Garrigus cards 66, builds three-shot lead at Valspar

By Doug FergusonMarch 14, 2014, 11:12 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Robert Garrigus figured out Innisbrook on Friday for a 5-under 66 to build a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the Valspar Championship.

Garrigus, one of the longest hitters in golf, has made birdie on all of the par 5s both rounds. That has contributed mightily to being at 7-under 135, three shots clear of Kevin Na going into a weekend with a Masters spot potentially up for grabs.

Only five of the top 22 on the leaderboard already are eligible for the Masters.

Na had a 68, while the group four shots behind included Pat Perez (71), Matteo Manassero (70) and Justin Rose (68), who is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 7. Matt Every shot a 71 in the afternoon and joined them at 3-under 139.

The three-shot lead is the largest through 36 holes in the 14-year history of this tournament.


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Garrigus is about the only player who has made it look easy, even though he felt as stressed as anyone on the Copperhead course, regarded by many as perhaps the best tournament course in Florida.

Even though the weather was close to perfect - only a breeze in warm sunshine - only 17 players broke 70.

John Daly was not among them. He was struggling with what he called the yips with his putter when he got to the 16th hole. Daly put three shots in the water, shanked a 7-iron, duffed a chip into the bunker and made a 12. With a double bogey on the last hole, he shot a 90, the highest score of his PGA Tour career.

For all his birdies, Garrigus was especially satisfied with one par.

He pulled his tee shot well left on the 16th hole, the most dangerous tee shot at Innisbrook. The ball went deep into the pines, and Garrigus decided to take on a tiny gap in the trees with a 5-iron.

"I probably hit one of the top five shots of my life there on 16 out of the trees," he said. "Hit a low, cut 5-iron, then rose it up over the pine tree and cut it 40 yards and hit to 10 feet. That's just one of those shots that when you're playing good and everything is rolling, you kind of expect it. It was a lot of fun to try it, and to pull it off was even better. I've spent half my life in the trees. I've had a lot of practice."

He missed the putt, but was more than happy with par.

As for the rest of the golf course, he picked up another birdie on the par-3 15th with a long putt, and one on the par-4 ninth with a 20-foot birdie down the hill.

Rose feels as if his shoulder injury is in the past, except for answering questions about it. He loves the Florida swing because the courses demand so many different shots, and Innisbrook might require the most.

The U.S. Open champion was struggling in the first round until he finished birdie-birdie to salvage a 71. He carried that momentum into the second round, and despite a bogey on No. 6 from being out of position off the tee, and a soft bogey on the par-3 eighth, he felt much better ending with a birdie.

"I got some momentum going today," Rose said. "I worked my way into the tournament early. To finish strong with my round yesterday I think helped give me some momentum into day. ... It's exactly how I needed to flow into the tournament."

Perez was the first player to reach 5 under for the tournament until he missed two drives well to the left. One was in the trees at No. 6, the other went out of bounds on No. 7. Both led to double bogeys, though Perez didn't get down on himself.

"Just move on and keep going," he said.

DIVOTS: The cut was at 3-over 145 and because 84 players advanced to Saturday, there will be a 54-hole cut to top 70 and ties on Saturday. ... Danny Lee went from first to worst. He was tied for the lead Thursday, and then shot 79 to miss the cut. ... Darren Clarke made his first cut of 2014 on the PGA Tour. He withdrew after one round at Riviera and missed the cut at the Honda Classic.

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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.