Notes Big Things for Toms On and Off Course

By Associated PressJune 1, 2005, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Not long after winning his first pro title at the 1997 Quad City Classic, David Toms became a father for the first time.
 
He's hoping to follow that formula again this year -- either winning this week's Memorial Tournament or possibly the U.S. Open in two weeks -- before wife Sonja has a daughter to go with son Carter.
 
'She's actually not due until midweek after the U.S. Open, somewhere in there,' Toms said Wednesday. 'She's got a C-section scheduled for Monday after the U.S. Open, so that gives me enough time to get home (from the Open). Maybe we'll move it to Tuesday if I'm in a playoff.'
 
Toms has not played at the Memorial since 1999. It's not because he doesn't like the tournament or the Muirfield Village layout.
 
'The reason I haven't been here the last five or six years is it just didn't quite fit my schedule,' said Toms, never higher than a tie for 26th in his three previous appearances. 'I played about five or six tournaments in a row almost every year leading up to this event. This year, I changed a little bit.'
 
He skipped the Byron Nelson, freeing him up to play at the tournament founded by Jack Nicklaus.
 
Toms has won 11 times on the PGA Tour, including this year's Match Play Championship. The winner of the 2001 PGA Championship said his return to Ohio has been an eye-opener.
 
'Now I see what I was missing,' he said. 'It's a great place and a great tournament, which I knew because I had played here before. But just the last couple of days around here, with the people being excited about this tournament, reminded me of what a great tournament it is.'
 
HONOREES:
Each year the Memorial Tournament remembers those who have made great contributions to the game. The 2005 honorees are Betsy Rawls and the late Carey Middlecoff.
 
Rawls won 55 LPGA events, including eight major championships, from 1951-75. In 1959, she won 10 tournaments, had the lowest stroke average and led the tour in earnings.
 
'Betsy's legacy is not only her record, but the people she has touched and her dedication to the game,' said fellow hall of famer Kathy Whitworth, who introduced Rawls on Wednesday to a large gallery surrounding the 18th green.
 
After picking up the game at 17, Rawls traveled the world as a successful pro.
 
'I guess you can tell I really love the game,' she said. 'I can't imagine any other way I would have spent my life.'
 
Middlecoff, who died in 1998, was the top PGA Tour money-winner of the 1950s. He captured U.S. Open titles in 1949 and 1956, and won the Masters by seven strokes in 1955.
 
Memorial Tournament founder Jack Nicklaus, who like Middlecoff was known as a methodical player, said he was paired with Middlecoff only once.
 
'We both got penalized two shots,' Nicklaus said, joking. 'That's how slow we were.'
 
The media honoree was longtime sportscaster Jim McKay.
 
NO PAIN IN THE NECK:
Davis Love III is back and feeling good heading into Thursday's opening round of the Memorial Tournament.
 
Love said he has regained his confidence after overcoming an injured disk in his neck that caused him pain and altered his swing.
 
'I've let it progressively get me weaker, and now I'm progressively getting stronger,' he said of his exercise regimen. 'I seem to swing better if I'm in the gym and stretching and working out rather than hitting balls. That tells me I've done enough ball hitting the last couple years. I just haven't done enough strengthening.'
 
Love tied for fourth at last week's FedEx St. Jude Classic.
 
CHANGES OF COURSE:
The major change at Muirfield Village, site of this week's Memorial Tournament, is that the par-4 10th hole has been lengthened by 31 yards.
 
'It's a better hole now than it was,' said Vijay Singh, the 1997 Memorial winner. 'I was always very uncomfortable playing off the old 10th. Now it's much longer but much better to play. It's a much better golf hole.'
 
Course designer Jack Nicklaus said the big hitters on tour were not challenged by the uphill hole tilting toward a green surrounded by deep bunkers. The tee was moved back and the landing area was tightened.
 
'I heard Tiger played it with a driver and a 9 iron, and that someone else hit wedge into the green,' Nicklaus said Wednesday. 'I've played it three times and I've hit two 3 woods and metal 2 (to the green). I think it (the added length) has made a LOT of difference.'
 
DIVOTS:
The 108-player field includes 22 players who have won a major championship, and 41 international players from 19 countries. ... Nicklaus is the only person to have played in each of the 29 previous Memorials. ... The defending champion is Ernie Els, who finished with a pair of 66s on the weekend to win by four shots over Fred Couples. ... No. 2 Phil Mickelson is the only of one of the top seven on the 2005 money list who is not playing the Memorial. He bypassed the tournament for the third year in a row so he could prepare for the U.S. Open in two weeks at Pinehurst No. 2.
 
Related Links:
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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.