Hull, Nordqvist share Bahamas LPGA lead; Jang aces par 4

By Associated PressJanuary 30, 2016, 11:07 pm

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas - Charley Hull and Anna Nordqvist shared the lead Saturday in the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, and Ha Na Jang had the first hole-in-one on a par 4 in tour history.

Hull made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to match European Solheim Cup teammate Nordqvist at 12-under 207 in breezy but calmer conditions at the Ocean Club. The 19-year-old Hull, from England, had a 4-under 69. Nordqvist, from Sweden, also birdied the 18th for a 68.

''It's a little different because, obviously, it's been really windy, so I got used to playing in that wind.'' Hull said. ''And today the first couple holes I think I was allowing too much of the wind and there wasn't that much up there.''

Jang made the albatross on the eighth hole, at a mere 218 yards playing at a distance normally considered a par 3. Her 3-wood shot into light wind landed a yard in front of the green and rolled in.

''I don't see the ball finish, but my dad was, 'Oh, you made it,''' Jang said. ''It's unbelievable. Amazing.''

She was disappointed that she didn't win a car.

''A new car, please. A car, please,'' Jang said. ''I wanted a car. I need a car.''

The South Korean player was five strokes back after a 68.

Winless in 30 career LPGA starts, Hull birdied four of her last eight holes. She had a bit of an adventure Friday night at dinner when a candle burned her napkin.

''I was like, 'Oh, good thing we didn't have the pizza because it smells a bit burny,''' Hull said. ''I looked down and there's this hole like growing bigger and bigger and bigger, and I'm like, 'Sheez!''' So I patted it out.''

Nordqvist rebounded after hitting a wedge approach long into the water for a bogey on the par-5 11th. She won the ShopRite LPGA Classic last year in New Jersey for her fifth LPGA title.

''I'm really excited,'' Nordqvist said. ''I really had zero expectations coming into this week. It's the first tournament of the year. I'm just excited to be back playing. Put in a lot of work this winter.''

Third-ranked Stacy Lewis, defending champion Sei Young Kim and Hyo Joo Kim were a stroke back. Lewis birdied the 18th for a 67, and Sei Young Kim and Hyo Joo Kim shot 68.

Lewis won the last of her 11 LPGA titles in June 2014, a 39-event drought that includes eight runner-up finishes.

''I think tomorrow is supposed to be even less wind, maybe a little more calm,'' Lewis said. ''So, you're going to have to make some birdies. You're going to have to shoot a good score, but you're not trying to force things. That's the biggest thing for me tomorrow is just to stay patient and trust my golf swing.''

Sei Young Kim birdied the 18th after losing the lead with a double bogey on the par-4 16th. On 16, she drove left in palm trees, chipped out through the fairway and into the rough, and hit her third over the green into bushes that line the water. She made a 12-foot putt to save double bogey.

''The tee shot was a bad choice,'' Sei Young Kim said about her decision to use a driver. ''I'm very disappointed there. I'm OK. I have a one-day tomorrow.''

Hyo Joo Kim chipped in for eagle on 18.

Megan Khang, playing her first event as an LPGA member, was two shots back along with 2013 winner Ilhee Lee. The 18-year-old Khang, from Rockland, Massachusetts, had a 71 after shooting a 68 on Friday for a share of the lead with Hull and Haru Nomura.

''Wind was definitely better today,'' Khang said. ''So much the driving and approach shots, so much the putting, I just couldn't find a putt to drop. ... I definitely am excited for tomorrow.''

Lee shot a 66.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.