England Nips Spain for World Cup

By Sports NetworkNovember 21, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 WGC-EMC World CupSEVILLE, Spain -- Paul Casey and Luke Donald of England fired an 8-under 64 in the alternate-shot format Sunday to win the World Golf Championships - World Cup. They completed the event at 31-under-par 257.
'It was amazing to shoot 16 under in foursomes,' said Donald. 'We somehow gelled pretty well together in foursomes. Paul obviously got very hot with the putter both times, and that was the difference.'
Casey and Donald, who each played for Europe in this year's Ryder Cup, posted a 16 under par score in foursomes play, while going 15 under in fourballs. Casey, in the current format of this event, has finished fifth, third and second prior to winning this time around.
The Spanish duo of Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who led entering the final round, closed with a 6-under 66 to take second place at 30-under-par 258. Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley from Ireland took third place at minus-28 after a closing 65.
The Englishmen began the day one stroke behind the Spaniards, but joined their playing partners in a tie for first with a birdie at the opening hole. Casey and Donald teamed for a birdie at the fourth from 30 feet out to take the outright lead.
The Irish duo made an early charge with birdies at one, two and five to get within one shot of the lead at minus-24. England responded with a birdie at the fifth to move two strokes ahead of Ireland and remain one shot clear of the Spanish duo, who also birdied No. 5.
The Englishmen extended their lead to two strokes with a birdie at the seventh. Spain fought back with a birdie at the eighth to get within one. Ireland joined them there with birdies at eight and nine.
Spain and England both birdied the ninth, but Casey drained a 30-footer for birdie at 10 to again give the English duo a two-shot lead. Casey made a 15- foot birdie putt to keep England rolling at Real Club de Golf Sevilla.
Casey wasn't done there. He drained a 12-foot birdie putt at the 12th, their fourth straight birdie, that padded his team's lead to four strokes. The Irish duo made their final charge with an eagle at the par-5 13th and a birdie at 14 to get within two.
Spain matched the Irish eagle at 13 to also get within two of the Englishmen's lead. Garcia and Jimenez climbed within one shot of the leaders with a birdie at the 15th.
The turning point came at the 16th. The Englishmen combined to birdie the par- 5, while the Spaniards faltered to a bogey after Garcia dropped his second shot into the water, before missing a 5-foot par putt to fall three strokes back with two holes to go.
The English team needed the cushion as they bogeyed the last and Spain birdied the closing hole to set the final margin of one shot.
'Because we're such good friends and we trust each other's game, we played as good of golf as when we played in the Walker Cup,' Casey said. 'You know, it's one of those partnerships that I think we'll always play good golf together. I can't explain it. It's just one of those things that clicks.'
Spain is a four-time winner of this event, but the second place showing by Garcia and Jimenez was the nation's best since a runner-up finish in 1999. Spain last won in 1984.
'Of course we are disappointed, but you have to give a lot of credit to the English team,' said Garcia, who like Jimenez was the Englishmen's Ryder Cup teammate this year. 'I think Paul and Luke played unbelievably today, to go out there on Sunday in the World Cup and shoot 8 under in foursomes is a great effort. We tried as hard as we could, but we didn't get lucky.'
Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman, the 2003 champions from South Africa, posted a final-round 68 to take fourth place at 25-under-par 263.
The Austrian team of Martin Wiegele and Markus Brier, who gained entry into the event when the team from Thailand withdrew, closed with a 67. They shared fifth place at 23-under-par 265 with Holland's duo of Robert-Jan Derksen and Maarten Lafeber.
Kariem Baraka and Marcel Siem, the team from Germany, tied for seventh at minus-21 thanks to a final-round 68. They were joined there by Sweden (Joakim Haeggman & Fredrik Jacobson) and the United States (Scott Verplank & Bob Tway), as those teams both posted even-par 72s in the final round.
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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

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    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

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    Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

    “You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

    The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

    “He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

    But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.

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    “I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

    And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

    It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

    That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.

    “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

    It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

    McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk.

    “I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

    It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

    “I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

    A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

    Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.


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    Own history, grow the game with Open memorabilia auction

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Get a piece of history and help grow the game, that's what The Open is offering with its memorabilia auction.

    The official Open Memorabilia site features unique Open assets from famous venues and Champion Golfers of the Year. All net proceeds received by The R&A from this project will be invested to support the game for future generations, including encouraging women’s, junior and family golf, on the promotion and progression of the sport in emerging golf nations and on coaching and development.

    Items for auction include limited edition prints of Champion Golfers of the Year, signed championship pin flags and limited edition historical program covers. Memorable scorecard reproductions and caddie bibs are also available to bid for on the website, with all items featuring branded, serialized holograms for authenticity.

    Click here to own your piece of history and to get more information on the auction.