Notes Garcia Longs for Home
After a long road to the Masters with some frustrating results along the way, Garcia rejuvenated himself by spending three weeks at home in Spain. He has a close circle of friends who don't talk golf. They play tennis, soccer, ride bikes and go swimming -- all the things he doesn't do at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla.
'What I feel that I have in Spain, I don't have in Orlando,' Garcia said. 'Although I love staying in Orlando and I think it's a great city, I don't have that group of friends that I can disconnect totally from golf. And that's something that I really need.'
Garcia, 24, didn't even have his driver's license when he first started playing the PGA Tour five years ago. He is close friends with Jesper Parnevik, Ernie Els and other players -- all of them older, most of them married with children. He doesn't have many friends outside golf at Lake Nona.
'In Orlando, all my friends are golf friends,' he said.
Garcia usually stays at his Lake Nona house -- purchased from Els, who found a bigger place -- when he is playing three weeks in a row in the United States.
VIVA LAS VEGAS
The Las Vegas Invitational is cutting the tournament from 90 holes to 72, and swapping out one of the courses for the Jack Nicklaus-designed Bear's Best.
The Las Vegas event will be played Oct. 7-10 and retain its pro-am format for the first three days. Players will compete on the TPC Canyons, the TPC at Summerlin and Bear's Best, with the final round held at Summerlin.
Tournament chairman John Sullivan said one reason for the change to 72 holes is to accommodate those playing the American Express Championship in Ireland the previous week.
Tiger Woods already has had 11 partners in the six Ryder Cup and President Cup matches he has played. By the sound of it, he could be adding to that list in September at Oakland Hills.
Several players and caddies have speculated in recent weeks that Chad Campbell would be the ideal partner for Woods, and Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton did little to quash the rumors.
'Someone asked me who would be a good partner for Tiger, and I said, 'Chad Campbell,'' Sutton said. 'That doesn't mean it's set in stone.'
Campbell still has to make the team. His Bay Hill victory moved him up to No. 6 in the standings, and his game is so sound that he appears to be a lock.
Woods has never had the same partner for all four team matches in the three Ryder Cups he has played. He played all four with Notah Begay (2000) and Charles Howell III (2003) in the Presidents Cup.
A Woods-Campbell team would have one interesting connection.
UNLV recruited Woods to play golf for the Rebels. When he decided to attend Stanford, UNLV gave the scholarship to Campbell.
Tiger Woods will find a slightly different Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill when he defends his title at the Western Open.
The fifth hole has been shortened 45 yards and will play as a par 4 at 480 yards, making the Dubsdread Course at par 71 for the first time. Also, the par-5 ninth was stretched 38 yards to play at 600 yards.
'The players are bigger and stronger and are hitting the ball longer and straighter. And the equipment is better,' said Frank Jemsek, owner and president of Cog Hill. 'They're outdating golf courses. When the pros first came to Cog Hill, the course was a challenge. It no longer was a challenge. That was the impetus for
Woods said No. 5 will still play as a driver and a mid-iron or short iron, as long as it's downwind.
'But if the wind switches and goes back in your face, then it becomes a very difficult hole,' he said.
Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton keeps prodding guys to play hard and make the team, but that doesn't seem to be working. None of the players from seventh through 14th in the U.S. standings has finished in the top 10 the last four weeks. ... Vijay Singh has played the last two holes of his last two final rounds in 8 over par -- a bogey-double bogey finish at Quail Hollow, a quadruple bogey-bogey finish at the Byron Nelson. ... The Women's British Open will return to Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2006, giving the Lancashire Coast of England a doubleheader that summer. The British Open will be a few weeks earlier at Royal Liverpool.
STAT OF THE WEEK
A tie for the fourth in the Byron Nelson Championship was the 100th time Tiger Woods has finished in the top 10 on the PGA Tour in 154 starts -- a rate of 65 percent.
'I've never seen him on so many TV shows before.' -- Tiger Woods, when asked if he noticed any difference in Phil Mickelson since winning the Masters.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.