Palmer leads Deutsche Bank after his lowest round of season

By Doug FergusonAugust 30, 2014, 12:47 am

NORTON, Mass. - Ryan Palmer has felt all year that something special was going to happen. For now, he'll take his lowest round of the season.

Palmer took only 21 putts and made birdie on half of his holes Friday on the TPC Boston, giving him an 8-under 63 and a two-shot lead over Keegan Bradley after the opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

''It was one of my best ones of the year, for sure,'' Palmer said.

He didn't miss a putt inside 15 feet and closed out his round with a pitching wedge to 18 feet, making the downhill putt for his ninth birdie.

Bradley matched his low round of the season, though what meant more was the timing. This is the final week before U.S. captain Tom Watson decides which three players he will pick to fill out his Ryder Cup team. Bradley always seemed like a logical choice, though he wants to leave nothing to chance.


Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos


He played bogey-free in a gentle breeze, and it was just the start he needed.

''I'm not going to sit up here and say any cliches that I'm not thinking about the Ryder Cup or any of that,'' Bradley said. ''I am very aware every second of the day that I'm being watched by the captain. And I'm just trying to embrace that, be aware of it and enjoy it if I can.''

Webb Simpson, who also needs a pick to return to the Ryder Cup, and Jason Day of Australia were among those at 66.

Jordan Spieth recovered from a double bogey to start his round and, with his entire family in tow, turned it around with four birdies and an eagle for a 67. Also at 67 was Ian Poulter, who seems certain to be a Ryder Cup pick for Europe on Tuesday considering how much damage he's done to the Americans in the competition. Poulter was thinking only about his golf, which hasn't been very good this year.

''I just want to play golf,'' Poulter said. ''It's been a (bad) year, and I want to turn it around right now.''

Rory McIlroy was brilliant at times and sloppy at other times in his round of 70.

Phil Mickelson had a 74. He wasn't sure what to expect and even Lefty had to be surprised by his card that featured six pars, six birdies, four bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey.

''I said it would be feast or famine,'' Mickelson said. ''I was hoping it would be Stableford. If it was Stableford, I'd be right in it.''

Instead, he needs a good round Saturday to make sure he stays in the top 70 in the FedEx Cup to advance next week to the third playoff event in Denver.

For two weeks - especially this one - the FedEx Cup shares the stage for that other cup. So many players are thinking less about the chase for a $10 million bonus, and more about a chance to play a tournament where they don't get paid at all.

Watson and European captain Paul McGinley announce their three picks Tuesday. This is the final qualifying week for Europe, though only the players competing in Italy this week can affect the standings.

Palmer finished No. 18 in the Ryder Cup standings. His name hasn't been mentioned as prominently as others bidding for captain's pick. But he looked plenty good Friday.

''I keep telling myself something is going to happen. I don't know where or when,'' Palmer said. ''My game has been in good shape. It was a matter of getting it all together.''

His regular caddie, James Edmondson, didn't make the trip. Edmondson is close friends with Lance Bennett, who works for Matt Kuchar. Bennett's wife died of a seizure Tuesday in Dallas, and caddies and some players wore a black hat with an orange ribbon as a tribute to Angela Bennett. The couple has a 4-year-old daughter.

''When he said, 'I may need to stay home,' I said, 'Done. Don't worry about. We're just playing golf,''' Palmer said.

Bradley won all three of his matches with Mickelson in the last Ryder Cup at Medinah and is desperate to be on the American team that will try to win the cup back on Sept. 26-28 at Gleneagles in Scotland. And he's not shy about saying so.

''When I wake up, I'm thinking about it. When I'm on the course, I'm thinking about it,'' he said.

Bradley was never in big trouble. He drove it long and straight, and that goes a long way on the TPC Boston. Bradley played with Mickelson in three matches at Medinah in the last Ryder Cup, and they never lost. Bradley also played a practice round at Gleneagles with Watson before the British Open.

''I think if I go out and shoot good scores, yeah, I think I'm in good shape,'' Bradley said. ''But there's so many great players that aren't on this team. I don't take anything for granted. I don't think I'm a lock by any means.''

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.