Birdie binge propels McDowell to Mayakoba lead

By Associated PressNovember 13, 2015, 11:24 pm

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico - Graeme McDowell, determined to get his game turned around, saw more results Friday when he ran off seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch for an 8-under 63 and a one-shot lead in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

McDowell relied on his strengths - hitting fairways and making putts - to close out the back nine with three straight birdies. After a bogey on No. 1, he bounced back with four straight birdies to take the lead in the morning at El Camaleon Golf Club.

No one caught him in the afternoon.

Derek Fathauer made four birdies over his last seven holes for a 66 to get within one shot of McDowell. PGA Tour rookie Harold Varner III birdied four of his last five holes for a 62 to join Si Woo Kim (64) two shots behind.

McDowell was at 12-under 130.

''The two biggest keys to the year have been the driver and putter, the two things that haven't been performing this season and probably are my strengths,'' McDowell said. ''I drove the ball much, much better, and I putted just as good today as I did yesterday. I'm putting nicely and decisively. The hole looks pretty big right now.''

McDowell typically plays the European Tour this time of the year as it wraps up the Race to Dubai. But the 36-year-old from Northern Ireland had such a mediocre season that he returned to America to get a head start on the new PGA Tour season. So far, the decision is paying off.


OHL Classic at Mayakoba: Articles, photos and videos


He started the year at No. 15 in the world and has fallen all the way to No. 85. His best finish this year was a tie for ninth in the Dubai Desert Classic. McDowell has been grinding hard since June, and he has been seeing signs of it getting better.

''It's the result of three or four months of grinding,'' McDowell said. ''I'm trying to play better. It's been a frustrating year. That's the game of golf we know and love. You've got to take the rough with the smooth.''

It's been smooth sailing off the coast in Mexico. This is only his third 36-hole lead in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event, the others coming at the HSBC Champions last year and the U.S. Open that he won at Pebble Beach in 2010.

Shawn Stefani, the runner-up in Mexico last year, pulled within one shot of McDowell until a poor tee shot led to double bogey on No. 14 to slow his momentum. Stefani had to settle for a 68 and was in the group three shots behind along with Patrick Rodgers (66), Jason Bohn (63), Justin Leonard (68) and Brice Garnett (66).

Russell Knox of Scotland, who won the HSBC Champions last week in Shanghai, had a 65 and was five shots behind. Matt Kuchar, at No. 16 the highest-ranked player in the world at Mayakoba, had a 67 and was nine shots behind.

The only thing that stalled McDowell's big birdie run was the opening hole, where a poor approach led to bogey. He started the tournament at No. 1 on Thursday and was lucky to make double bogey. His first tee shot went out of bounds and his next tee shot was even farther right, though it ricocheted back into play.

''As I went down to get them, I figured I could be going home very soon,'' McDowell said. ''Today it was just a bad swing. I walked off with a 5. I'm trending in the right direction.''

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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.