Fowler thrives on Saturday while Phil, Rory fade

By Associated PressMay 7, 2016, 10:56 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Rickie Fowler is looking to jumpstart his season at a course where he first won on the PGA Tour.

Fowler shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take the third-round lead at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Fowler, who broke through at Quail Hollow Club in 2012 for his first tour title, had a one-stroke lead over Roberto Castro, with Justin Rose and James Hahn two strokes back.

Fowler won The Players Championship and Deutsche Bank Championship last year and took the European Tour event in Abu Dhabi early this year. Though he blew a late lead and lost the Phoenix Open in a playoff this season, he has the confidence to handle pressure situations in the final round. That's something he admitted he didn't have five years ago.

''It's completely different,'' Fowler said. ''I would say before (it was) maybe not the complete belief or knowledge of knowing what to do and how to win to get the job done. But now it's fun to go out there and go take care of business.''

Castro was atop the leaderboard most of the day, but bogeyed the 18th hole for a 71.

Winless on the tour, he said he's looking forward to playing with Fowler in the final group Sunday.

''If you want to win a tournament out here and really win a marquee event like this one, you're going to have to grab your hat and play with one of the top five players in the world probably the final round,'' Castro said. ''So that's what I've got tomorrow so I'm excited about it.''

Fowler parred the first seven holes Saturday before heating up with three straight birdies on Nos. 8-10. It appeared things were starting to crumble after bogeys on 10 and 12, but Fowler came back strong with three straight birdies starting on No. 14 to pull into a tie for the lead.

He had a little luck along the way.


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Fowler avoided potential trouble on the 18th hole when his ball held up in the high grass instead of rolling into the creek along left side of the fairway. Playing with the ball well above his feet, Fowler ripped an iron onto the green and saved par.

Phil Mickelson and defending champion Rory McIlroy struggled, dropping eight shots behind Fowler.

Mickelson, looking for his first win at the Quail Hollow Club in 13 starts, was in contention until a quadruple-bogey 8 on his old nemesis, the 18th hole. He finished with a 76.

He found the creek on his approach shot and, after taking a drop, needed three chips before finding the green and two-putting for an 8.

Mickelson's struggles on the final hole at Quail Hollow have been well documented. In the 51 career rounds, he is 21 over on No. 18 - a hole he said earlier this week simply doesn't set up well for the left-hander.

McIlroy, the tournament's only two-time winner, had two bogeys in the first four holes and shot 73.

The two-time tournament champion who shot 11-under 61 last year in the third round on his way to a runaway victory, couldn't muster that same magic on Saturday.

He struggled throughout his round with his accuracy off the tee and putting. A double bogey on the ninth hole and bogey on the 11th seemed to zap him of any momentum and likely a chance at becoming the tournament's first three-time winner.

McIlroy said the course is ''tricky,'' especially on the back nine but said his game still isn't where it needs to be.

''There's been spells where it's been good and I've had a couple of chances to win this year, but it's a work in progress,'' said McIlroy, who has not won on the PGA Tour this season. ''I'm trying to stay patient, as patient as possible, but there are definitely times out on the course where I get quite frustrated.''

Rose has quietly put himself in contention on Sunday after rounds of 70, 70 and 69.

He said the course, which will host the PGA Championship next year, is playing extremely hard especially given the gusty wind this week.

''This type of scoring would definitely hold up in a PGA Championship,'' Rose said. ''They're not looking for us to shoot even par like a U.S. Open. Single digits under par is really good golf and it's a sign of a great golf course.''

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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.