Players Battle High Winds in Tampa

By Associated PressMarch 8, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 PODS ChampionshipTAMPA BAY, Fla. -- Brandt Snedeker turned bogey into birdie on his final hole Saturday morning, chipping in from 80 feet for a 3-under 68 that gave him a one-shot lead halfway through a wicked, windy PODS Championship.
 
Snedeker was the only player to break 70 each of the first two rounds, an astounding feat considering wind that gusted up to 40 mph on an Innisbrook course that is tough when its calm.
 
I didnt put myself in any trouble, said Snedeker, who was at 5-under 137.
 
Jeff Maggert was at 8 under through nine holes when play was suspended Friday because of rain and storms, and while his game didnt change much, the weather sure did. One gust was recorded at 44 mph, the strongest on the PGA TOUR this year.
 
Maggert dropped four shots on the back nine for a 72, leaving him one shot out of the lead and quite satisfied.
 
It was a grind, he said. Its a little bit of a British Open-styled wind, where you hit it 160 yards with a 2-iron, then turn around and hit 180 yards with an 8-iron. But if you hit the ball well, you can manage to score.
 
Seven players were at 3-under 139, and all but two of them finished yesterday. Stewart Cink had a share of the lead on the back nine until consecutive bogeys dropped him to a 73, while first-round leader Bart Bryant rallied late for a 74.
 
There were strange doings across the Copperhead course in the toughest conditions. The wind was so strong that volunteers were told not to carry the signs, lest both were blown away. Putts fell into the cup almost by accident, and anything in the 4-foot range was sheer guesswork whether the wind would hold it up or blow it in the hole, or neither.
 
The only constant was frustration.
 
Jeff Overton stood over an 18-inch putt on the eighth hole, backed off when leaves rushed over his ball, then jabbed at it and missed badly to the right. He rallied with a few birdies and was alone in the lead at 5 under until bogeys on the last four holes.
 
The weather is better in Europe, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen said.
 
That was before he teed off, and while he was in decent shape most of the day, it ended badly. He finished with three bogeys and a par to miss the cut by one shot.
 
James Driscoll two-putted from 40 feet for par on his final hole, and that was significant because 79 players made the cut at 3-over 145. The TOURs recently amended cut policy goes into effect for the first time, allowing for a second cut after the third round to the top 70 players and ties. That cut wont happen until Sunday morning because it was unlikely everyone could finish Saturday.
 
Snedeker will be in the last group because of some great play, and a little luck at the end.
 
He hit six consecutive greens and was making up ground mostly with pars when he pulled his approach into the wind on the uphill ninth, the ball nestled among leaves to the left of the green, a deep bunker between him and the flag.
 
Great feel on this, his caddie instructed him.
 
The green slopes severely away from the edge, so Snedeker couldnt expect to hit it terribly close. It came out perfectly, hopping softly onto the green and was gaining steam'a lot of it'when it crashed into the pin and disappeared.
 
Otherwise, Snedeker would have had 12 to 15 feet remaining for his par. Instead, he had a birdie and the 36-hole lead.
 
You need a little luck, Snedeker said. I had a lot of putts that I thought were going in, but it was hard to get in the hole because of the wind. Its hard to get the ball hugging to the ground, but you dont want to hit it 3 or 4 feet by. You just hope it evens out in the end.
 
And it did, leaving him atop the leaderboard in what figures to be a long, fickle weekend.
 
Only eight shots separated top to bottom, and the wind was not supposed to lay down until late in the afternoon, if at all.
 
Its a wide-open golf tournament, Maggert said. Theres a lot of guys, but its going to be difficult to come from behind.
 
Indeed, this might be a tournament where picking up ground means not going anywhere at all.
 
Some players, however, wind up going home.
 
Honda Classic winner Ernie Els and Davis Love III were among those who knew they had missed the cut Friday after they finished.
 
Perhaps the most notable player to miss the cut Saturday morning was Scott Verplank. He had 28 rounds at par or better, the longest active streak on the PGA TOUR. That ended in the wind and with two balls in the water, giving him a 79 and the weekend off.
 
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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.