Sutherland leads by two in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 29, 2015, 12:23 am

SAUCIER, Miss. - Kevin Sutherland birdied three of the final six holes Saturday for a 5-under 67 and the second-round lead in the Champions Tour's Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.

Those birdies pushed him to the top and he protected the lead with key par saves from bunkers on the last two holes, including one from a buried lie and awkward stance on the par-3 17th.

''I didn't have a stance and the ball's plugged,'' Sutherland said. ''If someone would have given me a 4, I would have taken it. I thought if I could just pop it out I might could run it up to the hole. I was just hoping to get a putt at it and I did and I was fortunate enough to make it. Just ended up in a bad spot but was able to make the best of it.''

Sutherland, the one-time PGA Tour winner who shot the first 59 in Champions Tour history last year in Endicott, New York, chipped in for birdie from behind the 12th green and birdied Nos. 15 and 16.

He has a two-stroke lead over 2011 MGRC champ Tom Lehman, but he doesn't have the ''hangover'' from a record round like he did the last time he took a lead into the final round.

''This is very different, a different mentality,'' Sutherland said. ''When I shot the 59, it almost felt like I had won something already. There were all the congratulations, and the million texts and all that stuff and everybody wanted to talk about it, which is totally understandable. It was hard to come out the next day and be focused.

''As much as I wanted to be, I wasn't as focused as I needed to be. I don't think that will be a problem tomorrow. Whether I play well or not is a different subject, but I know I'll be ready to play. At Dick Sporting Goods (Open), I was still living off a hangover from the day before.''

Lehman climbed the leaderboard with a bogey-free 66, highlighted by a 50-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth hole.

''You just have to get it over the ridge and then it's all about gravity,'' Lehman said. ''It's a matter of getting up to the right on the high side in the right spot where it can just trundle on down the hill. It looked perfect from the beginning. It was one of those long putts that at worst case is going to be really close. Within 5 or 6 feet, I thought it was in.

''Those are the kinds of things that happen when momentum is on your side, and to do well in golf you have to have things like that happen. You can't be perfect all the time. You have to get away with some imperfection and that was certainly one case of that.''

Tom Pernice Jr. and David Frost were 6 under. Pernice had a 69, and Frost shot 70.

Scott Dunlap had a 65, the best round of the week, to join Colin Montgomerie, Joe Durant, Olin Browne and Woody Austin at 5 under. Montgomerie and Durant shot 72 after sharing the first-round lead. Browne had a 68, and Austin shot 71.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was 2 over after a 70. The Spaniard won the season-opening event in Hawaii in January for his second victory in three career Champions Tour starts.

''It's a tough course so anybody within five or six shots still has a chance to win with a really hot round,'' Lehman said. ''Everybody knows the golf course. It's a matter of who goes out and enjoys it the most, is the strongest mentally and gets a break or two when then need it and makes some putts.''

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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.