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6:23PM

At the AT&T, Mickelson, Spieth and plenty of rain, of course

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Phil Mickelson finished, and for a few inelegant holes he seemed to be finished off. Jordan Spieth was still splashing forward. Open your umbrella, grab that Gore-Tex jacket and we’ll add another tale to the wintry woes of the tournament that can’t escape the Pacific storms or (drip, drip) its own reputation.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven

8:01PM

PGA Tour boss mixes it up with Phil, Dustin and Jordan

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The great thing about Jay Monahan’s job is that he didn’t have to ask the boss if he could take the day off and play golf. He is the boss, the commissioner of the PGA Tour.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 

4:39PM

Jordan Spieth trying to get back to where he was

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — He did so well so quickly. Jordan Spieth couldn’t miss a putt, it seemed, and winning two majors before his 22nd birthday surely meant that he couldn’t miss becoming a Hall of Fame golfer. Didn’t his teenage pals call him “The Golden Child”?

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 

2:20PM

Tiger, 0-4: ‘I’m one of the contributing factors why we lost the Ryder Cup’

By Art Spander

SANT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — It couldn’t have ended in a more appropriate fashion, a Phil Mickelson tee shot splashing into a pond, immediately followed by the European Ryder Cup team splashing Champagne to celebrate a victory that was inevitable.

Once more, an American team of stars — Phil and Tiger Woods, who didn’t score a measly point between them, and Dustin Johnson, a recent world’s No. 1, who at least did score a measly point — was beaten, make that overwhelmed, by Europe, this time 17½ to 10½.

You now can amend the adage; there’s nothing sure but death, taxes and an American defeat when the Ryder Cup is held on the far side of the Atlantic. This was the sixth straight time the Euros have won in Europe. Also the ninth time in 12 matches, wherever they have been played.

That the 48-year-old Mickelson, making a 12th and surely farewell Ryder appearance, didn’t score in two matches at Le Golf National near Paris — one of those the Sunday singles — could be excused.

But what about Tiger getting blanked in all four of his matches? Or Johnson picking up only a single point in four matches? And that wasn’t in singles, where Sunday he was whipped by Ian Poulter.

Tiger, Phil and Dustin combined for one point of a possible nine, which is unimpressive even if the 42-year-old Woods is exhausted from his win a week ago, even if Mickelson has been slumping as he is aging, and even if Johnson reportedly has domestic problems.

“I did not play well this year,” conceded Mickelson. “This could very well, realistically, be my last one.”

America basically lost the Cup it had won two years ago at Hazeltine near Minneapolis after three sessions this time, when Europe made history by taking all of Friday’s alternate shot foursomes and then Saturday morning taking three of the four fourballs (or better balls).

For those who want to dodge reality and find wonderful French pastry in this mess, the U.S. trailing 10-6 before the 12 Sunday singles briefly cut the margin to 10½-9½. Hey, Gert, here they come. No, sorry. There they go again.

“It’s disappointing because I went 0-4,” said Woods candidly, “and that’s four points to the European team. And I’m one of the contributing factors why we lost the Cup, and it’s not fun.

“It’s frustrating because when we came here I thought we were all playing pretty well. I just didn’t perform at the level that I had been playing and just got behind early in the matches and never got back.”

Whether or not he was worn out, Woods said, “Yeah, I mean, I played seven out of nine weeks ... So a lot of big events, and a lot of focus, a lot of energy goes into it. I was fortunate enough to have won one, and we were all coming here on a high and feeling great about our games, about what we were doing, and excited about playing this week.”

But as Mickelson and the team captain, Jim Furyk, agreed, they were outplayed.

Patrick Reed, “Captain America,” got back a bit. He won Sunday. So did three other Americans, Cup rookie Justin Thomas (who beat Rory McIlroy), Wade Simpson and cup rookie Tony Finau. That was it for the red-in-the-face, white and blue.

Jordan Spieth? Crushed, 5 and 4, by a Swede named Thorbjorn Olesen, who has three fewer major victories than Jordan but Sunday had a lot more birdies, seven compared to Spieth’s two.

“I had some in-between numbers,” said Spieth of his yardages to the greens, meaning he was unsure what club to use. “And I didn’t really pick the right shot, and I got in trouble. Chipping let me down. I had a couple opportunities to save par and stay even, dropped to two, three down, and then he out-putted me.”

This from a 25-year-old who is known as a brilliant putter.

Road games bring out the best — or worst. Every course has 18 holes, but on the European Ryder Cup courses those holes are surrounded by huge crowds chanting “Ole, ole, ole….oh-le” and rattling the American pros. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus never seemed to mind, but the new kids are bothered.

