Tiger Woods gets first victory in five years with Tour Championship win

Leave a comment

Tiger Woods cruised to his first victory in five years and No. 80 of his career Sunday at the Tour Championship. Here’s the lowdown from the final round at East Lake.

Leaderboard: Tiger Woods (-11), Billy Horschel (-9), Dustin Johnson (-7), Hideki Matsuyama (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Justin Rose (-6)

What it means: Coming off four back surgeries, Woods didn’t know if he would play competitive golf again. Now, he has win No. 80 of his career after a vintage performance at the Tour Championship. Woods started the day with a three-shot lead, birdied the first hole and never looked back. His closest pursuers, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy, never put any pressure on Woods. Woods’ lead got down to two strokes after bogeys at 15 and 16, but a clutch par putt on 17 gave him a two-shot cushion. The 14-time major champ is now two wins away from Sam Snead’s all-time wins record after collecting his third Tour Championship title.

Round of the day: Outside of Woods’ clinical performance, Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler both shot 5-under 65s to finish in the top seven.

Best of the rest: Billy Horschel fired a 4-under 66 to finish in second place.

Biggest disappointment: McIlroy (74) and Rose (73) were both three behind Woods starting the day, but they didn’t put up a fight. McIlroy was 4 over par on the front nine, and Rose fell apart on the back nine and had to make birdie on 18 just to win the FedExCup title.

Shot of the day: Woods holed a 3-foot par putt on the 17th hole to keep a two-shot lead heading to 18.

Furyk: Reed, Tiger knew ‘weeks in advance’ they’d partner

AP
Leave a comment

One week after watching the Europeans celebrate at Le Golf National, Jim Furyk admitted that the sting of defeat still lingers from his stint as U.S. Ryder Cup captain.

“It’s been tough,” Furyk said. “I was the leader of that team, and it didn’t go the way we wanted. It’ll always bother me.”

Furyk sat down with Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte for a wide-ranging interview in the wake of a 17 1/2 to 10 1/2 defeat to Thomas Bjorn’s European squad last week in Paris. While topics included the demanding course setup and the underwhelming performances from Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, two captain’s picks who combined to go 0-6, Furyk also expanded on his decision to pair Woods with Patrick Reed in two fourball matches.

Reed seemingly lobbed a grenade at his teammates and captain in the wake of the American loss, explaining that it was Jordan Spieth’s idea to break up their formidable pairing from the past two Ryder Cups and calling the decision-making process a “buddy system” that excludes the input of some players.

But according to Furyk, Reed was in the loop on his pairing with Woods well in advance, all the way down to having a discussion with the captain about where exactly he’d like to be slotted among the four matches during Friday’s opening session.

“When I started looking at who (Tiger) would pair well with, I kept coming back to Patrick Reed,” Furyk said. “There was always the idea that we could go Tiger and JT (Justin Thomas), and Patrick and Jordan, but ultimately they knew going into the week, weeks in advance, they knew they would start the Ryder Cup with Patrick and Tiger being partners.”

Furyk also discussed the other piece of tabloid fodder to emerge after the tournament, that being an alleged incident between Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka on their final evening in Paris. Koepka denied the report last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links, and Furyk clearly refuted an additional report that anything happened on the team charter to France.

And while Furyk reiterated the close relationship between the two friends, he also seemed to imply that some sort of incident, however minor, did occur.

“Whatever altercation started, or what happened, it was very brief. It was very short. Neither one of them really took anything out of it,” Furyk said. “They’re like brothers. Brothers may argue, brothers get into it. But they’re as close as they’ve ever been, and it really had no effect on either one of them.”

Although Furyk admitted that the sound defeat his squad suffered has left him with a “hollow feeling,” he told Rosaforte that after 18 months of preparation for three days of matches, the only thing that surprised him was the final outcome for a team that he very much believed in – and still does.

“I’d take those 12 players into the fire any day, on any course. And I still would,” Furyk said. “Last week didn’t work out the way we wanted, but I love those guys and I love what we had together in the team room. And I’d do it all over again.”

Europe wins Ryder Cup; U.S. remain winless on European soil since 1993

Leave a comment

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – For the sixth straight time, Europe won the Ryder Cup on its home soil.

Captain’s Thomas Bjorn’s team topped the U.S., 17 1/2 to 10 1/2, on Sunday.

Francesco Molinari locked up the clinching point when Phil Mickelson hit his tee shot in the water at the par-3 16th and conceded the match to the Open champion, 4 and 2, while still on the tee.

The Americans remain winless on European soil since 1993. Europeans have now won seven of the last nine events, dating back to 2002.

Molinari became the first European player in history to go 5-0-0 in a Ryder Cup, as the senior leaders of the U.S. team, Mickelson and Tiger Woods, combined to go 0-6-0.

Sergio Garcia is now the all-time leader in Ryder Cup points won with 25 1/2, while Mickelson is now the all-time leader in matches lost with 22.

Here’s how all the matches played out this week at Le Golf National outside Paris:

TOTAL SCORE: EUROPE 17 1/2, U.S. 10 1/2 

Sunday singles: Europe 7 1/2, U.S. 4 1/2 

Match 17: Thomas (US) def. McIlroy (E), 1up
Incredible match from beginning to end. One of the best of the week. Thomas won the first hole, then McIlroy won the next three in a row. The match was square on the 18th tee, and McIlroy drove it into a fried-egg lie in a bunker. It didn’t end well for him. He ended up conceding to Thomas in the final fairway.

