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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.

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

Ryder Cup 2012: Player ratings

How the players from both teams rated at the 39th Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

01:06 GMT, 1 October 2012

After a rollercoaster weekend which saw Europe come from behind to dramatically snatch victory from the United States to retain the Ryder Cup, Sportsmail looks at the individual performances of all 24 players.

Debut: Bradley impressed for the US

Debut: Bradley impressed for the US

USA

K BRADLEY (p4, w3, L1) 8/10
Almost out-Poultered Poulter at times with his electrifying intensity. Great debut.

J DUFNER (p 3, w2, l1) 7/10
Really solid, unflashy debut from really solid, unflashy player.

J FURYK (p3, w1, l2) 4/10
Terrible choke in the nerve-tingling singles that will haunt him for ever.

D JOHNSON (p3, w3) 8/10
The fourballs specialist did everything asked of him by his captain.

Z JOHNSON (p4, w3, l1) 8/10
Not for the first time, the American bulldog punched well above his weight.

M KUCHAR (p3, w2, L1) 7/10
Puzzling why he did not play in foursomes but certainly delivered in fourballs.

P MICKELSON (p4, w3, L1) 8/10
Finally, the real Phil turned up at a Ryder Cup. Take a bow, Keegan.

W SIMPSON (p 4, w2, l2) 8/10
This year’s US Open winner played like a major champion. Putted like a Ryder Cup natural.

B SNEDEKER (p3, w1, l2) 6/10
The FedEx Cup winner showed that he can play for pride as well as for $11.44million.

S STRICKER (p4, l4) 3/10
Torrid time all the way and his late defeat by Kaymer sealed America’s fate.

B WATSON (p4, w2, L2) 8/10
Created an unforgettable memory at this Ryder Cup with his first-tee theatrics.

T WOODS (p4, H1, l3) 3/10
Oh dear. Is the real Tiger somewhere in Florida, having a laugh

Shocker: Woods (left) was not at the races

Shocker: Woods (left) was not at the races

Masterclass: Donald (right) breezed to victory in his singles match

Masterclass: Donald (right) breezed to victory in his singles match

EUROPE

N COLSAERTS (p4, w1, l3) 6/10
Left an indelible mark with his sensational Friday fourballs performance.

L DONALD (p4, w2, l2) 7/10
Must have felt a lot better about his hometown Ryder Cup after his singles win.

S GARCIA (p4, w2, l2) 7/10
Looked the effervescent performer of old with a vital singles win.

P HANSON (p2, L2) 3/10
Sadly, the Swede was one of the few players who struggled throughout the weekend.

M KAYMER (p2, W1, L1) 6/10
Singles performance should give him encouragement going forward.

P LAWRIE (p3, W1, l2) 6/10
Brilliant singles performance. Played better all week than scores suggested.

G McDOWELL (p4, w1, l3) 5/10
A pale shadow of the vibrant, match-clinching figure at Celtic Manor two years ago.

R McILROY (p5, w3, l2) 8/10
Came through at the end like a true world No 1.

F MOLINARI (p3, H1, l2) 5/10 Gutsy display in the final singles match when the pressure was on against Tiger Woods.

I POULTER (p4, w4) 10/10
There can now be no question he is a Ryder Cup legend.

Top notch: Poulter (right) was outstanding

Top notch: Poulter (right) was outstanding

J ROSE (p5, w3, l2) 8/10
Fabulous singles display put the gloss on an excellent week’s work.

L WESTWOOD (p4, w2, l2) 6/10
A gutsy performance in the singles after being relatively anonymous for two days.

Ryder Cup 2012: Rory McIlroy and tiger Woods kept apart as Luke Donald leads Europe out on final day

McIlroy and Woods kept apart as Donald leads Europe out on final day against Watson

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UPDATED:

01:52 GMT, 30 September 2012

Teeing it off: Donald

Teeing it off: Donald

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will not face each other for the second Ryder Cup in a row.

American captain Davis Love has put Woods out last in Sunday's singles, while world number one McIlroy is out third against unbeaten Keegan Bradley as Europe try to claw back their four-point deficit.

Luke Donald leads things off for Jose Maria Olazabal's side and will play Masters champion Bubba Watson.

Saturday hero Ian Poulter, who like Bradley has won his first three games, follows against US Open champion Webb Simpson.

Woods faces Francesco Molinari just as he did at Celtic Manor two years ago. The Italian lost 4&3.