And Euro pros such as Olsen, Sergio Garcia and Poulter seem never to miss a putt in the Ryder Cup. The contention is the Euros bond better, but most of them, Poulter, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Henrik Stenson, play the U.S. PGA Tour. Besides, this isn’t basketball. You don’t pass a golf ball around. It’s an individual game, even when you have a partner.

“Let’s be honest,” said Mickelson. “The European side played some exquisite golf. I mean, it was some phenomenal golf, and they flat-out beat us.”

As they always do in Europe. Ole, ole, ole, ohh-le.

2:41PM

Furyk on U.S. Ryder Cup shutout: ‘I bet we’ll be fine’

By Art Spander

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — It was historic. It was embarrassing. The supposedly unbeatable United States Ryder Cup team turned out to be as soft as a croissant.

Not only did it fail to win any of the four afternoon matches Friday on opening day of the 2018 Cup, it couldn’t even come close.

In the alternate-shot format that vexes Americans even more than trying to correctly pronounce “Chantilly” — one golfer hits the tee shot, his partner the next shot — the U.S. couldn’t extend any match beyond the 16th hole.

So Europe, which lost three of the four-ball or better-ball matches in the morning, roared back to take a 5-3 lead and seemed destined to continue America’s frustration each time the biennial event is held on this side of the Atlantic. The U.S. hasn’t won in Europe since 1993.

With fans hooting and chanting as if they were at a soccer match and not a tournament at Le Golf National some 20 miles southwest of the Eiffel Tower, the Euros became the first team ever to record a shutout in alternate-shot, or foursomes, and the first to get a sweep in any session since 1989.

This wasn’t a match, it was a mismatch. It was Alabama against Arkansas State. It was bewildering, mystifying and nonsensical. The pairing of Phil Mickelson, at 48 surely playing his last Ryder Cup, and Bryson DeChambeau, at 25 playing his first, lost seven of the first eight holes, including five in a row to Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren.

On the 10th tee, Mickelson-DeChambeau were 7 down. Or if you want to make a drink of it, Garcia and Noren were 7 up. That Mickelson-DeChambeau lost only 5 and 4 proves something, but what no one is sure.

Mickelson was a captain’s pick by Jim Furyk, who apparently wanted Phil’s experience (this is his 12th Ryder Cup). Well, Mickelson now has a new experience with which he can relate: getting stomped.

Tiger Woods, another Furyk pick, didn’t play the afternoon alternate shots. In the morning, Tiger was paired with Patrick Reed, the Masters champion, and they were flattened by Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, 3 and 1. A good job selecting by Furyk.

Of course, as the Euro captain Thomas Bjorn reminded, “The players play; we just try to get them ready.”

The U.S. hardly was ready for its collapse, or should it be Europe’s resurgence?

“They played great golf,” said Spieth of Fleetwood and Molinari. “Hats off to the Europeans. They were even or under par (in all four afternoon matches), and on this course, in that wind, that’s just fantastic in this format.”

You might presume that Furyk would be depressed the way his foursomes got whipped, but he carries a golfer’s eternal optimism, the belief that the next round will be, if not near perfect, then at least highly rewarding.

“In match play,” said Furyk, “you lose 6 and 5, you lose 2 and 1, it’s the same result. We have to shore things up. And I’m guessing we’ll switch things in the afternoon (Saturday). We’ve already been thinking about that.

“Does it pose a problem? I think our guys will respond. I really do. I have a lot of confidence in our guys. It’s going to leave a sour taste in their mouths, and they have to sleep on that. We’ll come back. I bet we’ll be fine.”

There are four more four-ball matches and four more foursomes Saturday. On Sunday, there are 12 singles. That used to be where the U.S. could be counted on to dominate, but in the 2012 Cup, in Chicago, it was the Euros who came from behind with victories in singles.

“There will be adjustments,” Spieth said of the alternate-shot session Saturday. “Foursomes, it’s a tough one. You know what team to throw out there.”

On Friday, whatever the team, it appeared to have been thrown under the bus.

“We knew it was going to be a grind,” said Rickie Fowler, who paired with Dustin Johnson was a 3 and 2 loser to Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. “We struggled to get the momentum going, and when we did it was too late.”

It is no secret that the course was set up for the home team, narrow fairways to negate the power of people such as Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. But the Americans should have been able to adapt.

“We thought this would be a good format for the tee shots,” said Mickelson, “hitting a bunch of irons off the tee. We just didn’t play our best.”

But the Euros did.