Friday, September 19, 2008

Alan Bastable, senior editor for Golf Magazine, live blogged the afternoon's four-ball matches. Mike Walker's description of a dramatic morning is here. TOTAL SCORE: U.S. LEADS 5-1/2 to 2-1/2 Mickelson/Kim vs. Harrington/McDowell: USA WINS 2 up Stricker/Curtis vs. Poulter/Rose: EUR WINS 3 and 2Leonard/Mahan vs. Garcia/Jimenez: USA WINS 4 and 3 Holmes/Weekley vs. Westwood/Hansen: HALVED

7:20 p.m. That’s a wrap for Day 1. The final tally: Boo-nited States of America 5 1/2, Europe 2 1/2. Quite a day. Good night… 7:18 p.m. Westwood and Hansen deliver, hitting a pair of solid shots up to the green. With Boo and Holmes both dropping from the drink, this match is as a good as halved. You have to appreciate the resolve of the Euros -- this match looked over 30 minutes ago. 7:14 p.m. Reader K. O'Connor weighs in: "This is heading towards being another Ryder cup devoid of golfing manners and etiquette." No doubt an observation based on Boo's theatrics. Something tells me there's plenty more where that came from. 7:10 p.m. More musings from Reilly. Best line: "It was sheer Mahan out there." 7:08 p.m. Disastrous drives for the Yanks -- both are wet. Two beauties for the Euros. 7:03 p.m. Boo birdies. Westwood does, too. On to 18 ... 7:00 p.m. Nice recovery from Hansen. He sticks it to five feet only to be answered by ... who? Boo, that's who. [Sorry, I've been doing this for 6 hours now. My brain is like meatloaf.] But, wait, here's come Westwood's approach, also tight! And now Holmes, all over it, too! Think these guys want it much? Great stuff, boys. 6:57 p.m. Hansen's drive was worse than it looked. He had to take an unplayable. 6:55 p.m. Oh, forgot to mention -- anyone catch Michael Jordan needling Faldo earlier in the telecast? Nick wasn't having any of it. 6:51 p.m. Hansen blows his drive left at 17. The old superb-shot-followed-by-a-clunker syndrome. You see it all the time in this maddening game. Even at the pro level. 6:48 p.m. Hold the phone! Hansen answers Boo by draining a chip from behind the green, leaving a spectating Mickelson downright dumbstruck. You know what they say -- no Dane, no game. 6:44 p.m. BOO-S-A! BOO-S-A! BOO-S-A! Weekley just fired one close at 16. Discouragingly, Holmes had a wedge in his hand after a monster drive and yanked his approach 20 yards left of the green. He's looked shaky at times. 6:35 p.m. Boo's the man. His hootin' and hollerin' and general crowd ignitin' is just what the U.S. team needed. Like Dennis Rodman or Bill Laimbeer, he's proving to be the kind of guy you hate to play against. Just ask Westwood -- Boo's been under his skin all day long. 6:29 p.m. From the edge of the hazard line, Holmes airmails one into the grandstand at 15 -- never a bad play given the free drop that follows. Boo also flies the green. Westwood finds the middle of the green. Hansen's in good shape, too. A quick word on what this week means to the little-known Hansen, courtesy of “Bernhard Langer had a six foot putt to win The Ryder Cup at Kiwiah Island in 1991 – do you want that putt this coming Sunday?” Hansen was asked recently. He looked his interrogator straight in the eye and answered instantly: “Of course I do – that’s why we are all here, it’s what I have been dreaming about since I was a kid. “I used to do it all the time when I had those putts on the practice green back home when I was a kid. I used to say to myself ‘this one for The Ryder Cup’, and when I made it I would imagine that I had won The Ryder Cup for Europe. That is my dream.” 6:09 p.m. One match left to settle: Boo/Holmes v. Westwood/Hansen. "God dang, did it again!" Boo says as he rips his drive into the tree left on 15. J.B.'s no better, blasting his into the junk right. I'm real interested to see how this match plays out. It'll eat at Westwood to lose to these guys. 6:09 p.m. Leonard chipped in at 14, forcing the Spaniards to make a putt to keep the match alive -- they don't do it. Mahan and J.Lo win 4&3. What a day for those two. Meanwhile, at 18, Phil and Kim seal the deal when McDowell can't get up and down. The points are rolling in for the U.S. just like their putts. 5:59 p.m. Curtis and Stricker concede the match to Rose and Poulter at 16, ensuring that as little as we saw Curtis today, we'll see even less of him tomorrow. 5:57 p.m. McDowell just McDunked his approach into the greenside bunker, wasting a good opportunity. Somehow, he or Paddy need to make birdie for any chance of scratching out a halve. 