Reed focused on winning, not Ryder Cup

By Will GrayAugust 26, 2016, 11:16 pm

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – When the irons are flying true and the putts are rolling in, Patrick Reed isn’t short on swagger.

This is the man, after all, who styles his wardrobe after Tiger Woods and brashly made a top-5 claim that he still can’t shake more than two years later. He already has an iconic Ryder Cup moment to his credit, and he stockpiled four PGA Tour wins before turning 25.

Reed doesn’t back down from a challenge, and his confidence rarely wanes. It’s a combination of factors that has quietly helped him compile a stellar season – with one notable omission.

Reed has yet to win this year, and he has now gone more than 18 months without a victory. It’s a surprising run for a player who once reeled off three wins in a seven-month span, and it’s a gap that has coincided with peers like Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth racking up trophies by the handful.

But Reed has an enticing opportunity to end that drought this week at The Barclays, where he holds a two-shot lead over Rickie Fowler and Emiliano Grillo at the halfway point.

“I feel like I’ve been trending in the right direction,” Reed said after a second-round 68. “I feel like the game’s been solid. I just need to get it all clicking.”

For Reed, the key has been dialing up the consistency. While that philosophy has netted nine top-10 finishes this season, second only to Johnson’s total of 12, it hasn’t resulted in a tournament victory – yet.

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“It just seems like these events I finish top 10, it’s either one round here or there, or it’s three or four parts of my game are working on the first day, then three of the four are working the next day,” he said. “It’s just kind of a mixture. It’s not just one thing I can pinpoint.”

The various aspects of his game appear to be in sync through two rounds at Bethpage Black, where Reed played his first 25 holes without dropping a shot. After starting the day with a share of the lead, he raced to the top of the standings with birdies on four of his first seven holes, stretching his lead to three before a bogey on No. 18.

Reed entered this week on the Ryder Cup bubble, needing a strong performance to cement an automatic spot at Hazeltine. It’s an extra element of pressure, but Reed has never shied away from some raised stakes.

He did, after all, earn his PGA Tour status one Monday qualifier at a time back in 2012, and two years ago he used his Ryder Cup debut to become an icon of patriotism on foreign soil, shushing Scottish crowds with one made putt after another.

“All you’ve got to do is light the fire a little with him,” said Spieth, who teamed with Reed at Gleneagles. “If he plays golf with some, whether it be motivation or just feeling like he’s been a little off and needs to just do that little bit extra, he always brings it.”

Rather than focus on the larger goals, Reed has opted this week to dial down to core components. Forget the standings, toss out the projections. Just play some good golf and see what it yields.

“Really I’m going into this week trying to win a golf tournament,” he said. “At the end of the day, if I go and I take care of me, and do what I need to do this week, then Ryder Cup will take care of itself.”

Bumped to the second tier of American golf recently by a handful of more prolific winners, Reed now has a chance to remind everyone that the talent and confidence are not misaligned. It’s an opportunity to break out in a big way this week on Long Island, and with another high-stakes event looming just a few weeks away, the timing couldn’t be better.

“As long as he’s building momentum and he’s bringing what we had at the last Ryder Cup,” Spieth said. “I’ll be certainly pleased with that.”

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OB tee shot, bunker trouble dooms Rahm to MC

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:24 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The key to surviving Carnoustie is avoiding the bunkers.

Jon Rahm found three bunkers to close out the front nine Friday, the start of a triple bogey-double-bogey run that led to a second-round 78 and missed cut at The Open.

“All of them were as bad a lie as they could have been,” he said. “Besides that, things didn’t happen. I can’t give an explanation, really. I don’t know.”

Rahm’s troubles started on the seventh hole, a par 4 with a steady left-to-right wind. Out of bounds loomed left, and Rahm, who primarily plays a cut shot, hadn’t missed left all week. This time, his ball didn’t curve, and the OB tee shot led to a triple.

“Whenever I start missing shots to the left,” he said, “it’s really hard for me to play.”  

After a career-best fourth-place finish at the Masters, Rahm has now missed the cut in consecutive majors.

“Right now I’m not in any mental state to think about what happened, to be honest,” he said.

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Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

Bernhard Langer did not.

The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

"You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

"I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

"I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

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Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.