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Tiger Woods leads by six at Torrey Pines but Farmers Insurance Open finish delayed by fog

Tiger hits top form to build six-shot lead at Torrey Pines but finish delayed by fog

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

02:15 GMT, 28 January 2013

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UPDATED:

02:15 GMT, 28 January 2013

Tiger Woods remained on course for victory as the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines went into a fifth day.

After fog remarkably wiped out all but five minutes of day three's play, the third round and a large chunk of the fourth was completed today before darkness fell.

When that moment came, Woods was 17 under par with 11 holes to play, six shots clear of nearest challengers Brandt Snedeker and Nick Watney.

Can't see the Woods for the tree: Tiger hits out of the rough on the fourth hole at Torrey Pines

Can't see the Woods for the tree: Tiger hits out of the rough on the fourth hole at Torrey Pines

He's flying: Woods looks in fine form

He's flying: Woods looks in fine form

Woods was two shots clear at the start of play and extended his lead with a three-under-par third round of 69, bettered only by Australian Aaron Baddeley with 68.

The world number two began his final round four clear, having won on 39 of the 41 previous occasions he has led outright with 18 holes remaining – though the quick turnaround meant he had not changed into his trademark red shirt.

Nor did he start in typical fashion. He sent his first tee shot way left and needed a good recovery shot to set up a par, and then hit his second tee shot on to the fringe of the sixth fairway and was fortunate to have a clear shot in, though even then he needed an excellent 10-yard pitch to save par.
But he birdied the next two and gained another shot at the sixth before finishing with a par at the seventh.

Reigning champion Snedeker had spoken during Saturday's inactivity of the need to score low in today's extended play, and he certainly did so.

After also shooting 69 in the third round, Snedeker began his fourth with four birdies on the front nine and ended the day on 11 under par with five holes to play in the tournament.

Watney, the 2009 champion, could only manage 71 in his third round but was three under through eight to move in to contention on 11 under.

Head and shoulders above: World No 2 chips in for birdie on the fourth hole in San Diego

Head and shoulders above: The world No 2 chips in for birdie on the fourth hole in San Diego

Farmers Insurance Open

Click here for all the latest scores

Canada's Brad Fritsch was nine under through seven but Woods' playing partner Casey Wittenberg dropped back from that mark after bogeying the seventh, failing to get up and down from a ridiculous position near the second tee.

Luke Guthrie, Josh Teater, Steve Marino and Erik Compton were also at eight under, with six players including Englishman Ross Fisher tied on seven under.

Tom Watson named United States Ryder Cup captain

Watson named Ryder Cup captain as United States ask legend to lead them into battle at Gleneagles

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UPDATED:

17:45 GMT, 13 December 2012

Tom Watson has been named United States Ryder Cup captain for the battle with the Europeans at Gleneagles in 2014.

The greatest Open champion of the past 100 years, the man of principle who rigidly refused to use the crutch of the belly putter even while crippled with a form of the yips, picks up the captaincy in at an age when most people are content to pick up their bus pass.

Three weeks after his 65th birthday, Watson won’t be a father figure to most of the team he will lead at Gleneagles but a grandfatherly one. Not only is he the oldest American captain of all time, he is a good decade older than any captain of either side for more than 40 years.

Leader: Tom Watson will captain the United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014

Leader: Tom Watson will captain the United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014

Leader: Tom Watson (right) will captain the United States Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

DARREN CLARKE (Europe’s likely captain in 2014): ‘Obviously if Tom does get it, he is one of the legends of the game. I am sure he would be a fantastic captain, not just to the team but for the whole aspect of the Ryder Cup. The man is a huge name in the world of golf and rightly so.’

BERNARD GALLACHER (European captain opposite Watson in 1993): 'It is a surprise. The USPGA obviously decided they needed a bit of experience in Scotland and Tom is probably the most respected figure in the game today.

'He's done the job before, he's been there as a player, he knows how to win in Europe and in Scotland as well.'

WEBB SIMPSON (2012 US Ryder Cup player): ‘I think he would be amazing. Such a remarkable player and person and he demands respect just by the kind of player he has been. He’s like a quiet lion. It would be an honour to play for him.’

BRANDT SNEDEKER (2012 US Ryder Cup player): ‘I am surprised but excited. Tom is a good friend of mine, one of the best players to ever play the game who is instantly going to gain a lot of respect and sway the homefield advantage for us in Scotland because of his success over there.’

PAUL AZINGER (2008 US Ryder Cup captain): ‘Truthfully, I am really surprised but I think it’s OK. There’s a philosophy of picking contemporary players under the age of 50 that hasn’t really worked. That would have been a great philosophy had we been winning, but we haven’t, which makes Watson a good choice at this time.’

LANNY WADKINS (played under Watson in 1993): ‘Tom is just one of those guys who always believes. He doesn’t go out there to have fun. He goes out there to kick butt and get the job done. That’s really what the PGA of America, in my opinion, are thinking what needs to happen.’

On Thursday Watson appeared on NBC television before a teleconference at the Empire State Building in New York.

He said: 'I was waiting 20 years to get the call again,' he said. 'It's a great honour to do it again and this time it is going to be 14 and a half points.

'I loved it the first time. I've been a great fan of the Ryder Cup – I get the same gut feeling just watching it at home on TV.'

Inevitably, there will be eyebrows
raised as to how a man who will not be rubbing shoulders with his
players week-in, week-out can somehow mould them into a team.

It is a
reasonable question, one that Sir Nick Faldo failed to answer in 2008,
and he had been only a few years removed from the scene, not 13 long
seasons like Watson.

But there are other more persuasive
reasons that suggest this could turn out to be an inspired move by the
PGA of America rather than an illogical one.

Firstly, in four Ryder Cups as a
player and one as a captain, Watson has never been on a losing side.
Given that losing has become a habit for the US, with seven defeats in
the past nine matches, that winning mentality he has always possessed
can only be for the good.

But here’s the main reason I think
he has been selected. Since Watson captained America to victory at The
Belfry in 1993 — their last triumph on foreign soil — we have seen four
American skippers in Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, Tom Lehman and Corey
Pavin dwarfed by the personalities of their European counterparts — Seve
Ballesteros, Sam Torrance, Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie.

