Notes McIlroy on Euro Ryder Cup Team

By Brian HewittOctober 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
Dont look now but Rory McIlroy, the 18-year-old sensation from Holywood, Northern Ireland, is sitting at seventh place in the Ryder Cup European points list.
Without sounding ridiculous, said Chubby Chandler, McIlroys agent and advisor to Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Paul McGinley and Lee Westwood, I honestly believe he (McIlroy) has a chance of making next years Ryder Cup team.
McIlroy burst on the world golf scene this summer by firing an opening 68 at Carnoustie and finishing T42 as an amateur at the Open Championship. After the recent Walker Cup matches he turned professional and quickly won enough money to secure his 2008 playing privileges on the European Tour.
McIlroy came third at the recent Dunhill Links Championship and followed that with a T4 Sunday at the Madrid Open. If he finishes second or better at this weeks Portuguese Open, he will move into the top 60 on Europes Order of Merit and will qualify for the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama.
Two Mondays ago McIlroy purchased what the Irish Independent newspaper labeled a luxury five-bedroom detached house not far from his family home in Holywood. This was not long after signing endorsement contracts worth more than a million dollars.
I came into a bit of money, McIlroy told the Independent. I will be in it (the house) by Halloween and hopefully have it done up by Christmas.
I dont plan on learning to cook, McIlroy added. Holly (his girlfriend) will be around to do that, hopefully.
The players were happy to learn that the Open will scale back its involvement with amateur players next year and take place at just one venue, the TPC Summerlin.
In the past this Las Vegas event has taken place at multiple venues with multi-round involvement with amateurs.
Next year there will be a little more involvement with celebrities, says tournament director Ian Knight, who used to work for the PGA TOURs Golf Course Properties Division.
Specifically, Knight is looking to recruit 11 big name celebrities and give the Wednesday Pro-Am an Oceans 11 feel that hearkens back to the day of original Las Vegas Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
Big names, Knight says.
Much of this stems from the tournaments increased involvement with the local Shriners Hospital. It will be more of a pure event now, Knight says.
The Fall Series event to be played at Disney World, however, will keep its format. Tournament director Kevin Weickel said Wednesday, Disney is all about big dreams and magic.
So the amateurs will still play with the pros on Thursday and Friday. We expect to keep this format for many, many years, Weickel said.
This weeks Frys Electronics Open at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale is looking for another venue for 2008.
It was originally scheduled to take place next year at the The Institute Course in Morgan Hill, Calif., near San Jose.
But sources said earlier this week that the timing isnt right yet for The Institute Course to host the event. There have also been issues with environmentalists and officials at The Institute Course.
Next years site will be announced sooner rather than later, said a Frys official. But theres no timetable.
There has been a buzz surrounding The Institute Course ever since it was built because it lists its back tees at 7.952 yards. It can be stretched past 8,000 yards. And to date, no TOUR event has taken place on a track that long.
By way of perspective, if the par-3s average 200 yards and the par-5s average 600 yards, the par-4s would have to average 480 yards for a course to stretch out to 8,000 yards.
Speaking of long, Erin Hills near Milwaukee is 8,266 yards from the back blacks. The public course, which opened in August of 2006, carries a slope 152 and a course rating of 79.9.
Its a different style of golf, says assistant pro Chris Kaebisch. Different, indeed. From the back blacks, Erin Hills boasts six par-4s longer than 500 yards, including two weighing in at 535.
The USGA has paid several visits to Erin Hills. And there is speculation that they could bring a U.S. Amateur there as early as 2011 and a U.S. Open as early as 2017.
USGA course set-up guy Mike Davis was at Erin Hills last week and told me if a U.S. Open was played at Erin Hills tomorrow it would probably card out at closer to 7,600 yards. Its a site we continue to look at, Davis said.
Next years U.S. Womens Amateur Public Links will take place at Erin Hills. The tees for that event will be closer to 6,000 yards.
Erin Hills also has a 19th hole that is actually a golf hole. It stretches the course, for 19 holes, to 8,420 yards. A group of local club pros recently played Erin Hills from 8,420 yards in a one-day event to a par of 75 for the 19 holes. The low score was 80.
The design team for Erin Hills was Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Golf Digest architecture editor Ron Whitten. The course recently showed up on Golfweeks Best list of courses that opened in 2005-2007.
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    Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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    Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

    After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

    With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    “Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

    “I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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    Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    “I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

    “I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

    Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

    Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

    “We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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    Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

    The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

    Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

    Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

    Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

    • Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

    • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

    • Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1