Toms Takes Winning Streak Into Nelson
After winning on the PGA Tour for the first time in nearly 20 months last weekend, Toms spent Monday night as the third-base coach for his 5-year-old son's T-ball team, a 21-20 winner.
'You know I did send a couple of kids home when it was a close play at the plate,' Toms said Wednesday. 'It's so intense.'
Now Toms is back on the golf course, hoping to build on last weekend, when he ended his victory drought in the Wachovia Championship.
'It feels good to finally be back,' Toms said. 'It's been a long while and it's been laying on me pretty heavily. Hopefully, I can ride the wave longer.'
Even though Toms is sixth on the money list ($1.9 million), he had missed five of the first 11 cuts. He missed just seven cuts in 55 tournaments while making more than $7 million the previous two seasons.
That inconsistency was wearing on Toms.
'I was up and down. It was tough for me to take,' he said. 'Any time that you are missing cuts, you don't have a chance at all at your goal for that week, and it takes a toll. At least on me mentally.'
Toms finished fourth in last year's Nelson, and has been in the top 20 three straight years.
Shigeki Maryuama is the defending champion of the $5.6 million tournament, which plays its first two rounds over two par-70 courses, the TPC Four Seasons and Cottonwood Valley.
After finishing 16th on the money list last season, the highest finish ever for a Japanese player, Maryuama goes into the Nelson ranked 82nd with just $325,636.
Maryuama has entered just 12 tournaments this year, missing seven cuts and withdrawing from two other events because of a neck injury. He took some time off last month to return to Japan to see a doctor.
'There is no accurate, or adequate cure to my injury right now,' he said. 'So I feel that from this time on, that I need to try hard to come back.'
The tour's top three money-winners, Davis Love III, Masters champion Mike Weir and Tiger Woods, aren't in Texas this week.
Woods is defending his Deutsche Bank-SAP Open title in Germany, and Love and Weir are taking the week off.
Hank Kuehne enters the Nelson as the tour's longest driver (312.6 yards), and finally as a member of the PGA Tour.
While Kuehne's Tour status is temporary for now, it's something the 1998 U.S. Amateur champion went out and earned this season.
'I've got a little card that says so,' said Kuehne, 27.
By using sponsor's exemptions and finishing third at the BellSouth Classic and second at the Houston Open last month, Kuehne gained special temporary member status.
Kuehne turned professional four years ago, then went through left shoulder and left elbow surgeries in 2000. He failed to earn his card in three trips through the PGA Tour's Qualifying School.
After winning twice and finishing in the top 10 four other times in 12 Canadian Tour events last year, Kuehne failed again at Q-School.
So, he decided to try to earn his card with his play this season. He would take advantage of sponsor's exemptions to get into PGA Tour events and earn enough money to finish in the top 125 on the money list.
His $569,100 would put him 51st, but his money won't count until the end of the year. He has already won more than No. 117 on last year's final list and that would earn him his card for 2004.
'I'm very, very pleased with where I am. I'm not satisfied,' Kuehne said. 'My goals have somewhat changed. There are a lot of other things I would like to achieve this year having status. I'm definitely not going to just sit and say, `Oh great, I have my PGA Tour card.''
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.