Category Archives: Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods: A Redemption Story

Tiger Woods’ Redemption
Tiger Woods did what many thought would never be done. Not only did he win again after years of injuries and making no progress on his fragile back, but he won at Augusta National Golf Club claiming his fifth green jacket, his 15th major championship, and his 81st PGA tournament. Simply incredible.

But the road to another green jacket didn’t come easily. Over the 11-year drought between the 2019 Masters and the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and the 14-year drought between Masters, Woods went from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel on multiple occasions. For over a decade, Woods’ life wasn’t littered with major championships and a further ascent in the world of golf. Instead, it was defined by injuries, scandals, and at times, total disconnect from the game he dominated for years.
The Road from the 2008 U.S. Open to the 2019 Masters
The Downfall
June 16, 2008: Tiger Woods battles Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff at Torrey Pines. It took 19 holes on a serious leg injury for Woods to claim his 14th major championship. It would be his last for 11 years.

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June 18, 2008: Shortly following his win at Torrey Pines, Woods announces he will miss the remainder of the PGA tour season due to ACL surgery on his left knee.

November 27, 2009: Woods crashes his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant close to his Florida mansion. He was injured in the crash and spent less than a day in a Florida hospital. The crash unleashes the scandal involving his wife and the number of extramarital relationships Woods had.

December 2009 – March 2010: Woods spends time away from golf to work on trying to save his marriage after multiple women stepped forward speaking about affairs they’d had with Woods. His wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, files for divorce amidst Woods’ sex scandal and there is some speculation Woods’ crash was a result of him being beaten up by his wife. Multiple endorsements part way with Woods’ including Gilette and Gatorade.

April 2010: Woods makes his return to golf at the 2010 Masters where he finishes in a tie for fourth.

2011: Woods’ 2011 is plagued by an injury suffered during the 2011 Masters. He missed the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship due to a Grade 1 MCL sprain and Achilles strain. He then withdrew from the Players Championship and didn’t play again until the 2011 WGC Bridgestone. During the injury, Woods parted ways with caddie Stevie Williams and fell out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in 15 years.
On the Rise
December 4, 2011: Woods wins the Chevron World Challenge to get his first professional win since November of 2009.

March-July 2012: Woods wins another PGA Tour event, this time the Arnold Palmer Invitational and goes on to win the Memorial Tournament and the AT&T National.

2013: Woods returns to the top of the game regaining the OWGR No. 1 spot in March. In 2013, Woods won five times on tour including the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP, and the WGC Bridgestone.

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Tiger Woods’ Injury-Plagued Years
March 2014: Woods announced he will undergo a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve in his back. He would return later in the year but withdraw from the WGC Bridgestone and miss the cut at the 2014 PGA Championship.

August and December 2015: After missing the cut at the last three majors of the year, Woods’ undergoes yet another microdiscectomy in August with hopes of returning in the early part of 2016. Woods undergoes a third back surgery in December

2016: Woods misses the entire 2016 season recovering and dealing with his back.

Spring 2017: In April, Woods undergoes spinal fusion surgery in hopes of fixing his back after three previous surgeries were ultimately unsuccessful. In May, Woods is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Jupiter, Florida. Woods sited an unexpected reaction to prescription drugs as the cause of the incident.

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The Return to the PGA Tour
December 2017: After a long wait of over 300 days, Woods returns to the golf course at the Hero World Challenge where he finishes in a tie for ninth.

March 2018: Woods gets a taste of success on the PGA Tour again finishing in the top five in back-to-back weeks at the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Summer 2018: Woods returns to form in major championships. He led at one point on the back nine at the Open Championship, finishing sixth and finished in solo second at the PGA Championship.
A Winner Again
September 23, 2018: Woods wins his 80th PGA Tour event at the Tour Championship at East Lake. The win was his first since he claimed the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational. The win moved him to 13th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

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April 14, 2019: Tiger Woods, with a final round 70, wins the 2019 Masters. It is his fifth Masters, 15th major championship, and 81st PGA Tour victory

As you can see, the long 11-year journey from Torrey Pines to Augusta National was not easy and challenged Woods both on and off the course. Many thought the former world No. 1 would never win a tournament again, much less a major. But Woods has once again returned to the top of the golf world.

