It is a great weekend to play golf at Timberlake! There are open tee times starting Friday thru Sunday.
Book online for the best rates and times. Don’t forget you can refer a friend when booking!
It is a great weekend to play golf at Timberlake! There are open tee times starting Friday thru Sunday.
Book online for the best rates and times. Don’t forget you can refer a friend when booking!
This once every two year competition pairs up the best of the best from the USA and Europe.
Are your ready for an exciting weekend in golf?
Here are the first four matches…
Match 1 (2:10 a.m.): Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka vs. Justin Rose and Jon Rahm
Match 2 (2:25 a.m.): Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen
Match 3 (2:40 a.m.): Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas vs. Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton
Match 4 (2:55 a.m.): Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood.
The comeback is complete: Tiger Woods is a winner once again.
Woods picked up his 80th career PGA Tour victory but first since 2013 on Sunday, shooting a one-over 71 to finish at 11 under and win the Tour Championship by two shots over Billy Horschel.
With the victory, Woods will finish second in the FedEx Cup standings behind world No. 1 Justin Rose, who birdied 18 to finish in a tie for fourth and win the $10 million Cup grand prize. Woods will receive $3 million for second place in the season-long points race.
The win puts an exclamation point on what has been a remarkable comeback from Woods, who had spinal fusion surgery last April and was arrested for DUI with five drugs in his system one month later. Roughly this time last year, Woods said at the Presidents Cup that he wasn’t sure if he’d ever compete on Tour again. Now he has picked up a win in the final event of the season and will move into the top 15 in the world rankings on Monday.
“I had a hard time not crying on the last hole,” Woods said after the round.
“I just can’t believe I pulled this off,” he said while fighting back tears at the trophy ceremony. “It’s been tough. Not so easy the last couple years. I’ve worked my way back, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of everyone around me.”
Woods started the day with a three-shot lead over Rose and Rory McIlroy, the latter of whom fell out of contention while playing alongside Woods on Sunday. He birdied the first hole and pushed his lead to five on the front nine by finding fairways and greens and shooting a one-under 34 on the front nine.
After a birdie on 13, Woods had a five-shot lead with just five to play, but he would bogey 15 and 16, and his advantage shrunk to two. Woods got up-and-down for par on 17 to preserve the two-shot lead coming to the par-5 18th, and the win was virtually clinched when he smashed a drive right down the center at the finishing hole.
As he walked up the green after knocking his second into a greenside bunker, scores of fans followed right behind him in an iconic spectacle.
Woods then blasted out to six feet and two-putted to seal his first win in 1,876 days. He paused for a moment after sinking the final putt before raising his arms in triumph.
Below is a hole-by-hole recap of the round, including highlights and analysis.
Woods is a winner again! He split the fairway with his drive and let out a big smile after that. He would knock his second into a greenside bunker, blasted out to six feet and two-putted for the win.
Absolutely massive par save. Tiger missed left with a 3-wood again and hacked a wedge over the green. He was fortunate to find some trampled-down rough and played a nice chip to about four feet. Dead-center with the par effort and he’ll head to 18 needing a bogey or better for the win.
Well, this is getting more interesting than Woods would like. He tugged a 3-wood into thick rough and opted to hack it out with a wedge and try to make par the hard way. His third was on line but landed long and was fortunate to spin back out of the thick stuff onto the fringe. His par effort wouldn’t go and it’s his second straight bogey, and now the lead is down to two with two to play.
Really lucky not to find the water, as he missed short and right of the par 3. That could have been wet for the same price. He drew a good lie in the rough, however, and was able to play a bump-and-run to about nine feet. Couldn’t get the par putt to fall and the lead is down to three, as Billy Horschel has posted nine under.
The 14th is the longest par 4 on the course at roughly 530 yards, so it’s absolutely imperative to hit the fairway if you’re going to make par. Woods did exactly that, peeling a cut that found the right side of the short grass. From there he hit a laser long iron to about 15 feet before the putt went begging by on the left side. Stress-free pars will suffice right now.
A textbook birdie: driver down the center, wedge to 13 feet and a putt right in the middle of the cup. The lead is now back up to five—Billy Horschel is in second at eight under—and this tournament is very much his to lose.
Tiger found the fairway with a cut 3-wood and hit a nice wedge to about eight feet, but the birdie effort wasn’t his best. It was left to right and he didn’t give it enough pace, missing on the low side.
It’s a bit of a missed opportunity, but six more pars will mean win No. 80.
Just what he needed after the first bogey of the day. A really solid mid-iron into the middle of the par 3 green, which left a speedy putt down the hill. The birdie putt was left the whole way and rolled out to about three feet, but he brushed that in without incident. The lead is back to five after a Rose bogey.
