be in danger this week.

    In fact, he explained the dramatically different conditions were evident on the third hole on Sunday.

    “There’s holes that have been nothing tee shots, like the third. If you play that in the middle of September or October [when the Dunhill is played] and it’s green and soft, you could just hit a mid-iron down the fairway and knock it on with a wedge,” Fleetwood said. “Yesterday it was playing so firm, the fairways really undulate and you have bunkers on either side, it’s actually all of a sudden a tough tee shot.”

    The alternative to the iron game plan off the tee would be to simply hit driver, an option at least one long-hitter is considering this week if his practice round was any indication.

    On Sunday, Jon Rahm played aggressively off each tee, taking the ubiquitous fairway bunkers out of play but at the same time tempting fate with each fairway ringed by fescue rough, which is relatively tame given the dry conditions. But even that option has consequences.

    “It’s kind of strange where there’s not really a number that you know you’re going to be short,” said Fleetwood, who played his Sunday practice round with Rahm. “[Rahm] hit a drive on 15 that was like 400 yards. You just can’t account for that kind of stuff.”

    Whatever tactic players choose, this Open Championship promises to be a much different test than what players have become accustomed to at Carnoustie.