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Archive for September, 2012

Ryder Cup, There’s Tension in the Air.

There is tension in the air as the Ryder Cup closed on the second day with the U.S.A. in firm command of the situation, with a little help from the officials and the rub of the green, which always went in their favor.

Jim Furyk first objected to a ruling given to Graeme McDowell on gaining relief from a sprinkler head, Furyk stated there should be no relief given and called for the head referee, who then subsequently changed the original ruling. Jim said of the affair;

“I looked over to see what was happening, I saw that he was going to get relief and get to probably drop the ball into the fringe so they’d be putting rather than chipping.  When I looked to see where the ball was, I believe it was a good four inches, I’m being probably conservative, four to five inches ahead of that sprinkler head. They were going to gain a big advantage by being able to drop that ball. He had a sticky lie and a very delicate chip and to be able to putt that ball would have been a huge advantage and I really didn’t feel in any situation, whether it be matchplay or medal play, that it could be deemed a drop.”

Europe's Graeme McDowell

Seems like Jim wants to win at any cost. What a different point of view than that of  Jack Nicklaus who 1969 conceded a putt to Tony Jacklin, to halve the entire match.  By giving Jacklin the putt, Nicklaus made the half look less like an accomplishment by the British (who had won the cup only once since 1933) than like a personal gift from Nicklaus. It also left forever hanging the possibility that the reigning British Open Champion might have gagged over his eighteen-incher. That’s one of the cool things about match play.

Later in the day Bubba Watson was given relief from the opposite side of the bleachers from the nearest point of relief, he chipped on and made birdie, any complaint from the Europeans, no absolutely not, the referee made a ruling and they got on with it. Justice was done in the end when McDowell and McIlroy won their match. But really sad to see the lengths some people will go to just to make sure they win. As they say in America, that was a win/win situation. The affair has put Jim Furyk into a bad place with regards good spirit and fair play, and how people all over the world gauge him as a man.

The U.S.A. finished the day still leading the Europeans by a comfortable margin, 9-4, and it will take a super human effort from the Europeans on the last day to change the course of this match. I just hope that tomorrow some of the decisions and bounces will go their way and make it an even contest. Tiger Woods suffered his third straight defeat in this Ryder Cup, eroding his record in this contest even further, his only chance of a point will come in the singles. Tiger is, and always has been a loner, and as such he will summon the effort required to win his singles match.

Europe managed to avoid a sweep, thanks to who else?  Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, who beat Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 1 up. Poulter has Europe’s best winning percentage in Ryder Cup play with a 10-3-0 record, and there was no way he was going to let the Americans take a point from his match.

“It was absolutely key, Jose put us out No. 1 for a reason, and that’s to get the point and put the point up on the board.”

If Ian’s fighting spirit becomes contagious, the Europeans do still have a fighting chance, but no betting man would put his money on them. In the afternoon Ian and Rory secured the last point of the day, with Ian’s 5th straight birdie.

Ryder Cup, Day One Belongs to the U.S.A.

Day one of the Ryder Cup belonged to the U.S.A. as they lead the Europeans by five Points to three at the end of the day, after dominating the afternoon fourballs at the Medinah Country Club.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley led the afternoon charge, and they were fully supported by an inspired Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. That inspiration gave the American hosts three of the four points on offer after lunch to open up a commanding advantage.

Both  teams were level at 2-2 after the morning foursomes, with the Northern Irish pairing of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy picking up Europe’s first point and Ian Poulter and Justin Rose providing the second. Controversially Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia were rested for the afternoon better-ball format.

Strangely for the U.S.A. the only pairing not to win in the afternoon was Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, they were beaten by an amazing performance from Nicolas Colsaerts, who the partner of Lee Westwood. Watching the play you would have thought that Nicolas was the seasoned Ryder Cup man, not Lee.  Nicolas Colsaerts was an absolute lion and his point with Lee Westwood at the end of the day could be huge come Sunday.

American Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love 111 was extremely;y pleased with his teams performance;

“Just everybody played real well and hung in there and had a lot of fun. Seemed like as the sun came out, we just got better and better.”

European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal’s team will have to produce a major turnaround in order to claim the Cup for the fifth time in seven meetings. He commented;

“The afternoon was tough, that last point from Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood was very important.”

Tomorrow will be a very tough test for the European Team, it is probably going to be make or break day.

 

Greg Norman tries to Explain the Rory Intimidator comments.

