Acker-Macosko Qualifies For LPGA
In addition to Acker-Macosko, 26 other Futures Tour players qualified for the next year's LPGA Tour. Of that number, Soo Young Kim of Chung Nam, South Korea, Loraine Lambert of Queensland, Australia, Hilary Homeyer of Edina, Minn., and Young-A Yang of Taegu, South Korea, each placed among the top 23 to gain exempt status. Twenty-two other Futures Tour players received non-exempt conditional status by finishing among the next 35 players and ties.
Acker-Macosko, a nonexempt LPGA Tour member this past season, was tied for 10th with three other players after 54-holes with a 212 (-4), 11 shots short of Lovander. Her red hot front nine including four birdies on two, five, eight, and nine, draining respective 12, 20, 40, and 15-foot putts. Continuing on the back side, Acker-Macosko bogeyed 13, but followed up with a pair of birdies on 16 and 17. Despite an additional bogey on 18, she was able to finish with a four-under-par 68.
'It is just a relief that it is finally over,' beamed the 33-year-old Acker-Macosko after her round. 'I was very nervous yesterday, but today I felt good the minute I stepped onto the first tee. For the two weeks leading up to this tournament, I practiced with my two coaches, John Benson and my father Darrell and it really paid off. I came out this week completely focused and very positive. It is just an incredible feeling to get my exempt card again. I'm really looking forward to starting the season.'
In four tournaments on the Futures Tour last year, Acker-Macosko posted two top-10 finishes, including losing in a three-way playoff at the Coleman Golf Classic in Wichita, Kan. She finished 29th on the Tour's money list with $11,994. In 15 starts on the 2002 LPGA Tour, her best finish was a tie for 21st at the Kellogg-Keebler Classic in Chesterfield, Mo. Acker-Macosko's season earnings totaled $28,234.
Acker-Macosko has been a member of the LPGA Tour since 1996 and competed with exempt status in 1997 and 1999. In 2000, she played part time because she was recovering from knee surgery and took the entire 2001 season after giving birth to her son Ben. After nearly two years, Acker-Macosko finally returned this season as a full-time player and was joined by husband and caddie Ron and their son, Ben.
Acker-Macosko added, 'I had a really complicated birth and coming back this season, I really did not know what to expect of myself and how I would play. I could only practice three hours a week, while other players would do that in one day. I was juggling being a mom and a full-time professional golfer.
It was very difficult to get back to the level I was competing at with such minimal time to dedicate to my game. I knew it was going to be a really long year and I had to get used to a lot of adjustments.'
Despite being prepared and focused for this week's tournament, she felt even more pressure to reach her goal of gaining exempt status. Her husband Ron recently left his job as an athletic director at Concord College in West Virginia and they realized their only option was to earn a full exemption.
'Now that Ron is my full-time caddie, I really had no other choice but to get my exempt card back,' stated a relieved Acker-Macosko. 'That put a lot of pressure on the both of us, but we were able to handle it very well. We agreed that whatever happened would happen and we would deal with any outcome. Once I started playing, everything started to fall into place. Looking back to the beginning of last year, I can say that this is a great ending to a really bad dream.'
All 27 players who qualified this week accompany Futures Tour players Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, Christina Kim of San Jose, Calif., and Miriam Nagl of Berlin, Germany, as members of the 2003 LPGA Tour. The trio earned exempt status by placing among the top three on the Futures Tour Money List following the York Newspaper Company Futures Classic in mid-August.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.