Rollins Gets Woods in First Round

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2004, 5:00 pm
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- In the 16 months since John Rollins won the Canadian Open, he has never been paired with Tiger Woods in any round of a golf tournament.
 
That will change Wednesday in the Match Play Championship.
 
Rollins got into the $7 million World Golf Championship only when three players withdrew. As the last man in the 64-player field, he gets to play Woods, the defending champion, in the first round.
 
'I just want to play well and at least give him a good match,' Rollins said, already sounding like his week at La Costa won't last long.
 
Then again, all bets are off this week.

No other format in golf is more fickle than the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Woods is the defending champion, and the only top-10 seed to win the tournament. Three previous winners - Jeff Maggert, Steve Stricker and Kevin Sutherland - didn't even qualify.
 
'Getting through the first round is the hardest thing,' Nick Price said. 'We've seen great players get knocked out in the first round.'
 
Woods was one of them two years ago, losing to 64th-seeded Peter O'Malley of Australia.
 
Rollins figures to be the most wide-eyed.
 
He hasn't played well this year, missing his last three cuts. The last time he played this format was the 1997 U.S. Amateur at Cog Hill, where he lost to eventual winner Matt Kuchar in the round of 16.
 
And while his victory in the Canadian Open put him in pool of PGA Tour winners when first-round pairings are made at regular events, he has never played with Woods.
 
'I'd have to guess this match will be on TV,' said Rollins, who has never had a lot of television exposure. 'You've got to get an opportunity sometime. It's better in a head-to-head match than in stroke play.'
 
Therein lies the beauty of the week.
 
There are no sure bets. Someone could shoot 65, a round good enough to win any other match at La Costa, and go home if the guy he's playing shoots 64.
 
That's why dozens of players on the range weren't sure whom they were playing, nor did they care.
 
'You've just got to play good and make a lot of birdies,' said British Open champion Ben Curtis, who plays Charles Howell III. 'Match play at this level ... there are no secrets. You can't outthink or outstrategize your opponent. You've just got to play better than him.'
 
The field is missing two players ranked in the top 10.
 
Ernie Els withdrew last week because he wanted to spend time with his family in London before his 4-year-old daughter goes to school for the first time.
 
U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk has an injured left wrist.
 
The other player to withdraw was Kirk Triplett, who's going to his best friend's wedding in Hawaii.
 
Vijay Singh is the No. 2 seed and will play Japan's Shingo Katayama. Davis Love III (No. 3) faces Briny Baird, while Masters champion Mike Weir, coming off a victory in the Nissan Open, takes on former PGA champion Rich Beem.
 
The most intriguing match in the first round Wednesday is Phil Mickelson (No. 6) against Lee Westwood of England, particularly in a Ryder Cup year with Lefty playing before a hometown crowd.
 
Mickelson was among those on the range Monday, a rare sight. He usually practices away from the course, but he was grinding with coach Rick Smith at his side.
 
Some believe the Match Play Championship is easier to win than a stroke-play event, since players only have to beat six other guys - one at a time - instead of 70-plus players over four days.
 
Price says while some of the previous winners weren't among the highest-ranked seeds - Maggert (No. 24), Stricker (No. 55) and Sutherland (No. 62) - it was no fluke who won those tournaments.
 
'Six matches is hard,' Price said. 'If there's any chink in your armor, it's going to come out in six rounds. When you get to the third and fourth rounds, you're playing guys who are on their game.'
 
Rollins will be trying to get through the first match.
 
And as anyone can tell him, it doesn't get any easier after that.
 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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.