First bogey of the day comes after a wayward right drive forced Tiger to punch out with his second. The punch out rolled out a bit too far into the first cut and he didn’t judge the distance well on his third from 77 yards, hitting it 25 feet past the hole. Two putts from there and it’s his first dropped shot, and the lead is trimmed to four.
Tiger hit a long-iron to the middle of the green on this 235-yard par 3. He liked that one and picked up the tee early. A nice effort from 35 feet rolls out to tap-in range, and that’s now eight straight pars after the opening birdie. His lead, which was three at the beginning of the day, is now 5. Nine more holes to go…
There’s water all along the left side of 8, so it’s no surprise that Tiger bailed out right into a fairway bunker. He was able to get his second onto the front portion of the green and two putted from abouot 50 feet to keep the round bogey-free. Onward…
Tiger continues to find fairways—he’s hit five of the first six—and hit an approach right at the flag, but it rolled out to about 20 feet past the hole. Another birdie effort that looked on line but finished about a foot short for another stress-free par.
Through seven holes, he’s been solid as can be: hitting fairways and greens and avoiding bogeys. Perfect gameplan when you have a big lead like this. It’s almost like he’s done this before…
Bit of a missed opportunity, especially after Tiger ripped one down the middle and had just 215 into the par 5. He pulled his second shot significantly, as he was aiming toward the center of the green but hit a smother hook long and a bit left of the flag. It nestled way down in rough and he basically chunked his third, leaving it on the fringe. He left his long birdie effort short and did well to hole a four-footer for par.
Pars aren’t going to hurt Tiger too much right now—his lead is still five—but he’d be the first to tell you that he’d expect himself to make birdie from where he was off the tee.
Tiger spoke after yesterday’s round about how the rest of the field would have to come chase him, and that he could make it very difficult for them by keeping a clean card. He’s doing exactly that, finding yet another fairway and giving himself a good luck at birdie after hitting wedge to about 15 feet. The putt had a chance but missed just barely to the left, prompting a reaction of surprise. Another par with a par 5 coming up next.
Important par save after he missed the fairway to the right, drawing a gnarly lie in the Bermuda rough. He tried to muscle an iron from 170ish to the green but it came out dead, finding a bunker short and right of the green. It was about a 30-yard bunker shot and he splashed out to about 10 feet, then made his par effort after McIlroy missed a par putt of similar length. Really good save.
His lead remains four over Justin Rose, but he now holds a five-shot advantage over McIlroy.
Tiger went with iron off the tee to play for position and executed it perfectly, finding the center of the short grass. From about 125 he went with sand wedge, flying it right over a front pin to about 20 feet. The pin was tucked right over a bunker, and both Woods and McIlroy played conservatively past the pin. It left a huge left-to-right breaker for birdie—like, 10 feet of break—and it ran out of steam short of the hole. No issues with the par putt and it’s a one-under start after three holes.
Iron to the center of the green on this 200-yard par 4, leaving about 40 feet for birdie. The putt was on line but finished a few rolls short, leaving a stress-free tap-in for par.
Ideal start. Tiger went with driver off the tee and picked up the tee really quickly as it was right down the center. His approach was right at the flag and finished just 10 feet from the hole. He walked in the birdie effort. Couple the birdie with McIlroy’s par and Tiger’s lead is now four.
Couldn’t have asked for a better start.
ATLANTA — One name clearly stood out on the star-packed leaderboard after Thursday’s first round of The Tour Championship.
On a sweltering day at East Lake Golf Club, the game’s biggest draw ignited roars throughout his round, none bigger than the one that rocked the stately clubhouse a few yards away from the 18th green when he canned a 28-footer for eagle to join Rickie Fowler atop the leaderboard.
It capped a day of precision and control for the former world No. 1 who is 17 months removed from spinal fusion surgery, a day when he missed just four fairways and four greens in regulation, put his signature to a 5-under-par 65 and moved one day closer to win No. 80 and his first since 2013.
And Woods placed himself squarely in the mix to win his record third FedExCup and the $10 million bonus. So, too, did others, including Fowler, who birdied the last hole to gain a share of the lead.
In third at 66 are world No. 1 Justin Rose and Gary Woodland. Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, defending FedExCup champion Justin Thomas and Tony Finau each shot 67. Jason Day, Jon Rahm and Paul Casey were in at 68. Brooks Koepka, the winner of the U.S. Open and PGA Championship this year, was at 69.
Who's ready for an exciting Friday at @EastLakeGC?!
Find out what time your favorite player is teeing off. #TOURChampionship
— TOUR Championship (@playofffinale) September 21, 2018
“I felt in control today,” said Woods, playing in the season finale for the first time since 2013. “I hit so many quality shots all day, whether it was tee to green or it was putts. The only hard part was getting my speed on the greens early. Once I figured out the pace of these things, it was all good.”
