Tag Archive | "Tiger Woods"

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Snedeker, Cabrera lead talented Masters leaderboard with 18 holes to play

Posted on 14 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

A host of players seeking their place in championship golf will battle it out today at Augusta, while a couple of former champions will once again try to prove that experience, above everything else, counts most at the Masters.

Angel Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker will play in the final group on Sunday, both sitting at -7 for the tournament.  Cabrera already owns one green jacket – and a U.S. Open title – and is a perennial contender here with his bombing drives and soft touch around the greens.  Snedeker is enjoying a terrific two year run that has garnered lots of “best American player” discussion.

Either of those men could win on Sunday and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  In fact, if I had a dollar to wager this morning and could get decent enough odds, I’d take Snedeker to win the tournament.  He’s ready.

Oddly enough, an Australian has never won the Masters.  Today, three Aussies have a shot at winning the title.  Adam Scott (-6), Marc Leishman (-5) and Jason Day (-5) are all one great round away from capturing their first major championship.  Of the three, Scott seems the most likely to break through.  He’s played well at Augusta over the last two years, had a chance to win in 2011 before Charl Schwartzel’s back nine birdie barrage, and coughed up the British Open last July when the trophy was sitting there waiting for him.  If any player in the top 10 “deserves” to win his first major title, it’s Scott.  Day and Leishman are both still in the hunt, but neither has the pedigree of Adam Scott.

Matt Kuchar put together a solid third round of 69 and is just three back at 4-under par.  Like Snedeker, all that’s missing from Kuchar’s resume is a major title and this could be the year he gets it.  A Sunday round of 66 or 67 could be enough for the likeable Georgia Tech grad.

Tiger Woods told reporters after Saturday’s round of 70 “I’m still in the ballgame” and, at 3-under par, he certainly is.  Woods is still in the tournament thanks to a friendly ruling on Sunday morning, and if he goes on to somehow win the event today, he’ll have to battle years of asterisk-discussion when folks bring up the 2013 Masters.  His Saturday play was decent enough, with three nice par-saves down the stretch helping him put together his second sub-par round of the event.  Tiger’s back-nine play was encouraging on Saturday, as he shot 34 on the inward nine, something he hasn’t done often over the last few years.  For TW to win major #15 on Sunday, he’ll need at least 66 on his card at day’s end.

Tim Clark is also at -3 and lurking, although there’s nothing in his biography that indicates he’ll produce a second consecutive round of 67 and move into contention on Sunday.  He’s a nice player and all, but suggesting he can work his way through the pack on Sunday and win a major title is just a tad too ambitious.

It sets up for a great Sunday of Masters theater.  You have the on-going Woods controversy, a couple of Americans in Snedeker and Kuchar, and three Australians looking to end a country’s frustration with the greatest golf tournament in the world.


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Tiger would win more by withdrawing than staying and winning

Posted on 13 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

No matter what happens this weekend, Tiger Woods can’t win.

If he goes on to overcome Saturday morning’s 2-stroke penalty and win his 15th major title*, that asterisk will always be there when it reads: Winner, 2013 Masters*.

If he doesn’t win, which I can’t imagine he can now that all of this has taken place, folks are always going to say, “he got what he deserved for not withdrawing.”

Since I’m sure I’ll be asked about it a lot, I might as well just get my opinion out there now.

Tiger Woods should withdraw this morning.

He can’t win, even if he wins.

But, in the long run, he’s a winner if he does the right thing and tells Masters officials he’s withdrawing from the event.

Here’s the fact:  Tiger took a “bad drop” on Friday afternoon at the 15th hole.

The fact that he’s been “saved” by a new rule that says, basically, “if you didn’t know you broke the rules, you can simply be assessed a 2-stroke penalty afterwards” is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  Who KNOWINGLY breaks the rules?  In professional golf, that would be no one.

But rules get broken all the time, either because a player didn’t actually know the rule or, in many cases, he misinterprets it and does what he thinks is right, only to find out later on that he was wrong.

Tiger wasn’t trying to break the rules on Friday when he dropped the ball two yards behind his original shot at #15 that went into the water.