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Tiger Woods, At Long Last, Turns Back the Clock to Win The Masters

On a balmy summer’s day at Torrey Pines in 2008, Tiger Woods lifted up the U.S. Open trophy, winning his 14th major on one leg. In 2005 at Augusta National, Woods’ “chip-in for the ages” on the 16th hole, would propel him to his fourth Green Jacket. Those who had followed and admired Tiger Woods believed that catching Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championship record would be a foregone conclusion.

But it would be 14 years since his last Masters and 11 since that epic U.S. Open performance before Tiger Woods would be in the winner’s circle at a major championship. Separated by time, scandal and a plethora of injuries, Tiger Woods overcame what many deemed to be impossible. By shooting a final round 70, he would secure the 2019 Masters by one stroke, etching himself into the annals of golf history with his 15th major championship win.

“Woooooo!!!” yelled out Woods as he ran into the scorer’s room, amidst a pandemonium of patrons yelling “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!”

The comeback is finally complete. Tiger’s back.
Tiger Woods Once Considered Quitting the Game of Golf
The Masters and Tiger Woods have become a conglomeration for the golf world every April. Since Tiger’s historic victory at the 1997 Masters, where he set the lowest four-round score at Augusta National (270), it became a realistic expectation that Woods would compete every year at this major.

But as a result of multiple injuries and surgeries to his back, knees and Achilles heel, there was a distinct possibility that Tiger Woods could not play golf again. He couldn’t walk his dog. Playing with his kids, Sam and Charlie, became a difficult burden. Even attending the Masters Champions Dinner two years ago, a staple tradition for past winners of the tournament, was riddled with pain and impending sorrow.

“I’m done, I won’t play golf again,” said Tiger at the 2017 Masters Champions Dinner. 

Words that no golfing fan wanted to hear. But a reality that Tiger once deeply considered, given the pain and suffering he was experiencing on a daily basis. Playing golf wasn’t even on his radar. Just having a quality of life that he could enjoy, was an existence he wanted to attain.
Tiger Woods Was Showing Signs that Major Win was Imminent
The golf prodigy, who became the most dominant athlete in sports, experienced arguably the most stunning fall from the pedestal of greatness. But one last-ditch effort at a surgery back in 2017, where his back became fused, would prove to be the procedure that would transform his life.

The 2018 PGA Tour season would be marked as the year the comeback began for Tiger Woods. He was in contention at the Valspar, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the PLAYERS Championship, just falling short. At the Open Championship, Tiger Woods walked to the 11th tee with the lead at the punitive Carnoustie golf course. But mistakes led to bogeys and Tiger would fall to Francesco Molinari’s brilliant steady play, going 37 holes without a bogey.

At the PGA Championship in Bellerive, Woods rallied once again in the final round, despite missing many fairways on the Front 9. But the clock turned back with the roars from the St. Louis crowd. Tiger was once again on the prowl, heading to the Back 9 one back of the lead. But being in contention and winning a major championship is a tremendous hill to climb. Brooks Koepka was in the way of Tiger winning his 15th major, snagging his third major in the last six he had played in away from the Big Cat.

Not a month later, the facets of Tiger’s game would all work in coordination at the TOUR Championship. As the gallery at East Lake ran onto to the 18th fairway that Sunday afternoon, Tiger tapped in to turn a page in his golfing career. His 80th PGA Tour victory was the return to glory for an athlete who had to conquer unimaginable adversity. Laying the foundation for what would come in April at The Masters.

“The win at East Lake was a confidence boost for me. I had come close but I needed to cross the finish line. It proved that I can still win out here with the best guys,” stated Woods.
Tiger Peaked at the Perfect Amphitheatre
Six months ago, preparation would begin for Tiger Woods to compete in the 2019 Masters. At the start of the 2019 PGA Tour season, Woods admitted that he would be playing less. So he could focus his mind, body, and game on winning major championships.

Heading into the final round of The Masters, Woods was in a familiar position. In the final group of a major and in the hunt, two strokes back of 54-hole leader Francesco Molinari. All 14 of Tiger’s previous major championship victories, he was in the lead. Playing in threesomes earlier in the day with the fear of inclement weather coming to Augusta, Woods had to start the preparation in the early morning hours.

“The reward is for playing hard and doing all the things correctly you get a little extra sleep in come Sunday, but that’s not going to be the case. We’ve got to get up early and get after it,” says Woods. 