“I played well today,” Woods said. “It wasn’t exactly the start I was looking for, but I made two good putts there at 5 and 6 and got to under par, and then from there I hit it pretty good, made a few putts.
“All in all, I had a lot of control today.”
It’s been that way for some time now for Woods, who earned a captain’s pick for the U.S. Ryder Cup team on the strength of six top-6 finishes in his comeback season, including a tie for sixth in the British Open and a second in the PGA. Then he tweaked his driver by switching shafts and adding loft to the face. He sacrificed distance but gained accuracy and confidence.
In his last start, he also shared the first-round lead after a 62 in the BMW Championship. He got within one shot of the lead in the final round and tied for fourth. Thus, upon arrival at East Lake, where he won in 2007 and finished second in 2009, Woods had this look about him, one that implied that after all his time battling injuries and conquering doubts that he’d never play again, this could finally be the week he wins again.
“I don’t want to say the difference with the driver has been night and day, but it’s been really good,” said Joe LaCava, Woods’ caddie. “For the most part, he’s standing on the tee knowing he’s going to hit the fairway instead of thinking he’ll hit the fairway. He’s hitting cuts with the driver and he’s hitting tight draws with the driver. He’s working the driver, and he’s shaping it nicely.
“So, if he hits more fairways, which he’s been doing, he’s going to give himself more chances, which he’s doing, because he’s the best modern-day iron player there’s ever been.”
In Friday’s second round, Woods will be paired with Fowler, who played many rounds with Woods when he first started his comeback.
“I remember there was a day we were up at the Medalist (in Florida) and we played 18, and I was going to go home and work out, and he went out to go play another nine,” Fowler said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been able to see him just go play for fun. He wanted to keep playing, so he kept playing.
“In my eyes, the biggest win for him is just staying healthy and being out here all year consistently. It’s obviously great for our sport. It’s great to have him as part of the (Ryder Cup) team next week. We hope he continues to play well. I just want to play a little bit better and beat him.”
Now that the Ryder Cup teams are set, it’s time for captains Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn to finalize who will pair with whom?
There’s a lot that goes into finding the perfect pairings in these team events. Captains must consider playing styles, personalities and a variety of other factors. And while everyone would be interested to see a Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pairing, that’s probably not the most effective option for the U.S.
Now, we understand that both Ryder Cup teams have plenty of resources to help them formulate the perfect combinations. But just in case the captains are looking for some extra advice, here’s our recommendations on which players should pair up in Paris, and why.
Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed: This is probably the easiest decision that Furyk has to make. This duo is 4-1-2 in the past two Ryder Cups, so even though Spieth might want to switch things up and partner with, say, Justin Thomas or Rickie Fowler, it’s best if he keeps his partnership with Reed. They are just too good together.
Tiger Woods-Bryson DeChambeau: While everyone on the U.S. team would love to pair with Woods, it seems as if DeChambeau, a three-time winner this season, will get the honor. The two have developed some chemistry this year through practice rounds and such. If there is anyone on the team as competitive as Woods, it’s DeChambeau, who had an excellent match-play record as an amateur, winning the 2015 U.S. Amateur and playing well for his country at the Walker Cup, Palmer Cup and World Amateur Team Championship.
Dustin Johnson-Brooks Koepka: The two gym buddies didn’t pair up until the final team session at Hazeltine. They lost to Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters in four-ball, 3 and 1, but showed some promise as a pairing. Johnson hasn’t played particularly well in Ryder Cups. Maybe competing alongside Koepka will spark something.
Phil Mickelson-Tony Finau: This will be Mickelson’s 12th straight Ryder Cup and at 48 years old, he doesn’t appear to have many more left as a player. He’s never won overseas, so he’ll be as motivated as ever to finally check that box off. Pairing him with the young and powerful Finau makes a lot of sense. The two played together at the Northern Trust a few weeks ago and Mickelson raved about Finau’s potential. Mickelson is also coming off a strong performance two years ago at Hazeltine, where he went 2-1-1.
Rickie Fowler-Justin Thomas: This is Thomas’ first Ryder Cup, but he isn’t the typical rookie, ranked fourth in the world and the defending PGA Tour Player of the Year. It’s no secret that he and Fowler are close, and their chemistry should produce results, especially in foursomes. They are similar players, possessing all-around games and gaining the most shots with their irons and putter.
Bubba Watson-Webb Simpson: This pairing worked very well in 2012 at Medinah, where the two went 2-1. They lost their opening session in 2014 and Simpson didn’t play again until singles. But Simpson is having his best season since 2012 – by a mile – and Watson, who has won three times this season, has regained some momentum of late. They could surprise in Paris.
Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose: Played three of four sessions together in 2016 – each of them opposite Spieth and Reed – and went 1-2, though their 5-and-4 Friday afternoon four-ball victory was mighty impressive. Also, they went 3-0 together at Gleneagles. This pairing is as safe a bet as any.
Rory McIlroy-Jon Rahm: McIlroy has seemed to embrace the role of taking a rookie under his wing after going 3-0 with Thomas Pieters at Hazeltine. Rahm is similar to Pieters on the course and McIlroy could help Rahm channel that passion into points.
Paul Casey-Tommy Fleetwood: Both players had some fun with the story of Fleetwood wanting to buy Casey’s extra set of Nike irons. And while it doesn’t look like Casey will loan the set to Fleetwood in Paris like he had joked about doing, the two Englishmen would make a nice pairing. Both are great iron players and similar personality types.
Ian Poulter-Tyrrell Hatton: Poulter’s great 2012 Ryder Cup showing came when he paired with Rose and McIlroy. However, after an 0-1-1 team performance in 2014 and not qualifying in 2016, Poulter likely needs a fresh partner. How about the fiery Hatton? The two teamed up to break a world record in a European Tour social video last year, and I could see Poulter as a perfect Ryder Cup role model for the emotional Hatton.
Alex Noren-Thorbjorn Olesen: I initially had Noren and Molinari teaming up, but felt that Sergio Garcia needed Molinari the most. Noren is a guy who could play with anyone. You never have to question his work ethic and though he and Olesen are rookies, they aren’t strangers to big moments. They also have similar games – Noren is a better driver of the golf ball, but they are pretty equal in other facets. Both putt it well, too.
Sergio Garcia-Francesco Molinari: Many of Garcia’s recent partners – Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Rafa Cabrera Bello – did not qualify. And while he paired with McIlroy three times in 2014, it seems as if McIlroy will again be tasked with motivating a rookie. Assuming that, it makes most sense to pair the struggling Garcia with a consistent presence like Molinari, who is a strong tee-to-green guy and proven on the Ryder Cup stage.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 16, 2018
Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed: What, I’m going to suggest breaking up this pair?? In seven Ryder Cup matches as a duo, Spieth and Reed have lost once – when the opposing team made nine birdies in 14 holes, no less. We know how electric and efficient this pairing is. No need to overthink this one.
Tiger Woods-Brooks Koepka: Look, I’m in no way against the TW-Bryson pairing that the vast majority are pointing toward (see above). Clearly the duo has rapport. But part of Woods’ surprisingly mediocre Ryder Cup record outside of singles is that it’s long been difficult to find him a comfortable partner. Partners being some form of intimidated or awestruck has played a role in that, in my opinion. DeChambeau would probably fall in the awestruck category. But Koepka wouldn’t. The evidence is right there from last month when Brooks was unfazed by a charging Tiger and won the PGA Championship. Koepka and Woods clearly have rapport as well (See: post-round greeting at the PGA) and man would their power, steely demeanors and games make up an intimidating pair for any European squad to come up against. This seems like a winning team on swagger alone.
Bryson DeChambeau-Webb Simpson: This would be a pairing that could sneak up on the Europeans and lull them into a false sense of security. Neither player flashes with booming drives, but both are incredibly efficient. I especially like them as a foursomes pairing, as DeChambeau is a supreme ball-striker and Simpson boasts an excellent short game.
Dustin Johnson-Justin Thomas: Yes, I’m breaking up “the gym buddies” pairing of DJ and Koepka. But I don’t see this as controversial in the least considering that pairing lost 3 and 1 (and it could’ve been easily worse) in their only Ryder Cup grouping. They did go 2-0 together at the Presidents Cup, but these two don’t have any semblance of the Spieth-Reed dominance in its results. Substituting Thomas in here keeps this as a fierce pairing of huge power hitters, so the intimidation is still real. Just have a feeling, too, that DJ and JT could mesh well as partners.
Phil Mickelson-Tony Finau: Who better to pair a Ryder Cup rookie bursting with talent than Lefty? Mickelson certainly knows what it’s like to be a hotshot young gun and has vast Ryder Cup experience, so he could serve as an extremely useful advisor in this pairing. I also think these two have like temperaments in that they like to think and play aggressive. They should fuel off each other, and with both in good form that is very dangerous for any opponent.
Bubba Watson-Rickie Fowler: You want Watson to feel comfortable, and he should with a friend and cool customer in Fowler. This group would have great chemistry, and if both are on form there may not be a team in this event that makes as many birdies.
Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose: That pairing that defeated Reed and Spieth with nine birdies in 14 holes? That would be Stenson and Rose, who demolished the pair 5 and 4 in that 2016 match. Overall, they are 4-2 together in the last two Ryder Cups and are as reliable a pair as any outside Spieth/Reed.
