Pair share early lead at Ginn sur Mer

By Associated PressOctober 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
Ginn sur Mer ClassicPALM COAST, Fla. ' Kent Jones recovered from a tee shot in the rough to birdie the 18th hole Thursday for a 7-under 65, giving him a share of the lead with rookie Michael Letzig in the first round of the Ginn sur Mer Classic.
 
They had a two-shot margin over Ryan Palmer, who birdied three of his first five holes and eased his way to a 67.
 
Jones and Letzig played college golf at New Mexico a decade apart, but thats where the similarities end.
 
Letzig, who had never played a PGA Tour event in his life until earning his card last year through the Nationwide Tour, is 109th on the money list and is in good shape to keep his job for next year.
 
Jones has spent most of his 10-year career around the 125th spot on the money list'the cutoff for keeping his card'and he arrived at the Ginn Ocean Hammock Resort at No. 179.
 
He hacked out of waist-high native grass with a 5-iron into a fairway bunker on the par-5 18th hole, then hit 6-iron into 6 feet for an unlikely birdie that gave him a share of the lead.
 
That was my best round of the year, but thats not saying much, Jones said. I played very solid. For some reason, I seem to play better in the fall. I would like to play better earlier in the year and not put this pressure on myself, but I cant think about that.
 
Letzig, who has no such worries, made six of his birdies from outside 20 feet and matched Jones with a bogey-free round.
 
It was all putting, Letzig said. I pretty much secured my card last week, so theres no pressure. Its been a lot of stress all year, with a lot of middle-of-the-field finishes but the pressure is off and Im kind of keeping relaxed out there.
 
Cameron Beckman, who won in Arizona last week to earn a two-year exemption on tour, kept right on rolling with birdies on two of his last three holes for a 4-under 68 to join a group that included James Driscoll, Tom Scherrer and Robert Allenby, who at No. 30 in the world is the highest-ranked player at the Ginn sur Mer Classic.
 
Vaughn Taylor, at No. 129 on the money list, was in a group at 69.
 
Jeff Overton, playing only a week after an emergency appendectomy because he has fallen to No. 126 on the money list, got off to a strong start before he settled for a 71.
 
Driscoll had his own medical issues, playing the last eight holes with a gash in his thumb after a tee split when he was using it to repair a pitch mark on the 11th green.
 
A sliver of the tee impaled itself in his thumb, but he removed it and made a 20-foot birdie putt while still dripping blood. He bandaged the wound and kept going, closing with seven pars while missing only one green and no fairways.
 
These greens are hard, he said. It was nasty. But I taped it up, and it was fine.
 
Defending champion Daniel Chopra, who won last year in south Florida, had two double bogeys for an 81. He wasnt the only one to had a tough day on the Conservatory Course. Davis Love III, coming off eight consecutive rounds in the 60s, had a 75.
 
Patrick Sheehan, holding down the 125th spot on the money list, opened with a 74.
 

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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.