Pettersson leads PGA; Woods, Singh in contention

By Associated PressAugust 10, 2012, 6:31 pm

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Tiger Woods' uphill chip rolled gently toward the hole before stopping right on the edge of the cup.

After waiting a bit, he walked over, tapped the ball in with his wedge and walked away with a smile.

So close to a vintage Tiger highlight.

Woods led briefly at the PGA Championship in strong wind Friday before falling back behind Carl Pettersson during the second round. Woods putted beautifully across the Kiawah Island greens, making birdies at Nos. 2, 4 and 12. A bogey at the par-3 eighth was the only blemish on his front nine.

Through 12 holes, he was at 5-under par, a stroke behind Pettersson.

Woods is trying for his 15th major championship and first since 2008.

It was his putter that put him atop the leaderboard, albeit not for long. Woods made an 18-footer to save par on No. 3, and his birdie putt from about 40 feet on the following green dropped in as well.

Woods needed only nine putts through the first seven holes. He's also swinging pretty well. Woods' tee shot on the par-5 second carried so far it came to rest in an area where fans were walking across the fairway at the time. He reached the green in two and made a birdie.

On No. 9, his chip nearly dropped for a birdie. One hole later, his luck was a bit better when his 3-footer for par rolled all the way around the lip before falling in.

Pettersson, the first-round leader, started on the back nine Friday and made a couple early bogeys, but he rebounded. On No. 1, he flubbed his approach into the sand, but holed out from there for a birdie to go to 6 under.

Vijay Singh shot a 3-under 69 and was in third place at 4 under. In the morning, many players were just trying to survive with the wind whipping around the course. The 49-year-old Singh hasn't won on the PGA or European tours since 2008, but after finishing tied for ninth at last month's British Open, he figures to be in solid position heading into this weekend.

At one point, Singh, Phil Mickelson (71) and Michael Hoey (70) were the only players with completed second rounds under par.

''It's one of the tougher conditions I've ever played, and put this golf course in the middle of all that, it becomes even more brutal,'' Singh said. ''I would have taken 72 when I started off.''

The past 16 majors have been won by 16 different players.

Singh's last major title was the PGA Championship in 2004, and he's been solid so far this week. He began moving up the leaderboard Friday with birdies on three of the first seven holes.

''I just started believing that I can do it,'' Singh said. ''I was so negative for a long, long time. I had great sessions on the driving range and just couldn't take it on the golf course. I finally started to believe that I could do what I'm doing on the driving range.

''A little tweak to my golf swing during the British Open kind of helped, as well.''

After mostly calm conditions for the opening round, players returned to find flags blowing stiffly in the wind and some threatening clouds hanging low. It eventually began raining, but there were no delays early in the second round.

''You have to challenge and take on the crosswinds,'' Mickelson said. ''We had about a five- or 10-minute spurt there where the wind just started gusting 35 or so and it started raining.''

Despite the elements, Mickelson was hanging around at even par through 36 holes.

Alex Noren wasn't so fortunate. He started the day at 5 under, a shot out of the lead, before shooting 80. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano was also a shot behind Pettersson after one round. He bogeyed his first two holes Friday en route to a 78.

''It's playing tough in this wind, especially,'' Fernandez-Castano said. ''During the round, I was trying to set up little goals just to keep me motivated.''

Adam Scott shot a 75 to fall to 1 under, but he remains in contention after missing out on a British Open victory by bogeying his last four holes.

''I certainly feel like I've been received very well the last couple weeks since I've been back and it's great to have support,'' Scott said. ''I may have won a few more fans. Unfortunately it was from not winning the tournament, but maybe I can change that here over the weekend.''

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.