Rory McIlroy-Ian Poulter: This pairing has gone 1-0-1 in Ryder Cup competition. That win, if you recall, was the one that catalyzed the Miracle at Medinah in 2012, as Poulter birdied the final five holes in a Saturday afternoon four-ball match to give him and McIlroy a comeback 1-up win, cut the deficit to 10-6 and energize the Euros. McIlroy has really embraced playing the Ryder Cup with an outpouring of emotion and starred doing so in 2016. It’d be tough to find a more perfect pairing in that regard.
Paul Casey-Tommy Fleetwood: This would be similar to Stenson and Rose in the all-reliable mold. Fleetwood may be a rookie, but he has shown he can quickly get on track on big stages. Casey obviously has plenty of previous pedigree. This is not a duo you can fall asleep on for one second.
Jon Rahm-Tyrrell Hatton: This is probably my riskiest pairing choice, but it has high potential. These are both highly emotional young stars who could build off each others’ histrionics in the charged Ryder Cup atmosphere. Of course, there’s also the chance their incredible combination of emotion could lead to combustion. But it’s the Ryder Cup, go big or go home.
Alex Noren-Francesco Molinari: On the other side, this is the mellow pairing. Both players are stoic, like to play precise golf and tend to sneak under the radar. Together they make a dangerous and dangerously overlooked pairing.
Sergio Garcia-Thorbjorn Olesen: Remember when Garcia was a young up and comer who dominated in the Ryder Cup thanks in part to his incredible energy? Probably a good idea to pair the struggling Masters champion with someone who can bring back memories of that youthful exuberance. Rahm is a good candidate here then, but I like Olesen a little better. Rahm can get a little hard on himself, whereas Olesen can better provide that uplifting youthful energy that can help elevate Garcia. You also need someone in form here considering Garcia’s struggles, and Olesen is certainly that as he has four top-12 finishes in his last six starts.
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A week ago, Tony Finau said his recent play was making it tough for Jim Furyk not to pick him to be on this year’s Ryder Cup team.
He proved to be right.
On Monday, Furyk made it official, using the last of his four captain’s picks on the 28-year old to finalize the 12-man U.S. team that will head to Paris later this month. It will be Finau’s first Ryder Cup appearance.
“He has an unbelievable body of work this year,” Furyk said in a statement. “All those top-10 finishes, the play in big championships and the majors, and then his current form, a second, a fourth and an eighth in the playoffs. He checked a lot of boxes and made it impossible not to pick him.”
Indeed he did.
Over the last two years, Finau has made 50 starts, racking up 18 top 10s along the way. Three of those were runner-up finishes, one of them two weeks ago in the FedEx Cup Playoffs opener, the Northern Trust. Three more of them came in major championships, all this year.
Then there was his performance over the last few weeks. Knowing a Ryder Cup spot was at stake, Finau finished second, fourth and eighth in the first three legs of the postseason, capping it with a final-round 65 on Monday at the BMW Championship. During that span, he recorded a dozen rounds in the 60s and was a combined 42-under par, second only to fellow Ryder Cup rookie and captain’s pick Bryson DeChambeau, who won the first two events in the playoffs.
“I never thought I was on that team until I got that call,” Finau said. “I made sure I played that way. I played like I always had something to prove. And I let the guys on the team know that I’d be a great pick and I’d be ready to go. It’s definitely cool to accomplish something like this and to be able to play as well as I have under the circumstances. It’s something I’m extremely proud of.”
Of course if not for a change, he might not have even gotten the chance.
Following a disastrous 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, the PGA of America, the organization that runs the event for the U.S., created a task force in an effort to end a string of bad losses and chart a course for the future. One of the changes implemented was when the captain’s picks would be made. It was a move informally and somewhat dubiously dubbed the “Horschel rule” after Billy Horschel had won twice during the 2014 playoffs but wasn’t on the team because the team had already been finalized.
So in 2016 three of the four picks came after the BMW Championship, with the final one coming at the conclusion of the Tour Championship. The problem with that, however, was the season finale finished just a few days before the first matches were scheduled to be played. Fast forward to this year and the first three picks — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and DeChambeau — were made after the Dell Technologies Championship, with the final one coming after the BMW.
Like Ryan Moore two years ago, Xander Schauffele had a chance potentially to force Furyk’s hand with a win at Aronimink. He entered the final round a stroke off the lead before shooting 67 to tie for third. It was a good result but not good enough. He also hadn’t been quite as consistent as Finau, especially over the course of the year.