But, the fact is, he dropped the ball two yards behind the original point.

He was saved by an obscure rule.

But that doesn’t mean he was playing “within the rules” when he took the drop.

He should withdraw today.

That would be the right thing to do.

And, honestly, it would benefit him over the next decade as he continues to chase the major championship record of Jack Nicklaus.

If I’m advising Tiger, I say this to him:  “You have 40-some majors left.  You need to win four to tie Jack, five to break the record.  The way you’re playing now, we both know you’re going to get your chances between now and the time you’re finished…don’t let this be the tournament everyone talks about in 2040 when they’re talking about your great career.”

It’s easy for me to write “Tiger should withdraw” from the cozy confines of my living room, but that’s what he should do.

By the way, a lot of the rules in golf stink.  Many are archaic and just plain unreasonable in nature.  You can swing and miss at the ball on the tee and your hitting your second shot next.  You can hit it 320 yards off the tee, but if it goes two inches out of bounds, you’re hitting your third shot next.  That’s about the dumbest rule in sports.  That Tiger dropped the ball on 15 two yards BEHIND his original spot seems fine, to me.  It’s one thing if he would have dropped it closer to the hole.  But he dropped it further from the hole.  That said, rules are rules.

In this case, though, the new rule saved Tiger.

That doesn’t mean he was in the right on Friday afternoon.

He took a bad drop.

But he’s still playing this weekend.

And no matter what happens, he won’t win.

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Day leads at Augusta after 36 holes; Woods falters on back nine

Posted on 13 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

They’re halfway home at Augusta National and it’s anyone’s ballgame.

Just the way it should be.

On a day when the weather changed as often as the leaderboard, those who went out early struggled in a morning drizzle that led to slow greens, while players who drew the afternoon tee-time had to battle freshening winds that made both back-nine par 5’s tough to reach in two.  No one, thankfully, gained much of an advantage based on when they played.

Through 36 holes, Jason Day (-6) is the leader, with 53-year old Fred Couples and first-round leader Marc Leishman both one back at 5-under par.  Nineteen others are at 2-under par or better, including Angel Cabrera (-4), Tiger Woods (-3) and Rory McIlroy (-2).

Woods was tied for the lead at one point, but once again failed to play the back-nine well and made bogey at fifteen and eighteen to offset a front nine 33.  In fairness, Tiger’s round of 71 could have been worse.  He made three par-saving putts on the back nine – at 12, 14 and 16 – and had to coax home a 4-footer at the 15th to save bogey after his 3rd shot collided with the flag stick and caromed into the water in front of the green.  Tiger’s 71 could have easily been 74 had it not been for a solid putting round that was only blemished by a missed 8-footer at 18 that led to a closing bogey-5.

Couples continues to be the most interesting story at Augusta.  The 1992 winner is seemingly always on the weekend leaderboard and Friday’s round of 71 puts him in the final group on Saturday afternoon with Day.  The other important note for Couples: he drew the late-Thursday/early-Friday tee-time, which means he’ll have nearly 24 hours of rest prior to teeing it up on Saturday.  That’s huge for any player, but particularly a 53-year old with a balky back.  Don’t be surprised if Couples is still in the hunt with 18 holes to go.

This could turn out to be Day’s coronation as a world-class player.  He was in the hunt for a green jacket in 2011 until Charl Schwartzel went nuts on the final four holes.  Day was also the runner-up at the Rory McIlroy Invitational, otherwise known as the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.  He’s one of the Tour’s most talented players when his putter behaves, which it did with great obedience on Friday when he made made four birdies on the inward nine.

Angel Cabrera and Schwartzel are both on the leaderboard and history is on their side, if nothing else.  Both have the experience to win at Augusta and Cabrera, in particular, has a great track record at the Masters.

The traditional saying of “The Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday” doesn’t do justice to the fact that Saturday is always “moving day” in golf.  Take a look at the leaderboard at 2pm today.   Then take a look again at 6pm or so.  It’s likely to tell a different story.

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Drew’s Morning Dish – Fri., April 12

Posted on 12 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

If I’m Sergio Garcia, I bring a camera to the course today and take a picture of the leaderboard at The Masters.

