Europe will look to their Ryder Cup veterans to set the tone when play begins at Whistling Straits on Friday. 

Captain Padraig Harrington's four oldest players, all in their 40s, will feature for Europe in the morning foursomes against a youthful USA group whose oldest player, Dustin Johnson, is 37. 

All-time Ryder Cup scoring leader Sergio Garcia, 41, will lead the charge with world number one Jon Rahm as the Spanish pair face Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in the opening match in Wisconsin. 

"We would have been aware that JT and Jordan would have gone first, obviously, so we were going to lead ourselves with a strong partnership," Harrington told a news conference. "The whole world will be watching that one."

Teeing off next, Paul Casey (44) will team with rookie Viktor Hovland against Johnson and Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa, followed by Lee Westwood (48) and Matthew Fitzpatrick against Brooks Koepka and Danel Berger. 

The final matchup of the opening session will pit Ian Poulter (45) and Rory McIlroy against the rookie American duo of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. 

"We've gone with an experienced setup, no doubt about it, but it was our strong setup," Harrington said. "It just happened to be experienced. I was happy with that, there's no doubt, when it came out like that and you're looking at it and you go, yeah, that's very experienced. That is a big bonus.

"But it didn't weaken our fourballs – that was very important. We still have a strong fourball setup and we haven't taken from the afternoon by going with a strong setup in the morning." 

Europe will leave Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger on the sidelines for the opening matches, while the USA will do the same with Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler. 

While the Europe captain said it was safe to assume his players who will sit out the morning will play in the afternoon fourballs, his US counterpart Steve Stricker declined to be drawn on that topic – though both captains said their foursome and fourball pairings were set and communicated to their teams early in the week.

Each also said he was focused on his own side as opposed to worrying about what the other team might be doing, though both put special emphasis on the first and fourth matches. 

"We talked occasionally about maybe who they're going to put out, but it doesn't matter," Stricker said. "I mean, they're all such great players, they're all highly ranked players and we know that we're going to have to play our best to to beat them.

"We had an idea that Rory and Rahm would probably go one and four, and that's pretty much all we knew, or really thought about. We didn't know who their guys were going to be paired with but we kind of had that figured out, so we tried to act accordingly as well."

Asked whether any of his players had expressed disappointment in not being included in the morning pairings, Stricker immediately responded "not at all." 

"These guys have been incredible," he added. "I can't stress it enough, really, and it's about the communication that we've had, the captains and myself, and being upfront with them and just letting them know what we're thinking, so there's no curveballs.

"We've heard it multiple times from all the players: If you want to play me once, or all five, you know, that's up to you – meaning the captains – and just so we can try to win this Cup."

Friday's foursomes

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth (USA) v. Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia (EUR)
Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa (USA) v. Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland (EUR)
Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger (USA) v. Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick (EUR)
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (USA) v. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter (EUR)

Europe captain Padraig Harrington has selected Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup, but there is no place for Justin Rose on the 12-player roster.

Rose has competed in five of the last six editions of the biennial tournament, but he was overlooked by Harrington after a poor season on the PGA Tour that saw him fail to make the top 125 on the order of merit list.

Harrington opted for experienced names in Garcia and Poulter, while Lowry was given a reprieve of sorts after being knocked out of the automatic selection places when Bernd Wiesberger finished tied-20th at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.

Wiesberger, Poulter, Garcia and Lowry join Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Viktor Hovland, who all qualified through the rankings.

"I am absolutely thrilled with my team, with all of our picks we have the strongest 10, 11 and 12 we've ever had," Harrington said on Sunday.

Asked about the inclusion of Poulter, who is set to compete in his seventh Ryder Cup, Harrington said: "He is undefeated in singles. He lifts himself, he lifts his partners, he lifts the team.

"I'm getting a player who is in probably the best form of his life. He consistently motivates people around him. That's so important to the team. I know I have players who are good enough to deliver and Poulter is at the heart of our team."