Once considered the giant killer who would intimidate opponents with out of this world shots, Woods’ emotions were in check throughout the final round. He was just hanging in there. Not shooting his way out of the tournament. The 12th hole in the final round was the epitome of the new Tiger Woods. With Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau hitting their tee shots into the water, Woods’ goal was to hit to the middle of the green. Which he did with ease. Woods wasn’t out to make the miracle shot but rather the smart shot. This mentality got him two birdies on the par-5 13 and 15 holes, followed up with an epic tee shot on the par-3 16th, reminiscent of Jack Nicklaus’ in 1986.

Tiger showcased his mental toughness once again but by being stoic and in the zone.

“I was just trying to plod my way around the golf course,” said Woods. “The best part of my game this week was shaping the golf ball. Two months ago, I was in a similar position. I was just telling myself to keep doing all the little things correctly and playing my game. I did that today.”
Tiger Woods’ Masters Victory Captures a Full Circle Moment with Family By His Side
“There is a difference between a roar for me and a roar for Tiger Woods,” Dustin Johnson affirmed after his final round on Sunday.

When Brooks Koepka missed his birdie chance on the 18th to tie Woods atop the leaderboard, the patrons at Augusta National knew that the Big Cat had this in the bag. Only requiring no worse than a bogey on the 72nd hole, Tiger would experience the jubilant coronation from the gallery, walking up the 18th fairway. Many golf historians are quick to reflect on Jack Nicklaus’ epic 30 on the Back 9 at the Masters in 1986, to win his 18th major at the age of 46. But Jack did not have to endure the trials and tribulations of coming back from injuries as Tiger did. Knowing the adverse road Tiger has been on to get to winning his 15th major championship, makes the victory even sweeter.

“I am just so grateful to have the opportunity to do this again,” stated Woods. “It’s ironic that the first major I would win since the comeback it would be from behind. It’s amazing.”

Winning his fifth Green Jacket, Woods was 10 of 14 fairways hit (74 percent), 15 of 18 greens in regulation (83 percent) and had 1.78 putts per green in regulation for the final round. When the win became official, the emotionally contained Woods let out a scream that was a semblance of when he would win majors on a consistent basis. When Tiger won in 1997, his embrace with his Father, Earl Woods, reflected the long journey it takes to secure a major championship. On Sunday, Tiger’s role reverse, as he hugged his kids and Mom, who were green side. A moment that the 15-time major winner will cherish for the rest of his life.

“For a long time, my kids saw that golf caused me a lot of pain. I struggled for many years,” said Woods. “The kids are understanding how much golf means to me and what I’ve done for the game. I hope they are proud of what I achieved.”

On the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, Tiger was back on the prowl. The road to greatness often is accompanied with potholes and obstacles. Tiger Woods once again proved that never giving up can lead to history being achieved.

And for the rest of the golf world, that means the Big Cat isn’t going away for a long time.The post Tiger Woods, At Long Last, Turns Back the Clock to Win The Masters appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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2019 Masters Final Round Highlights

What started as a slow building Masters Sunday quickly ignited on the back nine into a sprint to the finish. At any given time over the final hour at Augusta nearly a dozen players were within just two shots off the lead. An untimely double bogey by Francesco Molinari opened the floodgates to the field.

Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson and even majors powerhouse Brooks Koepka all took the lead at one time or another. Although we haven’t seen it since 2005, it’s still an all too familiar sight as none other than Tiger Woods roared back up the leaderboard. With three birdies over his last six holes Woods once again claimed Masters success.

In what will be an instant memory for golf fans around the world Sunday truly was a must see moment. Last Word on Golf has the full highlights from Tiger Woods and the rest of the field in the final round of the 2019 Masters from Augusta National.
Tiger reigns supreme at Augusta once again
Beginning the day two shots off the lead, Tiger Woods needed to make an impact quickly on Sunday. The four-time Masters winner did just that with a powerful birdie at the third hole to cut the lead in half.

Italy’s Francesco Molinari came out of the third round with the lead but had to play to near perfection in order to fend off Woods. The two took to trading birdies on the par-5 8th hole of the day as the battle for the green jackert waged on.

As he always does under pressure, Woods found himself in a little trouble at the par-4 11th before sending a would be par saving approach tracking to the green.

