Notes US Am Champ Daly Sighting

By Associated PressApril 4, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- U.S. Amateur champion Richie Ramsay will have plenty to talk about this week.
 
Never mind that it'll be a one-sided discussion.
 
Ramsay earned a spot in the Masters -- and a first- and second-round pairing with defending champ Phil Mickelson -- last August, when he became the first Scottish golfer in 108 years to win the U.S. Amateur.
 
'It's a great atmosphere,' Ramsay said. 'I've been very fortunate that the Scottish Golf Union has funded me, supported me and allowed me to come out and make a couple of trips here. So I've gotten used to the golf course.
 
'I'm comfortable with my surroundings now. It's just a matter of getting shots and using them out there on the course.'
 
Ramsay looked unflappable when he beat John Kelly at the Amateur. Watch him up close, though, and it's a bit of a different story.
 
Every golfer talks to himself, muttering, 'Get down!' when a shot looks as if it's going too long or 'Get legs!' if a putt is slowing. But Ramsay takes it to an art form, chattering to himself after most shots.
 
'It's something that's part and parcel of the game,' he said. 'I just use it ... to help me progress a bit more in my game, and it helps me focus a bit harder. I know I'm doing it, but it helps me move onto the next shot, and not worry about what I did previously.'
 
So far, it's working wonders. Mickelson played a round with Ramsay on Sunday and was impressed with what he saw.
 
'He strikes the ball solid and has a great touch around the greens. I expect him to have a great week,' Mickelson said. 'He's a very enjoyable guy to be around and has a great personality to be around. I think we're going to have a fun couple of days being paired together.'
 
Though Ramsay, 23, already has his degree from the University of Stirling in Scotland, his career plans remain unsettled. He won't turn professional until after the British Open, at the earliest.
 
The U.S. Amateur champion gets invites to all four of the majors as long as he remains an amateur.
 
Someday, maybe Ramsay will have a major title to go with that U.S. Amateur crown that made him the toast of Scotland.
 
'I take a lot of pride in that. I take a lot of pride just in being Scottish,' Ramsay said. 'No matter what happens from now on, I've always got that. It's just a nice thing to have.'
 
PAR-3 CONTEST:
Rory Sabbatini picked the perfect time to get his first hole-in-one.
 
Sabbatini aced the 115-yard No. 7 in the par-3 contest on Wednesday afternoon. It was one of two holes-in-one, with David Toms getting one on the 142-yard No. 3.
 
'I've done pretty much everything humanly possible to make a hole-in-one, so it's nice to finally make one,' Sabbatini said. 'It's a feeling of total relief and exhilaration.'
 
Sabbatini used a pitching wedge. As the ball sailed toward the pin, he said it looked like it was in slow-motion. Finally, it dropped right into the hole.
 
The best part of all? His wife, Amy, was his caddie.
 
'I've always been worried that I would miss his first hole-in-one,' she said. 'But I actually pulled the club, so I was so happy to be a part of it.'
 
Toms used a 9-iron and hoped the ace would be a good omen for the rest of the week.
 
'It was a perfect shot, and went right in,' he said. 'It got the people excited, and that's what it's all about.'
 
Former champion Mark O'Meara won the par-3 contest at 5-under par, one stroke ahead of Zach Johnson. A star-studded list of players were at 3-under, including former champions Fred Couples and Ben Crenshaw.
 
The par-3 contest has been played since 1960, and has become a Wednesday tradition at the Masters. It's a lighthearted event that brings back past champions and allows current players to have some fun before the real tournament starts -- defending Masters champ Phil Mickelson even brought his daughters along for the afternoon.
 
But the win might not be the best omen for O'Meara. No par-3 winner has ever gone on to win the Masters.
 
MISSING IN ACTION:
Fans trying to get an autograph from John Daly this week are going to have to go way beyond the ropes.
 
The two-time major winner lost his PGA TOUR card and is only playing on sponsor exemptions this year. But he's in town signing autographs at the Hooters restaurant down the road from Augusta National.
 
Daly isn't the only big name missing the Masters this year.
 
Former British Open champ David Duval is absent for only the second time since 1996. He got a five-year exemption for winning the 2001 British, but it expired after last year.
 
Tom Lehman, captain of last year's Ryder Cup, is out for only the second time since 1993. He didn't finish high enough on either the money list or in the world rankings to qualify.
 
Nick Faldo could play if he wanted as a three-time Masters champion, but he decided that last year would be his final time as a player, and he's at Augusta doing commentary work for CBS.
 
'I've had my era. It was a tough decision,' Faldo said Wednesday. 'Five or six years ago is when I first realized it was time for a change, and it took me a couple years to realize that.'
 
JACK'S PICK:
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson aren't just the people's picks to win this week. Jack Nicklaus likes them, too.
 
The Golden Bear, who won six Masters titles, said Woods, Mickelson and two-time U.S. Open champ Ernie Els are his favorites this week but that there could be a dark horse.
 
'I feel like it may be time for one of the Australians to step up,' he said. 'But it's hard to pick. That's why we play the tournament.'
 
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.