Fact Pack: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational & Reno-Tahoe Open

By Will GrayJuly 31, 2012, 6:00 pm

This week many of the best golfers in the world head to Akron, Ohio for the third WGC event of 2012, the Bridgestone Invitational. Those not fortunate enough to make the field in Ohio will take a trip west to Nevada for the Reno-Tahoe Open, employing a modified Stableford scoring system for the first time this year. With only three weeks until the FedEx Cup playoffs, many players in both fields will be jockeying for postseason positioning this week. With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

Over the past few years, finding the greens at Firestone CC in regulation has consistently been a key for success. Since 2007, every eventual WGC-Bridgestone champion has hit at least 50/72 greens in regulation during the event, and each finished T-9 or better for the week in GIR percentage. Thus far in 2012, Bubba Watson leads the Tour in this category, hitting the green in regulation 71.46% of the time.

• Of the 74 career PGA Tour wins for Tiger Woods, 21 of them have come across just three golf courses - Firestone, Bay Hill and Torrey Pines, where Woods has won seven times each. This week he looks to join Sam Snead, who dominated the Greater Greensboro Open during his illustrious career, as the only men to ever win the same Tour event eight times.

Pat Perez heads to Reno this week hoping to improve on his runner-up finish from a year ago. Before withdrawing from the John Deere, Perez had finished in the top 30 in five of his previous six Tour starts dating back to The Players. He is currently 19th on Tour in birdie average and ninth in par-5 birdies or better, two stats which could lead to success under the modified Stableford scoring system that tends to reward aggressive play.

Josh Teater officially has some momentum on his side, having carded back-to-back top-10 finishes on Tour for the first time in his career. Teater's 2012 stat line is an impressive one: 12th on Tour in total birdies, 15th in ball-striking and 15th in birdies or better on par-5 holes. He finished T-10 in Reno last year and is positioned well for another high finish this week.

• While making few starts in the U.S., Francesco Molinari has amassed an impressive record in 2012. The Italian recorded back-to-back runner-up finishes in Europe leading up to the British Open and currently ranks second on the Euro Tour in GIR percentage and sixth in driving accuracy. Last year Molinari led the field at Firestone in fairways hit and was T-8 in GIR percentage en route to a T-15 finish.

• Another player in strong form heading into the Reno-Tahoe Open is Billy Horschel. Placing a season-best third two weeks ago in Mississippi, Horschel has now made six consecutive cuts dating back to the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He ranks seventh on Tour in total driving and 10th in ball-striking, both indicators that he should be in position for plenty of birdies this week, and finished T-10 at Montreux a year ago.

Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker have all won on Tour in 2012, but all three are looking to move off the Ryder Cup bubble with a good performance this week in Ohio. Fowler, last year's runner-up here, is currently 10th in the standings. Johnson, currently 12th, enters off a T-9 finish at the British Open, while Stricker, currently 15th, will look to build upon two top-10 finishes in his last three trips to Firestone CC.

Tune in to Golf Channel Thursday-Sunday from 6:30P-8:30P ET for coverage of the Reno-Tahoe Open.

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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.