By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Zach Johnson didn't even wait to hear the whole question.
"I can interrupt you, there's no temptation for me," he said firmly.
Even if the tees are moved up this week at Muirfield Village's 14th hole, a 325-yard par 4, don't look for the recent winner of the BMW Championship to take out the big stick and try to drive the green.
"It's not even an option," Johnson said. "It's an iron and then a wedge regardless of where the pin is for me."
The hole features a downhill tee shot to a tree-lined valley with a creek on the left that angles across the fairway and eventually frames the right side of an elongated green. There are ample bunkers to the left side of the green, as well, to catch errant shots.
But did we mention, it's just over 300 yards? Surely someone will be tempted.
Maybe, maybe not. Phil Mickelson, who has been known to take a few chances here and there, agrees with Johnson's assessment.
"14 will be up to each player, but as a player who likes to go for it, even I have a hard time of understanding the advantage of going for it," Mickelson said. "Very simply put, there's water right, bunkers left with a green that's so severely pitched, you can't stop it on the green.
"There's no place to miss it; and the target is so much smaller than the fairway that I'm going to hit 6-iron and a wedge in, unless we move up to another 40 yards to the ladies tee where it's a 240-yard hole or something like that, it will be a lay up. I don't anticipate many of our guys if any going for it."
Mickelson's partner, Keegan Bradley, sees the risk and acknowledges it might be greated than the reward.
"It's very difficult to make birdie on that hole if you go for it and don't hit the green," Bradley said. "I think you're going to see a lot of guys still laying up on that hole because it's so brutal. But it's definitely right there. Pretty much everybody in the field is going to be able to at least contend to hit it on the green."
Webb Simpson, who plays with Bill Haas on Thursday, says certain pins might be more tempting than others. Ditto for how the match stands.
"I think there's so many different types of strategy," Simpson said. "I mean, depending on who is up first, where you stand in the match, I certainly think the right pins make more sense to go for it because if the pin is on the left side and you're left of the green where you are going to hit it, you don't have a chance to get it close.
"... Again, if you go into the hole and you're three up, it kind of makes sense to me to hit two irons down there so you have two birdie putts. But I think you'll see game time decisions there where I might have a driver out hitting second and they both hit it in the water and I'll hit iron."
DUBLIN, Ohio -- A preview of the Thursday Four-Ball match between the American duo of Bill Haas-Webb Simpson vs. the International duo of Adam Scott-Hideki Matsuyama. Tee time for this match is 11:59 a.m. ET.
ALL-TIME PRESIDENTS CUP RECORDS
1-3-1 (1-1-0 Four-Ball)
10-13-2 (5-4-1 Four-Ball)
3-2-0 (1-1-0 Four-Ball)
United States: These two former Wake Forest All-Americans had hoped to play together in their Presidents Cup debuts in Australia but Simpson and Bubba Watson simply had too much success to split them up. Over the last two years, Haas and Simpson have played lots of practice rounds together and they finally get their chance on Thursday. Complementary games and temperaments should help this team mesh, but Scott and the rookie Matsuyama could prove to be an explosive opponent. "It's going to be tough," Simpson said. "Adam has had a great year ... Hideki won a few weeks ago. So we've got our work cut out for us, but honestly I knew before I looked at the pairings that who we were going to be playing was tough." -- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
International: The 21-year-old Matsuyama played a couple of practice rounds with Scott at the U.S. and British Opens this year and has spent the last two days looking looked relaxed and comfortable around the Aussie. Given the experience of Scott (and caddie Steve Williams), this is a sensible pairing for the Japanese sensation in his first Presidents Cup. Don't be surprised if they play together multiple times, much the way Ernie Els did with Ryo Ishikawa two years ago. -- Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Helen Ross: International. Matsuyama may be a rookie, but he's in a Jordan Spieth-like mold.
Brian Wacker: International. The Aussie will carry the load.
Now it's your turn. Which team will win this match? Join the discussion below.
The Presidents Cup Captain's Picks are in.
Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth are the two picks by Fred Couples for the U.S. team.
Marc Leishman of Australia and Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe are the picks by Nick Price for the International team.
Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson did not make the U.S. team. Tim Clark and Geoff Ogilvy were among the International players who were not picked.
What do you think of the picks by Couples and Price? Join the discussion.
WEDNESDAY'S COVERAGE OF CAPTAIN'S PICKS
The four Captain's Picks for this year's Presidents Cup will be announced at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, Sept. 4, on the Golf Channel. At 2:20 p.m. ET, PGATOUR.COM will carry a live audio stream of the two captains and the picks discussing the choices.
U.S. captain Fred Couples and International captain Nick Price will each select two players to complete their 12-man rosters for their respective Presidents Cup teams. The selections will be announced at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday.Ten players earned spots on each team through points rankings, which closed Monday.