Think back to the last match at
Celtic Manor, where Montgomerie was lording it gloriously and his
opposite number appeared even smaller than his diminutive self after
being labelled ‘Crazy Pavin’.

Momentum is everything in a Ryder Cup and Europe began each of those
matches with it all in their favour because four larger-than-life
captains had set the tone against four US skippers with no profile
outside their own country.

Now look at the two men put forward
to lead in 2014: the immensely popular Darren Clarke and the relatively
unknown David Toms. Is it any wonder the PGA of America looked at that
prospective scenario and wearily thought to themselves: ‘We’ve seen this
movie before’.

Tartan Army: Scottish golf fans love Watson - he won four Opens north of the border

Tartan Army: Scottish golf fans love Watson – he won four Opens north of the border

Now, in going for a true legend who could not be held in higher esteem in Europe, they have changed the dynamic completely.

Watson, lest we forget, won four of
his five Open titles in Scotland, where he might even be more popular
than Andy Murray. In the press room, Clarke’s blarney would have been
infinitely more quotable than the genuine but quiet Toms, while among
the paying spectators filling the grandstands there would have been no
contest.

But Watson, with all his wit,
charisma and integrity, is a different matter. For the first time in 19
years at an away match, America will not mentally feel a couple of
points down at the start.

Squaring up: Darren Clarke (right) is set to captain Europe - following on from Jose Maria Olazabal (centre)

Squaring up: Darren Clarke (right) is set to captain Europe – following on from Jose Maria Olazabal (centre)

As for the team room, Watson might
not know much about the music tastes and personalities of his players
but it is hard to imagine there will be a member of the US side who will
not look up to him and respect his decisions. Well, maybe there is one.
In 2010, at the height of the Tiger Woods scandal, Watson was scathing
in his criticism.

‘I feel Tiger has not carried the
same stature as the other great players that have come along like Jack
(Nicklaus), /12/12/article-2246805-05C54D86000005DC-660_634x408.jpg” width=”634″ height=”408″ alt=”Fairytale: Watson was so close to winning The Open at Turnberry in 2009 before Stewart Cink pipped him” class=”blkBorder” />

Fairytale: Watson was so close to winning The Open at Turnberry in 2009 before Stewart Cink pipped him

Watson’s four Open wins in Scotland
came at Carnoustie in 1975, Turnberry in 1977, Muirfield in 1980 and
Royal Troon in 1982. He came close to winning again and writing one of
the great sports stories of all time at the age of 59 at Turnberry in
2009, but he missed a short putt at the 72nd hole then lost out in a
play-off to Stewart Cink.

The man who will feel most
disappointed is the personable Toms but expect him to be chosen for
Hazeltine in 2016. Unless America win, of course. Then it will probably
be Arnold Palmer.

It's elementary: Why Watson's a real Ryder Cup hero

He has appeared in four Ryder Cups as a player (1977, ’81, ’83, ’89) and one as captain (1993) and never been on a losing side.

In 15 matches he won 10 and lost just four. He teamed up with Jack Nicklaus on four occasions and won every time.

Only one American who has played two Ryder Cups or more has a better winning percentage against Europe — Larry Nelson.

At 65 he will be the oldest American Ryder Cup captain. The previous oldest was Sam Snead, who was 57 when captain in 1969.

Watson’s message before sending his team out in the singles in 1993: ‘Remember, everything they invented, we perfected.’

He is the seventh US captain to be granted a second term of office but the first since Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village in 1987.

Ryder Cup pedigree: Watson and the USA's triumphant team of 1993 celebrate victory at The Belfry

Derek Lawrenson World of Golf – November to remember for Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood

It's already been a November to remember

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 5 November 2012

Has there ever been a golfing week in November quite like the last one What caught your eye – the joyous rise of Ian Poulter in China or the sad demise of Lee Westwood What happens next for Rory McIlroy now he’s changed club manufacturers or what happens next for the European Tour now everybody is off to America Are the governing bodies right to try to ban belly putters

Here are some thoughts on the hot topics of the moment…

The rise of Poulter

He might have no chance of winning the BBC’s Sports Personality award but is there really a better personality in sport right now than our Poults

Poulter: Amazing personality

Poulter: Amazing personality

Is there a better character than the larger than life, former 17 year old club assistant playing off a five handicap, who progressed so far he changed the destiny of the Ryder Cup single-handedly and still found enough energy to win in China on Sunday and become the first Englishman to win two World Golf Championship events This is Poulter’s 13th year as a pro and he has won tournaments in all but one of them.

Poults reckons the American Brandt Snedeker is the best putter in golf. On a week-to-week basis, I’d go with Luke Donald. But if you had to pick one man to hole a putt to save your life, the way Jose Maria Olazabal once did and then Tiger Woods That man is now Ian James Poulter.

The demise of Lee Westwood

You will be familiar with my respect for Westwood the golfer and Westwood the man. So you can imagine what it was like rising early to watch the end of the HSBC Champions tournament in China on Sunday, and the first two shots I see are Westwood doing what all bad amateurs do – first clunking a chip short and then thinning the next one.

The great thing about Westwood is that he will dwell on the positives of his lucky life and keep searching for a solution, and let’s hope to God he finds one.

Demise: Westwood fell away in China

Demise: Westwood fell away in China

But the fact he has now played in over 100 majors and world golf championship events and not won any tells its own story about a telling weakness around the greens under pressure that you fear will never be resolved.

Rory McIlroy changing clubs

Listening to Sir Nick Faldo, he makes changing club manufacturers sound a bit like a violin virtuoso ditching his Stradivarius. And yes, it is true, we have seen a number of players lose form after such a change. Payne Stewart, Ian Woosnam and, perhaps most pertinently in this instance, David Duval when he switched to Nike clubs, to name but three.

But the technology has changed to such an extent since those players were competing it is hard to believe that it will cause a break in McIlroy’s stride.

Perhaps there will be a couple of tournaments early on when the clubs will feel a touch strange. But, as we await the official announcement of his expected 156 million switch to the swoosh, expect him be perfectly in tune with the new tools of his trade come the Masters.

Changing clubs: McIlroy

Changing clubs: McIlroy

Whither the European Tour

Are we rapidly reaching the point where the last man on tour needs to switch off the lights Listening to some of the doom and gloom, you’d think so.

