Perhaps a Re-Opening

By Brian HewittJune 23, 2003, 4:00 pm
In England they call it the 132nd Open Championship. In the United States, the uninitiated still refer to it as the British Open. Whatever nomenclature you choose, it is still the closest thing to a 72-hole world championship in golf. And thats what makes this event so special.
There is, of course, a little history, too. Consider the fact that the first Open Championship was conducted at Prestwick in 1860. Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States at the time. If an American had won, Lincoln would not have been able to phone his congratulations. Not to worry. First place went to Willie Park, the same man who designed Olympia Fields, site of this years U.S. Open.
Speaking of which, I like Jim Furyks chances of winning his second and consecutive major July 17-20 at Royal St. Georges in Sandwich, less than an hour from London. Furyk is clearly on top of a game that has evolved into one of the worlds most dependable. He has risen to No. 6 in the world rankings and he has played well in the Open Championship before. Two consecutive fourth places finishes in this tournament in 1997 and 1998 are evidence to his ability to handle links golf.
Last years champion, Ernie Els, produced what was later voted the 2002 European Tours shot of the year when he filleted a bunker shot on the 13th hole of his final round to within inches of the cup. Els would later triumph at Muirfield in a playoff that included Steve Elkington, Stuart Appleby and Thomas Levet.
So much has happened in a year. Tiger Woods arrived at Muirfield with both the 2002 Masters and the 2002 U.S. Open under his belt. A third round 81 blew him away. Woods hasnt won a major since. Certain of his critics now insist he is in a slump.
But what has become of Elkington, Levet and Appleby since then? Padraig Harrington finished tied for fifth and has since replaced Sergio Garcia in the world rankings as the highest-rated European. Scott Hoch tied for eighth but now finds himself in a horrific slump caused by a hand injury. Through the Buick Classic, Hoch has missed the weekend in six straight events.
Davis Love III wound up 14th at Muirfield in a tournament he has never won. He has won three times already this year but is still helping his family heal the wounds from the suicide of his brother-in-law.
David Duval, in defense of his Open Championship victory at Royal Lytham, tied for 22nd. Currently he is mired in a vicious slump that has produced a precipitous slide in the world rankings. Through June 23, Duval had dropped to No. 86.
Furyk missed the cut at Muirfield last year. But he was fighting an illness. He is razor sharp now and healthy. Tiger Woods is always the favorite of every tournament he enters. But its hard not to like Furyk.
Meanwhile the course has added 246 yards to now measure 7,106. Eight holes have new tee boxes. Since Greg Norman won at St. Georges 10 years ago, first place money has increased by more than a million dollars. Norman, by the way, is another who has fallen on tough times. He finished tied for 18th at Muirfield. Now a bad back makes even his presence at St. Georges questionable.
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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.