Just another comeback for Stricker at Riviera

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2009, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenLOS ANGELES ' With a history of comebacks, Steve Stricker is hopeful of another one at the Northern Trust Open.
 
A month after his meltdown in the final round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Stricker put together a 5-under 66 on Friday and was tied for the lead with Tommy Armour among early finishers at Riviera.
 
Phil Mickelson, who opened with a 63 for the first-round lead, was among those playing in the afternoon.
 
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker's Friday 66 has him in contention entering the weekend. (Getty Images)
In more gorgeous conditions, Stricker hit a 7-iron to 5 feet for eagle on the par-5 first hole, then atoned for his lone bogey by hitting a 4-iron to 4 feet on the par-3 sixth, which played 202 yards with a bunker in the middle of the green.
 
Armour, a 49-year-old who has yet to make a cut this year, made a terrific par save on his opening hole at No. 10 that settled him down, and picked up the pace on his back nine for another 67.
 
Stricker and Armour were at 8-under 134.
 
One shot behind was a group that included Kapalua winner Geoff Ogilvy (67), K.J. Choi (69), Pat Perez (66) and Rory Sabbatini (67).
 
Stricker became a footnote in PGA Tour history when he was voted comeback player of the year in consecutive seasons ' first when he went from not having a full card to 34th on the money list in 2006, the next year by moving up to No. 4 in the world.
 
The latest crisis was simply one bad round on a windy day in the California desert.
 
Stricker was in command at the Bob Hope Classic until hitting one tee shot out-of-bounds and his next shot into the water, scrambling to escape with a quadruple-bogey that ended his hopes of winning.
 
He played the next week in Phoenix and missed the cut.
 
That one stuck with me, Stricker said. The next week in Phoenix, I shouldnt even have played. I should have just gone home. Mentally, I wasnt in it, down in the dumps. It just felt like I threw a tournament away with a real good opportunity to win.
 
The two-week break at home in Wisconsin was planned all along, but could not have come at a better time.
 
Stricker spent a week taking his daughter to school, working on his tennis game so he could compete against his wife, and putting three bad rounds in the desert behind him.
 
Losing a tournament in howling wind is no reason to panic, and he figured that out.
 
Ive had to pick myself up a number of times out here on tour, so Im used to it, he said. You need to move on, and just try to keep doing what you know how to do. And for me, thats working at it and trying to get better and try to get myself in that position again.
 
Armour has been out here too long to get overly worried by a bad start. He didnt play too badly in missing the cut at the Hope and Phoenix, but he was 10-over par last week at Pebble Beach when he said he played terrible.
 
Just needed to tighten it up a little, Armour said.
 
Among the late starters were 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, who was at 2 over through six holes as he tried to make the cut; and Vincent Johnson, playing on the Charlie Sifford Exemption. Both are playing on the PGA Tour for the first time.
 
Johnson birdied two of the first three holes, but ran into trouble on the fifth when his ball moved as he placed his wedge behind it for a chip shot. He wasnt sure if it moved, and eventually was assessed a two-shot penalty for a triple bogey.
 
Divots:
Former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger was paired with the next U.S. captain, Corey Pavin. Azinger opened with a 67, but followed with a 76 and was likely to miss the cut. Pavin, wearing a Ryder Cup logo on the back of his collar, had rounds of 73-78. Sabbatinis 67 began with a tee shot that went out-of-bounds on the first hole.
 
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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.