Live Presidents Cup coverage: Friday four-ball

Friday October 9th, 2009

Bastable_66x80 Alan Bastable, senior editor for GOLF Magazine, live-blogged Friday's Presidents Cup matches. Presidents Cup Leaderboard7:57 p.m.  So there you have it. The U.S. and International teams pick up three points a piece in today's four-ball matches, and the U.S. maintains its one-point lead. Tomorrow's format: five matches of foursomes followed by five matches of four-ball. A loooooong day, especially for those guys who will play 36. Couples just told GC that he'll likely send out the same pairings Saturday that he did Thursday. Is there any chance Freddie might break up Woods and Stricker? "Not unless they tie me up and I can't get to the pairings [selection]," Couples said.Enjoy the action. And thanks for joining us...      

 7:50 p.m. Ahead at 18, Tim Clark continues to prove his mettle as a world-class match player (you might remember him beating Tiger at the Accenture earlier this year). After a brilliant second shot to 15 feet on the par-5 18th, he cans his eagle putt for the win. A monster, must-have point for the Internationals, who at day's end have narrowed the U.S. lead to just one. It's the U.S. 6.5 to the International's 5.5. All that stuff I said about blowouts? Yeah, a little premature.    7:43 p.m. Gritty birdie putt from Allenby at 17. He drains it from 15 feet, forcing Johnson to make his bird from 7 feet. It's Zach's second chance in two holes to close out the match and ... "GET IN THE HOLE" — yikes, a fan yells just as Johnson is about to putt. ("And that's why alcohol is bad," Zinger says.) No matter, Johnson step up again and rolls it in. Fist pump. Win. Another U.S. point.  7:35 p.m. Just two matches still on the course: Johnson/Mahan v. Allenby/Villegas, who are on 17. And Cink/Glover v. Clark/Singh, who just teed off on 18. If the U.S. wins both, they'll have a 7.5 to 4.5 lead. That's not insurmountable for the Internationals, but ... actually, yes, it would be insurmountable. As I said earlier, this U.S. dominance thing is bad news for the Presidents Cup. The event needs rivalry, tension and drama—and blowouts don't breed any of that.  7:27 p.m. Johnson misses a 6-footer at 16 to win the match. He and Mahan remain 2 up ... with two holes to play.7:25 p.m. The Big Easy has done his part—two points in two matches. Back at 15, Woods and Stricker seal the deal. They're 5-and-3 winners. Looks like Tiger has found his teammate for the 2010 Ryder Cup.7:21 p.m. Furyk misses a 25-footer at the par-5 18th to potentially halve the match. Gave it a good roll, but he leaves it low. The Yanks concede their opponents' putts and the Internationals—Els and Weir—win the match 2 up.   7:16 p.m. Weirsy, at 18, faces a shot with which most 15-handicappers are familiar. He's in dense rough up the left of the fairway, two feet from a fence. The result: one of the shots of the week. A fairway-wood laser up the gut of the fairway and onto the green. Capt. Norman, who's onlooking, nearly comes out of his sling. 7:10 p.m. Glover cards his first birdie, but it didn't come easy. He chipped in from behind the green at 16. He and Cink and now 1 up.7:05 p.m. A.K. misses the 18th fairway by a football field. Golf Mag's Mike Walker says he'll need Google Earth to find it.  7:03 p.m. The best performance of the day: Azinger's. He's often given credit for bringing out the best in Faldo, but today he's simply out-commentated him. No contest. Azinger's more candid and critical, but the biggest difference between the two is that Zinger doesn't need to be teed up by his analyst. He get the sense that he could run the show solo. 6:59 p.m. Els makes a 12-footer at 17, and he and Weir go 1-up. Gutsy putt. 6:55 p.m. The critical matches are both all square: Glover/Cink v. Singh/Clark, thru 15andFuryk/Kim v. Els/Weir, thru 16 6:52 p.m. Zach Johnson rolls in a 7-footer for birdie at the par-3 14th. The moment he struck that tee shot, he walked after it like a tiger stalking his prey. Love the confidence. Back at 13, Tiger drains a birdie putt from 10 feet. He and Stricker are 3 up. Put that one in the books.  