Watson in 3-way tie for U.S. Senior Open lead

By Associated PressJune 27, 2015, 3:06 am

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Tom Watson still gets quite a thrill seeing his name atop the leaderboard.

Maybe even more at age 65.

Watson withstood the scorching heat to shoot a 1-under 69 on Friday, finishing in a three-way tie atop the bunched leaderboard after the second round of the U.S. Senior Open.

''The illusion that I can still do it,'' Watson said when asked what keeps him playing competitive golf. ''I don't have the tools in the toolbox I used to have. They're missing. Some of the tools are missing. And so it's getting more and more difficult for me to compete, but I still feel as if I can somehow get it done.''

Sure seems that way so far in Sacramento.

Watson was joined at 5 under for the championship by Jeff Maggert and Peter Fowler. Maggert shot a 65, and Fowler a 66 in their morning rounds.

But all the attention turned to the Hall of Famer heating up in the sizzling sunshine.

Watson made four birdies and three bogeys to provide the drama at sun-drenched Del Paso Country Club, where the temperature soared above 100 degrees again. Watson is trying to become the oldest winner of the event, the oldest to win a senior major and the oldest to win on the Champions Tour.

''To hit a shot under pressure that's really a good golf shot is why I'm out here,'' Watson said. ''That's what I like to do. And when I get to the point where I can't do it or I can't do it often enough to really satisfy myself, then I won't be out here.''

It's the fourth time Watson has held or shared the lead through 36 holes at the U.S. Senior Open. He has never won the event, which is in its 36th year.

A victory would be the exclamation point to his storied career.

Watson will play in his final British Open next month at St. Andrews. He's the only man to claim the claret jug on five courses - but never at St. Andrews - and suddenly seems ready to be more than a feel-good story at the Old Course.

If he can sweat out the competition at Del Paso, Watson would be the oldest player to ever win such an event.

Allen Doyle was 57 when he won the U.S. Senior Open in 2006. Jock Hutchison was 62 when he won the Senior PGA Championship in 1947, and Mike Fetchick was 63 when he captured the Hilton Head Seniors Invitational in 1985.

''Not surprising. I don't know what else to say about it,'' said Rocco Mediate, who is at 2 under after a second-round 66. ''He's got very much control of his golf ball.''

Watson will have plenty of competition this weekend. Defending champion Colin Montgomerie (68), Bart Bryan (65) and Jim Carter (69) are all at 4 under, and several others are within striking distance.

The forecast highs are in the low 90s for Saturday and Sunday, with increasing wind. But neither the course nor the conditions have caused Watson much trouble.

In his opening round Thursday, Watson took advantage of the cooler morning conditions to shoot a 66. When he teed off Friday afternoon, the temperature was about 25 degrees warmer with almost no wind and climbed to 102 degrees in the afternoon.

''The heat wasn't a big deal today. I was hydrated,'' Watson said. ''We kept in the shade most of the time, as much as we could. We played at a reasonably good pace.''

Watson controlled his irons, consistently found fairways and putted with precision. He birdied all three par 5s - laying up each time - but provided his most-crowd pleasing moment on the par-4 ninth.

Watson's 20-foot putt stopped on the lip of the cup before falling in. That touched off the loudest roar of the week around the clubhouse, though Watson just straightened his shoulders and exhaled.

He stumbled a bit after the turn, with bogeys on the 10th and 13th. He got one shot back with a birdie putt from the fringe on the par-5 15th, raising his right hand in celebration.

Watson also saved par after hitting into the long, lush rough on No. 17, but he bogeyed on the 18th after his 10-foot putt stopped short - giving him something to think about heading into the weekend.

''I still have nerves,'' Watson said. ''If you don't have nerves, you're lying. The guys out here, if you're playing in this competition, there's an element of pressure that affects you. But the thing is I played under this type of pressure all my life.''

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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.