Tiger Woods and Greg Norman probably won’t be playing golf together                              anytime soon. (Getty Images)

The recent comments by Greg Norman that Tiger Woods is now intimidated by Rory McIlroy, brought a backlash of vitriol in his direction. Most criticizers were  saying he didn’t know what he was talking about and that he had no right to speak on such an issue. The real questions boils down to, Is Tiger intimidated by Rory?  Has Tiger ever been intimidated by anyone?  and then explain why the two of them have become such good friends in such a short amount of time?

In order to try and cool the situation around his Tiger comments, Greg posted on his Facebook Page;

” Got off the plane from Beijing this morning and my Iphone just blew up with emails and voicemails regarding my interview with Robert Lusetich of Fox Sports. It seems that everyone from Charles Barkley (no Charles I was not referencing or comparing Tiger’s record to mine) to John Doe has weighed in on my quote regarding intimidation. I stand by my comments and for those that choose to read the full article and not just “grasp” and “react” to one word will notice that the headline and byline were inconsistent with the content of what Robert wrote. When you look at my comments in the full context of the article, you will see that it provides a more balanced view of my sentiments on this topic. Which is, since the PGA Championship Tiger has not made any impact on the weekend in passing Rory for the title. This has not happened in his career prior to this run by Rory. During the PGA Championship broadcast I spoke at length about Tiger and I maintain that no one has swung the club better in the history of the game, especially during the year 2000. At the end of the day, Tiger is a great athlete and a great student of the game and he will continue to win, but we are seeing a transition away from his dominance. Rivalry and parity is great for the game of golf. Unfortunately for Rory, I think that the trademark for “The Intimidator” is already registered with Dale Earnhardt.”

It would appear that Greg has taken two steps back from his original stance on Tiger, and is trying to back pedal from what he said while at the same time maintaining that Rory currently has a better grasp of the game than Tiger, which is likely true.

Greg should not have come up with the intimidation comment, seeing that he was intimidated, and completely rolled over for Nick Faldo, as he  won his third Masters championship. Greg threw away a six shot lead on the final day at Augusta in 1996, he was totally intimidated by Nick Faldo. Perhaps that makes Greg an expert on this subject, he has experienced it so many times, his record of only 2 Major wins will always be tainted because he should have won at least 10.

Luke and Lee, beat Justin and Ian during Medinah practice round

The Ryder Cup European boys are in the mood at Medinah where Luke Donald and Lee Westwood took the money off Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in a practice round. Team Luke and Lee were an amazing – 13 under par while playing a best ball format.

Team Europe golfer Lee Westwood of England sits in a golf cart with vice captain Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland during a practice round at the 39th Ryder Cup matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 26, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reuters/Jeff Haynes

Lee Westwood had Ryder Cup Vice Captain Darren Clarke as chauffeur.

A smiling Lee Westwood told reporters;

‘ It was only a practice round on the first day, I wouldn’t read too much into it. We came out fast and we were just way too good for Ian and Justin. And they are a lot lighter this morning in their pockets.”

Luke Donald joined in with the jokey banter;

“It’s always pleasing when you’re able to take cash out of Poulter’s wallet. A few moths fell out at the same time, but it was fun, we both played well. We certainly have a good chemistry between us.”

I guess the good chemistry remark means these two will paired together on Friday. Check out Ian Poulter’s twitter account to read how badly he is hurting from handing out hard cash to Luke and Lee.

The Medinah Country Club course has been expunged of all the punishing rough around the edges of the greens and along each side of the fairways. This tinkering with the course set up is supposed to encourage the big-hitting U.S. players to lash out off the tee, but straight-driving Westwood said finding fairways was always an advantage.

“I’ve played here pretty much all year, and I haven’t seen a golf course that’s had no rough and no rough around the greens. This is not a golf course that either team is particularly used to, and I can’t see how it suits one team or the other to be perfectly honest. I would say that the last time I played a golf course set up like this with no rough around the greens and no rough down the side of the fairways was The Belfry in 2002, and we set that up for ourselves.”

The dry conditions they experiencing at Medinah, and with no rain in the forecast for the biennial event, stopping balls on quickening greens would be far easier from the fairway, as it always is. Lee said finding the fairways was all important;

“I think there’s still a big advantage. It was certainly yesterday, I felt there was a big advantage to hitting the fairways still. The greens are not going to get any softer. They will firm up. It will be an advantage to hit fairways. Always is.”

Tiger Accepts Responsibility for The U.S Lean Spell at the Ryder Cup.