6:45 p.m. These late afternoon matches are taking on some gravity. If the close matches go the Americans' way, the weekend could be a dog of a tournament with Team USA running away with the Cup. If the Internationals can steal back a couple more points, they might not grab the lead, but they will gather some momentum, which in team play is always a boon. In other words, the tournament could be won or lost in the next hour or so.  6:36 p.m.  A look at the leaderboard...OVERALL SCORE: U.S.: 4.5, INT'L: 3.5TODAY'S FOUR-BALL MATCHES: U.S. WINS Mickelson/Leonard defeat Goosen/Scott, 3 and 2INTERNATIONAL WINS Ishikawa/Yang defeat Perry/O'Hair, 4 and 3 U.S. LEADS Furyk/Kim 1 up over Els/Weir, thru 15 Johnson/Mahan 2 up over Allenby/Villegas, thru 12 Stricker/Woods 3 up over Ogilvy/Cabrera, thru 11ALL SQUARESingh/Clark and Glover/Cink, thru 146:25 p.m. Was pleased to see Aussie Robert Allenby rip it up yesterday. Before Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley and Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott, Allenby was the Next Norman, a can’t-miss kid full of game and guts. Then came a car accident that nearly killed him (1996) and endless battles with his temper and his putting. Still, the guy seems to always show up (21 top-10s in the last three years). He told me a couple years back that he has adjusted his attitude and taken more of a no-worries approach to the game. Seems to be paying dividends. Amazing, I don't think GC's shown him hit a single shot today.6:20 p.m. Yang drops a bomb at 14 and he and Ishi are dormie. Classy play from them today. 6:17 p.m. Game, set, match. Leonard curls in a 10-foot birdie putt at 16, and he and Lefty win their match 3 and 2. 6:14 p.m. Ogilvy and Cabrera both miss the green at the par-3 11th. Tiger sticks a towering tee shot to 12 feet. Zinger: "There was so much integrity on that shot." I'm definitely using that line next time I tee it up. 6:11 p.m. Mark Rolfing jumps on the Phil Express, echoing comments made by Johnny Miller at the Tour Championship. "I think he is going to be a real threat to Tiger next year," Rolf says. Mickelson promptly dumps a wedge shot into the rough short of the 16th green. 6:07 p.m. O'Hair has not made a birdie through 13 holes. 6:02 p.m. Reader D.F. (Feherty, that you?) asks: "What was
Fred thinking when he paired Perry with O'Hair? Kenny & Zach were a
natural pairing as they both stated yesterday. They share many common
bonds. Perry and O'Hair, not so much." Couples said that a couple of his guys actually asked for different partners—not so much because they didn't gel with their foursome partners but because they just wanted to mix it up. I think Kenny and Zach fell into that category. Everybody knows Couples is laid back, but I'm stunned by how loose he's been this week. He seems to be treating this thing like a guys' weekend in Myrtle Beach. Hey, whatever works.    

5:51 p.m. We've seen very little of Johnson and Mahan on the telecast, but they're doing something right. They're 2 up thru 10. I liked that pairing the moment I heard it.5:46 p.m. Reader Gary on Olympic golf: "If they have the best amateurs there and step up, (unlike hockey, basketball, baseball etc) and NOT let the professionals play....i'll watch, otherwise i can catch these guys every weekend."Nice thought, Gary. But it's a fantasy. The day amateur golfers play in the Olympics will be the day they fill the bunkers with cotton candy and the water hazards with chocolate milk. 5:41 p.m. Your leaderboard...U.S. LEADS Mickelson/Leonard 2 up over Goosen/Scott, thru 14 Furyk/Kim 1 up over Els/Weir, thru 11 Johnson/Mahan 1 up over Allenby/Villegas, thru 9 Stricker/Woods 3 up over Ogilvy/Cabrera, thru 8INTERNATIONAL LEADS Ishikawa/Yang 3 up over Perry/O'Hair, thru 11 Singh/Clark 1 up over Glover/Cink, thru 105:37 p.m.  Ouch...O'Hair pushes his 10-foot birdie try at 10, and Ishikawa and Yang get it back to 3-up.  5:34 p.m.  