McNeill leads McGladrey Classic after Round 1

By Doug FergusonNovember 7, 2013, 11:16 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Heavy fog allowed Brian Gay a quick nap, and he no longer felt so sluggish after traveling halfway around the world from Shanghai to Sea Island.

Gay had enough energy Thursday to make eight birdies on his way to a 7-under 63, giving him a share of the clubhouse lead with Briny Baird among early starters in The McGladrey Classic. The opening round could not be completed because of a fog delay lasting nearly two hours.

Once the sun burned off the fog, the Seaside course was a pushover with virtually no wind. In the afternoon, George McNeill ran off five straight birdies and was 8 under with two holes remaining. Will MacKenzie reached 7 under through 16 holes until dropping three shots in two holes for a 66.

The morning fog off coastal waters could not have been better for Gay.

''I was super tired,'' he said.

Players were told the round would resume when the fog lifted. Gay didn't want to stand around on the range. He also wanted to stay loose. So he took a chance by going into the locker room at Sea Island, relaxed in a leather chair for a quick nap and then warmed up for the second time.

''I felt pretty good when I teed off,'' he said. ''I felt like I had a lot more energy.''

The McGladrey Classic is the third event in Gay's most unusual itinerary - four PGA Tour events in four weeks in four countries. He started two weeks ago at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, and then flew eight hours to Shanghai for the HSBC Champions. He would not have played this week except that it's only about three hours from his home in Orlando, Fla., and he loves the Seaside course. And then he'll finish out the fall portion of the PGA Tour schedule next week in Mexico.

Scott Piercy and Boo Weekley also were in China last week, and each opened with a 67.

No one was as thrilled with the start as Baird, who is returning from surgery on both shoulders. Baird last played a PGA Tour event in 2012 when he started feeling pain in his left shoulder, and then his right shoulder. He tried a cortisone shot and rehab before he realized surgery would be required. He had the operations only a month apart, and then tried to return too soon by playing Web.com Tour events.

Finally, he's healthy enough to swing a club and even lift his shoulders over his head. He would like to think he's strong enough to lift a trophy over his head, though it's something Baird has never experienced. This is 365th start on the PGA Tour, and he still hasn't won.

It bothers him, though not as much as people might think.

''I'd probably rather be the guy that's won the most money and not won than the guy who has won the least amount and won once,'' Baird said. ''When you hear that catch-phrase, that does drive you a little nuts that we're only out here playing for trophies. I kind of cringe at that because that's not true. Otherwise, we'd just be donating our money to charity and living in huts. So it's not entirely true.''

One aspect about that is true - Baird needs money to keep his full PGA Tour card. He is on a major medical exemption, meaning he needs $463,399 to reach a level that would allow him to keep his card the rest of the season.

Webb Simpson, who won in Las Vegas last month for his first win this year, was at 65 along with Kevin Kisner, Kevin Chappell and Seung-yul Noh.

Gay finished the HSBC Champions in time to get to the airport for a 6 p.m. flight home - nearly 14 hours to Chicago, two more hours to Orlando, a short layover in between. He tried to relax Monday, but he has been getting up in the middle of the morning and figures he's a few days away from recovering from his jet lag.

There was nothing wrong with his game that a few long putts couldn't fix.

Gay usually has his caddie read the putts, but after he missed an 8-footer on the first hole, his caddie left that part up to him. Gay didn't use him the rest of the way, and he was helped by rolling in three putts from the 30-foot range.

''I wasn't feeling very good at all this morning,'' Gay said. ''I've struggled the last few days sleeping and been really tried. But a nice day. Solid. Hit the ball nice, made a couple of long putts. Just a good day.''

McNeill had a few fleeting thoughts of a 59 when he made his fifth straight birdie to get to 6-under with eight holes remaining. He missed an 8-foot birdie at No. 2, and when faced with a tough par-saving putt, he realized he should worry more about his next shot than his odds of breaking 60. He had to return Friday morning with 49 other players to finish off the round.

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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.