Who do you think the captains should select? Below is a chart listing the statistics of some of the captains' top choices. Will Couples choose two veterans, or will he take 20-year-old Jordan Spieth? Or will Couples give a spot to Webb Simpson, who was bumped from the team at the 11th hour? Five of Price's 10 team members are rookies? Will he choose players in good form, or try to fill his roster with veterans? Leave your opinion in the comments below.
|11. Webb Simpson||20||25||23||0||1||0||4||T-53|
|12. Dustin Johnson||23||23||20||1||1||0||5||T-27|
|13. Jim Furyk||15||15||20||0||1||1||6||T-27|
|22. Jordan Spieth||10||28||21||1||2||0||8||T-4|
|11. Thongchai Jaidee||N/A||58||18*||0||1||1||5||DNP|
|12. Marc Leishman||58||59||22||0||0||0||4||T-16|
|13. Tim Clark||80||60||20||0||1||0||3||MC|
|14. Brendon de Jonge||26||70||28||0||0||0||4||T-9|
|18. Geoff Ogilvy||104||94||19||0||1||0||1||DNP|
|22. K.J. Choi||73||106||24||0||0||0||2||T-41|
Note: players listed by ranking in team points; DBC finish is finish at Deutsche Bank Championship; *-European Tour events.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- How close was the race for the final spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team? Well, it came down to a putt on Zach Johnson's final hole of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday.
When No. 11 Steve Stricker finished second at TPC Boston, he moved into the seventh spot and qualified for his fifth Presidents Cup team. That left Webb Simpson, who ranked ninth at the start of the week, and Zach Johnson, who was No. 10, to battle it out for the final spot.
Johnson needed to earn $29,437 more than Simpson to earn the final spot. He had a a little more than $5,000 to spare when that closing birdie moved Johnson into an eight-way tie for 27th while Simpson, who had bogeyed two of his last four holes, finished in a four-way tie for 53rd.
When told that final birdie landed him in the top 10, Johnson was was surprised.
"If that's the case, I wish there were a way we could somehow be tied for 10th," he said. "Just because I want Webb on the team. I know how he plays."
As it happened, Johnson and Simpson started the final round tied for 56th and were playing together during the final round. Johnson said he thought about the irony of the situation at the start of the round but soon found himself concentrating on his own game.
"And then I made that putt on 9," Johnson said. "I didn't know what the point situation was, between he and I. Actually I thought he was at 8. I thought he jumped to eighth last week. But I guess you've got to go into it and just play.
"And I stayed in my process. I stayed just playing and hitting shots. I had a good day today. I missed some short putts, but I made some long putts. It was an odd day."
Simpson said he knew the two were extremely close in the Presidents Cup standings and that "every shot counted."
"It was hard not to think about it," Simpson said. "But, you know, with all the (weather) delays we've had, my mind's just kind of gone. But he played great. ... He's a great competitor."
Simpson, who played on the last Presidents Cup team in Australia, now must wait until Wednesday to see whether U.S. Captain Fred Couples makes him one of his two picks. He plans to go home to Charlotte, "shut the house down" and wait, adding that he knew Couples has a difficult choice.
"I'd love to make the team," Simpson said. "I'd love to be a pick. I thought about it the last two years, ever since we won in Australia. I'm trusting in the Lord and know that it's going to be a good off season, no matter what."
Both players advanced to the BMW Championship. And Johnson, who said he was "absolutely honored" to make the team, felt good about what he's accomplished in his last six starts that included a string of five straight top-eight finishes.
"And I don't like to be a proud-filled man, the last two and a half, three months I've turned my game around," Johnson said. "I've played consistent golf. I had a hiccup on Friday, bogeyed my last three out of four holes. And outside of that I don't even know. I don't know what I've done.
"Just a lot of solid, solid golf. And I think it just reaffirms what I'm doing. It reaffirms that I have a great team. Great leadership. Trust. I trust in the Lord in everything I do."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- The early pace has been set by Phil Mickelson. Now the question is can anyone from the afternoon wave catch him?
Here's a look at who and what to keep an eye on this afternoon from TPC Boston (all times ET):
Luke Donald, 12:22 p.m.: The once No. 1 player in the world and top-10 machine has just four top 10s this year, but he has had success here, finishing second in 2010 and third in 2011.
Sergio Garcia, 12:22 p.m.: Five years ago, Garcia finished fifth at TPC Boston. This year, he comes in looking for his first top 10 since THE PLAYERS Championship. At 59th in the FedExCup standings, however, he is safe for getting into the BMW Championship.
Rory McIlroy, 12:46 p.m.: What a difference a year makes. Last season, McIlroy was on top of the world and would win here and at the BMW Championship. This time he's just hoping to salvage what has been a mostly lost season. TPC Boston suits him well and this week could be telling.
Jason Day, Webb Simpson, 12:46p.m.: Day is playing with a sore wrist, but he has a good history here with a runner-up in 2010 and a third-place finish the following year. Likewise with Simpson, who won here in 2011.
Steve Stricker, Charl Schwartzel, 12:58 p.m.: This week marks Stricker's first Playoffs event of the year, while Schwartzel is making just his third appearance at TPC Boston (he's never finished in the top 20).
Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, 1:10 p.m.: Rose nearly forced a playoff last week before finishing one back of winner Adam Scott. Snedeker, meanwhile, is trying to regain his early-season form as he tries to become the first player to win back-to-back FedExCups.
Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, 1:10 p.m.: Given Johnson's length, TPC Boston sets up well for him. Twice he has finished in the top 5 here. Fowler, meanwhile, is coming off a top 10 last week.
Ernie Els, 1:34 p.m.: The Big Easy is on the outside looking in at 91st in the FedExCup standings. In the FedExCup era, Els has never not made it to at least the BMW Championship.
Watch Tiger Woods' win in 2006, Mickelson and Woods duel in 2007, Vijay Singh's masterful putting in 2008, Steve Stricker's win in 2009, Charley Hoffman's in 2010 and Webb Simpson in 2011.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- For much of the 2013 PGA TOUR season, Webb Simpson has been one round away from a putting together a really good finish; maybe even producing the fourth win of his career.
Simpson's best week undoubtedly came back in April at the RBC Heritage where he lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell. He's got two other fifth place finishes, as well as a tie for sixth.
At the same time, though, there have been weeks like the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational where he opened with a 64 but shot 11 strokes higher in the second round and went on to tie for 14th.
So finding consistency has been a goal, but Simpson feels like he's on the right track -- particularly after shooting 66 Friday at The Barclays. He's 9 under and owns a two-stroke lead at the midway point of the second round.
"I do," Simpson said when asked if he was close to putting four rounds together. "That's my hope. I think my bad shots are getting better, and I've been putting well now for a couple months. So it's always nice when you are having a day when you're struggling a little bit, get the ball in the hole and make some pars.
"But the best test for what you're working on is getting in contention on the weekend on the PGA TOUR. I'm excited to be in contention. Like I said, there's a lot of golf to play. We have half the tournament done, about halfway to go, and it's just nice to kind of be in there and have a chance I think."
Interestingly, the last time The Barclays was played at Liberty National, Simpson also held the lead at the midway point before finishing eighth. He loves the proximity of the course to one of his favorite cities and says the greens at Liberty National remind him of Donald Ross greens which gives him a comfort zone.
"I grew up in Raleigh playing on Pinehurst and playing a lot of Donald Ross courses," Simpson said. "They are undulating; the putts break a lot and you have to use a lot of imagination around the greens. I think I'm just used to it and I enjoy it.
"And you know, I was thinking about it when I signed my card, I guess last time I shot one shot worse, but was in the lead. So it's nice to kind of repeat those feelings and the temporary leader, I guess, after two days."
Simpson, who shot his low round of the season, a 63, on Sunday on another Donald Ross course during the final round of the Wyndham Championship, played 29 holes on Friday. He capped off the first-round 67 with a birdie at the par-5 18th that he said was playing like a par 5 and carried the momentum into the next 18 holes.
Simpson started his second round on the back nine with a bogey but ended up making the turn in even par. He got hot on the front nine, though -- making six birdies in the first eight holes on the way to the 66.
"It was playing fast, the greens were firming out," Simpson recalled. "But then I guess humidity kind of set in and the front nine played a lot softer. So I was able to get on a nice run there, birdied six of eight holes. It feels great to play good on a long day."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Webb Simpson is a glass-half-full kind of guy.
So the former U.S. Open champion is not overly concerned when he looks at his results this year and sees some really low rounds followed by rounds when he fails to break par.
"I'd rather be shooting the low and highs than not really getting the lows," Simpson explained. "I know the game is there. We just really analyze why am I not putting four rounds together, why am I not being more consistent?
"I feel confident that the stuff we're working on, I'm getting better. I think more than anything the mistakes, I'm making more bogeys this year, just sloppy mistakes. They're mental mistakes that lead to physical mistakes."
Prime examples can be found in his last two tournaments. Simpson fired a 64 on Firestone -- a course he had never played before -- to grab the first-round lead at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He followed that with a round of 73 and went on to tie for 14th.
And last week during the second round of the PGA Championship, Simpson was 7 under through 15 holes -- and working on a potential share of the major championship record had he parred in -- only to bogey the next. He followed that 64 with a 73, though, and ended up tied for 25th.
Of course, the 64 was quite a nice little comeback after Simpson's first round at Oak Hill where he didn't make a par until the ninth hole and turned in 40.
"There's a lot of good the last couple of tournaments, finishing 14th and 25th making as many bogeys as I did is a good thing," Simpson said. "My hope for this week is that I kind of iron some of those things out last few days and make less bogeys."
Simpson comes to Greensboro with four top-10s but still seeking his first win since that major breakthrough at the Olympic Club -- and the Wyndham Championship certainly should be a confidence-builder. The former Wake Forest All-American, who now lives in Charlotte, earned his first PGA TOUR win at Sedgefield in 2011 and tied for eighth the previous year.
"I'm lucky because I get two events in my home state every year, Charlotte and Greensboro," Simpson said. "It's always nice to be home. It always feels like I'm hopefully home when I have my car here. Love being here, love being back in Greensboro, love Sedgefield.
"You know, just blown away with how good the golf course is right now even with the big storms we got in the last couple days and the greens are perfect. Some of the fastest and most pure greens we'll play all year. So, they're doing it right here and excited for the week."