Mickelson tries to seduce his tee shot at 14. "C'mon, honey!" he urges. It works, as he draws it in to 10 feet above the hole. Leonard is also close.5:31 p.m.  Who's that San Fran native standing behind the tee at the par-3 14th? Johnny Miller! "The players probably don't know Johnny's back there analyzing there skills," Zinger says. Yeah, assuming he can keep his trap shut.5:25 p.m.  The Internationals have squared a couple of the matches, leaving just three U.S. flags on the board. Nice point by TGC's Brian Hammons, who notes that neither Norman nor Couples is wired up with the customary captains' radios and ear pieces. I knew something was missing.  5:21 p.m.  Back to the action: Scott nearly jarred his approach at the 336-yard, par-4 14th. He continues to look impressive. Back at the par-4 8th, Woods, from 175 yards, hits it 15 feet below the hole. He'll have a good look at bird. 5:17 p.m.  Tiger's kryptonite: Ping-Pong. Zinger says he's the worst player on Team USA and that his wife Elin can whoop up on him. That's news to me. I thought he and Phil had played some hotly contested grudge matches. The best player, according to Zinger: Kenny Perry. Not sure Zach Johnson would agree. Somebody needs to get to the bottom of this. 5:11 p.m.  If you don’t know Harding Park, you may not realize that the hole configuration has been shuffled like a deck of cards in an effort to accommodate (what else?) corporate skyboxes and to make sure most of the matches reach the track’s best risk-reward hole: the par-4 18th. This week the bite-off-as-much-as-you-dare 18th is playing as the 15th, so unless a team is getting thumped, most matches will reach this hole. Smart move by the Tour.   5:06 p.m.  Here come Perry and O'Hair. Two straight birdies and they've cut their deficit to 2-down thru 9 holes. A Team USA romping—at least for today—is starting to feel inevitable.  5:03 p.m.  Right on cue ... after Leonard splits the fairway at 12, Mickelson hits his drive to Alcatraz.  5:00 p.m.  No mystery behind the captains’ strategies in today’s best-ball format: both Couples and Norman for the most part have paired their bombers with their bunters (if you’ll permit the term “bunter” for a guy who hits it 270). It ain’t nuclear physics: If your short, steady knocker can find the fairway, it frees up your big bopper to swing from his heels. That can mean a lot of fun—and “fores!” 4:55 p.m.  Woods drops a 10-footer at 6—he and Stricks are now 2 up. You hear that sound? It's a buzz saw. There's now five Old Glories on the scoreboard, albeit with a lot of 1-up leads. 4:53 p.m.  Zinger on Stricker's silky putting stroke: "He's a lot like Tiger. If he misses, [his putts are] at least looking at the hole." 4:50 p.m.  Nice. After butchering his tee shot at the par-3 9th, Scott sticks his tee shot at the par-3 11th. Let's see A-Rod do that. Between some solid play at Turning Stone last week and the last day and half at Harding Park, it appears Scotty may be on his way back. Let's hope so—the game needs him.  4:44 p.m.  Scores, glorious scores!ALL SQUARE Glover/Cink vs. Singh/Clark, thru 6 Johnson/Mahan vs. Allenby/Villegas, thru 5U.S. LEADS Mickelson/Leonard 1 up over Goosen/Scott, thru 9 Furyk/Kim 1 up over Els/Weir, thru 8 Stricker/Woods 1 up over Ogilvy/Cabrera, thru 5INTERNATIONAL LEADS Ishikawa/Yang 4 up over Perry/O'Hair, thru 74:42 p.m.  Scott misses a 10-footer to win the 10th. Lefty and Leonard remain 1 up.4:38 p.m.  Reader Ben on golf in the Olympics: "Zinger is way off base and typifies the problem with golf becomming an elitist sport all about the money. The chance to play for their country against the rest of the world? How can that not get the players juices flowing?" It might, Ben. But consider the Games will also fall in early August, during a key stretch in the Tour season. The PGA Championship will probably be rescheduled, along with a few other events. Tim Finchem said earlier today that two majors might get moved. That's also a Ryder Cup year, and we know golfers don't like feeling overburdened. [Cue tiny violins.]   4:31 p.m.  