Kaufman (61) wins Shriners after long wait

By Associated PressOctober 26, 2015, 12:57 am

LAS VEGAS - Smylie Kaufman won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday in his fifth PGA Tour start, shooting a 10-under 61 and waiting more than two hours while rival after rival fell short.

Kaufman played the final 11 holes in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies. The 23-year-old former LSU player set up the eagle with a 3-wood drive to 15 feet on the par-4 15th and closed with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to post 16-under 268 at TPC Summerlin.

''I was just hitting it so good the last few days and just wanted to give myself a chance and post a number, and that's what it came down to,'' said Kaufman, seven strokes back entering the round. ''I dodged a lot of bullets coming down the stretch with guys coming in. ... So much more stressful than on the course. So much worse. I felt like I was watching an LSU football game.''

Kevin Na, third-round leader Brett Stegmaier, Patton Kizzire, Cameron Tringale, Jason Bohn and Alex Cejka tied for second, a stroke back.

Na, coming off playoff loss last week to Emiliano Grillo in the season-opening event in Napa, California, made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-5 16th to tie for the lead, but bogeyed the par-3 17th after flubbing a chip, and missed a 15-foot birdie try on 18.

''The lie was actually sitting up too high, like it was on a tee, and I just went under it,'' Na said about the chip. ''And with the Bermuda into the grain, I don't know what happened.''

Stegmaier had the last chance to force a playoff, but hit his approach on 18 into the left fringe and came up short on a 20-foot birdie try.


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''It was pretty significantly downhill, so it was all speed,'' said Stegmaier, also making his fifth PGA Tour start. ''I mean, if the speed was off, the line was going to be off. I was probably a foot in the fringe, so I probably just held up that extra foot. I like to die my putts in the hole, and sometimes you run the risk of leaving it short.''

Kaufman became the second straight rookie winner on the tour, earning $1,152,000 and a spot in the Masters.

''It's unbelievable,'' Kaufman said. ''If you would have told me I had a round at the Masters, if somebody was going to take me out and not completely with the Masters, just to play Augusta National, I would have freaked out. But now that I'm playing the Masters, it's a joke. It's unbelievable.''

A former high school basketball point guard in Birmingham, Alabama, Kaufman began the year with no tour status, won a Web.com Tour event in May and earned a PGA Tour card with a high finish on the money list.

He visited the TV tower, relaxed with fellow Alabaman Kizzire and hit some balls on the range while the other leaders finished.

''He was keeping me calm, kind of cracking some jokes here and there,'' Kaufman said about Kizzire. ''He actually made it a lot easier on me watching the finale.''

Na, the 2011 Las Vegas winner for his lone PGA Tour title, finished with a 67. Stegmaier shot 69, Kizzire 63, and Tringale, Bohn and Cejka 66.

William McGirt and Chad Campbell tied for eighth at 14 under. McGirt had a 62, going 9 under in a nine-hole stretch that ended with an eagle on the par-5 16th.

''I started off kind of sluggish,'' McGirt said, ''but I kind of found something there with the putter on eight. ... Starting where I started the day, to end up where I did, I'm tickled to death.''

Campbell had a 68.

Rickie Fowler finished with a 68 to tie for 25th at 9 under. Jimmy Walker, playing alongside Na in the second-to-last group, had a 78 to fall into a tie for 50th at 4 under.

''It's been a fun week,'' Fowler said. ''It was nice being back. A lot of positives coming out of the golf side. Got some stuff to clean up, but definitely enjoyed it.''

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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.