His name won’t be there long.

I’d actually really like to see Garcia win this week if it couldn’t be Woods or Kuchar donning the green jacket on Sunday afternoon.  Garcia would be a great story for Masters historians, following in the footsteps of a pair of two-time champions and fellow countrymen — Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.

But he can’t win.

At some point over the next 54 holes, Sergio’s putter will betray him.  It always has.  And, seemingly, it always will.  He can still move his golf ball around Augusta National with the best of them, but the game is won on the greens and Garcia just doesn’t have the putting nerve to put together 72 holes of quality strokes.  Yes, yes, I know the greens have been softened by mid-week rains and they’re not as slick as in previous years, but come Saturday and Sunday, they’ll be just fine and Garcia won’t be.

I’d love to see him shed the “still hasn’t won a major” label, because it’s never good for a guy to have that albratross around his neck, but I can’t imagine it will be Garcia slipping on the green jacket come 6:30 pm Sunday evening.


How much longer can the Orioles trot Tommy Hunter out there and watch him give up gopher balls?

I guess if they’re just solo shots, it’s not all that damaging.

But, realistically, pitchers who give up a lot of home runs aren’t good enough to pick and choose when they’re going to groove a fastball and give up a dinger.

This propensity for coughing up homers is probably why the Rangers gave Hunter away two seasons ago.  At times last year, it looked like the Orioles might have pulled a fast one on Texas in acquiring the big right hander.  Now, not so much…

I wouldn’t pull the plug on Hunter just yet, but I’d tell him it would probably be a good idea to rent his place in Baltimore instead of buying it.


We haven’t reached the weekend yet, but if my Monday Twitter effort on @WNST about Daniel Nava doesn’t win tweet-of-the-week, I’m giving up.

Just after Nava belted a home run in the Sox home opener, I tweeted:  “Red Sox fans will celebrate that home run with some Nava beans and a nice Chianti…”

That will only make sense if you watched “Silence of the Lambs” a hundred times like I have.

Tweet-of-the-week, I’m tellin’ ya.


I noticed last night during the Orioles-Red Sox game how many players wear their baseball uniform wrong.

For some reason, I never really thought about it until last night.  Then, in the top of the 9th, the new Boston pitcher, Alex Wilson, showed up on the pitcher’s mound and looked like someone who was dressed for the occasion.  His pants showed off his bright red socks, which is the way you and I wore our Little League uniform back in the old days.  A couple of batters later, Adam Jones strolled to the plate looking great, with his pants just making it past his knees and his black socks pulled all the way up.

Memo to Nick Markakis, Dustin Pedroia – and a lot of other players:  You guys look like goof balls with your pant legs dragging the ground  and no part of your socks showing.

Just saying.

The baseball uniform is a special thing.  Wear it the right way, boys.


Carlos Quentin is an idiot.

With a one-run lead, it’s likely that Zack Greinke wasn’t throwing at Quentin last night in San Diego.

Quentin thought the plunk was intentional, so he charged the mound.  Greinke suffered a broken collarbone in the melee.

After the game, Quentin said, “He’s hit me enough times in my career that I know it’s not an accident anymore.”

OK, I guess I might buy that.

Since Quentin has been in the big leagues since 2006 – and played over 700 career games – I’m assuming he’s been hit by Greinke…what?…maybe seven, eight times?


That’s it.

Last night was the third time EVER that Greinke hit Carlos Quentin with a pitch.

These baseball players crack me up.

Just stick to lighting each other’s shoes on fire in the bullpen or putting shaving cream on a guy’s face in the post-game interview.

Leave the hard-hitting, physical stuff to football players, OK boys?


Nice win for the Caps last night.

They’re looking the part right now, that’s for sure.

I still don’t think they have enough firepower to win in the post-season, but they’re playing good hockey these days.

It’s funny how much better Ovechkin has been since he got engaged.

It also worked wonders for Tiger Woods.


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Drew’s Morning Dish – Mon., April 8

Posted on 08 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

One of the dumbest lines in professional sports has to be this one:  “Let the players decide the game.”