With a one stroke lead already, Tiger took to the 16th tee to place a near ace, leading to a birdie and the two-stroke lead with just two to play.

With just inches to go for his fifth green jacket and 15th major victory Tiger Woods put home his final putt on 18 and closed out the 2019 Masters as champion.


A wild finish finish down the stretch
Needing to make a strong showing over his closing holes to have a chance at his first major victory, Xander Schauffele guided home a 65-foot breaking putt at 11 for birdie. He would go par-birdie-birdie over his next three holes to grab a share of the lead.

After a double bogey by Francesco Molinari at the 12th, the field smelled blood in the water and quickly attacked. After barely making the cut follwoing the second round, Patrick Cantlay rocketed up the leaderboard over the weekend to take claim of the outright lead with an eagle at the par-5 15th.

Following Cantlay’s eagle to move to -12, three-time major champion Brooks Koepka jumped to within one of the lead with an eagle of his own. Including co-leading after the first round, and second, Koepka had at least a share of the lead in all four days of the Masters.


Not one but two Hole in Ones
For the first time in his methodical career Bryson DeChambeau finally cashed in his first ace at the par-3 16th to make his own Masters memory.

The 16th has always been a beacon for career making moments at Augusta National. With the reverberations of DeChambeau’s ace still ringing through the gallery, Justin Thomas turned up the volume with one of his own to get to 9-under.


The field continues to impress
It pays to know your way around Augusta on Masters Sunday. The three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson knew exactly where to go with his approach at the par-4 5th as he came up one rotation short of 215-yard eagle hole out.

Regardless of where he is on the leaderboard there’s never a doubt that Rory McIlroy will turn in at least one highlight in his round. The Northern Ireland native did just that early Sunday with an eagle at the 13th despite falling short of pre-Masters predictions.

No matter where you are on the leaderboard at Augusta you never know when you’re going to put your own stamp on Championship Sunday. Sweden’s Alex Noren provided his own set of cheers as he holed out from the greenside bunker for birdie at 16.

The “Thunder Bear” didn’t quite make it rain in his third Masters appearance but Thorbjorn Olesen did provide some excitement with a chip-in birdie at the par-4 8th.

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Tiger Woods Wins 5th Masters Title; First Major Victory Since 2008

Tiger Woods already had an all-time great career a decade ago. By 2008, Woods had 14 Major titles and seemed unstoppable. It was a question of when, not if, he would pass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 and cement himself as the undisputed greatest player of all time. Then, from a sports perspective, disaster struck. Personal issues followed by injury knocked Woods out of the top players in the world. A devastating back injury with major surgeries followed a few years later. No one knew if we would ever see Tiger play again, let alone play at top form. In the past year or so he has looked competitive at top tournaments, but no one could have honestly expected what we saw at Augusta here today.
Sunday’s Action
To start the final round, Francesco Molinari seemed to be by far the player to beat. He wasn’t putting up eagles or major birdie numbers, but he just wasn’t missing shots. The Italian was playing the course perfectly, and did not hit a single bogey from the 11th hole on Thursday until the 11th hole on Sunday. Molinari held a three-stroke lead at -13 with as little as eight holes remaining. He then shot a double bogey after hitting the water on 12, and did the same on 15. Those were his only over-par holes of the day, but they were enough to knock him way out of contention.

Meanwhile, around the course, players were moving. As Molinari collapsed, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele joined the leaders at -12. Dustin Johnson came roaring back into the picture, birdying three of the final four holes to join the leaders. Brooks Koepka, whose struggles on Friday kept him from easily leading this tournament, almost took himself out of contention by also hitting the water on 12, but came right back into the picture with an eagle at 13. He also shared the -12 lead at one point.

Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, and a few others made late charges as well (and we have plenty of Final Round highlights), but no one else reached -12 to join that group above.
Tiger Emerges
No one, that is, except for Tiger Woods. And as the situation emerged for him, the old Tiger returned. He hit a tremendous approach at the Par 5 15th to give himself a look at eagle. The easy birdie putt let Woods take his outright lead at -13, and the champion never looked back. A perfect tee shot at the Par 3 16th set him up for an easy birdie and a two-stroke lead on the field.