Europe are looking to retain the trophy at Whistling Straits later this month following their 17.5-10.5 triumph over the United States in Paris three years ago.

USA finalised their squad on Wednesday, with captain Steve Stricker selecting Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among his wildcard picks.

Schauffele was one of four rookies chosen by Stricker along with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, with Tony Finau – part of the beaten side in 2018 – completing the captain's picks.

Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay had already locked in spots for the USA.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat holds a one-shot lead over Laurie Canter after the second round of the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Aphibarnrat shared the overnight lead with Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who went round in level par on Friday, but a four-under 68 moved him into top spot as the Thai sits on 12 under.

Canter, who has only seven European Tour top-10 finishes since 2010, was joint-fourth after Thursday's play but a second-round 66 placed him one stroke shy of Aphibarnrat.

Returning to the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2006, Adam Scott sits in third place after recovering from a double-bogey six on the third to reach 10 under.

Scott's playing partner Justin Rose, who knows victory at Wentworth will guarantee an outright spot in Padraig Harrington's Ryder Cup team, joined Jamie Donaldson and Billy Horschel in a share of fourth after carding 68, which put him on nine under overall.

Ryder Cup hopeful Shane Lowry finds himself embroiled in numerous qualification scenarios with Bernd Wiesberger, who closed on six under, and is now four shots back from the lead after producing a six-under 66.

The Irishman is part of a seven-man group in a tie for seventh and the 2019 Open Champion feels he is thriving under the pressure of securing a spot at Whistling Straits on September 24.

"Coming here with a little bit of pressure on me needing to perform and play well and I've done that the first two days," he said. "I'm pretty happy to be honest.

"Obviously I want to make the [Ryder Cup] team automatically. I think I've played some really good golf over the last few months to put my hat in for a pick on Sunday evening if I do need one.

"I'm here to win the golf tournament."

Harris English heads into the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational with a two-stroke lead after maintaining his spot atop the leaderboard Friday.

The American followed Thursday's 62 with a five-under-par 65 at TPC Southwind, where he won his first PGA Tour title eight years ago. 

Australia's Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer of Mexico surged into a tie for second place after carding 62s of their own in Memphis to sit at 11 under for the tournament.

Ian Poulter (66), Scottie Scheffler (65) and Sam Burns (64) are three back of the lead at 10 under, while Louis Oosthuizen (64) and Bryson DeChambeau (66) are well within striking distance at nine under. 

English started on the back nine and made three birdies going out before carding his first and only bogey of the day at the par-four second hole. But he managed to follow that disappointment with an eagle on the third before adding one more birdie later in his round.

Smith also eagled the third on the way to tying a PGA Tour record, as he needed just 18 putts to complete his bogey-free round. 

That included a two-put at the last, not long after Smith figured out he was on the verge of history. 

"I was walking down 17 and was counting my putts up and I thought, 'No, that can't be right,'" Smith said. 

Further down the leaderboard, defending champion Justin Thomas (67) is seven strokes back of the lead at six under along with two-time major winner Dustin Johnson (65).

Phil Mickelson (66) is at five under, whie Hideki Matsuyama (69) and Patrick Reed (69) are well back at three under. 

Rory McIlroy (66), Sergio Garcia (68), and Collin Morikawa (71) are at two under, one stroke better than Brooks Koepka (69). 

Jordan Spieth (69) enters the weekend at even par and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele (73) is at two over. 

Harris English won his first PGA Tour title at TPC Southwind eight years ago, and he has another triumph in his sights after opening with a 62 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. 

The American has a two-stroke lead over four pursuers, as Ian Poulter, Carlos Ortiz, Jim Herman and Matthew Wolff carded six-under-par 64s Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler and Marc Leishman were three shots back after shooting 65, with DeChambeau making his first start since missing the Tokyo Olympics following a positive COVID-19 test. 

Among the group two shots behind them at five under were defending champion Justin Thomas, Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and the red-hot Louis Oosthuizen, who has top-three finishes in four of his last five starts.