No-one could argue this has been a good year for the tour, with events in mainland Europe disappearing at an alarming rate. But Keith Waters, the tour’s chief operating officer, tells me that when the schedule is announced for next year, all the national Opens around Europe that we have come to know and love will be in place, and that’s good to know.

Luke Donald said last week the tour should be worried by the growing exodus to America but the fact is, stars like himself can ease any such fears. All it would take is for them to commit to play in three events in Europe every year.

Time to ban the Belly Putter

Yes, you’re right, the governing bodies should have snapped this dreadful implement in half at birth. But if you’re in any doubt that it is never too late to do the right thing, then the sight of 14-year-old Guan Tianling winning his spot at the Masters using one of the damn things should convince.

Belly putter: Guan Tianlang of China, 14, reacts after winning his pot at the Masters

Belly putter: Guan Tianlang of China, 14, reacts after winning his pot at the Masters

In other words, the future stars are now not even bothering learning the complexities of putting with orthodox equipment, and why should they when this form of legalized cheating offers such an easy way out

The Royal and Ancient and the United States Golf Association have seen the future, and know that if they don’t act now a conventional putter in another decade will be about as common as a persimmon driver.

More from Derek Lawrenson…

Derek Lawrenson: HSBC Championship shows golf faces hurricane alert over fees
29/10/12

World of Golf: Rose blooming, so let’s not rake over the coals
22/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: Overpaid Most earnings aren't on a par with Rose's fortune
15/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: It's a Turkish delight as eight greats battle it out for big bucks
08/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: Why we should be saying Yanks for the memories to gracious losers
01/10/12

Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy a victim of trash talk in American press ahead of Ryder Cup
24/09/12

Derek Lawrenson: Westwood at fever pitch to boost his holiday funds by $10million
17/09/12

Derek Lawrenson: Now Tiger has the chance to rewrite McIlroy's story
10/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Ryder Cup car up for auction

Shortly up for auction in the village of Lombard, just outside Chicago: an unmarked police car, namely a Ford Crown Victoria, built in 2005 and with 81,000 miles on the clock.

Its selling point This is the car used by Deputy Chief Pat Rollins that broke all speed limits and got Rory McIlroy to the Ryder Cup singles matches on time.

Christian fighting to avoid cut

On a United States tour where $1 million first prizes are handed out almost as a matter of course and the average salary of players competing is in seven figures, it seems almost perverse that a shortfall of precisely $3,504 is threatening Gary Christian’s livelihood.

That is the amount between the 41-year-old Englishman in 127th place on the list and 125th-ranked Billy Mayfair, who occupies the last spot to retain privileges to play a full schedule next year.

Perverse too, that this week’s final event featuring pros frantic with worry and nerves should take place in the vacation capital of America, Orlando.

Christian is the gutsy fighter who finally made it through to the big-time this year after so many seasons of struggle, when he was forced to take jobs like selling knives to keep his dream alive. Now he has 72 holes to save himself or suffer the unkindest cut.

A terrible finish to his last tournament, when he was in position to claim the funds he needs, was a brutal indication of the pressure he is feeling. We can but wish him well in the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, which begins on Thursday within the grounds of Walt Disney.

Quote of the Week

‘If Rory McIlroy doesn’t come and play Bay Hill next year he might have a broken arm and won’t have to worry about where he’s going to play next.’

Here was Arnold Palmer, wrapping up his message in a joke but making clear he wants Rory to pitch up at his tournament next March. If truth be told, McIlroy would rather play in Houston the following week. But dare he say no to the King

Tiger Woods said SORRY to US rookies for Ryder Cup slump

Tiger haunted by Ryder Cup slump: Woods reveals he said SORRY to US rookies

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UPDATED:

18:52 GMT, 8 October 2012

Tiger Woods has confirmed that he apologised to the four rookies on the United States' Ryder Cup team for not contributing a single point in their devastating loss to Europe.

Woods, who was benched for the first time ever in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup at Medinah, lost all three of his matches with Steve Stricker before halving his singles with Francesco Molinari after Martin Kaymer's win over Stricker in the match ahead had ensured Europe retained the trophy.

Reports in the US said that Woods sat down with Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker and said sorry for not getting the points which would have given Davis Love's side an even bigger lead than the 10-6 advantage they took into the final day.

Glum: Tiger Woods speaks at a press conference ahead of the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final in Antalya

Glum: Tiger Woods speaks at a press conference ahead of the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final in Antalya

'I had an opportunity to earn three points in team sessions but I did not do that. It was tough,' said Woods, who has won 15 and lost 17 of his 35 cup matches.

'Stricks and I went out there and tried to earn points for the team and didn't do that and it was frustrating.

'We had a four-point lead and we went 0-3. If we could have earned a couple of points it would have been a pretty good lead going into Sunday's singles.'

Asked about the disappointment of suffering his sixth defeat in seven Ryder Cup appearances, Woods, added: 'It probably did not set in for a few days because I had two sick kids to take care of. I was focused on them.

Agony: Woods reflects on the US defeat after a remarkable European comeback at the Ryder Cup last month

Agony: Woods reflects on the US defeat after a remarkable European comeback at the Ryder Cup last month

'Then I started to talk to my friends, guys on the team, and once it started sinking in, the position we were in and what had transpired, it got a little tough for a couple of days.

'I texted Freddie (Couples, a vice-captain) quite a bit and Stricks as well. Then like anything it's a tournament loss and you have to move on to the next event. We lose a lot more than we win in this sport and you learn to move on.'

Woods was also asked if he would like to captain the US team in the future, the 36-year-old – speaking ahead of this week's Turkish Airlines World Golf Final – added: 'One day that would be fantastic.

'It would be a huge honour, hopefully it doesn't happen in the near future. I would like to be able to play for a lot more teams but certainly one day when my career is slowing down or it's over, it would be huge to be part of a Ryder Cup from the captaincy side.'

Ryder Cup 2012: First blood to US at Medinah but Europe hit back

First blood to US at Medinah but Europe hit back as McIlroy and McDowell hold nerve

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 28 September 2012

LIVE: Ryder Cup 2012

Click here to follow all Friday's action from Medinah Country Club as it happens

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell breathed a huge sigh of relief after helping Europe emerge from the opening session of the Ryder Cup tied at 2-2 with the United States.

