Perry back to defend Champions major at Shoal Creek

By Associated PressMay 13, 2015, 9:37 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Shoal Creek is Kenny Perry's kind of golf course, and it showed last year.

Perry returns to the scenic suburban Birmingham course for the Regions Tradition starting Thursday, seeking to defend his championship in the first of the Champions Tour's five majors. For him, the lush trees all along the 7,145-yard, par-72 layout add more than a pleasant view.

''I like a golf course that's tree-lined,'' Perry said. ''It kind of tells you what to do. It's just beautiful. It's just an old course and it sits out there in front of you and says, 'Come get me.'

''There's a lot of risk-reward holes, like No. 11 is a par-5 over water. Eight's a great par-3. I get nervous every time on 8 when I get up there. It kind of reminds me of the 17th at TPC'' in San Antonio.

Perry's 20-foot birdie putt on No. 16 gave him the lead for good in a one-stroke victory over Mark Calcavecchia last year for his third straight win of a Champions Tour major. His 7-under performance on a course that had been soaked by rain was the highest score by a winner at the Regions Tradition, including even-par starting and closing rounds. It was also just one stroke better than his previous year, when he finished 15th.

The relatively high scores also suit Perry, though rain hasn't been an issue leading up to the tournament this time, leaving firmer, faster greens.

''My short game's never been my strength,'' Perry said. ''It's always been my ball striking that's allowed me to survive on the PGA Tour for 30 years and now out here.

''When I come to a place where 8- to 12-under wins a golf tournament, I like it. I don't like 20-something under winning. I don't like those putting/birdie barrages. That's why I enjoy coming here.''

He battled back pain for the final 12 holes at Houston two weeks ago, hitting the ground after a sharp pain when he bent over to pick up his putter on No. 6.

Perry said he could barely walk the next day, forcing some sessions with his chiropractor. But he said he played 18 holes after arriving at Shoal Creek on Tuesday without any problems.

Ian Woosnam also arrived feeling good about his game. The Welshman delivered a 30-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole with Perry and Tom Lehman to deliver his first Champions Tour win in Houston, leaving his status set on the 50-and-over circuit for at least a calendar year. The Welshman played that tournament on a sponsor's exemption.

Woosnam, the 1991 Masters winner, became the oldest first-time winner on the Champions Tour at 57 years, 2 months and 1 day.

Like Perry, he thinks Shoal Creek ''really suits my game'' with drives and irons play being so important.

Woosnam hadn't played the course since the 1990 PGA Championship before last year's Tradition.

The breakthrough win left a player who by his own admission has had a streaky career in a confident mood believing the ball will go where he wants it to.

''Now, I've got more confidence in knowing where it's going to go and what shape it's going,'' Woosnam said. ''I've always been sort of a player where when I've got the confidence, I do really well. When the confidence is not very good, I don't do too well.

''My game has always gone in sort of sections where I play really well for six months and then I don't play very well and then I play well again. I just have to put up with it, really.''

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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.