We heard this twice over the weekend.  First, it was in the Louisville-Wichita State game when the refs blew a quick whistle on a late scramble for a loose ball.  In the other semi-final, there was a charge called on Syracuse with 19.2 seconds left that easily could have been called a blocking foul.

Then we heard it:  “Let the players decide the game.”

Oh, OK, you mean don’t call fouls at the end?  Yeah, that makes sense.  “Hey, guys, I know we’ve been calling fouls for the first 37 minutes or so, but in the final three minutes, you guys have free reign to do whatever you want and we’ll swallow the whistle.”

It was obvious to just about everyone that the quick whistle in the Wichita State-Louisville game was just a bad call.  The refs lost sight of the ball for a nano-second and they blew the play dead.  It was a bad call, that’s all.

The much-discussed charge in the Syracuse-Michigan game could have been called either way.  So, do BOTH ways count as “I hate it when the refs take over the game”?  If he calls Michigan for a block there, do we still say, “Let the players decide the game”?

If it’s a foul, call it.

That should be all there is to it.

Granted, not all the calls are good, or right, but NOT calling fouls down the stretch wouldn’t be the answer, either.


I’ll have Joe Unitas on Monday’s D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction to discuss the family feud involving the selection of Joe Flacco to play Johnny Unitas in parts of the upcoming movie “Unitas We Stand”.  Maybe I’m in the minority, but the use of Flacco is curious, to me at least, although I can’t imagine he was selected in some attempt to jab at John Unitas, Jr., who called Joe “a goofball” and claimed him unfit to portray his late father in the film.

I’m assuming Flacco was chosen to give the film some much needed box office push, if the whole project even gets to the finish line.  A smart marketing person would probably give the move a thumbs-up, since people going to the movie is one of the only ways the project becomes profitable.

Family money (and this coming from someone who has zero wealth in his extended family) must be a terrible thing to fight over…we’ve all seen it cause great strife amongst people that should know better.

It’s a shame that money has created this chasm between the two Unitas boys.

Flacco might be smart to just say, “I don’t know…maybe I shouldn’t involve myself in this thing.”


The Astros are off to a 1-5 start, which begs the ONLY question that matters right now as it relates to Houston.

“How on earth did they win one?”

If you found $100 under your mattress and you were forced to bet on the Astros and their win total on June 1, would you say they’ll have more than 12.5 wins or less?

I’d take under 12.5.  They might not have double digits by then.


Another nice win for the Capitals last night at home over Tampa Bay.

This is the best Ovechkin has looked in two or three years.  He’s actually trying now.


Everyone is making a big deal that Adam Jones lost a ball in the sun on Sunday in the loss to Minnesota.

That’s better than losing his glove in Fells Point.


I’ll be in Augusta later tonight and will wake up bright and early Tuesday morning ready to walk the storied grounds of Augusta National Golf Club.  I’m staying through Wednesday.

I’m going with Matt Kuchar to win this year.  I think he’ll turn back a spirited Sunday charge from the likes of Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson.  I have a feeling Graeme McDowell might even be in the mix too.  But, Kuchar is my pick to win his first major championship.

I know what you’re thinking:  “Drew, what do you know?”

Yeah, you’re right.  After all, I’m the clown who picked Louis Oosthuizen last year and we all know how that turned out for him.  He lost in a playoff after Bubba Watson hit the luckiest shot in the history of golf on the first playoff hole.

Have a great couple of days with Nestor and I’ll be back on Thursday morning.



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Tiger starting to quiet the critics again as Augusta looms near

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Drew Forrester

Just one more win, one walk through the Georgia Pines in a few weeks, and Tiger Woods will officially be back.

And golf – at least the golf they play on the PGA Tour – will be fun again.

If Woods can win at Augusta on April 14, he’ll return to his rightful spot as the game’s most dominating player.  I know, I know, he won his 3rd tournament in two months on Monday at Arnold Palmer’s event in Orlando.  They have real players there, admittedly, but winning that event for Woods is akin to you successfully stopping the ice cream truck in front of your house on a lazy, humid summer evening in July.

