The Re-Gift That Keeps On Giving
Be careful what you ask for on your holiday gift list. It may be recycled by the time you get it.
I'm not sure if the nomenclature of 're-gifting' actually started on 'Seinfeld although a lot of people seem to think so. But the concept of re-gifting was around a long time before the concept of the sitcom.
It is in that spirit that I present my annual Christmas list for prominent people and organizations in golf. From the depth of my personal archives, I dredged up last year's list. Stay with me on this.
Last year I wished a season-long driving accuracy percentage of 60 percent for Tiger Woods. 'The rest,' I wrote, 'would take care of itself.'
Fact of the matter was, Woods didn't come especially close to 60 percent off the tee and he still won two majors, the U.S. money list and finished the season ranked No. 1 in the world.
Woods found the fairway off the tee in 2005 54.6 percent of the time. That was good for 188th place on the PGA Tour. If he gets that up to 60 percent in 2006, I predict he will win the calendar Grand Slam.
Last year I wished for Christmas Ernie Els would have better luck in the majors. This year I wish he just plays in all four majors.
Last year I wished U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman the emergence of a young gun. In 2006 I wish him the presents of the presence of Sean OHair and an old cannon, John Daly, on his team at the matches in Ireland.
Last year I wished Davis Love III another major. In 2006 I wish him another Tour victory. Hes the best current player not to have won since 2003.
Last year I wished Jack Nicklaus a fast start at The Masters. In 2006 I wish Nicklaus to play in a major.
Last year I put a win in the States on Colin Montgomeries Christmas list. In 2006 I put that same request on the list of the PGA Tour.
Last year I wished more silliness for Fred Couples. In 2006 Im hoping we see Fred Funk in a skirt again. Between the Skins Game and The Players Championship (five rounds of golf) Funk made almost $2.5 million.
Last year I wished Vijay Singh a good book. In 2006 Id like to see him hire a good ghost writer. His is a story, in its unexpurgated entirety, I would very much like to read.
Last year I wished Annika Sorenstam full recognition, in all circles, for being the dominant player she is. Actually, I think she got that gift in 2005.
Last year I wished Hootie Johnson narrower fairways, longer rough and faster greens at the Masters. Not added length. Maybe the present will arrive in 2006. Meanwhile Augusta National would do well to study the way the USGA will be setting up Winged Foot for the U.S. Open in June.
Finally, I wished the PGA of America the right person to replace Jim Awtrey. That gift arrived, too, Joe Steranka was right under their nose and they were smart enough to realize it.
OK, so maybe these arent all technically re-gifts. But you get the idea.
They play the major championships every year. And every year we seem to get a Birdie Kim or a Todd Hamilton or a Jack Fleck. Thats a re-gift that keeps on giving, too.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.