Putter gives Woods trouble in afternoon

Ryder record drops to 1-3 this year, 2-6-1 overall

Ryder Cup notebook

September 26, 1999|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Tiger Woods said before the 33rd Ryder Cup began that his career shouldn't be judged on his performance in this biennial event, and his remarkable run over the past three months wouldn't be overshadowed should he struggle at The Country Club.

But if the U.S. team were to lose today to Europe, Woods would have to feel partially responsible, perhaps even more than he did as a rookie back at Valderrama two years ago. After seemingly heating up yesterday morning, Woods cooled off in the afternoon by missing several putts late.

The result was a 2-and-1 defeat for Woods and Steve Pate to Scotsmen Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie. The match, which ended when Woods missed a 7-footer for birdie on the par-4 17th hole, gave Woods a 1-3 record this year and a 2-6-1 record overall in the Ryder Cup.

"He battled his putter today, no question about it," U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw said of Woods. "We've got to get that sorted out tomorrow. He's thinking about it. And Mark O'Meara talked to him a little bit before he went out today, tried to change a few things. A lot of times you have a intuitive feel, and it's just magical. And all of us slip back into a mechanical thought that is debilitating."

Exactly what Woods was thinking isn't clear. The reigning PGA champion left without talking to the media after his match.

Woods will play Andrew Coltart of Scotland, who'll be making his Cup debut, in the sixth match of the day.

Woods lost to Costantino Rocca of Italy in singles two years ago.

New putter for Mickelson

Speaking of putters, Phil Mickelson changed his for yesterday's matches after missing several key putts Friday afternoon.

"I hadn't used it for the last eight months, but I needed a different look. I needed a little more confidence," said Mickelson, who made four birdies in his halved match with Tom Lehman against Jesper Parnevik of Sweden and Sergio Garcia of Spain.

In singles today, Mickelson faces another of the European rookies who have yet to play, Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden. A few years ago, Mickelson and Sandelin got in a shouting match on a green at a tournament in Paris. Mickelson accused Sandelin of a little too much showmanship after making a number of putts.

Tough decisions

If Crenshaw is second-guessed tonight, it might stem from his decision yesterday to sit Jeff Maggert in favor of Justin Leonard. Maggert and Hal Sutton had been Crenshaw's most effective team.

Maggert had finished their morning match against Montgomerie and Lawrie with a birdie on the par-4 17th and by hitting his approach on the par-4 18th to within inches of the cup to secure a 1-up victory.

"It was a pure hunch," Crenshaw said. "Obviously, that team had worked beautifully, and Jeff did the most beautiful job on the last two holes."

Said Maggert, "It's a tough job on the captain. There are 12 guys on the team, and it doesn't matter if I'm sitting on the bench or I'm out there playing. I told Ben it's tough to play five matches and be fresh for singles."

Sutton defended the struggling Leonard, saying, "This guy is the best partner in the world." But NBC analyst Johnny Miller took a shot at Leonard.

Told that Crenshaw was playing a hunch to use Leonard instead of Sutton, Miller said, "My hunch is that Justin Leonard should be at home watching on TV."

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