A Tale of Two Torreys Hall Ballot Out

By Brian HewittJanuary 16, 2008, 5:00 pm
It all sets up to be a good kind of perfect storm next week at Torrey Pines Golf Club where Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will make their 2008 PGA TOUR debuts at the Buick Invitational.
 
And nobody will be watching more closely than Mike Davis, the USGAs chief course set-up guy. Thats because the Monday after the Buick Invitational ends is the first day Davis gets his hands, full time, on Torrey Pines South, the site of Junes U.S. Open.
 
Its pretty much going to be the same course next week as it will be for the U.S. Open as far as what people see. Davis told GOLF CHANNEL this week.
 
What people wont readily see on television, but the players will learn, is the firmness Davis means to insure for June. The greens typically run from 9 to 10 (on the Stimpmeter), Davis said. My guess is well be closer to 13. Thats a speed those greens have never been at before.
 
For the Buick Invitational, Torrey Pines South will play 7,568 yards to a par of 72. That yardage will be roughly the same for the U.S. Open but the USGA has converted the par-5 sixth to a long par 4 which will make for an 18-hole par of 71.
 
That hole had no sexiness as a par 5, Davis said of No. 6.
 
The 18th hole, a relatively short par 5, will remain a par 5 despite a lively debate among USGA officials. Course architect Rees Jones, who did the re-design at Torrey Pines, wanted No. 18 converted to a par 4. Davis wanted a par 5 so he could manipulate the tee box lengths on a daily basis to account for weather conditions and challenge the medium-to-long hitters to go for the green in two all four days.
 
TORREY RIGHT NOW:
Meanwhile, longtime Buick Invitational tournament director Tom Wilson says Torrey Pines South is in the best condition hes ever seen it.
 
He said (and Davis corroborated) the lengths of the roughs and the widths of the fairways will be similar to U.S. Open conditions. There was a lot of rain in the San Diego area last week so the course is expected to be relatively soft. And, Wilson added, the bunker conditions and the roughs around the greens will be much more benign next week than they will be in June.
 
During the wild fires that ravaged Southern California last fall, Wilson had to evacuate his Rancho Bernardo home for four days. In the interim he stayed at a hotel adjacent to Torrey Pines. The golf course suffered no damage, in part, because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean.
 
Many of Wilsons Rancho Bernardo neighbors werent so lucky. It was pretty devastating, he said. And we were pretty blessed. Approximately 150 homes in Wilsons neighborhood burned to the ground. His house escaped relatively unscathed.
 
KINDLER, GENTLER U.S. OPEN?:
One of the things Davis did during the holidays was break out the tapes and watch every minute of all four days of the television broadcasts of last years U.S. Open at Oakmont.
 
One thing I just dont think we got right was the first cut of the primary rough, he said. It was just too penal.
 
That will change at Torrey Pines. The winning score at each of the last two U.S. Opens was 5 over par. Davis told me he has no problem if 10 under is the winning score in June.
 
HALL BALLOT:
The 2008 PGA TOUR ballot for the World Golf Hall of Fame landed on my doorstep Wednesday. This years list comprises 17 names compared to 20 last year.
 
Curtis Strange and Hubert Green moved off the list and into the Hall. John Daly dropped off the list because he failed to appear on at least 5 percent of the ballots for two straight years.
 
The most likely candidate to graduate into the Hall off of this years list is Lanny Wadkins. Wadkins name showed up on 50 percent of the ballots last year. The magic number for getting in is 65 percent. Wadkins figures to benefit this year from not having to compete with voters who preferred Strange, his contemporary, last year.
 
Wadkins won 21 times on the PGA TOUR, including the 1977 PGA Championship and the 1979 PLAYERS.
 
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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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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.