From there, Tiger Woods played the perfect golf that we were accustomed to seeing from him a decade ago. He reached the 17th and 18th fairways perfectly in regulation, and easily made par on 17. Koepka missed a birdie chance at 18–which would have cut the lead to one stroke. With a two-stroke cushion at 18, Tiger Woods had nothing to fear. With the extra shot in hand, he navigated the wind to safely lay up in front of the green. A good chip and two (relatively) safe putts later, and Tiger Woods earned the Green Jacket once again.

The championship is Tiger’s 5th Masters and 15th Major overall. With the win, he is the second-oldest champion in Augusta history. And now, a decade after we stopped thinking he would catch Nicklaus’ record of 18, it’s time to start wondering the Golden Bear’s all-time mark is in play once again.

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2019 Masters Third Round Highlights

Perfect weather made for as near perfect conditions as we’ve ever seen at The Masters during Saturday’s third round. Luckily for the remaining field the rain held off at least for the day. Championship Sunday will be a different story as tee times have already been adjusted to start earlier, go off on both the 1st and 10th tees and be set in threesomes.

Records were challenged throughout the day at Augusta National as for the first time in tournament history four players shot 8-under rounds of 64 on the same day. One of those men was 29-year old Tony Finau who currently sits as one of the three co-leaders at 11-under par. In his sophomore outing at Augusta Finau also tied to course record with a 30 on the front nine.

Joining Finau in the final pairing Sunday also at 11-under will be the four-time Masters winner Tiger Woods. However, despite stellar play by both challengers they’ll both be chasing the two-stroke leader Francesco Molinari. The 2018 Open champion quietly rose up the leaderboard and into sole possession of the lead thanks to four straight birdies on the back nine. Last Word on Golf has your top highlights and Masters moments from Saturday’s third round at Augusta National.
Finau catches fire
Making just his second Masters start, Tony Finau showed that he can be a true contender no matter the course. After starting his third round with four birdies over the first seven holes Finau nearly holed his 261-yard approach shot for an albatross. An eight-inch tap in would give him an easy eagle and a 6-under start for his round.

Already on a tear Saturday, Finau stepped up to the par-5 13th on a mission. With still 11-feet to navigate he sent the putt home for his fifth birdie of the day to move into the early solo lead at 10-under.

It’s been said the secret to winning at Augusta National is successfully scoring on the par-5’s. Finau did just that Saturday going 5-under across the four par-5’s including a birdie at the 530-yard 15th.


Woods continues to turn back the clocks
Seeking his first major championship since 2008, and his first green jacket since 2005, Tiger Woods continued to ignite the gallery once again Saturday. Following an unfortunate bogey at the 5th hole, Woods fired back at the par-3 6th for birdie to get back to 6-under. Just one hole later a spot on approach would lead to the second of three straight birdies for the 14-time major champion.

On the heels of four straight pars Woods woke the crowd up once again as he rounded Amen Corner with his fourth birdie of the day.

Few moments at The Masters elicit the overwhelming roar of the gallery like a lead tying putt by Tiger Woods. That was exactly what he heard with back to back birdies at 15 and 16 to get to 11-under.


Saturdays other top shots around Augusta
Francesco Molinari’s stealth like precision around the course often flies under the radar until it’s too late. The Italian did exactly that Saturday at Augusta as all eyes were focused on Woods and his crowd roaring run. Molinari quietly made four straight birdies beginning from 12 through 15 to propel himself into a two-stroke lead.

Perennial PGA Tour fan favorite Rickie Fowler has yet to make the big push for the lead but has kept himself in contention thanks to shots like his chip-in eagle at 13 on Saturday.

Saturday may not have been the picture perfect round for Brooks Koepka after capturing a share of the lead over both Thursday and Friday. But an eagle at the par-5 15th helped spark the three-time major winner down the stretch.

Making a steady run Saturday with a 5-under round of 67, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson drained his 45-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th.

Despite a less than ideal Masters campaign in 2019, Rory McIlroy has refused to go quietly especially after confidently finishing his par-5’s Saturday at 15 for eagle.

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 The post 2019 Masters Third Round Highlights appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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2018 Ryder Cup Friday Morning Four-Ball Highlights

While many slept, the 2018 Ryder Cup got underway from Le Golf National in Paris, France. The morning four-ball matches teed off in front of jammed packed, raucous grandstands. Each pairing had their sights set on putting early points on the board for their respective teams.