Draw for the final day (all times BST)

17.03 Bubba Watson v Luke Donald
17.14 Webb Simpson v Ian Poulter
17.25 Keegan Bradley v Rory McIlroy
17.36 Phil Mickelson v Justin Rose
17.47 Brandt Snedeker v Paul Lawrie
17.58 Dustin Johnson v Nicolas Colsaerts
18.09 Zach Johnson v Graeme McDowell
18.20 Jim Furyk v Sergio Garcia
18.31 Jason Dufner v Peter Hanson
18.42 Matt Kuchar v Lee Westwood
18.53 Steve Stricker v Martin Kaymer
19.04 Tiger Woods v Francesco Molinari

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: 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: Friday Foursomes: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell open up

McIlroy leads the way for Europe with world No 1 and McDowell set to tee off Ryder Cup

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UPDATED:

22:33 GMT, 27 September 2012

World No 1 Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will lead off Europe's bid to retain the Ryder Cup in Chicago on Friday.

The Northern Irish pair will play Jim Furyk, winner of all his five games at the Presidents Cup last year, and Brandt Snedeker, who last Sunday pulled off a 7million double of FedEx Cup and Tour Championship victories.

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.

Leading the way: Rory McIlroy waves as he is introduced during the opening ceremony at Medinah

Leading the way: Rory McIlroy waves as he is introduced during the opening ceremony at Medinah

Friday's foursomes

Draw for the opening foursomes of the 39th Ryder Cup match, United States v Europe, at Medinah Country Club, Chicago, United States, on Friday (all times BST, US names first)

1320 – Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker v Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

1335 – Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley v Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia

1350 – Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner v Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari

1405 – Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods v Ian Poulter and Justin Rose

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.

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.

First up: Brandt Snedeker (centre) and Jim Furyk (right) face McIlroy and McDowell

First up: Brandt Snedeker (centre) and Jim Furyk (right) face McIlroy and McDowell

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.

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.

Big match: Tiger Woods (centre) partners Steve Stricker against Justin Rose and Ian Poulter

Big match: Tiger Woods (centre) partners Steve Stricker against Justin Rose and Ian Poulter

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.

Star man: Luke Donald (left) is looking to continue his perfect record alongside Sergio Garcia in the foursomes

Star man: Luke Donald (left) is looking to continue his perfect record alongside Sergio Garcia in the foursomes

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.

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.

Rory's partner: Graeme McDowell (left) plays out of a bunker during practice at Medinah

Rory's partner: Graeme McDowell (left) plays out of a bunker during practice at Medinah

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.

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.'

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

Ryder Cup 2012: Jose Maria Olazabal leads Miguel Angel Jiminez, Paul Lawrie and Nicolas Colsaerts to USA

From Heathrow to Chicago! Olazabal leads European Ryder Cup team to USA ahead of bid to defend crown at Medinah

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UPDATED:

10:59 GMT, 24 September 2012

And so it begins. Jose Maria Olazabal bid his farewell to European shores as he took his Ryder Cup team to America to defend the trophy they won in dramatic fashion two years ago.

Team captain Olazabal, his vice captain Miguel Angel Jimenez, Paul Lawrie and German Nicolas Colsaerts were among the team members jetting out to Chicago in good time for the European Ryder Cup team’s defence of their crown.

There was not a full complement of Olazabal’s team because the majority of them are already on the other side of the pond.

We'll hang on to this! Team Vice Captain Miguel Angel Jimenez poses with the Ryder Cup trophy at Heathrow before flying to the US

We'll hang on to this! Team Vice Captain Miguel Angel Jimenez poses with the Ryder Cup trophy at Heathrow before flying to the US

Captain fantastic: Jose Maria Olazabal was taking his team to America ahead of their defence of the Ryder Cup

Captain fantastic: Jose Maria Olazabal was taking his team to America ahead of their defence of the Ryder Cup

Here we go: Paul Lawrie was among those on their way to Chicago to defend the Ryder Cup

Here we go: Paul Lawrie was among those on their way to Chicago to defend the Ryder Cup

Many of the players, such as Luke
Donald, already live in America, and a large number of the team, such as
Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, have been in Atlanta competing for the
bumper $10million bonus on offer at the FedEx Cup – won by Brandt
Snedeker on Sunday.

For those players who were in London on Monday, they arrived in marked Ryder Cup cars, posed for photographs with the coveted trophy before they board the plane to the States.

There won’t be much time for the
European players, who are travelling with the Ryder Cup trophy, to
acclimatise to a new time zone and country, as they arrive late on
Monday and begin their first practice on Tuesday at Medinah.

The week is jam-packed from there
too. After another practice session on Wednesday, the players will
attend the gala dinner, where their wives will have their moment in the
spotlight.

On Thursday the players will be at
the opening ceremony for this year’s competition where the draw for the
first series of foursomes matches is announced.

If they’ve caught their breath in
time, the first matches will be teeing off at 7.20am local time on
Friday morning. Luckily for us viewers in the UK, they’ll be starting at
the more sociable 1.20pm.