The Northern Irish pair were sent out first by captain Jose Maria Olazabal and had talked confidently about getting European blue on the board early, but almost squandered a three-hole lead with six to play against Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.

With Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia already suffering their first ever foursomes defeat in the event in match two, the top match took on further significance and it was Snedeker who cracked under the pressure on the last.

Final green: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate after beating Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker

Final green: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate after beating Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker

Rory's roar: McIlroy reacts after he and McDowell won the fourth hole of their opening match at Medinah

Rory's roar: McIlroy reacts after he and McDowell won the fourth hole of their opening match at Medinah

Snedeker, who on Sunday held his nerve to win the FedEx Cup and more than $11million, carved his tee shot way off line into a hospitality area to leave Furyk only able to pitch through the trees onto the fairway.

That eventually led to a bogey five but McIlroy was fortunate to see his drive clip some trees and bounce back to the edge of the fairway, from where McDowell dragged his approach into a greenside bunker.

First blood: Keegan Bradley (right) celebrates with Phil Mickelson after the pair beat Donald and Garcia

First blood: Keegan Bradley (right) celebrates with Phil Mickelson after the pair beat Donald and Garcia

Upset: Luke Donald of England (left) and Sergio Garcia of Spain (right) lost their unbeaten foursomes record

Upset: Luke Donald of England (left) and Sergio Garcia of Spain (right) lost their unbeaten foursomes record

World No 1 McIlroy hit a good recovery shot to five feet and McDowell held his nerve to seal the win.

'That match to me just personifies the Ryder Cup,' the former US Open champion said. 'Myself and Rory played some great golf to go three up, and then you're playing against two very gutsy players who clawed their way back to all square coming down the last two holes.

'I'm not sure if you'll play two tougher holes. The finish to this golf course is very strong and we had stacked our team with this finish in mind. I wanted Rory hitting the tee shots on 16 and 18 and our strategy paid off.

'It's a very important session for Team Europe this morning and we wanted to personally go out and try to get some blue on the board. We did that and we were lucky to get the point in the end.'

Wayward: Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were beaten by Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the foursomes

Wayward: Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker were beaten by Justin Rose and Ian Poulter in the foursomes

Talisman: Poulter celerates after holing his bunker shot on the 11th hole during the foursomes

Talisman: Poulter celerates after holing his bunker shot on the 11th hole during the foursomes

Donald and Garcia had won all four of their foursomes outings together, winning twice in the routs at Oakland Hills in 2004 and the K Club in 2006, while Garcia was also unbeaten in nine foursomes appearances overall and Donald had won six out of six.

But they ran into an inspired rookie in Keegan Bradley and four-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who won four holes in a row from the 12th to put the first point on the board with a 4&3 victory.

Blow: Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari were beaten by Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner

Blow: Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari were beaten by Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner

Dynamic duo: Dufner and Zach Johnson celebrate a birdie putt on the tenth green

Dynamic duo: Dufner and Zach Johnson celebrate a birdie putt on the tenth green

After McDowell and McIlroy's win – which had featured the first potential flashpoint on the second hole when Furyk queried whether McDowell should get a free drop from near a sprinkler – Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson restored the home side's side lead with a 3&2 win over Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari.

The European pair were one up after a birdie on the seventh but did not make another and succumbed tamely with bogeys on the 15th and 16th, the former coming when Westwood drove into water on the reachable par-four.

Sandman: McIlroy plays from a bunker during Friday morning's Ryder Cup foursomes

Sandman: McIlroy plays from a bunker during Friday morning's Ryder Cup foursomes

Tee time: Mickelson hits his opening shot on the fourth hole during his successful foursomes match

Tee time: Mickelson hits his opening shot on the fourth hole during his successful foursomes match

But the reliable pairing of Ian Poulter and Justin Rose ensured honours were even with a 2&1 victory over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker which should have been even more emphatic.

Woods was all over the golf course – hitting his second spectator this week on the seventh – and Stricker dumped his tee shot to the second in the water, but they somehow extended the game to the 17th before Rose closed the door with a superb chip shot played with a fairway wood from just off the green.

Cheerleader: Former Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan is now part of the American backroom team

Cheerleader: Former Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan is now part of the American backroom team

Flying the flag: American fans provided a raucous atmosphere for the opening stages of the Cup

Flying the flag: American fans provided a raucous atmosphere for the opening stages of the Cup

Outnumbered: Europe fans made their presence felt despite being heavily in the minority

Outnumbered: Europe fans made their presence felt despite being heavily in the minority

Ryder Cup 2012 live: Day one from Medinah Country Club

RYDER CUP 2012 LIVE: All the action from the Medinah Country Club as it happens

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UPDATED:

13:05 GMT, 28 September 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of all the action on day one of the 39th Ryder Cup from the Medinah Country Club in Illinois.

Jose Maria Olazabal's European team are hoping to defend the title they won two years ago, but Davis Love III's USA squad have home advantage on their side. Tom Bellwood brings you all the action.

Ryder Cup – the essentials

Click here for the latest scores

Hole-by-hole guide to the course at Medinah

Watch the latest highlights

Player guide: Europe

Player guide: USA

2.05: Johnson drags his putt wide on the first and Europe are on the board for the first time.

(3) Furyk/Snedeker 1 UP v McIlroy/McDowell
(2) Bradley/Mickelson 1 UP v Donald/Garcia
(1) Dufner/Johnson v Westwood/Molinari 1UP

2pm: Garcia plays a beauty out of the sand to give Europe a chance of halving, but Bradley rolls in his putt for birdie and the lead for America in the second of the three matches out on the course.

1.58: Superb approach from Molinari puts Europe right in with a shout of taking a lead on the first. his shot leaves Westwood a six-footer for birdie while the Americans are about 10 feet shy of the green with plenty still to do.

1.57: Here's how it's looking thus far:

(2) Furyk/Snedeker 1 UP v McIlroy/McDowell
(1) Bradley/Mickelson A/S v Donald/Garcia

1.53: Rory McIlroy drags his shot wide of the hole on the second, but Brandt Snedeker makes no mistake and they take a one-shot lead.

