Notes Glover the Goose and the Price is Right
Two weeks ago, he holed a 35-yard bunker shot on the final hole at Disney for his first PGA Tour victory. After finishing his round Sunday at Innisbrook, he had to nervously wait until the final round ended to earn the final spot in the field at the Tour Championship.
His plans for the final two months of the year have nothing to do with golf.
Glover is getting married Dec. 3 to his high school sweetheart, and he has until Dec. 6 to finish his work on an online course from Clemson that he needs to get his degree. There's a honeymoon trip to New York, and a big fund-raiser at Clemson, then graduation on Dec. 22.
He leaves for Hawaii a week later for the winners-only Mercedes Championships at Kapalua.
``I have a busy two months,'' Glover said.
Glover could have done without the school work, but he had to wait until it fit into his golf schedule. His eligibility at Clemson ran out in the spring of 2001, and he took an 18-hour load that fall to finish up. But his biology professor didn't cut him any slack when Glover went to Q-school that December and he failed.
That class has kept him from graduating for four years.
Glover, 25, secured his PGA Tour card for 2006 with a strong start to this season, so he knew he wouldn't have to worry about Q-school this year. That's when he set his wedding date, and signed up for that biology class -- an elective, no less.
What was his major?
``I don't remember,'' he said. ``Speech and communications. Nice choice on an elective, huh? I failed in my freshman year, so I had to go back and redo it. That whole Tuesday-Thursday at 8 o'clock thing was what did it.''
Two weeks ago, Retief Goosen said he would spend two months in South Africa with his family and skip the season-opening Mercedes Championships.
Now, he's not so sure.
In fact, Goosen showed how uncertain he was in a span of about five minutes Tuesday.
``At the moment, I'm still planning on playing it, but I'll see how I feel Christmas time and New Year's time,'' he said.
What are the odds he will play?
``Pretty good,'' Goosen said.
After his interview, he was asked to read a radio spot for Kapalua. Goosen looked at the statement, then said to the radio person, ``I might not be going.''
He read it anyway, introducing himself and asking listeners to join him at Kapalua and the new greens on the Plantation Course for the Mercedes Championships. When he finished, he looked up and said, ``They've got new greens? Maybe I will go.''
PRICE MIGHT NOT BE RIGHT
Nick Price played the last two weeks with hopes of finishing in the top 125 on the money list. He didn't want to use his one-time exemption for being in the top 25 in career money, and he wanted to assure himself a spot in the field at The Players Championship.
But he is not playing the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, and Price is at No. 124 on the money list.
Even if he gets knocked out, Price is hopeful of getting to Sawgrass, where he won in 1993.
``I'm pretty sure they'll give me a spot as a past champion,'' he said. ``They gave Greg (Norman) a couple of spots.''
Ben Crane is assured of playing in his first Masters (through the PGA Tour money list), and he wasted no time getting his first look at Augusta National.
A week after the club had its fall opening, Crane spent four days at Augusta and played five rounds.
``I hadn't played in a few weeks and wasn't expecting anything,'' he said. ``I shot 4 under, made eagle on No. 13. I thought, 'This is no problem.' And I never came close to that the rest of the week.''
For those curious about the latest batch of changes, stretching the course to 7,445 yards, Crane confirmed suspicions that the par-3 fourth hole will be a beast. It has a new tee box some 35 yards longer, making it play about 240 yards. He hit 2-iron one day, and 3-wood the other four times he played.
Officials at the Chrysler Championship thought Dennis Paulson had made history as the first player to reach the 605-yard fifth hole in two. According to the Shotlink system, which uses lasers to track every shot by every player, Paulson's second shot went 287 yards and onto the green.
Statistics showed he took two putts for a birdie.
Alas, Shotlink is operated by humans, and humans do err.
``I was through the green,'' Paulson said, noting that his 3-wood went just beyond the fringe into the first cut. Told that Shotlink had him taking two putts, he rolled his eyes and said, ``Great. As if my putting stats weren't bad enough.''
It wasn't the first time Paulson has been subjected to a Shotlink mix-up. At the Reno-Tahoe Open, he said the system operators had him mistaken for playing partner Paul Goydos throughout the round.
``One hole, they had Goydos 70 yards past me,'' he said. ``My driving distance average went down that week.''
Now that federal regulators have approved SBC Communications' takeover of AT&T and Verizon, what will that mean for the title sponsorship at Pebble Beach? Not much, tournament director Ollie Nutt said Tuesday. He said SBC still wants the tournament to be called the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. ... When Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh missed the cut at Disney, it was the first time that Nos. 1 and 2 in the world ranking missed the cut at the same tournament since Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo at the 1992 Bay Hill Invitational. ... Chad Campbell, who had gone without an equipment deal most of the year as he figured out what he wanted to play, carried a Nike staff bag while finishing second at Innisbrook. Campbell said he is close to signing with the Swoosh.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Eleven of the 29 players at the Tour Championship have not won official PGA Tour events this year. A year ago, only eight players at the Tour Championship had not won.
``I can't all of a sudden get mean or be a jerk out there. I don't think that would help me in any way, shape or form.'' -- Jay Haas, asked if being too nice has kept him from winning more.
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.