U.S. captain Davis Love III poses with Tiger Woods and the Ryder Cup during the 39th Ryder Cup golf matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 25, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Tiger, Davis and the Elusive Ryder Cup, at Medinah/Reuters/Jeff Haynes

For a while Tiger  Woods reigned supreme over the golfing  world, winning  his 74 PGA Tour titles, including 14 Majors, but he has been unable to extend his golfing panache to the biennial competition that pits the U.S. best against Europe’s best. His performances at the Ryder Cup have been pretty average, some have even labeled him, Mr Joe Average, and on Tuesday Tiger accepted the responsibility for the dismal U.S. showing for the past 15 years. Tiger’s mediocre record of 13-14-2  from six Ryder Cup contests does not enhance the otherwise brilliant resume of  Eldrick Tont Woods, who has only  been able to celebrate just one team win from six Ryder Cup appearances. Tiger reported;

“Well, certainly I am responsible for that because I didn’t earn the points that I was put out there for. I believe I was out there, what, in five sessions each time and I didn’t go 5-0 on our side. So I certainly am a part of that and that’s part of being a team. I needed to go get my points for my team and I didn’t do that. Hopefully I can do that this week, and hopefully the other guys can do the same and we can get this thing rolling. I’ve always loved coming here, I enjoy playing in Chicago and for some reason, I’ve just had a lot of success here. I don’t know what it is but I seem to be very, very comfortable here.”

As they say in America, Bring it on.

Ryder Cup Crowds Will Be Hostile, says Davis Love 111

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III (left) and European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal (right) pose with the trophy in front of the clubhouse at Medinah

Team Captains Davis Love III,  USA and Jose-Maria Olazabal, Europe.

US Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III has intimated that Europe’s players should be prepared to expect a fiery reception from the packed home galleries as the USA Team battle to win back the Ryder Cup. Davis is a veteran of the infamously hostile crowds at Brookline 13 years ago, he said;

“When we travel over there it’s tough on us, and when they travel over here it’s tough on them. Chicago is an incredible sports town, and they are going to be fired up. The first tee could be the loudest any of these guys have ever seen. I expect a lot of passion, if we’re winning holes it’s going to get pretty loud out there, and that’s what home-field advantage is all about. We’ll try to get them going loud in our favour.”

Davis replied to suggestions that he has set the Medinah course up to favour his team;

” How do you get an advantage? we have 24 of the best players in the world, they are all pretty good at adapting to conditions. One thing I’ve never liked is rough. But the fans want to see a little excitement. They want to see birdies. We want to let these unbelievable athletes free-wheel it a little bit and just play. Medinah is such a big, long golf course, and I don’t think we wanted a lot of rough. It’s still going to be tough. But without the deep rough, it saves us the chip-outs and the grinding-it-out style of golf.”

Jose Maria Olazabal Ryder Cup Captain Europe,responded with these comments;

“I don’t see it as a disadvantage. We have always been a close team, and we have been in touch through the phone. They are all going to be there by the time I get to the hotel today. I think the teams are pretty much even, and I think it’s going to be a close match. There are no favorites. It’s obviously completely different to 15 years ago. Now they play over here, they are very familiar with the golf courses over here, with their opponents. They feel more comfortable about the whole situation of coming here to play the Ryder Cup. They realize that over the years they have been able to compete against the players here, and that boosts your confidence, which is a very important thing when you’re playing matchplay. This is a new Ryder Cup, we’re playing here against a very strong team, we’re playing away, the crowds will be rooting for the home team really strong so we have to be prepared for that. I’ve said it all along, I think the teams are pretty much even, and I think it’s going to be a close match. There are no favorites.”

There is a rumor that Jose will a pay a tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros by wearing Seve style trademark navy jumper and trousers and white polo shirt for Sunday’s singles matches, Jose did not confirm this story but simply said;

“I talked to Davis about that and he was very understanding. Seve is going to be there in our team in some way or form. We are going to miss him a lot. It’s the first time he is not going to be with us, and he was a special man.”

 

Coca Cola Tour Championship, FedEx cup. Snedeker Wins It All

Brandt Snedeker won the Coca Cola Tour Championship, and in doing so also won the FedEx Cup.

Emotions running high

Winner Brandt Snedeker/Greenwood/Getty Images

Brandt had a last round of   -2 under par 68  and a -10 under par total,  to easily win the Coca Cola Tour Championship by three strokes from second placed Justin Rose, who finished at _8 under par.

Luke Donald and Ryan Moore shared third place at -6 under par.

There was no “W” for Woods, or any of the other top five going in to the tournament, Snedeker was the only player who performed well on the last day.

Tiger Woods finished tied 8th at -2 under par, World number 1 Rory McIlroy was at -1 under par, Phil Mickelson at +1 and the other initial contender Nick Watney slumped big time to +13 over par.

