The House Of Payne

By Brian HewittApril 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
The early returns on new Masters chairman Billy Payne were that he would be a little kinder and gentler in dealing with the tournaments prying public that his older predecessor, Hootie Johnson, fended off, not always with uncommon grace.
 
How interesting then that the golf course that the new chairman now presides over turned out to be so difficult on the first day of the 71st Masters?
 
How interesting that Augusta National allowed just two scores'Justin Rose and Brett Wetterichs 3-under 69s - below 70? How interesting that Augusta National on Thursday turned out to be 'A House Of Payne' for the worlds best golfers?
 
Ernie Els needed 78 blows to get around the 7,445 yards that played firm and fast in cool and windy conditions. Defending champion Phil Mickelson needed 76. U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy made a snowman - yes an eight - on the par-5 second, although he rallied for a 75. And Tiger Woods, the worlds No. 1 player, failed to make a birdie until the 13th, bogeyed 17 and 18 and carded 73.
 
Even more interesting is the fact that the pain may increase for everybody. Cooler temperatures yet are forecast and Saturday is promising high winds and a thermometer that wont register higher than 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
And isnt it ironic that a player with the surname of Rose is co-leading in a tournament famously and annually revered for the azaleas and dogwoods that seduce the prosaics to wax poetic.
 
Rose has promised greatness, without completely delivering, for almost a decade now. Three years ago he led the Masters after 36 holes before ballooning to a third-round 81. Earlier this year he finished third in the California desert at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic presented by George Lopez.
 
Then at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Rose took down Michael Campbell, Phil Mickelson and Charles Howell before he succumbed to another promising young gun, South Africas Trevor Immelman.
 
Then he hurt his back. There were whispers that Rose was going to need an operation. That didnt happen and now Justin Rose is co-leading the Masters after taking 20 putts in 18 holes. Rose hit only five greens in regulation.
 
I think I learned that one day, two days, is so far away from winning the golf tournament. Rose said of 2004. I really learned that this golf course demands respect.
 
Maybe we should be more surprised about Jeev-Milkha Singh, one of only two others that got his round to 3-under Thursday. The other was Wetterich. Jeev-Milkha fired and fell back and finished with a 72.
 
But his story is an intriguing one. His father, Milkha Singh finished fourth in the 400 meters at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Milkha Singh later became a revered sports minister in India and a critic of his countrys sports programs.
 
When I asked Jeev-Milkha Singh earlier this year if his father had been critical of him taking up golf, Jeev-Milkha told me this: He was all right with it. But he said once I chose golf there would be no going back. In our country cricket is religion.
 
Yet still Jeev-Milkha Singh was his countrys Sportsman of the Year in 2006 and it was the first time a golfer had ever won that award in that country.
 
So now we have Friday upon us. Thursdays at majors are always about taking inventory. Fridays center around talk about the cut and who still has a chance. Saturdays are moving day and reveal to us who will be playing in the final groups on the final day.
 
And Sundays, especially at The Masters, are, well, Sundays at The Masters - among the most special days in all of sport.
 
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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.