Jones takes Australian Open lead; Spieth 4 back

By Associated PressNovember 27, 2015, 6:09 am

SYDNEY - Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott went in opposite directions at the Australian Open on Friday while Matt Jones used home-course advantage to shoot a 3-under 68 and take a three-stroke lead after two rounds.

Jones, a member at The Australian Golf Club, had a 36-hole total of 7-under 135 on a course that was playing only slightly easier after Thursday's brutal wind and heat when only 18 players broke par.

Australian Todd Sinnott was in second place after a 70, while Spieth, who shot 68, and playing partner Geoff Ogilvy (71) were in a group of five tied for third, four behind Jones.

First-round leader Lincoln Tighe of Australia dropped four shots on his final four holes for a 73 and was also four back.

Scott, who had difficulty reading the pace of the slower greens because of early-morning rain, shot 73 and was at 2 over, two better than the 4-over cut total, but nine strokes out of the lead. Both Spieth and Scott opened with 71s.

Spieth, Ogilvy and 1997 champion Lee Westwood (72 Friday, tied for 14th, seven behind) were put on the clock by rules officials for slow play midway through the round.



''It's tough ... we were falling behind,'' Spieth said. ''And then once we get to 13 Lee hits it over the (television) tower and they come and tell us, 'We know what happened but you still have to make up the time. So you're in a bit of rush and it's never a good thing.''

The rushing may have showed, eventually. On the par-5 15th, Spieth's third shot from a greenside bunker went to 2 feet, where he made birdie. On the next hole, a par-3, his tee shot went through the green and he wasn't able to get up and down for par, and he missed a 4-footer for par on the 16th after an errant approach.

The 22-year-old American missed an eagle putt of about 35 feet on the 18th, but made his birdie to place him a good position for the weekend. Last year, his course-record 63 gave him a six-shot win on the same course in his first visit to Australia.

U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau shot 72 and was at even par in a group that included Darren Clarke (67).

Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, in the group tied for third, had the best round of the day, shooting 66 after an opening 73.

''I holed a few long ones today and didn't miss the short ones like I did yesterday,'' Colsaerts said.

Although the greens have been changed over since he played regularly at The Australian, Jones has fond memories of roaming the fairways at his home club ''watching golf as much I could'' before leaving to attend Arizona State University.

''I do know the course ... comfortable with the lines of the tees and that,'' Jones said. ''It'll be fun to be out there on the weekend with a lot of friends and family and members from this course out there.''

He now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife, Melissa, and two daughters. He won the Houston Open last year, his first tournament victory on the PGA Tour.

Scott three-putted twice for bogeys and failed to make a birdie, making more remote his chances of extending a streak of winning at least one tournament a year since 2001.

''I just misjudged the pace of the greens for most of the day,'' Scott said. ''I just couldn't get myself to hit the putt hard enough and when the greens slow down I tend to struggle, and I did again today.''

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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.