Coca Cola Tour Championship, FedEx Cup. 3rd Round Its Rose & Snedeker

Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker are tied at the top of the leaderboard at the Coca Cola Tour Championship & FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Fit to be tied

Justin Rose & Brandt Snedeker/getty images

Justin Rose has maintained his presence at the top end of the leaderboard with a -4 under par third round of 66, for a tournament total of -8 under par.  He says he still would need some help to win the FedEx cup though;

” Little help from my friends”  (For example, he would  need Rory McIlroy to finish lower than 17th, that’s asking a lot. )” And Brandt, you’ve got to give him credit.I know he got off to a rough start on Thursday, and to climb back and tie for the lead being in that sort of vital top 5 is a wonderful performance. So he’s going to be the one out of the two of us thinking about it overnight.”

Justin is just concentrating on winning the Coca Cola Tour Championship;

“The whole year we’ve been grinding for the FedExCup, and it’s still possible. It’s not an easy golf course. Things can happen out there. But for me, it’s about one tournament. I wish I would be in the situation that Brandt’s in. I would trade him, but obviously, that’s the position I’m in.”

Brandt Snedeker said of his round;

” Probably one of the best rounds I’ve played this year. My first goal for this week is achieved, and that is to have a chance going into Sunday. I think something like 90 something percent of the PGA TOUR winners come from the last two groups, and that’s where I want to be in those last two groups. So I know get I get a chance to do that tomorrow, and it should be a lot of fun. I think the biggest thing tomorrow is going to be how patient you can stay because this golf course eats guys up that don’t stay patient. With all that extra stuff that goes with the FedEx Cup Championship and the TOUR Championship, there are so many reasons to get antsy. It’s just not putting more pressure on the shot than there already is, there is no make-or-break shot tomorrow. Every shot tomorrow is the exact same as it was today, and the exact same as it was on Thursday, to really embrace that.I did a great job today of staying patient. I missed four putts on the first four holes from inside 15 feet for birdie. You don’t have those kind of opportunities around here very often. I did a great job of staying patient, and when you do that, you tend to have some success.”

As far as tomorrow goes Rory McIlroy thinks 10 under is a good target score, but is aware the other guys want to win as much as he does;

” They’re not up at the top of the standings for nothing, they’re playing well. They’ve played well the last few weeks. So, yeah, I knew coming in here if I won, I’d win everything, and that’s still my attitude going into tomorrow. It’s going to be one of the most exciting Sundays of the year. There are a few guys still in it with a chance to win the FedExCup to win this tournament., so looking forward to it. Great to be in the mix, only three back, so I’m excited about the prospect of a very exciting finish tomorrow. You go play the first hole, and you see how you do there. Then you play the second, and you see how you do there. It’s all you’re really doing. That’s the way I feel like I have been playing for the last few weeks.”

Tiger Woods, Robert Garrigus, Matt Kuchar and Bo Van Pelt are only four shots back. Tiger said he is not just here for the money;

That’s not why we play. I’m playing for the W, and tomorrow I get a great shot at it. You know, all the money and awards and all of that stuff, that comes along with winning championships. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it, and right now I’m four back. If I win the golf tournament, everything’s kind of taken care of. I’ve done it before, I’ve been out here a long time, and just claw your way back into it, and usually it will take a round in the 60s. I figured the guys aren’t going to go out and run off and hide on this golf course. It’s just playing too difficult.”

Ryan Moore, Bubba Watson and Jim Furyk are still there at -5 under par, and the last of the possible winners are Luke Donald and Zach Johnson, they are at -3 under par and both of them would need an exceptional round tomorrow.

Coca Cola Tour Championship & FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Jim Furyk tops the leader board after the second round of the Coca Cola Tour Championship and FedEx Cup Playoffs at East Lake Golf Course, Atlanta, Georgia.

Jim dandy

2nd Round Leader Jim Furyk/Stan Badz/PGA Tour

Jim Furyk’s second-round -6 under par, 64 on Friday was the second-lowest round he has ever shot in 54 career rounds of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and his lowest at East Lake. Jim’s previous lowest round in this event came in 2001 when he shot a third-round 62 at Champions Golf Course in Houston. One of his rare mistakes today,  failing to get up-and-down from a nearly impossible short-sided lie. Instead of  than taking on the hole Jim played it safe and found the opposite side of the green, on the par 4 sixteenth. After his safely played third shot, the 16-time PGA TOUR winner heard a member of the gallery yell.

 “I could hit that shot!”