Among other notables, Patrick Reed and Hideki Matsuyama are at two under, with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Olympic champion Xander Schauffele at one under, and Brooks Kopeka and Sergio Garcia at even par.

Jordan Spieth is at one over and Rory McIlroy at two over, leaving him 62nd in the 66-player field. 

But they will all start Friday chasing English. The 32-year-old carded seven birdies on a blistering front nine, then faltered a bit with bogeys at 10 and 12 before closing his round with birdies at three of the last four holes. 

"It was one of those rounds where I was hitting it really good off the tee and making a lot of good putts," English told reporters. 

English won at Memphis in its previous incarnation as the Tour's St. Jude Classic in June 2013, then added another title that fall. 

That was his last PGA Tour win before this year, which has seen him take the Tournament of Champions in Maui in January and the Travelers Championship in June. 

 

 

Jason Kokrak upstaged Jordan Spieth, outlasting the former world number one to lift the Charles Schwab Challenge trophy.

Spieth carried a one-stroke lead into the final round at Colonial Country Club, where the three-time major champion was looking to add to his 2016 triumph.

But Kokrak had other ideas and shot a 70 to prevail by two shots as Spieth faltered via a three-over-par 73 in Fort Worth, Texas on Sunday.

Kokrak mixed two birdies with three bogeys over the first seven holes, though a run of three birdies over a six-hole stretch from the eighth to the 13th fuelled the American.

The victory made Kokrak the first player over the age of 35 to win his first two PGA Tour titles in the same season since Italian Francesco Molinari achieved that feat – which included an Open Championship triumph – in 2018.

Spieth made a slow start behind three consecutive bogeys from the second to fourth holes before responding with birdies at the sixth and ninth, but he found water at the 18th, having bogeyed the 15th.

Kokrak – who finished 14 under – earned a second victory from his last 17 starts following the 36-year-old's success at the CJ Cup earlier this PGA Tour season.

Charley Hoffman (65), Patton Kizzire (67), Sebastian Munoz (68) and Ian Poulter (68) ended the tournament four shots off the pace in a tie for third.

Defending champion Collin Morikawa's bid for back-to-back titles resulted in a share of 14th position at five under after he posted a final-round 68.

Former world number one and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (71) and Sergio Garcia (76) – the 2017 Masters champion and 2001 winner of this event – finished in a tie for 20th, 10 strokes behind Kokrak.

Jordan Spieth birdied his last hole to retain a one-stroke lead heading into the final round at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Jason Kokrak had joined 2016 champion Spieth atop the leaderboard before the latter stepped up to birdie the 18th in the third round at Colonial Country Club on Saturday.

Former world number one Spieth signed for another four-under-par 66 to remain the player to beat ahead of Sunday's finale in Fort Worth, Texas.

Spieth, whose 40-hole bogey-free streak ended at the par-four fifth hole, is eyeing his second PGA Tour title of the season, having ended his four-year trophy drought via last month's Texas Open.

A three-time major champion, Spieth only dropped two shots as he finished with six birdies, including three across a flawless back nine to be 15 under through 54 holes.

Fellow American Kokrak stayed within a shot of Spieth courtesy of his third-round 66.

Sergio Garcia – the 2017 Masters champion and 2001 Charles Schwab Challenge winner – is five strokes off the pace following his two-under-par 68.

Ian Poulter (64) surged up the leaderboard, improving 26 positions to be tied for fourth at eight under alongside Sebastian Munoz (70).

Former world number one and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (69) is 10 shots behind Spieth, defending champion Collin Morikawa is two strokes further back after his 72, while Justin Thomas (71) slipped to 46th – 14 shots adrift.

Rory McIlroy played a tee shot into a swimming pool during a shocking start to his WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play campaign, where he was hammered 6 and 5 by Ian Poulter.

The Northern Irishman has had well documented issues with his swing in recent weeks and has linked up with renowned coach Pete Cowen for the tournament at the Austin Country Club.

