MELBOURNE, AUstralia -- Matt Kuchar clawed back but Retief Goosen hung tough to beat the American 1 up.
The victory was Goosen's third in five matches this week at Royal Melbourne. But it came after Tiger Woods assured the United States of its seventh win in nine Presidents Cups.
Kuchar won the first hole with a par but Goosen promptly eagled No. 2 to even the proceedings. The South African then birdied the sixth and won Nos. 10 and 11 with pars to take a 3-up advantage.
Kuchar caught fire at that point, though, winning the next three holes with two birdies and a par. But Goosen seized the lead with a par at the 16th hole and brought it home for the Internationals.
MELBOURNE, Australia --- Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk gave the Americans their third point of the day with a 4-and-3 win over Retief Goosen and Robert Allenby.
The win made Mickelson, who is the only man to have played in all nine Presidents Cups, the competition’s all-time points leader with 21.
The match turned in the Americans favor on the back nine. The two teams had matched birdies on the first two holes but the Americans lost the third hole with a bogey before squaring it when Mickelson rolled in a 16-footer at the seventh hole.
The International Team went double bogey-bogey on the next two holes to give the Americans a lead they didn’t relinquish. Mickelson then made a 6-footer for birdie at No. 11 and Furyk followed with another from 13 feet at the next to take the 4-up advantage they coaxed home.
“We played together in ‘99 at the Ryder Cup and we played well together,” Mickelson told NBC’s Dottie Petter. “And we felt like we wanted to partner again.”
In recent years, though, Mickelson and Furyk have often been tabbed to bring some of the less experienced players along. This week, though, it wasn’t necessary.
“This year we felt like our young guys wanted to play together and would play well together so it gave Jim and I a chance to do what we’ve wanted to do for years.”
Furyk said he was impressed with the way Mickelson putted on Thursday. The big lefthander has gone back to a conventional length putter and it was golden on Thursday.
“I felt good with an iron in my hand,” Furyk said. “My partner over here, I knew I didn’t have to hit it five feet.”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
A switch to some new equipment at the start of the season is continuing to pay off big for Steve Stricker.
The Wisconsin native and Titleist player picked up 710 AP2 irons and the new-generation ProV1x ball months ago, and now has two Midwest-based wins to show for it – the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance in June and last week’s John Deere Classic.
That’s also all the more reason not to make another switch, to the new 712 AP2 irons, as some other Titleist TOUR pros have. Nick Watney picked up the clubs and almost immediately won at the AT&T National two weeks ago.
But the way he’s playing now, and on the eve of the season’s third major, Stricker’s bag at the moment is on lockdown.
“I hit them and I really liked them,” said Stricker of the new irons, “but I want to hit them some more at home, so probably after the British I'll give them some more time to hit.
“I changed earlier this year to a different set of irons, different shaft, different ball early in the year. So yeah, I'm open for change, but I want to make sure and have the repetitions in with them before I make the change.”
BLANKS SHOOTING: Kris Blanks came to the John Deere Classic near the bottom of the TOUR’s putting stats but finished T10 in putts per GIR for the week after going back to an old Scotty Cameron Del Mar model with a custom slant neck.
“That makes it hang a little more towards the sky. Most putters will hang at a quarter,” said Blanks, who led after the first round at TPC Deere Run and finished T12. “This one’s a little more face-down so it doesn’t rotate as much through the hitting zone.”
Ironically, Blanks made the switch after using Ping’s iPhone putting app, Golf World Monday reports.
CRACKING THE CODE: Since 2003, TaylorMade has designed special logos for each of the major
Can you figure out all the details? We’ll give you one – the “V” and “6” in the weathervane (since British Opens always have wind) stand for Harry Vardon and his record six titles.
Read about the rest of the logo here.
CLARKE’S CLASSIC: Scotty Cameron putter junkies will enjoy the saga about Darren Clarke’s old friend, a 1997 Titleist Teryllium Santa Fe that the Northern Irishman used for a while, then parked for years, then exhumed in May to win in Spain.
Clarke brought the putter to Royal St. George’s this week to hand off to Titleist reps, who will take it back to the home office in California to restore. The putter was one of Cameron’s first with an insert made of Teryllium, a copper-colored metal that is soft but expensive.
BETHESDA, Md. -- The USGA announced Wednesday that Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., has been selected as the site of the 2018 U.S. Open Championship.
The dates of the championship are June 14-17, 2018. It will be the fifth U.S. Open to be hosted by the club, which is the only venue to host the championship in three centuries.