The long-putter-toting Clark brushes in an 8-footer to square his and Singh's match through six holes. Meanwhile, A.K. drops a 10-footer at No. 8 to give him and Furyk a 1-up lead. Meanwhile, Tiger's up to his old tricks, pulling his tee shot at the par-5 fifth onto the sixth fairway.   4:26 p.m.  Personally I’m disappointed Robin Williams didn’t take up Couples’ invite to join the team as an assistant captain. (The funnyman was seriously considering it.) Forget a seat at the opening ceremony—I’d have given Mork the mic4:20 p.m.  Villegas drops in a simple 5-footer for birdie to win the 5th. That match is all square. 4:18 p.m.  Yikes! There's the Adam Scott of 2009. He just double-crossed his tee shot at the par-3 9th,  yanking it some 50 yards left and long of
the green. Seems he hasn't exorcised all the skeletons just yet. 4:15 p.m.  Lefty's partner can roll it, too, which made Leonard’s botched three-footer at 18 yesterday not just stunning, but a statistical anomaly. In 2009, according to ShotLink, J.Lo has hit 741 putts from 3 feet. He made 735 of those. That’s a 99.19 conversion percentage—and that’s middling by Tour standards. The best guys on Tour don’t miss from that distance. Ever. Take Leonard’s U.S. teammate Steve Stricker. The Wisconsonite has faced 662 three-footers this season … and drained every one. Leonard can take heart of course—he could miss a dozen more short ones this week and he’ll still forever be remembered for The Putt, his heroic 45-footer at Brookline. 4:09 p.m.  Mickelson can putt, too. He drops a 15-footer for birdie to halve the 8th hole. He's playing as well as anyone. Earlier in the telecast, Faldo hinted that Lefty, who has been working with Dave Stockton Sr. on his putting, dropped Stockton a hefty check to say thanks. Money well spent it seems. 4:02 p.m.  More scores. It's tight out there...ALL SQUARE Els/Weir vs. Furyk/Kim, thru 6 Stricker/Woods vs. Ogilvy/Cabrera, thru 3U.S. LEADS Mickelson/Leonard 1 up over Goosen/Scott, thru 7 Glover/Cink 1 up over Singh/Clark, thru 4 Johnson/Mahan 1 up over Allenby/Villegas, thru 3INTERNATIONAL LEADS Ishikawa/Yang 3 up over Perry/O'Hair, thru 43:58 p.m.  Speaking of MJ, Zinger says the hoops hero should back off Sean O'Hair, who MJ has taken under his wing this week. Zinger fears that Jordan's counseling may actually be putting O'Hair under additional pressure. Love it—you'd never hear Faldo say that.  3:54 p.m. Questionable P.R. move by the Tour banishing honorary U.S. captain Michael Jordan from the stage during Wednesday’s opening ceremonies. Tour brass had a point—Did MJ really belong up there? Did he really want to be up there? Hell, he played the Olympic Club instead—but you don’t deny his Airness. You just don’t. Not when the world is watching. That said, I’ve had enough of the dude. Sure, he brings a little A-List cred to the event, but this week isn’t about him. He needs to be more Steve Kerr, and less himself.  3:49 p.m. Ahead at the par-4 7th, Lefty stuffs his approach to inches, just as he did at the 6th. He's striking his irons with confidence. If he keeps sticking them to gimme-range, he won't need to hit many putts today. Lefty and Leonard are now 1 up. 3:46 p.m. Cabrera coolly drains an 8-footer at the par-4 3rd to win the hole. That squares the match. Could definitely see that one going the distance. 3:40 p.m. Reader Jordie asks if we'll ever see Tiger and Phil paired together again. I'd say it's about as likely as The Donald and Ivana getting back together. They just don't jive—on the course or off. From a strategic standpoint, it doesn't make much sense to pair them either. Both guys are hog wild off the tee. Don't get me wrong, though: I'd love to see it happen. 