After winning twice in 2017, including becoming the first rookie to capture the Tour Championship, and earning Rookie of the Year honors, Schauffele slowed down some in 2018, especially when it mattered most. In 23 starts, the 24-year-old had five top 10s, including runner-up finishes at the Open Championship and the Players, as well as a tie for sixth at the U.S. Open. But he also struggled since that runner-up at Carnoustie, with just one finish in the top 30 over his last five starts. He also missed five cuts this season, compared to just three by Finau.
Though Finau has just one career victory, in 2016 at the Puerto Rico Open, his 10 top-10 finishes this season trail only Dustin Johnson for the most on the PGA Tour. Among them was a tie for 10th at the Masters on an injured ankle, a fifth-place finish at the U.S. Open and a ninth-place finish at the Open Championship.
At the PGA Championship, Finau stumbled with an opening-round 74 playing alongside Furyk but rallied with a record-tying 10 birdies the next day to shoot 66 to make the cut on the number at Bellerive.
Then there are the various elements of Finau’s game that stand out. Going into the BMW, he ranked in the top 30 on tour in strokes gained off the tee, approach and around the green. Though he was 82nd in putting, he was 11th on tour in birdies and 10th in scoring average. It’s no wonder that Mickelson had lobbied long ago for the young star who had climbed to 17th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Finau’s personality should also jibe well in the team room.
“He gets along with everyone,” said Horschel. “He would be a great partner. The one question I’d have, like with any rookie, is if he can he close out a big match. But his recent play has shown that he has the ability to play on the biggest stage.”
Part of that question has already been answered, be it alongside Furyk when the captain was paired with Finau and Schauffele for the first two rounds of the PGA, and over the first three weeks of the playoffs.
Now all that’s left to see is if he can do it in Paris.
CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. – Naming three of his four captain’s selections to round out his 2018 Ryder Cup squad, U.S. Captain Jim Furyk early Tuesday evening called upon the game’s hottest performer, the No. 2 putter on the PGA Tour this season and a 14-time major winner who has been the most dominant golfer of his generation.
Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were selected by Furyk as additions to the U.S. team that will compete in the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National outside Paris Sept. 28-30.
Woods, 42, didn’t know if he’d even compete again a year ago at this time, and now he’s headed to Paris to play in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2012. It will be his eighth Ryder Cup (he is 13-17-3 overall). Woods was asked if this could potentially be his most memorable of all.
With his three newest team members, Furyk added 126 PGA Tour victories to his team. Mickelson may be playing in his 12th Ryder Cup, but this was the first time he needed a captain’s pick to be part of it. DeChambeau and Thomas, the 2017 PGA champion and last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year, are the lone rookies on the U.S. team.
“I would have to say I’m extremely happy with the 11 players we have,” Furyk said. “(I’ve) got a lot of confidence in those players. I think we have some great chemistry. I think we have some great pairing opportunities. We’ve got some great veteran leadership and we’ve got some youth. It’s a well-rounded team, and we’ll go to work, get set to go.”
MORE: A look back at Tiger’s journey to captain’s pick
Woods already had been part of this team as a vice-captain, and though he won’t be shy to offer advice on the team and its pairings, he will relinquish that role now that he will be competing. Furyk named his final three assistants to join Davis Love III and Steve Stricker, adding David Duval, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
Furyk will round out his team by naming a 12th player on Monday morning, following the final round of the BMW Championship.
DeChambeau, who turns 25 on Sept. 16, captured The Memorial in June, but missed the cut at last month’s PGA Championship and finished ninth in the final Ryder Cup points standings. Faced with a challenge of showing his captain something special, DeChambeau rebounded with victories at The Northern Trust and Dell Technologies the last two weeks.
“Even after I won at Ridgewood, I still thought, ‘Man, I’ve got to play well at Boston just to show them that, yeah, I’m a contender and I’m going to keep doing the right things to be a valuable asset to the team,’ ” DeChambeau said. “This is about the team, and I wanted to be part of this experience so badly that I worked twice as hard. It showed, and it paid off.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 4, 2018
MORE: Social media reacts to Furyk’s picks
DeChambeau attended the Ryder Cup two years ago at Hazeltine as a spectator, leading then-U.S. Captain Davis Love III to do a double-take when he saw him in the gallery. This year’s captain, Furyk, said he was impressed not only that DeChambeau won back-to-back titles, but by the method in which he won.
“He took control and seized control of those tournaments and took big leads and was able to finish out tournaments,” Furyk said. “So I have to say, I guess, ‘Thanks’ – you made it really easy on the captain.”
As did the others, really. Woods was second at the PGA Championship, shooting 64 on Sunday. Mickelson, 48, won for the first time since the 2013 Open Championship when he outdueled Thomas in a playoff at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in early March. He hasn’t posted a top-10 finish since the Wells Fargo Championship in May, but his play has been pretty consistent through the year. He has 11 finishes of T-15 or better in his 22 starts. His victory in Mexico was the 43rd of his career.
