Pressel second after run at 59 fizzles

By Associated PressMarch 21, 2014, 2:55 am

PHOENIX - Morgan Pressel's bid for history ended Thursday in a tangled desert bush. She settled for the second spot on the crowded leaderboard in the JTBC Founders Cup.

Golf's magic number of 59 in range after she played the first 11 holes in 9 under, Pressel bogeyed the next two holes and closed with five pars for a 7-under 65.

''I don't know if I was necessarily thinking 59, but I probably just got a little bit excited, because I had never been that many under par in that short of a span,'' Pressel said. ''I just got a little bit quick and came back to earth.''

She ended up a stroke behind Mirim Lee at Desert Ridge.

After birdieing Nos. 1 and 2 - her 10th and 11th holes - to reach 9 under, Pressel pulled her drive left on the par-4 third. Her ball lodged at the base of a short bush, with the bulk of the branches between the right-hander and the ball. There were burrowing animal holes near the ball, but they didn't interfere with a possible swing or stance.

''I could have hit it left-handed and there were a couple of burrowing animal holes around,'' Pressel said. ''I brought them (rules officials) over to ask, but I didn't honestly think that I was going to get relief and I don't think that I deserved it.''

Pressel took an unplayable lie and missed the green to the right, chipped to 7 feet and made the putt to save bogey. She also dropped a stroke on the par-3 fourth, missing a 15-footer after hitting another iron to the right.

''It wasn't the finish that I would have hoped for, but it gives me a little bit of confidence knowing how many birdies I can make and I'm capable of,'' Pressel said.

She was 6 under after six holes, birdieing the first four and making a 50-footer for eagle on the par-5 15th. She also birdied the par-3 17th and made the turn in 7-under 29.

''I don't know that I've ever gotten off to that hot of a start,'' Pressel said.

Annika Sorenstam shot the only 59 in LPGA Tour history in the 2001 Standard Register Ping at nearby Moon Valley. Ai Miyazato holds the record in the 4-year-old Founders Cup, shooting a 63 in the first round last year.

A tour regular since she was 17, Pressel, 25, won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco to become the youngest women's major champion. She also won the 2008 Kapalua LPGA.

''I definitely feel like I have the ability to win again,'' Pressel said.

Lee also started on No. 10 and nearly matched Pressel's start, playing her opening nine in 6-under 30. She had three birdies and a bogey on the front side for a 64.

''Everything was good,'' said Lee, making her third LPGA start.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis, top-ranked Inbee Park and Michelle Wie were two strokes back at 66 along with 2011 winner Karrie Webb, Eun-Hee Ji, Catriona Matthew, Gerina Piller and Pernilla Lindberg.

''A lot of tee shots set up well for me,'' Lewis said. ''They fit my eye.''

Coming off a victory two weeks ago in China in a Ladies European Tour event, Park birdied the final three holes. She closed with a tap-in birdie on the par-4 ninth after nearly holing a full pitching wedge.

''It was a very solid round,'' Park said. ''Very good irons.''

Wie eagled the par-5 fifth.

''I hit 3-wood, 5-iron over the green and then chipped in,'' Wie said.

Sixteen-year-old Lydia Ko opened with a 67. Playing alongside Park, Ko closed with a bogey after driving left into the desert.

''I forgot to bring my food and my protein bars,'' Ko said. ''That's my excuse.''

Park had six LPGA victories last season, sweeping the first three majors, and became the first South Korean to win the player of the year award. She took a break after the season and skipped the first two events this year, returning with a second-place finish in Thailand and a tie for fourth in Singapore.

''I was a little bit exhausted last year after all the things happened,'' Park said.

Paula Creamer, a playoff winner three weeks ago in Singapore in the last LPGA event, shot 70. She had a double bogey on the par-4 eighth, her 17th hole.

''Just one bad swing on the tee shot and hit in the hazard,'' Creamer said.

DIVOTS: Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods' niece, shot 71. The Phoenix player won the LET's Australian Ladies Masters last month. ... The Semper Fi Fund said The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation will match Cristie Kerr's tour earnings this year to help injured and critically ill service members and their families. She shot 73. ... The scoring average was 70.863. The Arnold Palmer-designed front nine played to an average of 35.917 and the Nick Faldo-designed back nine to an average of 34.946.

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.