Some players don’t win eight tournament in a 20-year career on the TOUR.  Tiger has now won Arnie’s event eight times.  How’s that for perspective?

But even a return to the world’s #1 ranking with his win on Monday doesn’t yet qualify Woods as “back”.  That won’t happen until he lifts another major championship trophy, something he hasn’t done since 2008 when he one-legged his way around Torrey Pines and out-gutted Rocco Mediate to win his 3rd U.S. Open.  It doesn’t feel like nearly five years since Tiger captured a major, but the calendar doesn’t lie.

Watching Woods cruise around Doral two weeks ago and then watching his equally impressive performance in Orlando over this past weekend was virtually enough evidence to proclaim he’s back.  But only a major title will do that.

For the sake of golf, let’s all hope Tiger cashes in at Augusta and gets that 15th major title.

Without him competing and winning over the last five years, major championship golf has given us great players with the personalities of an ironing board — guys like Webb Simpson, Stewart Cink and Keegan Bradley to name a few.  Nice players and all, but no one is going to put off cutting the grass to get inside and watch them play the last four holes of any tournament.

Rory McIlroy won a couple of majors while Tiger was re-fueling for his final decade of championship pursuit, but his game is now on hiatus while he plays with new clubs and a new girlfriend.

McIlroy is a nice kid and a terrific player, but international golf doesn’t start and stop with him.

When Woods wins, the world of golf wins.

It’s not all that different in the NBA right now.  When “King James” wins, so does the league.

To see Tiger again twirling the club after a 231 yard five-iron into a par-5 or giving us the fist pump after a 20-footer finds the hole — there’s not much in golf better than that.  But doing it in Orlando on a Monday afternoon is nothing like doing it on the 17th hole at Augusta.  Some guy named Kevin Streelman won last week in Tampa Bay when Tiger by-passed the event and decided to let the rest of the TOUR make some money.  No one like Streelman or Brian Gay is going to beat Woods at Augusta, you can make book on that.

The road to breaking the career title mark (18) of Jack Nicklaus is still far away for Tiger.  He has to win four more to tie.  That’s quite a feat, no matter how great you are and how many you already have in the bank.  But, in any given year, only 20-25 players are truly capable of winning a major title.  Woods, of course, is one of those.  So, he doesn’t have to beat 155 other players at The Masters or the U.S. Open or the British Open or the PGA.  He only needs to beat about two dozen other players.  And he just needs to do that four times in the next forty of those events he enters.

I’d say it’s still 50/50 at best that Woods ties Jack’s mark, but his next best chance comes up in two weeks at Augusta National.

One thing for certain:  No one in the world can make the Masters special by winning except for Tiger.

When he wins, golf wins.


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Late putting woes sink U.S. as Europe storms back to steal the Ryder Cup

Posted on 30 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

When Davis Love III added Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker to the U.S. Ryder Cup team a month ago, he did so with the thought that both were reliable in pressure situations.

It turns out he was wrong.

Furyk bogeyed the final two holes on Sunday afternoon and Stricker mis-hit an easy chip at 17 as both players lost pivotal matches in the final hour of the competition to help Europe pull off a stunning reversal en route to a 14.5 – 13.5 victory at Medinah CC.

As efficient as the United States players were around and on the greens on Friday and Saturday, they were that dodgy on Sunday, with poor chipping and putting contributing more than anything to their miserable afternoon in the singles matches.

Only four U.S. players earned points on Sunday.  Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner won their matches outright and Tiger Woods halved his match with Francesco Molinari after the outcome had been decided just moments earlier.

Everyone else lost.

And the Europeans were simply spectacular on Sunday, led by Ian Poulter, who clearly earned “Man of the Cup” honors with his 4-0-0 record and unreal putting display on Saturday and Sunday.

Surprisingly enough, three of the European players who had stunk it up throughout the first two days turned heroic on Sunday.  Paul Lawrie pounded Brandt Snedeker, Lee Westwood whacked Matt Kuchar and Martin Kaymer outlasted Stricker by making a 6-footer at 18 to clinch the Cup.

