Romero takes lead in Reno-Tahoe

By Associated PressAugust 3, 2013, 2:17 am

RENO, Nev. – Andres Romero birdied his last four holes Friday to take the second-round lead in the Reno-Tahoe Open with 22 points in the modified-Stableford scoring event on a Sierra Nevada layout that reminds him of the mountain courses in his native Argentina.

Romero, who finished third at Reno last year, had nine birdies, a bogey and a double bogey for a one-point lead over Gary Woodland.

The scoring system awards eight points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double bogey or worse.

Woodland, who started the day in second place with 14 points, had a chance to take the lead on his last hole Friday when his 90-yard approach to the par-4 ninth rolled and glanced off the pin, but he missed the 5-foot birdie putt coming back.

Stuart Appleby, Rod Pampling and Charlie Wi, who played his freshman year at Nevada, were three off the lead with 19 points, followed by Greg Chalmers, Chris Knost and Brian Harman at 18. David Toms was in a group with 17.

''The (scoring) system is really good for me,'' said Romero, who birdied four of his first six holes and five of his last six.

''I feel very comfortable here. Makes me remember to home, you know?'' he said with his caddie translating. ''Last week I made 22 birdies and two eagles. If you made all those birdies here and eagles, it's very good for you.''

Woodland overcame three bogeys with five birdies - three in a row during the middle of his back nine beginning with his approach 183 yards to inside 2 feet on the 491-yard, par-4 fifth. He hit inside a foot for a tap-in on the 477-yard sixth and made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh.

''Today was a struggle,'' said Woodland, one of the longer drivers in the field who was hitting middle irons into the par 5s on Thursday.

''Today I was punching out, laying up, so it was frustrating from that standpoint,'' he said. ''But I hit some good shots coming in and I got myself into the golf tournament and I'm getting into a good position going into the weekend.''

The swirling, gusty wind that had players reaching back to their bags repeatedly on Thursday eased significantly most of the day at the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf Club.

But Appleby said he still was having difficulty reading putts in the mountainous terrain where optical illusions sometimes make the ball appear to roll uphill.

''It's definitely tricky when you have a massive contour coming off a mountain that sometimes shows up more than other holes,'' said Appleby, who had four birdies and a bogey. His tie for 16th at Reno last year was the best of his four top-25 finishes.

''If you started not making many, it seems to be like you second-guess: 'Am I seeing too much or not enough break and is the mountain pushing it more than the last hole.' So you've really got to be committed,'' Appleby said.

It wasn't a problem for Romero, who made birdie putts from 27, 33 and 39 feet. After dropping the shortest of those on the 477-yard, par-4 sixth, he hit his approach on the next three holes within 8 feet of the pin and made them all to finish the string of four closing birdies.

He credits a change in putters after the HP Byron Nelson in May. He hasn't missed a cut since and had his best finish this season last week with a tie for 21st at the Canadian Open.

''It gave me a lot of confidence. I played the last five or six tournaments very well,'' Romero said.

Playing together, Wi and Knost both eagled the 518-yard, par-5 13th. Wi hit his second shot 233 yards to the green and sank the 20-foot putt, while Knost chipped in from the fairway about 40 feet away.

Pampling started the day with just two points but posted a second-round best 17 points to get into the tie for third on the strength of nine birdies and a bogey.

Josh Teater, who led the first round with 15 points, bogeyed two of his first five holes Friday. He regained the lead with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14, but his approach to the 15th missed left and he failed to make a 5-foot par putt.

On the 616-yard 18th, he drove the ball 340 yards and hit his next shot 283 yards in the rough left of the green with about 45 feet to the pin. But his third shot got caught up in the rough again and his fourth held up in the fringe where he two-putted from 20 feet for a double-bogey 7 that cost him three points in the Stableford format.

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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.

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Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

“Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

“I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.