Roughing it: McIlroy and Snedeker have their work cut out on the first

Roughing it: McIlroy and Snedeker have their work cut out on the first

Roughing it: McIlroy and Snedeker have their work cut out on the first

1.52: And back we go to the first tee where there's further hollering and wild cheering as the next pairings arrive for their first shots. Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson versus Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari. Westwood finds the middle of the fairway, but Dufner pulls left into the sand – 141 yards shy of the green.

1.50: Brief conflab between the Europeans and game referee as they discuss whether the ball can be moved as it lies next to a sprinkler. It's a decent lie and McDowell has to play it. He connects a touch and the ball rolls five feet past. plenty of work for McIlroy to do there.

1.47: And so the Donald/Garcia – Mickleson/Bradley pairings start with a half. Donald rolls a beauty from the fringe to with not mush, Bradley's effort from just off the green is an inch to the left.

1.43: Hmmmmn. Not sure about Garcia's first shot. He's stuck his three-quarter wedge way over the back of the green. But there's some respite as Mickleson's wedge falls way short. Those nerves still need some ironing out.

1.40: McIlroy's
tee on the 412-yard par three second finds the second cut on the edge
of the green. Snedeker sticks his shot towards the back of the green.
Will take something special for either team to steal this hole from that
position.

First of many: McDowell tees-off for Europe as Furyk gets USA under way in Medinah

First of many: McDowell tees-off for Europe as Furyk gets USA under way in Medinah

First of many: McDowell tees-off for Europe as Furyk gets USA under way in Medinah
Ryder Cup – how it works

The winner of each match earns a point. There is half a point each if a match is halved. There are 28 points on offer, so 14 points wins the cup. At 14-14, the defending team (Europe) retain the cup.

Schedule

Friday – 4 x foursomes in the morning and 4 x fourballs in the afternoon.

Saturday – 4 x foursomes in the morning and 4 x fourballs in the afternoon.

Sunday – 12 singles matches.

Format

Fourballs
Two players on either side, four balls in play. The player with the lowest score wins the hole for his team.

Foursomes
Two players on either side but only one ball is used by each pair as players hit alternate shots. The team with the lowest score wins the hole.

Singles
Captains list their players from 1 to 12. They then play against their opposite numbers.

1.38: Next
up on the tee – the unbeaten pairing of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia.
acing veteran Phil Mickelson with rookie Keegan Bradley. Donald and
Bradley tee-off, both head straight down the middle of the fairway.

1.35: Yep, McDowell rolls his putt from 10 feet to within a foot, Furyk does likewise. They pick up their balls and head to the second. All square in that one.

1.32: Brandt Snedeker plays his first shot of the tournament and profits form the complete absence of rough on the No 3 Course – chipping high onto the back of the green Looks like this one will be all-square.

1.29: Rory – tucked in behind some green hoardings – goes with a wedge, the ball pops on from the edge of the green and threatens to roll off the side into one of the two green-side bunkers.

1.23: Oh and now Furyk's done the exact same thing! Stiff in the shoulders, Furyk pulls the ball left and to within 15 feet of where McDowell stuck his drive. The Ryder Cup is well and truly under way!

1.20: Graeme McDowell steps up to the tee on the 423-yard par 4 first…. and drags it well left. behind the line of spectators. Close to a viewing/camera gantry. Nerves got to him there. Now, what has Jim Furyk got

USA A-OK: Captain Davis Love soaks up the applause as the home crowd find their voice

USA A-OK: Captain Davis Love soaks up the applause as the home crowd find their voice

USA A-OK: Captain Davis Love soaks up the applause as the home crowd find their voice

1.15: Here come the players. McIlroy and McDowell looking very relaxed as they cross a small bridge towards the first tee. The noise in incredible!

1.08: How do you see it today I'm after your predictions for the score after these foursomes have finished. I'll get the ball rolling – I think Europe will take a slender 2-1 lead into the fourballs. The Woods/Stricker pairing to take the hosts' point. Send me your predictions: [email protected]

1.05: So, time for talking is almost over, first tee-off begins in 15 minutes time when Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell begin the holders challenge to retain the trophy.

There are 50,000 noisy golf fans in position. All we need is four golfers to get things underway at this stunning course in Chicago.

Enlarge

Day one foursomes

The first cries of 'USA, USA' are ringing out as the partisan crowd are whipped up into a frenzy ahead of the first shot. How are the nerves Mine are a-jingling and a-jangling.

1pm: Are you ready for some more From Chelsea's Champions League victory via cheers for Mo Farah in the Olympic Stadium to glory for Rory McIlroy and US Open history for Andy Murray – we've seen some sights this year.

But is there one final chapter yet to come A bookend to a stunning year of sport. Let's hope so!

Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of the 39th Ryder Cup from the Medinah Country Club in Illinois.

Jose Maria Olazabal's Europeans are battling to retain the trophy they won at the Celtic Manor in 2010 and he brings four of the current top five golfers in the world with him.

But the Americans are bullish. The course is set up favourably for the big hitters and Davis Love has spoken of how he wants to 'pummel' those from Europe. And in Tiger Woods the USA captain has a player back in the form which nailed him to the top of the rankings for an eternity.

Eyes down. This one's sure to be a cracker.

Let battle commence: Davis Love II and Jose maria Olazabal pose with the Ryder Cup outside the Medinah Country Club

Let battle commence: Davis Love II and Jose maria Olazabal pose with the Ryder Cup outside the Medinah Country Club

Ryder Cup 2012: Opening ceremony at Medinah Country Club

Seve's memory brings tears to Olazabal's eyes as Timberlake opens the 39th Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

00:20 GMT, 28 September 2012

The 39th Ryder Cup exploded into life with a star-studded opening ceremony in Chicago, at which Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal wept over the memory of his late, great friend, Seve Ballesteros.

American pop star Justin Timberlake hosted the bash at Medinah Country Club and there was also a guest appearance from 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps.

Olazabal and his American counterpart, David Love III, rounded off the night by announcing the pairings for Friday's foursomes, which will get the real action underway at 1.20pm UK time.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are in Europe's first group, meaning one of the Northern Irishmen will tee off the competition as Europe have the honour as the visiting team. The Ulstermen will take on Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker.