MORE: 9 final-day comebacks in Ryder Cup history
In addition to an incredible body of experience and his ability to lead, Mickelson can deliver something else this U.S. team could use: Quality putting. Mickelson ranks behind only Australian Jason Day this season in strokes gained: putting. In Monday’s final round of the Dell Technologies Championship, Mickelson holed 129 feet of putts.
Mickelson said he aims to accomplish something he never before has done in this event: Win away from the U.S.
“It’s going to be a great challenge because we know how strong the European side is and how well they play at home, but it’s a wonderful chance, an opportunity for us to do something I haven’t done or been a part of in my career, and would very much like to,” Mickelson said.
The three captain’s selections named by Furyk on Tuesday join eight players named after the PGA Championship who qualified for the team off a two-year points table: Brooks Koepka; Dustin Johnson; Justin Thomas; Patrick Reed; Bubba Watson; Jordan Spieth; Rickie Fowler; and Webb Simpson. Six of the 11 players are in their 20s, and all 11 players rank among the top 26 in the world (Woods is 26th).
One other dose of good news for Furyk on Tuesday was the return of Fowler to the PGA Tour after Fowler missed the first two FedEx Cup Playoffs events with a partial tear in his right oblique, an injury he first felt at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational prior to the PGA Championship. Fowler has been receiving treatment from a spinal neurosurgeon near home in Jupiter, Fla., and returned to practicing and playing at home last week.
The U.S. hasn’t won an away Ryder Cup since 1993, at The Belfry in England. European Captain Thomas Bjorn will round out his team on Wednesday, naming his four captain’s selections, and is expected to lean toward experience. Among his eight automatic qualifiers via two points lists – one a European list, one a World list – Bjorn already counts five rookies: Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen. Also on the team are seasoned Ryder Cup competitors Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy.
Said Furyk, “I have a lot of respect for Thomas and I have a lot of respect for the players that have qualified for the European Team, and I’ll be anxious to see who they pick tomorrow.”
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There’s always a post-Wanamaker depression that sets in after the PGA Championship, the reality sinking in that the next major is some 250 days away in the spring. That is especially true this season, with Tiger Woods’ final-round surge instilling a rapture not felt in ages. But for those still coming down from that Bellerive bliss, fear not: The rest of the calendar has plenty still in store. From Tiger to the Ryder Cup to Jordan Spieth, here are seven storylines to follow during the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Tiger’s comeback continues
The comeback is real, and it is spectacular. Tiger demonstrated at Innisbrook, Bay Hill and Carnoustie that his game is in shape to compete with the game’s best; his runner-up at Bellerive, however, asserted Woods’ ceiling is higher than previously deemed. Better yet, as the season reaches the dog days of August, the 42-year-old has dispelled the idea he’s running on fumes.
Aside from Ridgewood, the venues on the postseason slate are tailored to Tiger’s game. Currently 20th on the FedEx Cup standings, Woods will have some latitude in the early rounds in pursuit of a spot in the Tour Championship at East Lake, but with hopes of solidifying his Ryder Cup candidacy (even though, come on, we all know Big Cat’s already on the roster), look for Woods to make a formidable run through the tour’s postseason.
Well, two; you’ll see Augusta National dye Rae’s Creek pink before Woods and Phil Mickelson are left off the team. That leaves Bryson DeChambeau (who finished ninth in points), Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson among viable candidates. For what it’s worth, players and PGA of America officials at Bellerive maintained Kuchar is more in the running than fans believe.
There’s also the chance captain Jim Furyk rides the FedEx Cup Playoff’s hot hand, which is what facilitated Ryan Moore’s selection for the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2016. It proved to be the right call: Moore won two matches, including the clinching point, for the Americans at Hazeltine.
No matter the selections, there will be a wave of Monday quarterbacking on Furyk’s decisions, particularly if he goes with a veteran that hasn’t performed as of late. Furyk will announce three of his picks after the Dell Technologies Championship over Labor Day weekend, with the final slot filled at the BMW Championship’s conclusion, meaning DeChambeau, Kisner, Finau and the like will have opportunities to prove their merit.
GolfDigest : – Ryder Cup implications
– Player of the Year race
– Tiger Woods' next move
— Golf2Win (@Golf_2_Win) August 20, 2018
The Player of the Year race is over, right? Well …
Make no mistake, Brooks Koepka is the unequivocal favorite. That doesn’t mean he has this bad boy locked it up, even with his U.S. Open and PGA titles as well as runner-up finishes at the WGC-HSBC and Colonial.