Team Europe jumped out to an early lead, taking control over the front nine in the morning match-ups. A big swing in momentum with highlight after highlight seemed to spark the fire for the Americans. Over the final nine holes Team USA swung the advantage back to the states before the power struggle raged once again in the pinnacle of golf teamwork.
Finau/Koepka def. Rose/Rahm 1-Up
2018 FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose sticks his approach on the opening hole to gain the early 1-up edge for the Europeans.

With the pressure of his first Ryder Cup appearance on his shoulders Tony Finau needed a par at the 5th hole to save a halve of the hole.

No nerves to show from Finau once again with a chip-in eagle at the par-4 6th hole.

Playing in his first Ryder Cup as well, Spain’s Jon Rahm ignited the crowd with a birdie at eight.

The human highlight reel is heating up once again as Rose pitched it up and in with the slow roll to go 2-up over Finau and Koepka.

As Finau found out in his rookie outing, sometimes all you need is a little luck at the Ryder Cup.


Johnson/Fowler def. McIlroy/Olesen 4&2
Not much more Rickie Fowler could do at the par-4 6th hole early on Friday morning.

Fowler helped move momentum back to the Americans with back to back birdies on nine and ten.

Dustin Johnson takes some pressure off of Fowler’s shoulders with a pair of back to back birdies of his own to move their team to 3-up with five holes to play.

Fowler goes long again for another birdie this time to save a halve of the hole.


Thomas/Spieth def. Casey/Hatton 1-Up
Jordan Spieth was dialed in from the opening hole as he nearly holed his approach.

On the move once again Spieth was in sync with his putter early in opening four-ball matches.

From long range Spieth drained another impeccable putt at number five to move 2-up in the match.

As if there was any question, Spieth was in the zone on the front nine, this time from off the green to grab the largest lead of the morning at 3-up.

Spieth wasn’t the only teammate to produce Friday morning as Ryder Cup rookie Justin Thomas provided some highlights of his own with a birdie at the par-4 10th.

After a front nine of struggles, Paul Casey and Tyrell Hatton rallied for four straight birdies to get back to one hole down against Spieth and Thomas.

Correction, Hatton made it five straight birdies for the Europeans to get the match back to all square.


Fleetwood/Molinari def. Woods/Reed 3&1
In a contentious battle from the opening tee, Tommy Fleetwood movesd the needle back to Team Europe with a bullseye on his approach at the par-4 4th.

“Captain America” may have started slow but Patrick Reed heated up around the turn with a birdie on nine and a chip-in at ten to swing the match to 2-up for Team USA.

It was only a matter of time before the 2018 Open Champion, Francesco Molinari made his move as he drilled a birdie putt at the par-4 12th to even things back up.

With Europe officially down 2-0 in the first two matches of the morning Fleetwood tried to spark the comeback in his battle with a clutch birdie at 15.

Fleetwood refuses to lay down with another huge putt and another much needed point at 16.

Two up with two to play, Molinari needed two putts to close out the Americans on the 17th hole but only needed one to earn Europe’s only point of the morning.

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Five Thoughts Heading into Ryder Cup Four Ball Matches

On the eve of the start of the Ryder Cup, Team USA and Europe’s selections for the morning four-ball matches were revealed. Captains Furyk and Bjorn made the vital selections that will pave the way for their teams to have success in the Ryder Cup. Here are the morning four-ball matches that will open the Ryder Cup:

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood

With the golfers set for both squads, here are my five initial thoughts heading into the Ryder Cup Friday Four-Ball matches.
1) Both Europe and USA Lead with Strength
It is clear that both Europe and USA want to get off on the right footing when it comes to who they put into the Four-Ball matches. For the Americans, they included golfers who come into the Ryder Cup with a ton of momentum. Tiger Woods is arriving at this competition, fresh off winning the TOUR Championship. Brooks Koepka has won two major championships this year.

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For the Europeans, who can argue the success Justin Rose has had this year. FedEx Cup Champion. World Number One. Oh, and he has an above .500 record in the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy is the other leader for the Europeans, coming into the Ryder Cup with a 9-6-4 career record. Putting the squad’s two top golfers in the first two matches sends a message that Europe wants to get the early lead and set the tone early in this competition.
2) Older Veterans Are Sitting
In the past, normally it would be the older veterans to start for the squads, to galvanize the respective teams. But in this Ryder Cup, both the Americans and Europeans are sitting their older players for future sessions. The USA is sitting Phil Mickelson, playing in his 12th Ryder Cup. Europe is resting Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, both of whom have played pivotal roles in victorious European Ryder Cup teams in the past.