Jim just smiled, two-putted for his bogey and walked back to his bag. He grabbed his golf ball and marker and wrote the fan a message before throwing him a souvenir. The message was.

 Live Report ImageD.J. Piehowski/PGATOUR.COM

Jim said after his round that it had been fun;

” To be able to write three on your card nine times in the first 11 holes was a lot of fun. I struggled to kind of keep that momentum going the last six holes, but I feel like I played a real solid round of golf.”

Just one shot behind Jim is England’s Justin Rose, who was tied with Tiger Woods for the first round lead. Justin had a steady -2 under par round of 68, to give him second spot on his own. Justin was not too pleased with his effort;

“It wasn’t pretty golf by any means,” Rose said. “It was the kind of day that I hit a lot of decent tee shots. I felt like I’m hitting the driver quite long right now, so I’m obviously swinging at it pretty well, but just missing the fairway by one or two yards. I’m not worried about that.

” I’ve been hitting the ball really, really well all year.  I’m sure I’ll click into a nice rhythm on the weekend and be back to normal hitting on the fairways.”

Bubba Watson and Bo Van Pelt are another shot further back at -5 under par for the tournament. Surprise of the day was that Tiger Woods stumbled to a second round of  +3 over par 73 and is now at -1 under par for the tournament and a lot of work to be accomplished tomorrow to get himself back into contention.

Rory McIlroy managed a second score of -2 under par and at -3 for the Championship is three shots adrift, and still in touch with the leaders. Luke Donald and Phil Mickelson are at even par overall and will need something magical tomorrow if they intend to seriously challenge for this trophy, and the $10 million bonus of the FedEx Cup.

Rory had a shaky start to his round;

“After that, I was just very solid. I made like seven pars in a row, and then I bogeyed 14, eagled 15, and parred my way in. So it was pretty solid golf after that, but a bit of a shaky start. It was good, actually could have been a couple of shots better, but I feel like I’m in a good position for the weekend. I’ll be trying to hit a few more fairways, trying to find the greens and give myself as many opportunities as possible. If I do that, I won’t be too far off. I think first and foremost, I just have to try to think of my standing in this golf tournament, not really think about anything else. If it comes down to it on Sunday where I need to really know what I have to do for the last few holes, then of course if I have a decision to make between protecting my lead in the FedExCup or trying to win the golf tournament, I think I know what I’m going to choose. But we just have to play until we reach that point, and at the minute, I’m just concentrating on trying to play as well as I can.”

Coca Cola Tour Championship & FedEx Cup. Woods & Rose Lead

Tiger Woods overcame the intimidation of Rory McIlroy to share the lead at the Coca Cola Tour Championship with Justin Rose, both players opening their accounts with rounds of -4 under par 66 at East Lake Golf Course.

                                     

Tiger                                                               Justin photos Stan Bedz/ PGA Tour

Tiger hit a lot of good shots and was pleased with his round;

” As a whole, I played well today. I hit a lot of good shots. Made a few putts out there, but actually I had a couple of good ups and downs, which is nice. This golf course was, I think it was probably gettable today. Because it was playing so hot the ball was flying forever. And you know, with the fairways being soft, just you can drive it in the fairway, you can be aggressive. Just hope you don’t get a mud ball out there. Unfortunately, I had two of those out there today. But that’s the way it goes.”

Justin was also pleased with his round;

Just being here at this tournament is a good feeling. You get to play, I think 21 of the top 22 players in the world are here this week, so that gets your juices flowing to be able to play in a tournament like this and compete against the best. From the FedEx Cup point of view, it’s a position of having nothing to lose, really. Obviously, I’d like to be much higher up the rankings and that’s the scenario from last year. Last year I didn’t factor in the tournament, and this year maybe being a little bit looser out there is going to help me. I think I’ve only got this tournament on my mind. A lot of the other guys have two trophies on their minds. So I think I’ll steal it if I end up winning both of them. But it will be nice to know. I’m happy for Bill Haas last year.”

Rory McIlroy at -1 for his round, the same as Phil Mickelson, did not have such a good start to the tournament, but is not out of it;

” If you don’t hit fairways, it’s hard. If you hit the ball in the rough here, it’s very, very difficult to get any control on your ball. We went into the greens. Obviously, putting the ball on the fairway is a premium, and for the most part today I did that, but any time you don’t hit a fairway, you’re making life difficult for yourself.”

Comment of the day came from Nick Watney, when he enquired of Phil Mickleson;

” Why dont you ever hit the ball in the fairway?”

It is really close at the top, maybe tomorrow will sort things out, and we will have a clearer picture.

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