Calcs 62 Earns Share of Top Spot

By Associated PressMarch 10, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 PODS ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Mark Calcavecchia felt confident about his game and fell in love with his putter. That's a rare combination for him, so he had a hunch that Saturday would bring him a good round in the PODS Championship.
 
He never could have imagined this.
 
The 46-year-old Calcavecchia made 10 birdies and tied the Copperhead course record at Innisbrook with a 9-under 62, going from the middle of the pack to a share of the lead with Heath Slocum, who birdied the last hole for a 67.
 
K.J. Choi shot 67 and was another shot behind.
 
'I don't see any reason why I can't finish it off,' Calcavecchia said.
 
After the way his week started, it was still hard to believe he was in this position.
 
Coming off a missed cut at the Honda Classic, Calcavecchia opened with a 75 by taking 36 putts, then packed his bags that evening expecting to miss the cut. But he tried out a new putter that he bought over the weekend -- that's right, he paid for it himself -- and has been knocking in putts from everywhere.
 
He has taken only 46 putts over the last two days, and he finished the third round strong.
 
Calcavecchia hit a 3-iron into about 6 feet on the par-3 17th, then hit a sweeping hooking with a 7-iron out of a fairway bunker on the 18th and made a 20-foot birdie to tie the course record set by Jeff Sluman in the first round in 2004.
 
He and Slocum were at 9-under 204, but there work was far from finished. Five players were within three shots of the lead, including Lucas Glover (67) and Chris DiMarco (69), and a dozen others were within five shots.
 
Calcavecchia rarely lacks for entertainment, especially when it comes to his putting.
 
It got so bad last week at the Honda Classic that after making a short birdie putt on his 12th hole, he stepped it off shoe-to-shoe to measure the distance (and found out later it was 4 feet, 2 inches).
 
'That was the longest of the week,' he said.
 
After missing the cut, he went to a golf retail store looking for a long-handled putter, didn't like the choices and settled on a conventional Ping model that suited his eye and cost him $256.18. It's probably a good thing that he paid for it, because that would be less incentive to break it. That goes into his decision on which putter to use.
 
'I just kind of look at it and see which one looks less ugly to me,' he said. 'Or which one I really wouldn't mind breaking some time during the course of the round.'
 
He also made a slight change in his stroke, pulling more with his left hand.
 
Either way, he started pouring in putts from everywhere, climbing the leaderboard and getting everyone's attention.
 
'When everyone saw him get hot, they started to chase,' Glover said. 'When I looked up at the board on 12, I said, 'Man, I've gotta go if I want to be there.' I think everyone got aggressive.'
 
Slocum pecked away on the back nine, making birdie on the tough 16th and following that with a 10-footer on the 18th. He will be in the final group, with one eye over his shoulder.
 
'It's so crammed at the top,' Slocum said. 'Calc proved today you can shoot a low number, although I didn't think anyone could shoot that low. Wow.'
 
It figures to change slight Sunday, with tougher hole locations and the pressure of the final round.
 
Calcavecchia surely will feel some of that.
 
He is a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, including a British Open, but at age 46, these chances don't come along very often.
 
He is not the model of fitness in golf, and his body creaks so much that he started taking pills of glucose and other herbal extracts that have helped soothe his joints. Foremost is his putting.
 
'The older you get, the harder it gets,' he said. 'Chances aren't as readily available as they used to be for me. So I'm sure I'll be nervous tomorrow just like everybody was last week, and everybody was the week before. I'll give it my best shot.'
 
It's also a big week for Eric Larson, his caddie. Calcavecchia already told him this would be there last week for a while because he likes to give several caddies a chance to work for him.
 
Larson, one of the most likable loopers on tour, spent 11 years in prison after he was convicted of being the middle man in a small-time drug ring. When he got out, Calcavecchia wanted to help him with his second chance.
 
'I paid him fairly well for our two top 10s,' he said. 'That really got him out of a bind. I felt good about that. I would like to write him an extra big check. This would be a nice way to enjoy next week and give Eric a month of two off.'
 
Divots
Slocum played on the same high school golf team as Boo Weekley, who played in the final group last week at the Honda Classic and lost in a four-man playoff. ... Calcavecchia said the USGA's proposal to limit the amount of spin produced by grooves in the irons was 'ridiculous.' It was his 8-iron out of the rough in the '87 Honda Classic that spun back on the green that first got the USGA's attention, leading to lawsuits that were settled out of court. 'It's not the grooves,' he said. 'It's the ball.' ... Two of the more promising young players on tour -- 24-year-old Ryan Moore and 21-year-old Anthony Kim -- were paired Saturday. Both shot 68 and were at 5-under 208.
 
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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.