But McIlroy struggled badly during his round-robin opener against fellow Europe Ryder Cup star Poulter and was already two down by the time he pulled his tee shot wildly left at the fifth tee, with his ball sinking into the pool at a nearby house.

He managed to claw within one by the eighth, but Poulter then won five holes in a row to condemn McIlroy to a heavily opening defeat in Group 11, where Cameron Smith beat Lanto Griffin in the pool's other opener.

Dustin Johnson had no such woe as he started with a 2 Up win over Adam Long in Group One, while Jon Rahm defeated Sebastian Munoz 1 Up (Group 3), and Bryson DeChambeau overcame Antoine Rozner 2 Up (Group 5).

Justin Thomas was beaten 3 and 2 by Matt Kuchar (Group 2), though, while Jordan Spieth outclassed Matthew Fitzpatrick 3 and 1 (Group 15) despite a comedy moment when he drove the 15th green…but from the 13th tee.

Tommy Gainey edged into a one-stroke lead with a strong finish to the first round of the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande.

The 45-year-old American shot a seven-under 65, sinking five birdies on his last seven holes to make a late surge to the top of the leaderboard.

Gainey got off to a dream start with three birdies on his first four holes before being slowed by a pair of bogeys, but the world number 458 rallied to close out in style.

Robert Garrigus had set the early pace at the Grand Reserve Country Club, climbing to seven under, but a bogey on the ninth – his final hole – spoiled a clean round as he slipped to equal second place.

Garrigus was one of seven players left holding a share of second at the close of play, with Canada's Taylor Pendrith and American Lee Hodges also carding six-under 66s.

They were joined by home favourite Rafael Campos, Argentina's Fabian Gomez, Brandon Wu of the United States and Greg Chalmers of Australia, who hit a hole in one at the eighth.

Belgium's Thomas Pieters is joint 25th, carding a three-under 69, while another European Tour star in search of a first PGA Tour win, Matt Wallace, slumped to a four-over 76 after a double bogey at the 15th.

His fellow Englishman and three-time PGA Tour winner Ian Poulter fared better, going around for a one-under 71, one stroke behind Europe's Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, with the Irishman carding 70.

Tiger Woods was in hospital with serious leg injuries after a car crash on Tuesday that sent shockwaves through golf.

The 15-time major winner had to be rescued from his vehicle early in the California morning after coming off the road and overturning.

He was taken to surgery as the sporting world waited for updates on his condition.

Woods' close friend Justin Thomas said: "I'm sick to my stomach. You know, it hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he's all right. Just worry for his kids, you know. I'm sure they're struggling."

Australia's former world number one Adam Scott added: "It's sickening. He's our hero out here. You think guys like Tiger and Kobe Bryant are untouchable, but they're not. I just hope he's all right."

Woods' former partner Lindsey Vonn added: "Praying for TW right now."

Basketball great Magic Johnson called for a rush of goodwill towards the 45-year-old, saying: "Everyone send your prayers out to Tiger Woods! He was just in a bad car accident. Let us all pray for his speedy recovery."

The shock among PGA Tour stars was telling of the esteem in which they hold Woods.

Bryson DeChambeau said he was "heartbroken and shocked", while Justin Rose addressed Woods as he wrote on Twitter: "Just seen the awful news. We know how tough you are, we've seen it a hundred times. Hoping and praying you're ok my friend."

Ian Poulter said: "Thoughts are with @TigerWoods and others involved, wishing a speedy recovery and I hope the injuries are not bad."

Xander Schauffele, quoted on the PGA Tour website, said: "My putting coach called me and told me. The volunteer who gave me a ride showed me a picture of it, and I read they used the jaws of life.

"The mood has been very quiet, I'd say. Everyone I've talked to has been in a strange mood due to the news. I was talking to my caddie about the impact he's had on the game of golf. It's not good for us, not good for the game of golf. All we can do is hope that he's fine and has a speedy recovery."

Baseball great Alex Rodriguez wrote: "Praying for my brother @TigerWoods as we all anxiously await more news. Thinking of him and his entire family."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.