The proceedings officially changed with the Justin Rose/Phil Mickelson match.  Leading 1-up at 17, Mickelson nearly holed a tricky chip shot from above the green before settling for a tap-in par.  Rose than slammed in an improbable 40-foot putt that would have gone by the hole at least six feet had it not gone in.  Then at 18, Rose rolled in a 12-footer for birdie to steal a full point from Mickelson and the USA.  If you weren’t concerned before that point, you started to think “the U.S. might be in trouble” when Rose stroked his winning putt on the final hole.

It didn’t get better after that.

Furyk stumbled down the stretch the same way he did in this summer’s U.S. Open.  He missed a par putt at 17 that would have guaranteed a half-point, then three-putted from 45 feet behind the hole at 18, badly whiffing on an 8-foot putt at the final hole and handing Garcia a full point.

Stricker was over-par for the day, as was Woods, and his usually-reliable putter failed him at 17 when he wasn’t able to convert a par-putt from below the hole.  Kaymer, who was playing so poorly coming into the event that captain Jose Maria Olazabal told him on Wednesday he’d probably only play once on Friday and Saturday, bumped in a downhill 4-footer for par at 17 and then made the clinching putt at 18 after running his first one six feet past the hole.

Depending on which team you were pulling for, the weekend will be remembered as “The Miracle at Medinah” or “The Meltdown at Medinah”.

The U.S. team won’t live this one down for a long time.

They were in complete control heading to Sunday.  At one point on Saturday, Davis Love III’s team was ahead 10-4 and seemingly in rout mode.  But the Europeans won the final two matches on Saturday, including the historical putting display from Poulter, who finished the better-ball session with five straight birdies to pull his team to within four at 10-6.

That set up the singles pairings, where the two captains tried to position their teams in the best possible position for either a Sunday revival (Europe) or a Sunday reclamation (USA).  Jose Maria Olazabal went with strength early in an effort to close the gap and get momentum on his side.  Love III countered by putting his veterans and best putters near the back end of the 12-man field in the event he needed some reliable performers to close the deal late in the day.

As fate would have it, both captains were right, hunch-wise.  Olazabal got terrific early play from Luke Donald, Poulter and Rory McIlroy and Love’s “veteran triangle” of Furyk, Stricker and Woods seemed a safe bet to secure a handful of points if necessary.

Only Woods – who certainly didn’t play well on Sunday but was better overall than his 0-3-1 mark showed – managed a half-point out of the three, which turned out to be the killer blow for the U.S.

Love III will be questioned over and over about his decision to leave the red-hot duo of Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson out of the Saturday afternoon matches.  But the captain put a plan together earlier in the week and stuck with it.  He told every player they wouldn’t play all four of the Friday-Saturday team matches and he held true to that decision.  And when the U.S. team led 10-6 heading into Sunday’s singles competition, no one was really questioning the decisions Love III made on Saturday.

The story of the 2012 Ryder Cup will likely center on the outrageous play of Ian Poulter and the trio of Furyk, Woods and Stricker collecting a TOTAL of 1.5 points in three days.  Unfortunately for guys like Dufner and the two Johnson’s, no one is going to remember how well those three played on Sunday with the whole world watching them.

It’s the best event golf has to offer, even more nerve-wracking then the back nine at Augusta on Sunday.

And this weekend at Medinah, we were reminded once again how truly special the best 24 golfers in the world can be…

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U.S.A. on the verge of bringing the Ryder Cup “back home”

Posted on 29 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

I’m sure Jose Maria Olazabal will be going to YouTube tonight to make a quick copy of Ben Crenshaw’s speech from the ’99 Ryder Cup in Boston.

His European team is in the exact same position as that ’99 USA squad, trailing 10-6 heading into the Sunday singles matches at this year’s edition of the Ryder Cup at Medinah CC in Chicago.

Until his team picked up two late points on Saturday afternoon, Olazabal wouldn’t have needed the Crenshaw video.  They would have needed a miracle, not a pep talk, had Ian Poulter and Luke Donald not pulled off rock-star putting displays late in their respective better-ball matches.

As it stands now, a 10-6 deficit is going to be difficult to overcome, but, as the European captain will no doubt remind his team, it has been done before.