5:54 p.m. Worth keeping in mind some of these guys have been out here for 33, 34, 35 holes today. Probably not a huge factor today, but there's lots more golf to play. Timid approach by Phil to the 18th green, pushing a fairway wood up the left; Kim lays up. Harrington, for the second time today, is in the fairway bunker up the left side. 5:51 p.m. Here we go -- the Kim/Mickelson match is on its way up the home hole. The Americans can do no worse than a half point. McDowell just hit the best drive of the day on this hole. Needs to take advantage. Back at 13, more cries of Booooooooooo as he sticks it tight on the island green. 5:45 p.m. Man, Westwood is seething. Boo just dropped a bomb at 12 and threw up his hands to fuel the crowd. Boo was hardly out of line, but Westwood looks ticked. Meanwhile, Phil for birdie at 17 -- yes! Curtis for birdie at 15 -- no! 5:38 p.m. BEN CURTIS SIGHTING! BEN CURTIS SIGHTING! 5:37 p.m. How about Mahan? And props to Zinger for picking him in spite of Mahan's "controversial" comments a couple months back. The guy is wired to go low and when he's get rolling (like he is now) nobody can keep up with him. Hell, he could be on his way to 5 points. 5:28 p.m. Poulter drops a dagger at 15, sending he and Rose 3-up. I wasn't so sure about that pairing, but they're stepping up. Poulter, in particular. Kid's got moxie. 5:21 p.m. Seriously, is Ben Curtis even playing? ESPN hasn't shown him once. Poor Mr. and Mrs. Curtis. 5:19 p.m. A butterfly just chased Kim's ball to the hole at 16 (he missed the putt). Very Silence of the Lambs, though not as creepy as the leprechauns. 5:14 p.m. A PGA official just informed Tirico on the air that the Stricker/Curtis vs. Poulter/Rose match was just put on the clock. So what? Is there a penalty? Can one team be docked a hole? Tirico never asked. Poor job. 5:12 p.m. All eyes are on the lead match, now at 16. If Kim and Phil can steal a point there, the U.S. will have a 4-1 lead. What a boon to the Yanks still on the course. 5:08 p.m. Um, good thing they didn't pick up. Boo, the one guy to hit it close, just downed a bird for the win. Boo, phone, Holmes -- it's all square! 5:05 p.m. Less than stellar short-game play from the Boo group at 10. Holmes and Hansen fluff would-be flop shots into a 15-foot bank, Westwood runs a chip well past the hole. It's the kind of hole at which you just want to let everyone pick up and move to the next tee. 5:00 p.m. Kim splashed his approach at 15, but Phil has a 15-footer to halve .... missed it. All square thanks to McDowell's birdie. Meanwhile, Jiminez just cut into the Mahan/J.Lo lead with a birdie at 11. Arriba! 4:53 p.m. Graeme McDowell's game is nothing short of studly. Look forward to seeing more of him this weekend. 4:49 p.m. Whoa, you gotta see Jiminez's practice swing. Looks likes he trying to swat a gnat. Jiminez, I believe, talks to his ball in Spanish. Sergio yaps to his in English. If they play alternate-shot together, they'll need a bilingual ball. 4:42 p.m. Clank. Sergio just rammed one of the stick with a chip shot at 10. Kim drops a birdie at 14 to give him and Phil a 1-up lead. Kim then stokes the crowd as Phil does his sheepish thing. Man, quite a reversal in that match. 4:36 p.m. Rick Reilly chimes in with an essay about why Team USA will prevail. To paraphrase: No Monty. No Clarke. Boo hunts alligators. Too many nice Scandinavians. Who the hell is Oliver Wilson? The end. 4:28 p.m. After a brilliant shot from a fairway bunker at No. 13, Phil has a six-footer to square his match. Draino. 4:26 p.m. Reader Bruce B. on why Kim chokes up his grips: "AK grew up choking down on the club. He has tried shorter shafts and doesn't like them." 4:21 p.m. Ben Curtis. Hadn't mentioned his name yet. Now I have. 4:20 p.m. J.B. Holmes ignites the fans with a bird at No. 8. Westwood immediately deflates the crowd with a birdie of his own. Now it's Mahan's turn at No. 9 -- he drops in a birdie to vault he and J.Lo back to 2-up. The putters are rolling on both sides. 4:15 p.m. More slow play talk. Judy Rankin notes that Harrington, a historically slow player, has moved around like a slug today. A slug with a red-hot putter. The dude just does not miss. After another Harrington bomb at 12, Tirico said it's like Paddy's aiming at a man hole. 4:09 p.m. Concessions are tricky business. Give a guy too many two- or three-footers and you’re not testing him under the mind-numbing pressure of the Ryder Cup. Make a guy hit too many from that length and its poor sportsmanship. Sometimes I feel like guys should just have to hole out everything to remove any awkwardness or hurt feelings from the proceedings. 4:07 p.m. Boo for eagle at 7 .... um, no. So he and Hansen trade birdies and the Euros stay 2-up through seven. The gallery needs some Red Bull. Awfully still out there. 