Baird Seizes Lead After Day 2

By Associated PressMarch 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. -- Briny Baird really wanted to go fishing Monday. Thats his usual routine at the Zurich Classic, but bad weather kept him off the water.
 
Now good golf will keep him on dry land this weekend.
 
Baird shot a 3-under 69 on Friday in the second round to take a one-stroke lead over Peter Lonard (70) and Jay Williamson (69) at the TPC Louisiana.
 
It didnt feel quite as good as probably the scorecard will make out, Baird said. I didnt play as well today. My swing felt a little loose at times, but to get in with a 3 under, I was very pleased.
 
Baird birdied the final two holes. Good enough to keep him on the golf course this weekend rather than in a boat.
 
I screwed that up, Baird joked.
 
Bubba Watson, playing alongside Steve Elkington and Shigeki Maruyama, blamed Elkington for making noise while he was teeing off. The incident happened on the 10th tee and the trio left the course after the round without shaking hands.
 
I heard some movement, and who knows what it was, Watson said. I was just over the ball, and just trying to make the cut and trying to play better and not getting the right breaks. I was already mad for the day, and I just took it out on them, and I shouldnt have.
 
Tournament director Arvin Ginn said the incident was resolved quickly at the scoring area.
 
In the heat of the battle these players, theyre very high-keyed at this point in time, and nobody can say it any better than Bubba said it a little while ago, Ginn said. He gave a total apology to the media, total apology to the tournament, to the players, to anyone that might have seen or heard any part of it.
 
Watson said he felt he and Elkington settled the matter.
 
We hugged it out, Watson said. Everything is good. Hes not mad. Hes looking at me like a son basically because Im a lot younger than him. He just took me aside and said, Be stronger in what youre doing and make sure you dont do that.
 
Watson shot a 69 to finish at 2-under 142. Elkington (71) was in a group of players tied for sixth at 5 under.
 
Baird is making his 254th career start on the tour without a victory. His best finishes were a tie for second at the 2001 John Deere Classic, and ties for second at the 2003 Buick Open and 2004 Funai Classic.
 
Baird has made the cut in seven of nine tournaments this year. He hopes that has taught him how to handle weekend play.
 
If I go out there and can stay focused on what Im doing and play each shot, then thats the hardest part about this game, he said. You know, all that talk about its 90 percent mental, I think thats a load of you-know-what. I think its 99 percent mental.
 
Williamson'who played much of the last two seasons on the Nationwide Tour ' birdied the first hole and added birdies on No. 7, 11 and 15. A bogey on 12 prevented him from catching Baird.
 
Ive got to putt better, said Williamson, who iced his right shoulder after the round. Ive got to be more confident with my stroke.
 
Lonard followed up an opening 67 with the 70 on Friday. At one point, he was 10 under with a four-shot lead, but that was before bogeys on 15, 17 and 18.
 
The first one was just up against the face and I had to chip it out sideways, Lonard said. The one on 18 was about 80 to 100 yards off-line, so I suppose I deserve that one. Youve got to hit fairways, thats the name of the game.
 
Defending champ Nick Watney (67) was two strokes back at 6 under.
 
I played a nice round to get back in the tournament, Watney said. Hopefully Ill keep it going on the weekend.
 
Eighty-one players made the cut at even-par 144. Under the tours revised cut policy, the field will be cut to the low 70 players and ties after the third round.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.