Stricker Seizes US Open Lead

By Associated PressJune 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
U.S. OpenMAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Steve Stricker holed out twice from the bunker for birdie, the last one giving him the lead. The crowd cheered at every turn for David Duval, not out of sympathy but for putting himself in the hunt at the U.S. Open.
 
Winged Foot was full of surprises Friday, none bigger than Tiger Woods going home early.
 
Woods returned from his longest layoff by making his earliest departure at a major, missing the cut in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time as a pro and leaving this U.S. Open in the hands of an eclectic mix of players that includes Phil Mickelson, his biggest rival.
 
'I don't care if you had what transpired in my life of recent or not,' said Woods, playing for the first time since his father died and posting rounds of 76-76 to miss by three shots. 'Poor execution is never going to feel very good.'
 
About the only thing that feels good at Winged Foot is getting off the course with limited damage.
 
Stricker was stumbling with consecutive bogeys from the bunker, and another one loomed when he pulled his 9-iron into the sand left of the ninth green. Hoping to get it close, he sank the shot for an unlikely birdie and a 1-under 69 that left him the only player under par going into the weekend at 139.
 
One stroke behind was Colin Montgomerie, who was steady off the tee and on his scorecard. The best player without a major suddenly looks like it's not too late to shed that burdensome baggage, getting around with only one bogey for a 71 to finish at even-par 140.
 
'Assess the round?' Monty mused. 'Seventeen pars, one bogey. That's good. That's very good. One mistake is good. No birdies isn't.'
 
Match Play champion Geoff Ogilvy and Kenneth Ferrie each had even-par 70 to finish at 141, and Ferrie showed how quickly this course, with its deep rough and undulating greens, can wipe out a good day. He reached 3 under par for the tournament until double bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes.
 
For all the thrills and mostly spills, two players considered favorites at this championship were looming not far from lead.
 
One of them was Jim Furyk, the 2003 winner at Olympia Fields. He ran off nine straight pars before hitting a few bumps coming in, but still managed a 72 and was at 212, along with Padraig Harrington (69).
 
The other was Mickelson, who celebrated his 36th birthday Friday, as if the fans needed more reason to cheer.
 
The Masters champion, trying to join Woods as the only players in the last 50 years to win three straight majors, opened with consecutive bogeys and appeared headed down the leaderboard like so many others. But he limited his mistakes, including an up-and-down on his final hole to escape with bogey. Mickelson wound up with a 73, and at 3-over 213 was four shots behind.
 
'Bogeys are OK,' Mickelson said, rare words from a guy who thrives on birdies. 'I'm within four shots with two rounds to go. I'm where I wanted to be. All I wanted is a chance.'
 
The biggest shock -- to everyone but Duval -- was that the former British Open champion has a chance.
 
He opened with a 77, and most figured he would be gone by the weekend for the 12th straight time in a major. Instead, Duval went 14 holes without a bogey, rang up four birdies along the way and, except for a double bogey from the rough on No. 6, looked like a contender. He wound up with a 68, joining Arron Oberholser for the best score at Winged Foot this week.
 
'You see the scores when you get done and you don't know what happened,' Duval said of his recent play. 'It's those little things that need to add up in a round of golf that haven't for me.'
 
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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.