McGwire 12-over at Western Amateur

By Associated PressJuly 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- It certainly wasn't a home run for Mark McGwire on Wednesday.
The former baseball slugger made his debut in a major amateur golf event with an 12-over 82 at the 102nd annual Western Amateur, a score that left him 17 strokes behind the co-leaders and tied for 152nd in the field of 156.
I feel like a rookie playing in his first major league game, very much so,'' McGwire said at the Point O'Woods Golf and Country Club. I have a long way to go to play with these guys.''
McGwire is a long shot to make the cut after Thursday's second round, which takes the field down to 64 for match play. Tyler Hall, of Wayne, N.J., and Bronson LaCassie, of Australia, were the leaders with 65s after the first-round of stroke play.
I was happy with everything today except my score,'' McGwire said.
McGwire electrified baseball fans when he hit 70 home runs in 1998 to shatter Roger Maris' record of 61. That mark since has been bettered by Barry Bonds, but McGwire's baseball legacy is secure.
More than 100 fans followed McGwire around the course Wednesday. Point O'Woods officials say that's far fewer than those that followed basketball great Michael Jordan when he was given an exemption to play in the Western Amateur in 1991.
McGwire said the biggest problems he had were off the tee. Although many of his drives were long, he had a hard time keeping them in the fairway.
I had one really bad hole and then things started to tumble,'' he said.
The roughest hole was No. 16, when McGwire's tee shot hit a tree in the deep rough and landed behind a bush, forcing him to take a drop.
He had bogeys on the first two holes and later had a stretch from 12 to 14 where he went par-par-birdie.
I was starting to feel a groove but it didn't last,'' McGwire said. McGwire hit six trees on his front nine and made the turn at 43.
I realize I have a long way to go but I know I can play better than what I showed,'' he said.
McGwire's playing partners, Kevin Kisner, of Aiken, S.C., and Tyler Leon, of Dallas, both had good first rounds. Kisner shot a 69 and Leon, a sophomore at Oklahoma State, had a 71.
I love to watch these guys play,'' McGwire said. They can really get up and down and they consistently make good shots. I was kind of in awe of them.''
Others were in awe of McGwire.
Jack Hojara, 39, of Buchanan, interrupted his golfing vacation in northern Michigan to return to the area to watch McGwire. He wore a St. Louis Cardinals jersey with McGwire's name and No. 25 on his back as he walked the course.
I think it's great that he's trying his hand in golf,'' Hojara said. He's struggling today but you can tell he's a good player.''
McGwire enjoyed the fan support.
It's fabulous to have them come out,'' he said. This is a great atmosphere.''
McGwire was asked if, despite his disappointing round, he would come back to the Western Amateur if invited next year.
I'd be back in a heartbeat,'' he said.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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.