Couples in command at Senior Players

By Associated PressAugust 20, 2011, 10:35 pm

HARRISON, N.Y. – Fred Couples shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead after the third round of the Senior Players Championship, the Champions Tour’s final major of the season.

Couples is at 11-under 202 for the tournament and is trying for his first Champions Tour title since a seven-stroke victory last October at the Adminstaff Small Business Classic in Texas. Since his fourth victory on the senior tour, Couples has struggled with his back, but the injury has healed following a non-traditional procedure in Germany six weeks ago.

“It was a good day,” Couples said. “I drove the ball well. The best thing I did is I felt I hit the ball solid. It was a good round, not great, but I’m still in the lead and I’ll have to have a better round tomorrow.”

Peter Senior remained in second at 10 under after a third-round 68 and was tied with John Cook, who moved up from fourth with a 66. Corey Pavin was fourth at 8 under after shooting a 69.

Tom Lehman shot a 67, finishing in a four-way tie for fifth at 207 with Tommy Armour III (67), Mark Calcavecchia (67), defending champion Mark O’Meara (69) and Jeff Sluman (69).

Couples, Senior and Pavin were the last trio teeing off at the Westchester Country Club’s tree-lined West Course, and the 51-year-old Couples’ booming drives drew some of the loudest cheers from fans following him on each hole. Couples began with pars on the first four holes, then took the lead with a birdie on No. 5 and followed that up with a long birdie on the seventh hole.

Those were two of Couples’ three birdies, though none were in the back nine. Couples maintained his two-stroke lead with pars on the final nine holes as his nearest competition failed to gain ground.

Couples’ steady and consistent round has put him on the verge of winning his second major and first since winning the 1992 Masters by two strokes over Raymond Floyd.

“Winning is winning,” Couples said. “It’s hard to win Augusta, hard to win U.S. Open, hard to win the British Open, so any golf tournament is hard to win. For me tomorrow is a big day to see if I can win a tournament.”

Cook had the best opportunity when Couples failed to reach the fairway for the first time on No. 15 and missed a birdie putt. Cook’s birdie putt on No. 16 nearly went in, but grazed the top of the hole before rolling out and he finished with par on the final two holes.

Cook moved up with five birdies during a bogey-free round, while Senior remained steady with four birdies, including two on the final two holes.

Cook is in good position for his fourth Champions Tour victory of the year and ninth overall, while Senior has an opportunity to be the first Australian to win a major on the Champions Tour since Stewart Ginn in 2002.

“Any win is special,” Cook said. “A major win is at that next level and when you win events at places that you’ve had great history at, it is special no doubt,”.

Pavin turned in his 13th straight round under par after bogeying three times on the front nine. He came on strong with four birdies and was three strokes back with a birdie on No. 16 but could not get any closer.

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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.