The U.S. team needs 4.5 points (out of 12) to reclaim the Cup.  Europe needs 8 points to retain the Cup, as the defending titleist needs only to TIE the competition to win.

Here’s the match-by-match breakdown of Sunday’s singles competition.

Luke Donald (Europe) vs. Bubba Watson (USA) — Donald has more Ryder Cup competition than Watson, but the current Masters champ has played well this week at Medinah.  Advantage: Donald 

Ian Poulter (E) vs. Webb Simpson (U) — Poulter has been the best overall performer in the matches thus far, with his 5-birdie barrage at the end of Saturday’s play going down as one of the most electric back nines in Ryder Cup history.  Simpson, the U.S. Open champ this summer, has been solid for Davis Love III as well.  This should be one of the better match-ups of the Singles competition.  Advantage: Poulter

Rory McIlroy (E) vs. Keegan Bradley (U) — McIlroy has not played well at Medinah, particularly with his wedges and short-game clubs.  Bradley, meanwhile, has been the best ball striker on the U.S. team through the first two days.  How will he perform WITHOUT Mickelson at his side is the big question, but a win over McIlroy will prove that he can play well without the aid of a veteran cheerleader.  Advantage: McIlroy

Justin Rose (E) vs. Phil Mickelson (U) — Mickelson looked sharp in three rounds with Bradley and seems to have gained confidence in his new putting grip.  Rose hasn’t been sharp at all, with his unreliable short game hurting him Friday and Saturday.  Advantage:  Mickelson

Paul Lawrie (E) vs. Brandt Snedeker (U) — Lawrie is playing in his first Ryder Cup since 1999.  Snedeker is playing in his first one, ever.  Snedeker was hot and cold partnering with Jim Furyk, but when you’re the best putter on TOUR, like Brandt is, you’re always capable of pouring them in over 18 holes.  Advantage:  Snedeker

Nicolas Colsaerts (E) vs. Dustin Johnson (U) — The bombers get together for what should be a wild match of long drives and plenty of birdies.  Colsaerts was a captain’s pick and has proved a worthy one, as was Dustin Johnson, who teamed up with Matt Kuchar for the first two days of play.  Johnson did not play well in the Saturday afternoon match, but was bailed out by Kuchar’s hot putter.  Advantage:  Colsaerts

Graeme McDowell (E) vs. Zach Johnson (U) — McDowell has battling “the lefts” all week at Medinah and has been one of Europe’s least effective performers.  Johnson, meanwhile, had his own troubles with a faulty driver on Saturday afternoon.  Advantage:  Johnson

Sergio Garcia (E) vs. Jim Furyk (U) — Another match that could go either way, as both players have been hot and cold in the first two days.  Furyk has the experience edge over Garcia, but the Spaniard rises to the occasion in the Ryder Cup, a lot like his captain and the late Seve Ballesteros.  Advantage: Furyk

Peter Hanson (E) vs. Jason Duffner (U) — Hanson came in playing poorly and was used just once by Olazabal.  Dufner has been the second best American player overall, behind only Bradley.  Advantage:  Dufner

Lee Westwood (E) vs. Matt Kuchar (U) — A shaky short game has hurt Westwood in these matches and his putter has been among the coldest on the European team.  Kuchar has been terrific, combining great iron play with a scorching hot putter.  Advantage: Kuchar

Martin Kaymer (E) vs. Steve Stricker (U) — Kaymer, like Hanson, came into these matches on bad form and hasn’t impressed at all, playing just once in the first two days.  Stricker has hit the ball well, but his usually-solid putter hasn’t been up to par at all.  That won’t last for three days.  Advantage: Stricker

Francesco Molinari (E) vs. Tiger Woods (U) — Molinari is capable of playing solid golf but his putter has been erratic at Medinah.  Woods hasn’t played nearly as bad as his 0-3 record would indicate.  After a horrible round driving the ball in the Friday morning matches, Tiger rebounded with rounds of -5 and -6 in the better ball matches (with the typical match play concessions) and single-handedly kept the Saturday afternoon match alive with his great play.  Advantage:  Woods

Summary:  It’s just too much of a hurdle for the Europeans to overcome, although Olazabal was smart in sending out his three best players to start the singles matches.  He’s obviously hoping to get some early points and build some enthusiasm.  Love III countered with his better players (in this competition) early and then built some reserve on the back end with Kuchar, Stricker and Woods.  For Europe to mount a threat, they need strong performances from the guys who have played the worst (Hanson, Kaymer and Lawrie) thus far in the competition.  