Great friends: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal wipes away a tear at the mention of Seve Ballesteros

Great friends: Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal wipes away a tear at the mention of Seve Ballesteros

All the players on both teams were
introduced by their captains, and were accompanied by their wives and
girlfriends – with the notable absence of tennis star Caroline
Wozniacki, McIlroy's partner, who is busy at a tournament in Tokyo.

Olazabal also delivered a moving
speech that made reference to Ballesteros, his fellow Spaniard, former
Ryder Cup partner and close friend, who passed away last May after
battling with a brain tumour.

Europe's captain had to take a moment to compose himself while speaking before wiping tears away from his eyes.

In the second game Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, both unbeaten in foursomes in the match, take on Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, like Snedeker a cup rookie.

Lee Westwood has been given Italian Francesco Molinari as his partner – they face Zach Johnson and another debutant in Jason Dufner – while Tiger Woods is kept until last by home captain Davis Love.

Line up: USA (left) and Europe (right) players stand on the stage during the opening ceremony

Line up: USA (left) and Europe (right) players stand on the stage during the opening ceremony

Woods and Steve Stricker will take on Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, who has spoken of wanting to 'kill' his opponents in the biennial competition.

Poulter has faced Woods twice before and lost both times, but has won eight of his other nine games.

The action starts at 7.20am local time and the foursomes will be followed by afternoon fourballs.

Woods and Stricker boast a 6-2 winning record together, but their last two games were the 6&5 drubbing by Westwood and Donald in Wales two years ago and then a 7&6 hammering by Adam Scott and KJ Choi at the start of last November's Presidents Cup. They did not play together again that week after that.

Cool customers: Europe's Graeme McDowell and USA's Phil Mickelson (right) are introduced to the crowd

Cool customers: Europe's Graeme McDowell and USA's Phil Mickelson (right) are introduced to the crowd

It means the four left out by Olazabal, who cried during the opening ceremony at the first mention of the late Seve Ballesteros, were Scot Paul Lawrie, Germany's former world No 1 Martin Kaymer, Swede Peter Hanson and Belgian newcomer Nicolas Colsaerts.

The quartet kept waiting to play by Love were his two major winners this year – Masters champion Bubba Watson and US Open champion Webb Simpson – plus Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.

It would have been a huge shock if McIlroy and McDowell were not together again.

The captains: Jose Maria Olazabal (left) and Davis Love III lead their teams out at the opening ceremony

The captains: Jose Maria Olazabal (left) and Davis Love III lead their teams out at the opening ceremony

Close friends and compatriots, they had a modest one win, one half and one loss at Celtic Manor two years ago, but won three out of four in the 2009 Seve Trophy in Paris and have twice been World Cup partners as well.

In Donald, Garcia and Westwood Europe can call on three players with outstanding foursomes records in the event.

Donald will be looking to make it a perfect seven out of seven. His first four wins in 2004 and 2006 came with Garcia as his partner and two years ago he won with Poulter and then with Westwood.

Ready to go: USA's Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods are introduced during the opening ceremony

Ready to go: USA's Bubba Watson, and Tiger Woods are introduced during the opening ceremony

Opening pair: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy will elad off the European team

Opening pair: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy will elad off the European team

Garcia is unbeaten in nine foursomes, eight of them victories, while Westwood has not lost any of his last 10 games in the format going back to 1999.

His partners in that time have been Darren Clarke, Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Kaymer and Donald – and now he links up with the Italian whose debut two years ago came alongside his brother Edoardo.

A month after that Molinari pipped Westwood to his first world championship title in Shanghai – with the best of the rest nine shots further back.

Meet the team: The European players and support staff at Medinah Country Club

Meet the team: The European players and support staff at Medinah Country Club

Garcia remains the only teenager ever to appear in the match, his debut in 1999 coming a month after he and Woods battled for the USPGA Championship at Medinah. Jesper Parnevik was his first partner and they won their opening three games and got a half in the other, while in subsequent foursomes the Spaniard has won with Westwood, Donald and Olazabal.

Rose and Poulter won two of their three games together four years ago, Rose not making the 2010 match despite winning twice in America that summer.

Mickelson has won only two of his last 14 pairs games in the event, but was always expected to start with Bradley in his ninth appearance, an American record.

Centre stage: Justin Timberlake was the compere for the opening ceremony in Chicago

Centre stage: Justin Timberlake was the compere for the opening ceremony in Chicago

Inspiration: America's 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps speaks during the opening ceremony

Inspiration: America's 18-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps speaks during the opening ceremony

Olazabal told the crowd in his speech his side 'have every intention of taking it (the cup) back home' with them and also managed to pay his latest tribute to his former partner Ballesteros, who died in May last year following a long battle with a brain tumour.

'Of course I can't forget a great friend in the name of Seve Ballesteros,' he said. 'He was a special man. I believe Seve reflected the core of Ryder Cup values – no quitting and be prepared to chase any adversity.

'From him I learnt what true passion is all about. Seve, we miss you.'

Support: The European team's wives and girfriends were in attendance at the big event

Support: The European team's wives and girfriends were in attendance at the big event

Catwalk: Diane Donald (left), wife of Europe star Luke, leads out the players' wives and girlfriends

Catwalk: Diane Donald (left), wife of Europe star Luke, leads out the players' wives and girlfriends

Olazabal was also asked what advice Ballesteros would give him.

'Just play hard, play with passion and win the damn points,' added Olazabal.

Told that Molinari's inclusion as an eighth different partner for Westwood in his eighth appearance was somewhat surprising, Olazabal added: 'Well it might surprise you, but when you look at Francesco's game, he's a steady player. He very rarely misses a shot. He's straight off the tee. He hits good iron shots.

Choking back the tears: Jose Maria Olazabal took a moment to compose himself when talking about Seve

Choking back the tears: Jose Maria Olazabal took a moment to compose himself when talking about Seve

'And that's pretty much what you look for when you are playing foursomes. So you have to have the guys that are consistent and I felt that Francesco is one of those guys.'

All eight omitted from the opening session will be hoping to enter the fray in the afternoon fourballs.

Speaking about his pair, Woods said: 'Strick and I are very comfortable together. We've had some pretty good success over the years and we both have been playing well.

Shady: Justin Rose and Bubba Watson (right) and Lee Westwood (left) and Tiger Woods

Shady: Justin Rose and Bubba Watson (right) and Lee Westwood (left) and Tiger Woods

'Our captain said that would be a good fit and he wanted us out there to anchor.

