Karlsson leads money race at season finale - COPIED

By Associated PressOctober 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
2005 Volvo MastersSOTOGRANDE, Spain ' Robert Karlsson leads a four-way chase for European golfs Order of Merit title at the season-ending Volvo Masters.
 
The tournament, which features the top 57 players on the European Tour, begins Thursday with Karlsson protecting a $372,100 advantage over two-time major winner Padraig Harrington.
 
Former champion Lee Westwood trails by $596,258 in third, ahead of Spanish challenger Miguel Angel Jimenez, who needs to make up an $864,770 deficit.
 
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington has his eyes set on a second Order of Merit crown. (Getty Images)
Though Harrington won the British Open and the PGA Championship this year, Karlssons consistent season ' 12 top-10 finishes and recent back-to-back victories ' has put him at the top of the money list with $3,442,767.
 
The 39-year-old Swede said he will treat this event like every other without the extra pressure.
 
If I start playing match play against Padraig and Westwood, I think were going to put ourselves in a lot of trouble, Karlsson said. I cant play on safety or anything like that. My focus is going to do my best this week and see on Sunday if its going to be enough. Its a tough task ahead.
 
Karlsson, who can become the first Swede to capture the year-end honor, finished in the top eight at every major except the PGA, where he was 20th. But perhaps the biggest reason he leads Harrington is that Karlsson has played 10 more tournaments this year.
 
Its not really a fair judgment of the season, said Karlsson, who won the Mercedes-Benz Championship and Alfred Dunhill Championship. But if you win it, youre not going to complain.
 
Harrington said he expects a stern test with the greens rolling quicker than usual. Strong winds are also expected on the 6,988-yard par-71 course, while heavy showers have been forecast for Friday.
 
Robert has performed more consistently in Europe than I have throughout the year, so consistency wise, and thats what an Order of Merit is, he probably deserves it ' but that doesnt mean he gets it, Harrington said. We have to wait until Sunday to sort that out.
 
Harrington, who is going for his second Order of Merit after edging Paul Casey in a dramatic finale two years ago, can be buoyed by one statistic: No champion has successfully defended his title.
 
With 2007 champion Justin Rose out of the Order of Merit picture, the contenders know the $904,589 prize is essential for their chances of winning at the Valderrama course, which is hosting the 21st edition of the European classic for the final time.
 
Ive got to go out there and try and win the tournament, and there are two bonuses with that: if I win the tournament, I win the Order of Merit. So thats whats in my mind for the week, said Harrington, who has shown tenacity at the last two editions with final round comebacks.
 
Former Volvo Masters champions Westwood (1997) and Jimenez (1999) face tougher tasks since catching Karlsson also depends on how the Swede performs. Both players need victories coupled with Karlsson low down the leaderboard to have any chance.
 
Sergio Garcia remains a contender for his first Volvo Masters trophy after three runner-up finishes at Valderrama. The 28-year-old Spaniard is coming off victory at the Castello Masters to snap a three-year European Tour drought.
 
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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.