Tiger Augusta Singh and More

By Associated PressMarch 26, 2003, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods reached the century mark at the Bay Hill Invitational by making the cut for the 100th consecutive time on the PGA Tour.
Measuring that mark is a matter of perspective.
Byron Nelson holds the record with 113 consecutive cuts in the 1940s. Jack Nicklaus made the cut 105 straight times in the early 1970s.
What makes Woods' mark so misleading is the number of PGA Tour events that don't even have a cut -- the three World Golf Championships, the season-ending Tour Championship and the winners-only Mercedes Championships.
The PGA Tour counts cuts as playing every eligible round and making money.
In tournaments that have a cut, Woods' streak is at 74, which still would rank fourth in tour history (Hale Irwin made 86 cuts in a row in the mid-70s).
''I'll tell you one thing, it's not as impressive as what Byron's done,'' Woods said. ''Granted, the fields weren't as deep and the cuts were not as low, but the fact he had to be in the money and finish top 10 every week ... he did that for 113 straight tournaments?''
In Nelson's era, making the cut meant making money. Except for the majors a few other events, no more than the top 20 finishers got paid. Nelson never finished lower than a tie for 17th during the eight years of his streak.
Woods said the best way to regard his streak is a ''reflection of the times.''
''The fields are that much deeper,'' he said. ''We get more events that are no-cut, but we have to go so much lower. You can't afford to shoot a bad round.''
In some respects, Woods' streak might be even more impressive. Among active players, the closest anyone has come was Vijay Singh, who made 53 consecutive cuts from 1995-98.
Unless Woods adds another tournament to his schedule, and assuming he keeps playing well, he would break Nelson's record at the Tour Championship -- which has no cut.
Augusta Changes
The deep fairway bunkers that have been extended 80 yards toward the fifth green isn't the only change at Augusta National.
The ninth green has been slightly altered to accommodate a new hole location, and players can thank Tiger Woods for that.
Woods said he had a ''great conversation'' with Masters chairman Hootie Johnson about the ninth green.
''The top shelf was getting to be too small,'' Woods said. ''I said, 'You could make a great hole location by flattening it out.' He left me a voice message to say he had done that.''
Indeed, club officials say when they re-sodded the ninth green last summer, the back shelf was extended 6-to-8 feet, allowing for one or two new pin placements.
A Real Hazard
The PGA Tour's solution to low scores and the long ball has been hole locations cut three paces from the side of the greens, and making the putting surfaces as firm as the weather allows.
A more subtle change has been the bunkers.
Tour officials told players in a recent meeting that they no longer are tamping down the sand to make it firm and uniform. Softer sand leads to more plugged lies, and it's never easy to get those shots close to the hole.
''It makes them more of a hazard,'' Jeff Sluman said. ''You get frustrated when it happens, but nobody said the bunkers were supposed to be uniformly perfect.''
Long Layoff
Vijay Singh ended the longest layoff of his PGA Tour career when he tied for 20th in the Bay Hill Invitational, his first tournament since Pebble Beach.
He said he suffered a stress fracture in the rib caused over the time, with a five-hour session on the range at Torrey Pines inflicting the final blow.
When was the last time he missed five weeks?
''Forever,'' he said. ''I don't think I've ever done that my whole, entire life.''
He didn't catch cabin fever during the layoff. Singh tended to his garden at home in Ponte Vedra Beach, and also relaxed with his wife and son.
''I was being a family man for a change, and I haven't done that for a while,'' he said. ''It was nice seeing my boy going to school and seeing him come back, eating dinner with my wife, watching TV with the family.
''It was hard the first few weeks. I wanted to play,'' he said. ''After a while, you kind of get used to it. You get so comfortable staying home and doing nothing.''
On The Spot
Brad Faxon never dreamed the toughest question he faced at Bay Hill would come during the junior clinic he hosted on the eve of the tournament.
Faxon asked if there were any questions when a young girl raised her hand and asked why the men's game was more popular than the women's game.
''She was sitting right next to her mother, who was beaming,'' Faxon said. ''I said, 'That's a good question. ... You ever hear of Tiger Woods?'''
Faxon made a nice recovery.
''I don't know, but I have some ideas about it,'' he told her. ''Men's golf has been around longer than ladies' golf. We have the most popular athlete in the world playing our sport. I think corporate America started with men's golf and it's grown that way.
''I don't know if that's right, and I'm sorry to say I don't think it will ever catch up. That's just the way it is.''
Even though the PGA Tour signed up title sponsors through the next TV contract, it is still feeling the effects of a tough economy. EMC, one of sponsorship cornerstones of the World Golf Championships, has withdrawn as title sponsor of the World Cup. The tour has asked IMG for help in finding a replacement. ... The PGA Grand Slam of Golf will be played Dec. 4-6 at Poipu Bay in Hawaii. The tournament for the four major championship winners had been scheduled for Dec. 15-17. ... Renee Powell, the second black woman to compete on the LPGA Tour, will receive the 2003 PGA First Lady of Golf Award on June 4 during the Senior PGA Championship.
Stat of the Week
Fulton Allem has not qualified for a major championship since the 1995 U.S. Open. He is in The Players Championship through a 10-year exemption from winning the 1993 World Series of Golf.
Final Word
''You get something to eat, hang out with the guys and listen to some stories we've all told 10 times over.''
-- Ernie Els, on what he does during a rain delay.
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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.