'We know each other's game and we practise a lot together at tournaments. We know what to expect from each other.'

And Mickelson said: 'I'm really excited to play with Keegan – we have been wanting it for a while.

'We have a very difficult match. Luke I don't think has ever lost in foursomes and we are hopefully going to change that.'

Snedeker stated: '[I'm] really excited. Jim is playing great and a great guy to lean on. He's got so much experience.'

Ryder Cup 2012: Bubba Watson: off-course friendship means nothing

We're friends off the course… but we want to smash Europe at Medinah, admits Bubba

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UPDATED:

17:48 GMT, 27 September 2012

A day after he questioned how it was possible to want to 'kill' great mates in the Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter today a staunch ally in the shape of Masters champion Bubba Watson.

'I understand where Poults is coming from,' Watson said on the final practice day at Medinah. 'I love it. I love watching his passion. The guy is great for the game of golf.'

Poulter's comments came after he was asked if he could see a future in which the biennial contest lost its edge because so many Europeans have homes in the States, something the Florida-based 36-year-old could not see happening.

Up for the Cup: Big-hitting American Bubba Watson on the practice ground on Thursday

Up for the Cup: Big-hitting American Bubba Watson on the practice ground on Thursday

'It means too much to us for it ever to lose that edge,' he said. 'This event is unique. I hate to say we don't get on for three days, but there is that divide – and it's not that we don't like each other. We are all good friends, both sides of the pond, but there's something about Ryder Cup which kind of intrigues me.'

And Watson, who lost three of his four matches on his debut at Celtic Manor two years ago, could not agree more.

'It's funny, we're friends with all of them,' the big-hitting left-hander said. 'We've played golf with all of them for years. We know them all. We know their families.

Great for golf: Watson is a big fan of Englishman Ian Poulter, who is one of Europe's big guns

Great for golf: Watson is a big fan of Englishman Ian Poulter, who is one of Europe's big guns

'It's just that trophy, it's just that little trophy we want to win so bad. So it's really not a dislike for the other team. It's just a dislike for any opponent, no matter who the opponent is.

'It's just like the FedEx Cup. We were mad at (Brandt) Snedeker because he won, and I wanted to win it. But now I'm pulling for that guy.'

Watson would also seem to be 'pulling' for Poulter, adding: 'As a fan of golf, Ian Poulter is an amazing story. Love Ian Poulter to death.

'It's amazing watching where his career started and where it is now. It's amazing to listen to him talk about where he picked up range balls, he worked in the pro shop, did everything, and now he's at the Ryder Cup. So I love his passion, I respect him very much and I love how passionate he is about winning it.

Partnership: Masters champion Watson is expected to partner Webb Simpson at Medinah

Partnership: Masters champion Watson is expected to partner Webb Simpson at Medinah

'It's the little gold Ryder Cup is what we're trying to get, and again it doesn't matter who it is that I'm facing. If I was facing y'all or facing Poulter or facing Phil Mickelson, it's about winning the cup.'

Watson looks set to partner fellow major winner Webb Simpson at Medinah, the US Open champion being one of four rookies on the home side along with Snedeker, Jason Dufner and 2011 US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley, who is expected to partner Phil Mickelson.

'Bubba and I are good friends away from golf, and I think that's what makes us a good team,' said Simpson, who also partnered Watson to three wins out of four in the 2011 Presidents Cup. 'He's laid-back. What you see in his golf videos and all the other funny stuff he does, that's him on the golf course.

Rookie: Webb Simpson speaks to the media at Medinah Country Golf Club on Thursday

Rookie: Webb Simpson speaks to the media at Medinah Country Golf Club on Thursday

'He still is a competitor. You can't win the Masters and not be a very tough competitor. But his approach to the game is laid-back, and then when he has 30 seconds to hit a shot, he's serious. I am a little more serious, he kind of relaxes me and I kind of help him focus on golf and draw him back to what we need to be looking at.

'He's definitely a clown and everybody laughs at him, and he's a good guy to have on the team.'

So far this week, Matt Kuchar's main role has seemingly be to beat all-comers at table tennis in the home side's team room, but the 2012 Players Champion is also relishing his first Ryder Cup on home soil after making his debut at Celtic Manor.

'I think walking to the first tee on Tuesday, I knew we weren't in Wales. That was just such a big difference to me,' Kuchar said. 'It was so exciting knowing that we were on home turf and there was such an eruption of excitement when we got to the first tee. It was an awesome feeling.

'It's been one of my major goals to make this team for a number of reasons. Once you play your first team competition, you don't want to miss out on another one.'

Ryder Cup 2012: Tiger Woods – I need to win more for America

Tiger admits: I've let America down in past Ryder Cups… I need to win for my team

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UPDATED:

15:51 GMT, 25 September 2012

Tiger Woods has admitted he shoulders responsibility for the United States' poor recent record in the Ryder Cup ahead of this week's contest in Chicago.

Europe have won four of the last five biennial contests, with Woods absent through injury from the home side's sole victory in that sequence at Valhalla in 2008.

The former world No 1's one only win in six appearances came in the controversial 'Battle of Brookline' in 1999, while he has a losing overall record of played 29, won 13, lost 14 and halved two.

Team USA: (back, from left) Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner and (front, from left) Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley

Team USA: (back, from left) Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner and (front, from left) Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley

That's our target: Woods inspects the trophy with US captain Davis Love III at Medinah

That's our target: Woods inspects the trophy with US captain Davis Love III at Medinah

Asked if he was responsible for Europe's success in a time when he personally dominated the individual game, Woods said: 'Well, certainly I am responsible for that, because I didn't earn the points that I was put out there for.

'I believe I was out there in five sessions each time and I didn't go 5-0 on our side. So I certainly am a part of that and that's part of being a team. I needed to go get my points for my team, and I didn't do that. Hopefully I can do that this week and hopefully the other guys can do the same and we can get this thing rolling.'

Woods is not alone in possessing a losing record however, with the experienced pair of Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk also struggling to translate individual success into team triumphs.

Mickelson, who is appearing in a US-record ninth Ryder Cup at Medinah, has won 14 points from 34 matches overall and amazingly just two wins from his last 14 fourball or foursome matches.

