Logjam after opening round at Viking Classic

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2011, 12:34 am

MADISON, Miss. – Tim Petrovic has finally found a way to beat Mississippi’s suffocating July heat without the help of air conditioning, sweet tea or a swimming pool.

He’s doing it by playing good golf.

“When you’re hitting it like I hit it today, making some putts, you don’t tend to sweat so much,” Petrovic said. “Makes your life a little easier.”

Petrovic fired a 7-under 65 on Thursday morning in the first round of the Viking Classic at Annandale Country Club, joining John Mallinger, Brendon De Jonge, Peter Lonard, Sunghoon Kang and Bobby Gates in a six-way tie atop the leaderboard.

Frequent thunderstorms over the past several days left Annandale’s Bermuda grass soft - especially in the morning. The PGA allowed players to lift, clean and place balls in the fairway, which helped keep scores low throughout the day.

“When you get the ball in the hand all the time, you can be a little more aggressive at the flag,” said Mallinger, who birdied six straight holes at one point during his morning round.

With the vast majority of the world’s best players competing thousands of miles away at the British Open, the Viking Classic leaderboard was loaded with names rarely seen so high at a PGA event. Gates, Mallinger, Gomez, de Jonge and Kang have never won on tour while Lonard and Petrovic have one victory each - both in 2005.

Because it’s the same week as the British Open, the Viking Classic’s reward of 250 FedExCup points and $3.6 million total purse are about half that of a normal tour event.

Lonard, a 43-year-old Australian, made the most of his first round on the PGA Tour since 2009, sinking birdie putts on his final two holes to climb into a share of the lead. He’s played 11 Nationwide events this year, and his 11th place finish in the Mexico Open two weeks ago was his best of the season.

He was a late addition to the Viking Classic field on Monday and couldn’t get a flight to Mississippi until late Tuesday night, but the lack of a practice round at Annandale didn’t keep him from a good start.

Most players left Annandale in a good mood on Thursday, thanks to a slew of birdies that led to 106 players finishing at par or better, including 18 with bogey-free rounds. Scoring stayed low throughout the day, though the heat appeared to take its toll on the afternoon groups. Five of the six leaders played morning rounds.

Temperatures reached the mid-90s by mid-afternoon, and the heat index was above 105.

Petrovic said a rumor among players earlier in the week was that the tour would allow players to wear shorts, but “that one got washed down the drain really quick.” The 44-year-old instead settled for cutting an inch off his long blond hair that still nearly comes down to his shoulders.

Maybe that helped his putting touch. He needed just 26 putts to navigate the course, making seven birdies in a 12-hole stretch during the middle of his round.

“The greens are rolling so pure right now,” Petrovic said. “If you just hit it straight, you’ve got a really good chance.”

Scott Piercy briefly charged to the top of the leaderboard at 8 under through 13 holes after a run that included five birdies in seven holes. But he double bogeyed No. 5 and No. 7 and ended the day at 5 under.

Nine players, including 50-year-old Kenny Perry, were tied for second place at 6 under.

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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.