3:57 p.m. Ooooooh, Westwood gave Boo "the stare" after Boo's lively reaction to his approach at No. 7. It's on, baby! 3:52 p.m. Is it just me or has there been a dearth of wives-and-girlfriends reaction shots? C'mon, ESPN. These gals put a lot of thought into their outifts. How 'bout a little air time? Boo just stuck his approach at No. 7, setting the Boo Birds atwitter. 3:50 p.m. Mahan and J.Lo just conceded the seventh after the Armada both left themselves with eagle tries. Suddenly the U.S. lead is looking very tenuous. Holmes just hit driver through the fairway at seven. Suspect choice when a 7-iron probably would have done the trick. 3:45 p.m. I'm not a huge fan of Team USA's shirts. They look like the sign at the top of a difficult ski trail. But word is they're available to the public for the first time in Ryder Cup history. Retail price: a mere $96. 3:36 p.m. Poulter sinks a bird at No. 7 and follows it with a fiery fist pump. You get the sense he knows he's playing for his reputation (and Faldo's). Like to see that passion. Someone (I missed who) just remarked that "you could fall asleep" watching Soren Hansen's easy tempo. Great line. 3:26 p.m. When Harrington's staring down a shot he likes, he looks like a squirrel. Seriously, watch him next time. 3:24 p.m. Stricker just dunked his approach in the drink at the havoc-wreaking seventh -- after struggling with his club selection. Should have taken one more club, Steve-o. Westwood drops a putt at No. 5 to push his team 2-up. 3:20 p.m. The biggest difference between today's matches and those from recent Cups is how easily teams have clawed back from 2- and even 3-down deficits. At the last five Ryder Cups, 2-down has been the breaking point, particularly for the Yanks. In our September issue, we crunched the numbers and determined that in the 140 Ryder Cup matches (team play and singles) contested between 1997 and 2006, the U.S. has come back from 2-down (or worse) just 13 times—seven times halving the match and six times winning it outright. Even Europe, in all its dominance, accomplished the feat just 21 times. Needless to say, it's been a different story today. 3:16 p.m. Another blue flag. Poulter cozies up his birdie putt at No. 6 to win the hole and go 1-up over Stricker and Curtis. Phil birdies No. 9 to get one back. North notes that Phil is progressively taking on more of a leadership role with Kim. Earlier in the week, Phil said his only charge this week was to play well. 3:09 p.m. Hicks and Miller check out -- nice gig. What'd they work? An hour and a half? Mike Tirico and Andy North, who worked the morning matches, take back the wheel. 3:08 p.m. "There was nothing good about that putt," Miller says of Holmes birdie attempt at No. 4. The miss gives Westwood/Hansen the hole and a 1-up lead. Two blue flags on the leaderboard now. 3:03 p.m. McDowell's biridie at 8 wins the hole -- Irishmen back to 2-up. Hicks just ventured that the Ryder Cup is the hottest ticket in golf. Nah, nothing trumps the Masters. 2:55 p.m. Faldo gives his take on the morning session to ESPN's Tom Rinaldi: "In that present time in history the Americans were better than us." Poetic stuff. 2:51 p.m. Four birdie attempts at the par-3 8th for the lead group. Hot dang, McDowell drains his, a 30-foot downhiller over a tier! That's McD's third bird in the last five holes. Those leprechauns are working. 2:48 p.m. Kim must choke up two or three inches on his grips. Can't he just get shorter shafts? 2:46 p.m. George Bush (41) is in the house, taking in the action next to Tim Finchem. McDowell has been impressive in the early-going. Just missed an eagle try at 7. Love to see guys with no RC experience hang tough. Kim bangs in his birdie to halve the hole. Meanwhile, J.Lo pours in a birdie at No. 4, which Garcia answers. Good stuff. Garcia hasn't looked his usual unbeatable Ryder Cup self today, but perhaps he's just heating up. 2:39 p.m. I could watch the seventh hole all day. It's a reachable par-5 with two fairways, and there's trouble lurking in all directions. The ideal match play hole. I wonder if Boo feels even a lick of nerves. He's probably eyeing the brush for bucks. 