Who and What in American Golf

By Brian HewittMay 2, 2005, 4:00 pm
The following is a set of observations based on numbers. If the pattern these numbers suggest doesn't change in the next 12 months, we will all be insisting this a trend:

ITEM: Tim Petrovic wins the Zurich Classic of New Orleans Sunday.

ITEM: Tim Petrovic is the first American to become a first-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2005.

ITEM: Tim Petrovic is 38 years old.

ITEM: There is only one American under the age of 30 currently ranked among the world's top 35 players.

ITEM: That player is Tiger Woods.

ITEM: Woods will be 30 in December.

ITEM: There are only two other Americans--Charles Howell and Zach Johnson--under the age of 30 and ranked in the top 50. Johnson will be 30 on his next birthday.

Before anybody pushes a panic button here it should be noted that there is a general paucity of players in their 20s from all countries in the world's top 50. Maybe that, too, is hinting at a trend. There is Luke Donald and Paul Casey and Ian Poulter and Tim Clark and Graeme McDowell and, of course, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia.

Players these days keep winning into their 40s--Vijay Singh being the most notable example--and there is less room for the young guns to unholster their talents. But it is impossible in this country not to wonder why the Tiger Woods phenomenon hasn't unleashed a whole generation of American prodigies behind him. Lord knows, the talent pool in our country is big enough and deep enough.

Lucas Glover has two top 10s in the last two weeks. Hunter Mahan and D.J. Trahan have rhyming last names and a world of potential. Bill Haas has stalled, at least momentarily. And Ryan Moore, perhaps the best young American golfer, is still an amateur. Jonathan Byrd, 28, has won twice on Tour but hasn't done much yet this year. Ben Crane, yet another 29-year-old American, has won once. Same for Ryan Palmer and Vaughn Taylor. Ben Curtis had one magical week. Arron Oberholser and J.J. Henry are already 30. Joe Ogilvie is 31. John Rollins, another one-time American winner, is 30 next month.

So what are we to conclude here? Did Tiger scare all the other American boys into other sports? Did Tiger inspire more American girls (Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, just to name three) than he did American boys?

If you are a fan of the American Ryder Cup team, you want answers to these questions. Wie aspires to play on the PGA Tour one day and I admire the fact that she doesn't limit her goals. But with due respect to the Wie family, we shouldn't be counting on her to change the fact that the Americans have won just one of the last five of these things.

This stuff goes in cycles, the golf sages tell us. Look at the young Englishmen at the moment. Besides Donald, Casey and Poulter there is Justin Rose and David Howell and Nick Daugherty. South Africa has Trevor Immelman and Clark. The Aussies have Scott, Aaron Baddeley and a young man named Steven Bowditch, from whom you will be hearing plenty.

It is not yet time to become fully impatient in the United States with regard to all of this. But that faint sound you hear right now is the drumming of fingertips on the tabletops of doubt by a lot of American critics.
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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.