Shinnecock Hills hosted the second U.S. Open in 1896, and James Foulis won the championship by three strokes over Horace Rawlins. In 1986, Raymond Floyd shot a final-round 66 to break out of a tightly bunched field and win by two strokes over Chip Beck and Lanny Wadkins. Nine years later, Corey Pavin clinched his two-stroke victory over Greg Norman with a memorable 4-wood approach to the final green. Retief Goosen outlasted Phil Mickelson by two strokes to claim his second U.S. Open title in 2004.
“We are thrilled that our national championship will return to one of our country’s most-storied venues,” said USGA President Jim Hyler. “We are confident that Shinnecock Hills will provide a true challenge for the world’s premier players, as it has for more than a century.”
Shinnecock Hills opened in 1891, and the present course was designed by William Flynn and opened in 1931. The 2018 championship will mark the 19th time the U.S. Open will have been played in the state of New York and the 10th time on Long Island. As of the 2011 season, New York has hosted 66 USGA championships, which ranks third among all states.
Shinnecock Hills was one of the founding clubs of the USGA in 1894 along with The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., Newport (R.I.) Country Club, Chicago (Ill.) Golf Club and Saint Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Shinnecock Hills had America's first golf clubhouse (complete with locker room, showers and grill room), which was designed by Stanford White. It was also the first 18-hole golf course on the East Coast.
Thanks to birdies on two of his first three holes, including an impressive one from the left rough on the opening hole, Harrison Frazar is tied for the lead with Robert Karlsson at 12 under.
Frazar’s other birdie came on the par-5 third hole, where he rolled in a 16-footer.
Karlsson, meanwhile, also opened with a birdie but he failed to capitalize on the par-5 third. After missing the green left on his second shot there, Karlsson left his pitch short of the green and had to get up and down just to salvage par.
Retief Goosen birdied his first two holes, but he also failed to capitalize on the par-5 third. Still, he’s just three shots off the lead in the early going of the final round.
We’re currently two-thirds of the way through the 2011 PGA TOUR Regular Season, as the FedEx St. Jude Classic marks the final 11-week stretch of 33 weeks toward the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Leader Robert Karlsson sits 98th in the FedExCup standings with just one top-10 in his first 10 starts of the season. That will obviously change today and could in a big way -- Karlsson could move as high as 27th with a victory this week.
Harrison Frazar, meanwhile, entered the week 178th in the FedExCup standings after coming off his first top-15 finish of the season at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he tied for 14th.
Frazar could potentially crack the top 70 in the standings with a win this week. He needs to finish solo fourth or better to move inside the top 125 in the standings.
Currently 145th in the standings, John Merrick could jump as
high as 32nd with a win. Merrick will likely need
to finish solo 14th to move inside the top 125.
Retief Goosen is 147th in the FedExCup standings with just one top-25 finish this season, but he too could make a big leap. Last year, Goosen accumulated 464 points in the final 11 weeks of the season, which included three top-10 finishes. Right now, he’s projected to move to 94th in the standings.
Thanks to seven birdies and just one bogey Saturday, Retief Goosen shot a 6-under 64 to move into contention at TPC Southwind.
Goosen’s round, which included four straight birdies over his final five holes, was nothing short of spectacular -- for one, he needed only 24 putts after hitting 76 percent of his greens in regulation.
“You have to grind it out there,” Goosen said. “It's not one of the longest courses we play on TOUR, but it's very tricky and especially these breezy conditions and the heat. The greens are getting crusty out there, too.”
This year hasn’t exactly been a banner one for Goosen -- he has just one top-25 in seven starts on the PGA TOUR -- but success here shouldn’t come as a shock. Goosen tied for 15th in this event last year and his 2001 U.S. Open came at equally hot Southern Hills.
The heat, or the difficulty of the course, didn’t bother Goosen either.
“I like tough golf courses,” Goosen said. “I'd rather feel like some holes par is a good score instead of birdie maybe is a good score.”
John Merrick, Cameron Tringale and Retief Goosen are among those making a move on moving day in Memphis, where they’re 3 under, 3 under and 4 under, respectively.
The bad news for them is that Robert Karlsson is also playing well, at 2 under through his first two holes and leading by three over Merrick. Tringale and Goosen, meanwhile, are seven shots back and among a cluster of players tied for fifth.
On the PGA TOUR in 2011, the second-round leader has gone on to win just five times in 23 stroke-play events on the season. Of course the last of those was just last week with Steve Stricker winning at Muirfield Village. And since the tournament moved to TPC Southwind in 1989, the second-round leader of the FedEx St. Jude Classic has gone on to win eight times, including in each of the last two years.