2:32 p.m. Dan Hicks just said Jiminez is the "coolest guy to ever sport a pony tail." Somehwere Steven Seagal is stewing. Garcia misses a chance to halve the third and Mahan/J.Lo go 2 up. 2:28 p.m. Much was made of Zinger awarding himself two extra captain's picks, but his reasoning was sound. Over the last five Ryder Cups the two U.S. captain’s picks have outperformed the ninth and 10th qualifiers by an average of 3.6 points to 2.5 points per competition. So far, so good. Mahan is blazing, Campbell and Stricker look steady, and Holmes birdied his first hole. 2:21 p.m. Mahan's en fuego. Another biridie at 2, but Jiminez matches. Johnny Miller gets on Harrington for his unremarkable Ryder Cup record. "There are tournament players," Miller says, "and there are Ryder Cup players." McDowell's misses a short putt at 6 and Phil and Kim cut their deficit to 1-down. 2:18 p.m. The commentators get on Holmes for his slow play. I'd like to see them say that to his face. Soren Hansen's birdie putt at No. 1 nips a spike mark. Boo and J.B. will have a shot to win the hole ... and Holmes drops his putt in. Nice start for the local kid. Making good already. 2:06 p.m. Booooooooooooooooo! Weekley just hit his first shot as a Ryder Cupper. His drive at No. 1 bounded into the right rough. Now it's J.B. Holmes -- the long-bomber. He smacks one up the left side -- good shape. Should be a fun group to follow. 2:03 p.m. Holy smokes, Phil just hit a 370-yard drive at No. 5. Mahan continues to roll -- just dropped in a lengthy birdie putt to take the first hole. 2:01 p.m. I'm not a fan of the Phil-Kim pairing. Never was. Phil is Phil, a risk-taker, often at the worst of moments. Kim is young and fearless, think: Phil circa 1993. If they get going in the wrong direction, it could go all wrong in a hurry.    1:57 p.m. Tough start for the Armada -- Jiminez and Garcia both missed the green at No. 1.    1:54 p.m. Wow -- McDowell's approach at No. 4 just got intimate with the flagstick. He then cleaned up his birdie putt to give him and Paddy a 3-up lead.  1:50 p.m. More over-zealous photographers. "Too early!" Poulter just said to a snapper near the second tee. The third match just got underway. The new Spanish Armada (Garcia-Jiminez, who are 7-1-3 in RC four-ball play) vs. Hunter Mahan and J.Lo, who just blasted his opening tee shot way right.  1:45 p.m. Through the early-going Valhalla has held up well. It has a nice mix of holes, plenty of risk-reward, and it looks pretty on TV. took a tough look at some of the other reasons why Valhalla, which the PGA of America owns, got the call for the ’08 Ryder Cup: “…the PGA is saving as much as $6 million in course-rental fees and will keep all profits, which hit $25 million the last time the event was held in the U.S. … the PGA [also] won't have to share profits with the host course as it did with the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan.” 1:40 p.m. Phil misses a 12-footer for par at 3. The Irishmen snag a quick 2-up lead. Poulter misses his birdie try at the first. And here comes Stricker with his birdie putt at the first ... and he missed, too. Miller just said Stricker putts like he's 17 years old. Not sure if that was compliment or an insult.    1:34 p.m. Poulter throws a dart to the first green and Stricker answers for the Yanks. Surprised to see Poults out there again. Poulter one of Faldo's captain's picks — much to the chagrein of Darren Clarke and Monty fans. If Poulter doesn't deliver this week, Faldo will get burned at the stake by the Euro press. 1:31 p.m. Kim misses a short par putt at No. 2 in the wake of a Mickelson bogey. The Irishmen go 1-up. Hey, Johnny Miller joined the telecast! Always a boon for us TV bloggers.  1:25 p.m. On to the four-ball part of the Friday program. Each man plays his own rock, take the best score of two. Mickelson-Kim v. Harrington-McDowell is already underway and all-square thanks to matching birdies at the par-4 first by Phil and Paddy. Bear with me for another update—ESPN is running through highlights from the morning matches. 1:21 p.m.  Thanks, Herbert Walker Wind. Great work as always, and you’re right about those leprechauns. They’re like something out of a low-budget horror flick. Well, well, well … gutsy play by the Americans this morning—precisely the start they needed. Leonard and Mahan drop 2-down thru 2, then play beautifully to win the match on 16.  Phil and Kim storm back from 3-down thru 12 to get a halve—albeit with a shaky close. (If Kim, after flubbing that bunker shot at 18, had missed the putt to halve, it would have left a major scar.) Cink and Campbell claw back from 3-down thru 7 to snag a point. (Props to Campbell for finding his game after a listless first few holes.) On the downside, Perry and Furyk (who just doesn’t look like his old, steely self) flitted away a 2-up lead with two to play and had to settle for a halve. Bottom line: USA 3, Europe 1. Zinger couldn’t have asked for more. 

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