In the spotlight: Woods answers questions during a news conference ahead of the Ryder Cup on Tuesday

In the spotlight: Woods answers questions during a news conference ahead of the Ryder Cup on Tuesday

Furyk is making his eighth appearance this week but has won just 10 points of a possible 27 overall and four from his last 18 fourball or foursome clashes.

'In order to win Cups, you have to earn points and we certainly have not earned points,' Woods added. 'And on top of that, I think that Phil, Jim and myself have been put out there a lot during those years. So if we are not earning points, it's hard to win Ryder Cups that way.'

Graeme McDowell, who secured the winning point at Celtic Manor two years ago, believes Woods is often the victim of 'lesser' players raising their game and playing without pressure.

Advice: US rookie Keegan Bradley (left) talks tactics with veteran Phil Mickelson at Medinah

Advice: US rookie Keegan Bradley (left) talks tactics with veteran Phil Mickelson at Medinah

'I liken it to playing Premiership football,' McDowell added. 'Any lesser team that comes to play these guys, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal… they have a tendency to raise their game, because it's a huge game for an underdog to play a Tiger Woods.

'And they get up for it. They are not expected to win. When expectation levels drop, game tends to improve. A guy who plays Tiger Woods, or a player of that calibre, doesn't expect to win so he lets it all go and he plays out of his skin and gets the upset.'

McDowell's team-mate and likely playing partner Rory McIlroy is of course now the world No 1, a fact which makes him a 'target' this week according to Furyk and the winning captain at Valhalla, Paul Azinger.

Tee time: Mickelson hits a drive at the practice range ahead of the Ryder Cup, which starts on Friday

Tee time: Mickelson hits a drive at the practice range ahead of the Ryder Cup, which starts on Friday

'It's part of being consistent,' Woods added. 'It's part of being ranked No 1, it's part of winning major championships. You're always going to want to try and take out their best player, and that's just part of the deal. That's a fun challenge.

'I certainly have relished it over the years and I'm sure he's going to relish it this week.'

Another aspect of this week that Woods seemingly relishes is having former basketball legend Michael Jordan around the US team, as the former Chicago Bulls star has done in several previous Ryder Cups.

But US captain Davis Love will not be encouraging a repeat of the time the duo first met.

Woods explained: 'The first time I had ever been around him, he had fed me some beverages (laughter) and the next day was a little bit more difficult than I would like it to be.

'But for him to want to be part of this is special for us. I guess for me, because I consider him like my big brother, gotten to know him so well over the years, I may take that for granted. But some of the other guys who don't really know Michael, I think it's a real treat for them.'

Rory McIlroy beaten to FedEx bonus by Brandt Snedeker

Brit of a shame! Snedeker beats McIlroy to $10m bonus and Rose to Tour title

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UPDATED:

22:47 GMT, 23 September 2012

It was supposed to be a two-horse race between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods for the $10million FedEx Cup, but nobody told the American Brandt Snedeker.

He headed for Chicago and the Ryder Cup on Sunday night with not only that mammoth amount in his back pocket for winning the four-event FedEx play-off series but also another $1.44m in loose change for winning the grand finale, the Tour Championship.

The 31-year-old American earned lots of admirers in finishing third at The Open in July. Asked about the fact that not many people in Britain would know who he was, he replied: ‘I don’t think many Americans know who I am either.’

I need a dollar: Brandt Snedeker poses with the trophies after winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup

I need a dollar: Brandt Snedeker poses with the trophies after winning the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup

In the money: Brandt Snedeker has won the Tour Championship and the FedEx bonus

A lot more will know him now, and a heck of a lot more will be hailing him as a hero if the man with the demon short game continues his form on and around the greens at Medinah and helps the US win back the Ryder Cup.

Having holed three long birdie putts, Snedeker made sure of victory with a fabulous chip in at the 17th to secure a three-shot victory.

Woods fell away early, as his inconsistent form of late continued with a terrible start that saw him register two bogeys and a double in his first six holes.

Missing out: Rory McIlroy was in pole position for the bonus going into the Tour Championship

Missing out: Rory McIlroy was in pole position for the bonus going into the Tour Championship

As for McIlroy, his wonderful run of 11 straight rounds in the sixties came to a rather abrupt end with an error-strewn display in breezy conditions at East Lake.

Four bogeys and a double added up to more mistakes than he usually makes in an entire tournament these days, let alone 18 holes, as he signed for a disappointing 74 that saw him fall from tied fourth overnight all the way down to tied 10th.

The bottom line is it cost him the breathtaking sum of $7m, since the runner-up prize in the FedEx is $3m. Let us hope Rory takes out his frustration on the Americans at the Ryder Cup this week.

Close but no cigar: Justin Rose made a challenge for the title but fell short

Close but no cigar: Justin Rose made a challenge for the title but fell short

Snedeker had gone into the final round tied for the lead in the Tour Championship with Englishman Justin Rose, but he did not have his best day either on a curiously flat afternoon. Rose finished with a 71 to finish second.

If this all sounds disappointing news for European captain Jose Maria Olazabal, then he can console himself with the fact he will not need to bring anyone down to earth in time for Friday’s first matches.

There was also the encouraging form of Luke Donald to cheer him, as he put a month of inconsistent form behind him to turn in his second 67 in a row yesterday to finish in a tie for third place.

Gearing up: Luke Donald was in fine form ahead of Europe's bid to win the Ryder Cup

Gearing up: Luke Donald was in fine form ahead of Europe's bid to win the Ryder Cup

‘I don’t think I needed this good tournament before the Ryder Cup but it certainly doesn’t hurt in terms of confidence,’ he said. ‘I think the first three events in the play-offs were held on long courses that didn’t really suit me but I have a good record here at East Lake and it has been a very satisfying weekend.’

Lee Westwood finished last in the 30-man field, and regretting his decision to go home last week, where he found himself practising on greens a world away from the lightning pace of these surfaces.

His playing partner was American Nick Watney who suggested on the sixth tee they have a private game to keep themselves interested. Westwood won that one on the 18th green to collect $100.

‘That match was good practice for this coming week,’ he said, smiling. In the tournament itself, he finished with a 74.

Tough times: Tiger Woods struggled during his final round of the Tour Championship

Tough times: Tiger Woods struggled during his final round of the Tour Championship