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But can you blame Captains Furyk and Bjorn for their decisions? Since being selected as a Captain’s Pick, Phil Mickelson has been at the bottom of the leaderboards at the BMW and TOUR Championships. Sergio Garcia has not made the cut of a major championship since he won The Masters back in 2017. Ultimately, these players will have to compete at least once in the Ryder Cup. Most likely, some of them may play in the Foursomes session on Friday. But giving rest to the older players is important, as the Captains would like to keep them physically fit and not tired before the grueling Singles Sunday.
3) Rookies Get Golden Opportunity
It is clear that Captains Furyk and Bjorn aren’t shying away from putting their rookies in the hot seat early on in the Ryder Cup. Six rookies combined will be starting in the Friday morning Four-Ball session; Tony Finau and Justin Thomas for the Americans and Jon Rahm, Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for the Europeans.

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“Players stand up and they are counted for what they do in the greatest events in the world. But legends are made in this event,” Bjorn said. “That is where the public comes around them and can do so much for their careers. It’s an opportunity to go out there and be the best that you can be on a grand stage.”

Thomas Bjorn is risking more with starting four rookies compared to Furyk’s two. Not to take away anything from Tony Finau or Justin Thomas but those two have been in the mix in major championships (Thomas 2017 PGA Championship winner) and relish those high-pressure moments. For Bjorn, he will roll the dice with Rahm, Olesen, Hatton, and Fleetwood. These four have shown promising golf this year, but will it shine through in front of the rowdy home crowd? The Danish captain believes they have what it takes to seize the moment.

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“There are the obvious guys out there, in the sense that they are players you would all expect to see, and then there’s a new guy in every group,” Bjorn said.

“They have been just itching to go, especially Thorbjorn, Jon and Tyrrell. I think Tommy is a different guy, in the way that he’s won [the 2017 France Open] around here, and he’s been real quality for the last couple of years.”
4) Best Morning Match?
While it will be fantastic to see the big hitters of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy going toe-to-toe or the lifelong friendship of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas becoming Ryder Cup partners, the best morning match will be the last one. Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, the Big Cat and Captain America taking on Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, the Italian Stallion and the English Rookie.

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Patrick Reed’s Ryder Cup record is sensational. 6-1-2 and most famous for exuding that American pride in defeating Rory McIlroy at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Despite Tiger Woods’ underwhelming Ryder Cup record (13-17-3), he is coming into the Ryder Cup on a high after winning his 80th PGA Tour victory. The partnership of Woods and Reed can fuel and ignite the fire within each other, showcasing that emotion and enthusiasm we are used to seeing at the Ryder Cup.

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Francesco Molinari arrives in Paris playing the best golf of his career. Winner of the BMW PGA Championship and the Open Championship, Molinari utilized his steady ball striking tee to green to capture these victories. This includes deflecting a Tiger Woods final round charge at Carnoustie to hoist the Claret Jug.

Molinari will be paired with Tommy Fleetwood, a Ryder Cup rookie who has played brilliantly this season. From shooting a 64 in the final round of the U.S. Open to winning the 2017 French Open at Le Golf National, Fleetwood’s coolness under pressure will be a critical asset to possess in this Ryder Cup match.
5) Who Wins Each Match?
These four matches have the potential to produce terrific drama to open the Ryder Cup. As both the USA and Europe teams know, getting off to a strong start is crucial. When a player arriving to the first tee at the Ryder Cup, there is no messing around. Just ask Rory McIlroy, who vividly remembers his experience of coming to the first tee in his inaugural Ryder Cup appearance.

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“I still thought it was this team event that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things,” McIlroy said. “I was more concerned about individual titles and all that. Then I got to the first tee and I realized the magnitude of it all. It just hits you. You try and put your ball on that tee and it takes you a couple times to get it to settle on there.”
With that said, here are my predictions for the opening four matches.

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm (Europe)

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen (USA)

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey (USA)

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood (Half)

 

Score After Friday Morning Session: USA 2.5 – Europe 1.5

 

 

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