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Love III connects with his four Ryder Cup picks

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Drew Forrester

United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III added experience, length and birdie potential on Tuesday by announcing his four selections for this month’s bi-annual competition between the U.S. and Europe.

As expected, Love III went with established veterans Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk with two of his four captain’s picks.  Both are experienced in Ryder Cup and President’s Cup play and each player has successfully partnered with Tiger Woods on several occasions.

Dustin Johnson played his way on to the team with outstanding play over the last month.  After missing nearly three months earlier in the season due to injury, Johnson recovered in time to impress Love III with his health and his putting.  Johnson, one of the longest hitters on the PGA TOUR, is also one of the circuit’s best birdie-makers when his putter is on.

Brandt Snedeker, like Johnson, also played his way on after challenging at the British Open and following that with strong play in the month thereafter.  He’s also a player capable of making birdies in bunches, which bodes well in a team-event like the Ryder Cup where pars generally don’t do you much good.

All four picks seem reasonable to me.  While Stricker and Furyk make complete sense, it’s not like they have to prop up Tiger Woods anymore.  In year’s past, Woods needed a partner who could put the ball in play off the tee in both the better-ball and alternate-shot formats, but that’s not the case now.  The Great One has flirted with the top 5 in the TOUR’s “total driving” stat all year (the combination of where you rank in driving distance and driving accuracy) and is swinging the golf club as well as he ever has heading into next week’s BMW Championship in Indiana.  His putter?  That’s a different story.  But for once, Woods won’t be a liability off the tee in the Ryder Cup.

Johnson and Snedeker come in with the hot hand, assuming their current form continues for another three weeks.  The only player I hoped might make it that didn’t was Bo Van Pelt.  He finished 17th in the standings, but he’s a birdie machine and would probably give his left arm to make the team.

It’s hard to find fault with the captain’s picks.  They feature a major champion (Furyk) and three other players who have all sniffed around at majors throughout their careers.  And, as most players will tell you, the Ryder Cup produces as much angst and nervous tension as a major championship.



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U.S. Open is up for grabs…just the way we all want it

Posted on 17 June 2012 by Drew Forrester

Only in the U.S. Open could a 17-year old kid have a chance to beat the best players in the world.

Blake Adams might wind up winning today.  I’m with you — who on earth is Blake Adams?

Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have both somehow worked their way back into the tournament.  Could one of them find Sunday magic one more time and join Tiger Woods as the only active PGA TOUR player with three U.S. Open titles?

I’m not forgetting about the two guys at the top.  Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk both know how to win the tournament — they’ve each done it once before.

But the Beau Hossler story is literally almost unthinkable.  What if, somehow, the 17 year old puts together the round of his young life and winds up winning?

What if Blake Adams somehow wins?  If nothing else, we’d at least get to find out who he is, right?

Unless the golf gods decided overnight to bless Tiger Woods, he’s going to fall short in his bid for a 15th major title.  The Great One couldn’t even hit the 18th green from 130 yards on Saturday.  He’s not winning on Sunday if he can’t do that on Saturday.

It’s going to be fun to watch, for sure.  The golf course has held up well and the play has been equally impressive, particuarly from the leaders and those close behind.  Unlike the early part of last decade when all the players did was whine about the punishing set-up, you’re not hearing those things in 2012.  Guys are just playing golf and trying to get their ball in the hole before they get embarrassed.  That’s the way it should be.

Who’s going to win?  Hell, I don’t know.  I’m guessing either McDowell or Furyk, although it might take a Monday playoff to decide the whole thing.

No matter who wins, it’s going to be great theater on Sunday from The Olympic Club.

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