Match 18: Casey (E) vs. Koepka (US), halved
Hard to believe, but this was the first halved match of the Ryder Cup. Neither player was ever more than 1 up at any point and both played slightly better than average. Casey’s birdie on the 17th to square the match was as big a clutch moment as you can have.

Match 19: Simpson (US) def. Rose (E), 3 and 2
This was a bit of an upset but a point the U.S. had to have for momentum. Simpson lost his first match but quietly won his next two to become an unsung hero for an American team that desperately needed one. Rose seemed tired.

Match 20: Rahm (E) def. Woods (US), 2 and 1
Woods never led the match, although Rahm was never more than 2 up either. Woods appeared exhausted and unenthused. Rahm took advantage to earn his first Ryder Cup point in the grandest of fashions.

Match 21: Finau (US) def. Fleetwood (E), 6 and 4
Finau was an absolute monster in this match, and the previously undefeated Fleetwood couldn’t do much to combat him. Finau was 5 up after nine holes and never looked back. A great, great week for Finau, who will most assuredly make more Ryder Cups.

Match 22: Poulter (E) def. Johnson (US), 2 up 
Poulter turned into Poulter one more time against the world’s top-ranked player. Poulter was 2 up after four holes, but Johnson was up after 12. Poulter would have none of it. He birdied 14 and 15 to seize control, closing it out on 18.

Match 23: Olesen (E) def. Spieth (US), 5 and 4
Some things defy explanation, and Spieth now goes to 0-6 all-time in singles play for U.S. teams in the Presidents and Ryder cups. Olesen sat out all day on Saturday and came out steady against Spieth, who made only one birdie.

Match 24: Garcia (E) def. Fowler (US), 2 and 1
The full point made Garcia the top point earner in the history of the Ryder Cup, surpassing Nick Faldo. This match was fairly close, too, but Fowler never led at any point. The cup was determined before this was over, so it was icing on the European cake.

Match 25: Molinari (E) def. Mickelson (US), 4 and 2
When Mickelson dunked it in the water on the 16th hole, Molinari clinched the winning point for Europe and also went a perfect 5-0 for the week. Just an incredible week for The Open champion. Mickelson played poorly again and ended the week 0-2.

Match 26: Reed (US) def. Hatton (E), 3 and 2
Reed made up in part for poor performances the previous two days in a match that he won easily against an overmatched Hatton. Too bad for the Americans that the cup was decided well before this point.

Match 27: Stenson (E) def. Watson (US), 5 and 4
Watson remains winless in Ryder Cup singles matches and Stenson was 3 up after five holes. Again, this was not really particularly close and Watson struggles. Stenson birdies four of the first seven holes.

Match 28: Noren (E) def. DeChambeau (US), 1 up
This match went all the way 18 long after the matches have been decided. One down with one to play, DeChambeau flagged his approach to the final green, but Noren holed a lengthy birdie putt to end the matches and officially start the European celebration.

TOTAL SCORE: EUROPE 10, U.S. 6

Saturday afternoon foursomes: Europe 2, U.S. 2

Match 13: Rose-Stenson (E) def. Johnson-Koepka (US), 2 and 1
The closest match of the session, and it’s no surprise that it came down to Stenson making a 10-footer to save par on the 17th hole to win the match. Rose and Stenson continue to roll when paired together while Johnson and Koepka couldn’t recapture magic of the past.

Match 14: Watson-Simpson (US) def. Garcia-Noren (E), 3 and 2
This was a questionable foursomes lineup for the U.S. and it turns out it was their best duo. Garcia and Noren slapped it around in average fashion, as Watson and Simpson went 4 up through eight and easily hold on.

Match 15: Molinari-Fleetwood (E) def. Woods-DeChambeau, 5 and 4
This was a clinic from the very beginning, and the victory gave the European team a perfect 4-0 record together this week. Both played great and never allowed any openings for the Americans. On the other hand, Woods (0-3) and DeChambeau (0-2) played awful and are both winless on the week.

Match 16: Spieth-Thomas (US) def. Poulter-McIlroy (E), 4 and 3
Poulter and McIlroy looked like they both finally ran out of gas. They didn’t provide much of a fight for Spieth and Thomas, particularly down the stretch. The Americans were only 1 up after seven but appeared in control and were 4 up after 13.

TOTAL SCORE: EUROPE 8, U.S. 4

Saturday morning fourballs: Europe 3, U.S. 1

Match 9: Garcia-McIlroy (E) def. Koepka-Finau (US), 2 and 1
Garcia and McIlroy were putting demons, making everything they needed to make. They were 4 up after 13, they lost the next three holes in a row, and then Garcia sealed it with a monster birdie putt on the 17th. They were a combined 7 under par.

Match 10: Casey-Hatton (E) def. Johnson-Fowler (US), 3 and 2
The Americans didn’t do anything spectacular and honestly they were lucky to take the match as deep as they did. The Europeans were a combined 9 under, and there’s just nothing you can do with that kind of display. Casey’s putter was on fire.

Match 11: Molinari-Fleetwood (E) def. Woods-Reed (US), 4 and 3
A thumping of epic proportions. Reed played as poorly as anyone has ever played in the Ryder Cup. Ever. Woods kept them in the match until European putters heated up again, winning four of the last five holes. This Euro duo is now 3-0 together.

Match 12: Spieth-Thomas (US) def. Poulter-Rahm (E), 2 and 1
The only bright spot for the Americans in the session, and they had to fight for it. Rahm and Poulter weren’t on top form, and Spieth and Thomas combined for 10 birdies, including a huge one on the 17th that kept the match from going the full way.