3:35 p.m. Zinger's favorite player to watch: Tiger. His second favorites: Goosen and Scott, the "ice men." 3:33 p.m. More scores...ALL SQUARE Els/Weir vs. Furyk/Kim, thru 4U.S. LEADS Glover/Cink 1 up over Singh/Clark, thru 3 Johnson/Mahan 1 up over Allenby/Villegas, thru 2 Stricker/Woods 1 up over Ogilvy/Cabrera, thru 2INTERNATIONAL LEADS Goosen/Scott 1 up over Mickelson/Leonard, thru 5 Ishikawa/Yang 2 up over Perry/O'Hair, thru 33:28 p.m. Faldo was chirping about the reduction in wedge groove depth that will go into effect on the Tour in 2010. He says the players have told him they've noted anywhere from a 20 percent to 50 percent loss of spin with their wedge shots from the rough. On that same note, anyone catch Sergio’s highlights from the Madrid Masters yesterday? He posted a 64—putting him two off the lead—but the real story is he played with irons that will conform to next year’s grooves mandate. Garcia told European Tour radio that he loved the clubs, though they seemed to “jump all the time.” He added: “You definitely see a difference coming out of the rough.” His wedges from the fairway certainly didn’t appear to suffer—he pulled some back like they were on a leash. 3:23 p.m. To the celebs spotted at Harding Park this week—Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds, Jerry West—you can add John Madden, who the Golf Channel cameras caught in the gallery on the first tee. "They should have invited him to the booth to give some analysis," suggest SI's Dick Friedman. “OK, Tiger wants to take it through this gap here and—boom!--hit it downfield about 317 yards...And hey, there’s Angel Cabrera! He looks like he could be on the All-Madden Team...”"On the other hand," Friedman notes, "Golf Channel fans would get to see and hear what they’re too often missing..."3:19 p.m. Leaderboard update...ALL SQUARE Goosen/Scott vs. Mickelson/Leonard, thru 4 Allenby/Villegas vs. Johnson/Mahan, thru 1U.S. LEADS Glover/Cink 1 up over Singh/Clark, thru 2INTERNATIONAL LEADS Els/Weir 1 up over Furyk/Kim, thru 3 Ishikawa/Yang 2 up over Perry/O'Hair, thru 23:15 p.m.  Some excitement back at the first. Stricker's third shot from a greenside bunker flies the green, but he chips in the comebacker for birdie. Woods, putting from the fringe, misses a 20-foot eagle try. The Internationals can't match and Woods/Stricker grab a 1-up lead.3:12 p.m.  Furyk pours in a 12-footer for birdie at the par-4 fourth to square the match.3:09 p.m.  At the opening of the telecast, Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger, in the booth for the Golf Channel, shared their thoughts on golf in the Olympics. Faldo seemed chuffed, noting that Brazilians are "keen as mustard" about the game. Zinger was less jazzed. He said that since most golf tournaments are already loaded with international players, the Olympics will be "just another event, really." Is Zinger off base? Is Olympic golf a big deal? Or will it be nothing more than a glorified WGC event? I'd like to hear your thoughts.  3:04 p.m.  Allenby lips out a 12-footer for birdie at the first. Villegas misses an even shorter birdie try, letting the Americans off the hook. They're AS through 1.3:02 p.m.  Sorry, skipped the penultimate group ... Johnson/Mahan vs Allenby/Villegas. What to watch for: This thing could be a birdie bonanza. Johnson and Mahan can both go low in a hurry, and if they’re clicking this thing could end after 14 or 15 holes. Allenby’s putter, usually his nemesis, is blazing. If he putted through his career like he did yesterday, he’d have bagged a couple majors by now.Prediction: Johnson/Mahan, 2 up 2:58 p.m. Here come the big boys: Woods & Stricker, Cabrera & Ogilvy. They're on the tee at No. 1. Should be a great match. What to expect: Neither side backing off, aggressive play, great TV. And hopefully for Ogilvy no unexpected phone calls.   Prediction: Woods/Stricker, 1 up 2:55 p.m. Call me un-American, but the best thing that can happen to the Prez Cup this year is an International victory. Dominance by one side in these team events can mean doomsday for fan interest—we saw that years ago at the Ryder Cup when the U.S. regularly steamrolled GB&I. This thing needs parity, and a little impurity never hurts either. I’m not talking about idiot hecklers (although you can’t deny they do have a way of ratcheting up intensity), but more subtle gestures—a glare here, some teeth-gritting there. Less Paula Dean and more Mean Gene. Hell, the Americans sounds more fired up about Ping-Pong than they do