Unconventional baggage: Olazabal was pushing the trolley with his bag and the trophy in London

Unconventional baggage: Olazabal was pushing the trolley with his bag and the trophy in London

The road to Medinah: Jimenez stepped out of the car ready to take on the USA on Friday

The road to Medinah: Jimenez stepped out of the car ready to take on the USA on Friday

Mine all mine: Nicolas Colsaerts joined Lawrie, Olazabal and Jiminez

Mine all mine: Nicolas Colsaerts joined Lawrie, Olazabal and Jiminez

One of the European team members who should be well adapted to his surroundings is Luke Donald.

The former world No 1 lives in
Chicago, and has been spending his days off at Medinah (which is a 35
minute drive from his home in the suburb of Northfield) to get his eye
in.

Olazabal, Donald and Co will be hoping to hold on to the trophy they won two years ago at Celtic Manor.

In a truly historic Ryder Cup, Europe
took the win 14 to 13 as Graeme McDowell holed the final putt in
Newport to clinch it in the final of the 12 singles matches.

The putt, which also crowned a
remarkable career for the then captain Colin Montgomerie, handed the
Northern Irishman a win over Hunter Mahan as the home crowd exploded into raptures.

But this time they will travel to Chicago with the proposition of beating Davis Love III's big-hitting outfit in their own back yard.

No mean feat. Especially with the final competition before the tournament's beginning on Friday being snatched from under European noses by Snedeker, whose impeccable short game could cause more problems for Olazabal's men over the weekend.

The USA's team, including the likes of Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson, will also be in Chicago on Monday as they prepare to launch their bid to usurp the holders of the trophy.

Fun and games: Jiminez, Olazabal and Darren Clarke (right) looked relaxed before boarding their flight

Fun and games: Jiminez, Olazabal and Darren Clarke (right) looked relaxed before boarding their flight

Don't let it go! Jiminez seemed keen to hold on to the trophy the Europeans won two years ago at Celtic Manor

Don't let it go! Jiminez seemed keen to hold on to the trophy the Europeans won two years ago at Celtic Manor

Close inspection: Colsaerts examined the trophy closely... hopefully not for the last time

Close inspection: Colsaerts examined the trophy closely… hopefully not for the last time

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

Ryder Cup 2012: Martin Kaymer surprised at Brandt Snedeker selection

Kaymer surprised at Snedeker Ryder Cup selection with Mahan and Fowler snubbed

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UPDATED:

19:46 GMT, 4 September 2012

European Ryder Cup player Martin Kaymer expressed surprise at the American selection of rookie Brandt Snedeker ahead of Rickie Fowler or Hunter Mahan for the event later this month.

US captain Davis Love III chose Dustin Johnson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Snedeker as picks Tuesday to join the eight automatic qualifiers in his 12-man team for the Ryder Cup from September 28-30 at Medinah outside Chicago.

'I expected Dustin and Stricker but also thought Rickie had a good chance because he made a really good impression in Wales two years ago,' Kaymer said of Fowler's 2010 performance in earning a half point as the first PGA Tour rookie to be picked.

Selected: Brandt Snedeker has been called up

Selected: Brandt Snedeker has been called up

'So I thought Rickie would be a strong chance of getting a pick, but then (Jim) Furyk is a good pick because of his experience and he's a guy who has been there many, many times.

'It was a tough decision between Snedeker, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler. You could have put those three names in a hat and pick any one of them. It's tough to say who deserved it more as Snedeker will be a rookie, but then Rickie and Hunter have the experience of having played in 2010.'

Kaymer is preparing for the KLM Open, at which he will be play the opening two rounds with European captain Jose Maria Olazabal and Ryder Cup rookie Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.

The German, who won the 2010 PGA Championship and then two-and-a-half out of possible four points in Wales, is chasing his first title this year.

Surprised: Martin Kaymer said it must have been a tough choice

Surprised: Martin Kaymer said it must have been a tough choice

'Of course the Ryder Cup will sure come up in conversation, but then the three us also will be focused on trying to capture the KLM Open,' said Kaymer, who has 10 European Tour titles.

'I can't remember the last time I played with Jose Maria, but now that I'm in the team I don't feel as though I will be under sort of pressure as such.'

He was feeling anxiety when sitting out the final European qualifying event late last month. If Colsaerts had finished in the top two at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland then he would have unseated Kaymer for the 10th and final automatic position.

'There were two to three guys playing really well up to the Gleneagles event, with Nicolas having the best chance of making the team,' Kaymer said.

'He played really nicely in America, finishing seventh behind Sergio (Garcia) and then also at the Johnnie Walker.

'But I don't think I have ever looked at tournament leaderboards before without even playing. I was following what Nicolas was doing at Gleneagles almost every hole to see how he was performing. But in the end we both made it and we can be both happy.'