Funk Wins Season Opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2008, 5:00 pm
MasterCard ChampionshipKAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawai -- -- Fred Funk won the Champions Tour's season-opening MasterCard Championship on Sunday, birdieing the final two holes for a 7-under 65 and a two-stroke victory over Allen Doyle.
 
The 51-year-old Funk, coming off a 10th-place tie last week in the PGA Tour's Sony Open, finished with a 21-under 195 total for his third Champions Tour victory in 14 starts and his second title in Hawaii in two years.
 
Doyle, who blew a four-stroke lead, had a 68.
 
Funk screamed 'Yes!' and raised his club in the air after he chipped in from 20 feet on No. 17. He then holed a 7-foot birdie putt on the 54th hole, after hitting a spectacular shot out of the white-sand bunker from 149 yards.
 
Jay Haas, seeking a record third straight money title and player of the year award, closed with a 67 to tie for third with Bernhard Langer (65) at 17 under.
 
First-round leader Tom Purtzer had a 69 to finish fifth at 16 under.
 
The wind was down most of the day until late in the afternoon when it changed directions and shook the palm trees and most of the players, except Funk, who earned $300,000 in the first of 29 Champions Tour events.
 
Funk opened the season on the PGA Tour, tying for 25th in the Mercedes-Benz Championship and tying for 10th at Waialae. He will now head to Oahu to defend his title at the Turtle Bay Championship, which he won by 11 strokes last year.
 
Funk made his move on the back nine. He tapped in for birdie on the par-5 10th to move to 17 under and trim Doyle's lead to two strokes. Most of the leaders birdied the hole except Doyle, who missed his approach to the right and ran a chip past the hole.
 
Doyle lost a stroke on the next hole when he missed the green short and his chip died 10 feet from the hole.
 
Funk tied Doyle for the lead by sinking a 26-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th. Funk nearly holed his second shot on the 13th from 94 yards. He tapped in for birdie.
 
The 59-year-old Doyle, seeking his 12th Champions Tour victory and his first since the 2006 U.S. Senior Open, fought off the challenge by making a 21-foot putt for birdie to keep the pace.
 
Funk missed short birdie putts on Nos. 14 and 15 that would've given him the outright lead. But he was able to apply more pressure on Doyle, who parred the final five holes.
 
Doyle, who dropped 20 pounds in the offseason, was relaxed and loose as he walked the front side. The New England native discussed the Patriots' victory over the San Diego Chargers with his caddie.
 
Doyle birdied three of his first four holes and started to pull away.
 
Doyle started the round by holing a 12-foot birdie and opened up a four-stroke lead over Purtzer and Funk when he chipped to a couple inches for birdie on the 551-yard seventh.
 
Defending champion Hale Irwin closed with a 68 after two rounds in the 70s. He tied for 30th in the elite field of 41 with a 6-under 210 total.
 
The 62-year-old star, who has nine official victories in Hawaii, beat Jim Thorpe and Tom Kite last year by five strokes for his tour-record 45th victory.
 
Lee Trevino (74), the oldest in the field at 68 and one of seven Hall of Famers in the field, was the only golfer above par and finished in last place.
 
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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.