If Dustin Johnson or Justin Thomas—both with three wins and ahead of Koepka in the FEC—win two of the four postseason events, it might be enough to raise an argument. Three out of four instigates a full-blown discussion. (Bubba Watson also has three wins, but the two-time Masters champ has missed the cut in the last three majors, torpedoing any realistic hopes.) Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari, the year’s other major victors, could join this surge with multiple playoff wins as well.
These scenarios are far-fetched, and even if they transpire, Koepka likely still earns the nod. But a victory by Thomas or Johnson at Ridgewood will raise these questions—exactly the shot of late-season vitality the tour’s postseason aspired for when constructing the FEC a decade ago.
Can Spieth save a “lost” season?
In one breath, it’s hard to call a season “lost” when A) The guy comes this close to winning the Masters and B) Plays in the final pairing at the Open. Conversely, we measure our superstars by a different touchstone, and Spieth—who’s currently on the outside looking in at the Tour Championship—has fall shorten of his historical standards.
The short game has taken the brunt of the blame, and rightfully so: Spieth ranks 144th in strokes gained/putting on the season. It’s an astonishing figure for any top-flight player, but even more so considering Spieth ranked second in the category just two seasons ago. Just as concerning, however, has been a drop in iron performance, ranking 40th in approach this summer, a far cry from his work last year (ranking first) and during his two-major summer of 2015 (11th). For the putts to start dropping, Spieth will need to give himself better chances on the greens.
The good news is Ridgewood and Aronimink (site of the BMW Championship) set up well to Spieth’s strengths, and he logged a runner-up in Boston last September. By his standards, it won’t be a season to remember for Spieth. With a strong finish, he won’t have to make it one to forget.
A Rookie of the Year chase, without one of the favorites
Unless he wins the Wyndham Championship, Joaquin Niemann, despite owning enough points to comfortably advance to the Northern Trust, cannot compete in the FedEx Cup Playoffs due to his special temporary membership status. Significant because, if he does reach the postseason, Niemann would arguably be the frontrunner for rookie-of-the-year honors. (Update: He did not win in Greensboro. Niemann, however, has locked up his card for next season.)
Instead, this award likely comes down to Austin Cook and Aaron Wise. Since winning in the fall, Cook has been relatively quiet, although did have top-10s in Memphis and the Greenbrier. Wise had stellar back-to-back showings at Quail Hollow (T-2) and the Bryon Nelson (win); the ensuing schedule, unfortunately, has been tough sledding, with six missed cuts in seven appearances. Still, both have loads of talent, with the reserve not to be intimidated by their playoff debuts. Neither is a household entity yet; an energetic finish in the FEC can go ways in fixing that.
Architecture aficionados, rejoice!
For connoisseurs of course design, the past month has not been Christmas morning. That changes during the FEC thanks to:
• Ridgewood Country Club, a 27-hole A.W. Tillinghast design with its history including a Ryder Cup, U.S. Amateur and a handful of Barclays’ events. Gil Hanse’s team has done restoration work over the past couple of years, making Ridgewood as good as ever. Ridgewood features a mix of Tillinghast-eque bunker-guarded greens with the option to run it up on many holes. The rough is expected to be thicker than the last time the FEC visited, possibly leading to U.S. Open-like scoring.
• TPC Boston, while not beloved by players, produces plenty of red figures, and it’s various lines and contoured greens offer more set-up options and mind-sets than a rank-and-file tour course.
• Aronimink, another track that—we hope you’re sitting down—was restored by Hanse and his team. Set to host the 2027 PGA Championship, Aronimink has eliminated a ton of trees from the property, but its tight fairways and challenging par 4s—and Donald Ross greens—make it one of the Northeast’s toughest tests.
If you can’t get behind that lineup, you don’t have a pulse.
What’s up with Rory?
Similar to Spieth, this warrants a provision. After all, the four-time major winner just finished T-2 at Carnoustie last month, and, unlike Spieth, he’s won on the PGA Tour this season with his triumph at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
On the other hand, McIlroy’s game was such a mess at Bellerive that he hinted he was going to skip the first leg of the postseason to figure out what’s going on.
“I need to assess where I’m at, and I think the best thing for me to do right now is take a couple of days off and reflect on what I need to do going forward,” he said at the PGA Championship. “I’ll do some practice this week and see if I feel ready to go there and play five out of six weeks leading up to the Ryder Cup.” (Update: McIlroy appears to have made good on skipping the Northern Trust as his name is not included on the PGA Tour’s field list as of Monday.)
McIlroy won the FedEx Cup just two seasons ago, and does rank 11th in strokes gained this season. Nevertheless, his wedge game, or lack thereof, has rendered his prolific distance moot, and the putter, again, hasn’t bailed him out. McIlroy’s nearing a bit of a career crossroads. Tis postseason won’t define his legacy, but it can get him back on track.