Notes: Injuries are a pain in the neck; Good-timing award

By Doug FergusonJuly 27, 2011, 2:35 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Kevin Sutherland stepped back to line up a shot on the practice range at the Texas Open in April when his foot caught a rope and he fell over backward. Little did he know then it would cost him the majority of his season.

He tied for 11th that week - his best finish of the year - and that was that. With pain increasing each week, Sutherland missed the cut in his next three tournaments through The Players Championship before heading home to Sacramento, Calif., to find out what was wrong.

“I’ve got a herniated disk in the base of my neck, and I have a bone spur in the middle of my neck and that drove it into the spinal cord,” Sutherland said. “There was a bunch on inflammation. They told me I needed rest.”

Turns out to be a lot of rest.

He likely is done for the year, having already been given approval to take a major medical exemption for 2012. Sutherland has gone so long without playing that when he picked up a 6-iron last week, it felt strange in his hands. If rest doesn’t fix it, the 47-year-old Sutherland isn’t interested in surgery.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to do surgery if it bothers me in everyday life,” he said. “I’m not going to have surgery just to play golf.”

Sutherland’s lone win on tour came at the Match Play Championship in 2001. He has been a steady performer, never losing his card since he joined the PGA Tour in 1996 while averaging 28 starts a year. He played 11 times this year, which has made one person happy - his 10-year-old son.

“Keaton is loving it,” Sutherland said. “He thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world, because he’s got his dad for the summer. So that’s obviously one of the plusses. But I am going a little stir crazy.”

FIRESTONE FIELD: Ryo Ishikawa still hasn’t won this year on the Japan Golf Tour, although he has a knack for finishing runner-up at just the right time.

In the final week to earn a spot in the U.S. Open, the 19-year-old from Japan lost in a playoff and earned enough world ranking points to move to No. 49 and get an exemption into Congressional. On Sunday, he was runner-up to K.T. Kim and moved up four spots again to No. 49—just in time to qualify for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, the third World Golf Championship of the year.

The cutoff for the top 50 was Sunday, with another cutoff after this week. Ryan Palmer (No. 52) and Webb Simpson (No. 53) are not eligible for Firestone, although both are playing the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.

Also at The Greenbrier is Anthony Kim (62), who has not missed Firestone since his rookie year in 2007.

SETTING ASIDE RIVALRY: Raising money to help tornado victims is enough to united Alabama and Auburn.

Three days of festivities will conclude Aug. 15 with a charity pro-am at Greystone Golf Club in Birmingham, Ala., in which tour players such as Jerry Pate, Leonard Thompson, Steve Lowery and Boo Weekley have agreed to participate. Among the school celebrities who plan to play are Cornelius Bennett, Lee Roy Jordan, Al Del Greco, Gene Stalling and Pat Dye.

Amateurs will play in a group featuring one pro and one celebrity.

The pro-am follows a flag football game between former players of the two schools on Friday and a silent auction on Saturday. The weekend is known as “Heart in Dixie,” and all proceeds go to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.

DIVOTS: Asked on Tuesday if he were still Tiger Woods’ swing coach, Sean Foley replied, “Yes.” And the Internet-fueled rumors that he is not? “Hilarious,” he said. … There were no bogey-free rounds at the Canadian Open, the first time that has happened at a regular PGA Tour event was in 2008 at The Players Championship. … Paul Casey has donated the $32,600 he won from the “PowerPlay Golf” exhibition at Celtic Manor to the English Golf Union for its help during his amateur career. “I had great support from the EGC when I was coming through the ranks as a junior, so I am very happy to help them with their player development program,” Casey said. … With so much attention on UCLA freshman Patrick Cantlay, Bud Cauley has quietly put together a nice summer since turning pro at the U.S. Open. Cauley already has earned $319,145 in four starts, and needs another $244,584 by the end of the year to earn special temporary membership.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Only 10 players who won an NCAA title have gone on to win majors over the past 50 years.

FINAL WORD: “What keeps you going is just your love for the game and the love for the competition. Plus, if I quit I’m probably going to be flipping burgers because I can’t do anything else.” - Sean O’Hair.

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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.