about the golf.    2:52 p.m. At No. 1, Cink holes out a chip from the fringe for birdie. His team goes 1-up.2:51 p.m. and the other Time Inc. web sites are having server issues. We're aware of the problem and are working quickly to remedy it. Stay with us!2:47 p.m. Glover sticks his approach to four feet at the par-5 first. Clark is also close—some seven feet. What to watch for in this match: The Americans, both major winners in '09, were manhandled by Allenby and Singh in foursomes yesterday. The bad news: Singh is back. The good news: Allenby isn't. Neither Cink nor Glover has played particularly well in recent weeks. Still, they'll gut this one out. Look for a tight match.Prediction: Halve   2:41 p.m. What to watch for in match No. 3 (Perry/O'Hair vs Ishikawa/Yang): Whatever happens in this showdown, it will be the most-watched match on the flip side of the international dateline. Perry and O'Hair, the oldest and youngest Yanks, respectively, both have a history of gagging, though I don't see that being much of an issue on Day 2 of the Prez Cup. Prediction: Perry/O'Hair, 2&12:36 p.m. Big week for international golf and the game's promoters. First the Presidents Cup visits a muni in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Then, just this morning, word from Copenhagen that golf, after a 112-year hiatus, will rejoin the Olympic fray (there are 28 sports in all) in 2016. Great to see golf back in the mix, though part of me was pulling for roller sports, one of the seven finalists that missed the cut. Frankly I thought they could have found a way to combine the two sports. Roller golf? I'm there.2:32 p.m. What to expect in match No. 2: Again for the U.S., a Red Bull-meets-warm milk pairing in A.K. and Furyk. I don't need to tell who's who, and I don't see them gelling. Look for Els and Weir, who are a combined 11-5-1 in P.C. four-balls, to pull away early.Prediction: Els/Weir, 3&22:29 p.m. Furyk and Kim can't make the most of Els's bunker troubles. They halve the first with pars.2:26 p.m. What to expect in match No. 1: Lefty is coming off a smoking, four-birdie finish in his foursomes match with partner A.K. yesterday. Leonard? Not so much. Still, Phil and Justin are a classic aggressive-meets-conservative pairing, and they should be tough. Scott and Goosen? Tougher still. As teammates in Prez Cup four-ball play, they're unbeaten (2-0-1).Prediction: Goosen/Scott, 1 up  2:22 p.m. Els's fairway bunker shot on the first caught the lip, rebounded back and hit his leg. That's a one-shot penalty, all but eliminating him from the hole. Weirsy  will need to play hard. 2:20 p.m. Sorry, folks, technical issues. While we were away, Leonard drained a 10-footer for birdie to win the first hole in his match. Nice confidence-builder after the disaster on 18 late yesterday. 2:04 p.m. Here are today's groupings. The format: four-ball...
1:55 pm: Mickelson/Leonard vs Goosen/Scott
2:07 pm: Furyk/Kim vs Els/Weir
2:19 pm: Perry/O'Hair vs Ishikawa/Yang
2:31 pm: Glover/Cink vs Singh/Clark
2:43 pm: Johnson/Mahan vs Allenby/Villegas
2:55 pm: Woods/Stricker vs Ogilvy/Cabrera

2:00 p.m. The 1:55 p.m. group (Mickelson/Leonard vs Goosen/Scott) is already off. After Leonard split the fairway at the par-5 first, Lefty took a mighty hack and pulled his tee shot into the rough up the right. Must be 50 yards ahead of his partner, though. 1:57 p.m. Welcome to Day 2 of the 2009 Presidents Cup. We ask that you put your cell phones on mute. Juicy start yesterday—Tiger seems finally to have meshed with a match-play partner in steady Steve Stricker; much-maligned captain’s pick Adam Scott resembled Adam Scott circa 2006; Justin Leonard, known for making putts he’s supposed to miss, missed a
putt he was supposed to make; and a hearing-impaired marshal and a heckler teamed up to orchestrate a situation that only be described by one word: aaaaaaaawkward. The U.S. has a 3.5 to
2.5 lead, with six four-ball matches on the docket for today. We’ll be here for
the duration. We hope you will, too.

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