Let the Games Begin

By Brian HewittNovember 19, 2003, 5:00 pm
In the end, everybody showed. Nobody ducked out. Schedules were cleared. Flights were made. And the Presidents Cup got the dream field its organizers were hoping for.
 
The resultant buzz is almost palpable. And thats something new for an event that is seen by too many people as a poor relation to its big brother, the Ryder Cup.
 
The Presidents Cup is growing up.
 
Thursday morning in South Africa on the Links at Fancourt, a golf course only Ernie Els, among the 24 competitors, had played prior to last Sunday, the matches will begin. A total of 34 points will be available.
 
The top nine players in the most recent Official World Golf Ranking and 17 of the top 22 will be at Fancourt. World No. 1 Tiger Woods was the first American player to arrive and was on the course Sunday and Monday. Awesome, he said when asked to describe Fancourts 7,489-yard layout.
 
Part of the buzz surrounded the much-anticipated Sunday singles match between Woods and Els. Since the captains can engineer their singles picks in an alternate pick fashion (unlike the Ryder Cup), we may get this cage match between the No. 1- and No. 3-ranked players in the world, respectively.
 
In fact there are rumors, fanned by Els, when he said his pairing against Woods is set in concrete, that it has been prearranged. International team captain Gary Player has denied this. But dont be surprised if it happens.
 
Personally, Id like to see Vijay Singh, the No. 2-ranked player in the world, play U.S. rookie Jerry Kelly in the singles.
 
Why?
 
Kellys current caddie is Paul Tesori. Tesori caddied for Singh as recently as this year and was the instigator of the quiet feud that has existed between Woods and Singh ever since the 2000 Presidents Cup matches. Thats when Tesori wore a cap that said Tiger who? on the back while looping for Singh in his singles match against Woods. Woods failed to see the humor and defeated Singh decisively that day.
 
What I want to know is if Kelly draws Singh, will Tesori wear a cap that says, Vijay who? on the back.
 
I also want to know if the Internationals will ambush the Americans like they did at Royal Melbourne in Australia five years ago.
 
Lots of story lines. Lots of intrigue. But most important of all, an impressive collection of the best players in the world.
 
Patriotism is very important, said Jim Furyk, putting it all in perspective. But probably more important'is really these countries intermixing. This is definitely on a small scale in the world of golf but I think the message in the world is really that people are coming from all different countries.
 
And in the end this week, everybody showed.
 
I think its pretty cool, said Aussie Robert Allenby.
 
Pretty cool, indeed.
 
This is going to be a great spectacle, said Zimbabwes Nick Price.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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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.