Clarke Enters - And Exits - Laughing

By George WhiteFebruary 19, 2002, 5:00 pm
Darren Clarke looked remarkably wide-awake at 8 in the morning for a man who treasures his sleep. He should be adjusted to the new wake-up hours by now, having played on the West Coast at Los Angeles last week (he missed the cut.) The eight hours time difference from his bed back home in Ireland doesnt seem so bad, though. The big fella still loves his shut-eye, his pastries and the good life.
Work-out is a phrase that hasnt caught on with him yet. The rest of the Accenture field was busy in the La Costa spa with the weights and bikes and gut-busting paraphernalia, but not Darren. He chuckled at the mention of the words weight loss.
Youve got to get the flu or something, get a tummy bug, thats the easiest way, he said, contemplating the prospect of weight reduction. And this winter, he had to admit that occasionally he had lost a pound or two. Ive been sick a little bit, he said, then laughed.
Clarke, who seems to do everything with extreme good nature, said he has no idea what his weight is. He looked to be about 240, give or take a few Twinkies, but professed ignorance as to the exact number.
I dont know ' it varies, he said. I have been doing a little stretching with John, the guy I was working last year. But I havent been doing an awfully lot.
Clarke, it must be said, walks about five miles every time he plays a round of golf. And it must be said that he was one of two men who played six rounds at this tournament ' the last round 36 holes - the last time it was played at La Costa, in 2000. The other was a gent named Tiger Woods. Oh ' the big guy won.
I was just walking around without a care in the world, Clarke remembered that day when he won, 4 and 2. Walked around, smoking a cigar and having a nice time on the golf course and that was it. It wasnt as if I was trying ' I mean, I was trying, but I didnt FEEL as if I was trying.
Clarke sighed. I wish it was that easy all the time, he said. Clarke, you see, at times has as much talent as anybody in the world. At times he looks absolutely unbeatable. Such is the ability of this big man. If you had to come up with a golfer to define streaky, Darren Clarke would be your man.
For all his size, Clarke is not a particularly big hitter. But he can be a great iron player. That was never more apparent than that day in 2000, when every second shot seemed to be right on the pin.
It was always me hitting first, he said, noting that he was forever further from the flag after the drive. So it was always me hitting first, so it was never really that much pressure on me hitting shots into the green.
Thats one of those things, if you can get in really close and put pressure on them. And because I was swinging particularly well that week, I was able to do. I missed very few greens that whole week.
Woods agreed. Every time he looked, another shot was in the shadow of the flagstick.
He didnt make many putts, Tiger noted. But he didnt have to.
Meaning, of course, that so many approaches were up next to their target that Clarke didnt have to spend much time lining up putts. The big guy knocked em close, then tapped em in.
That was supposed to signal a new Clarkie, one that was competing for world No. 1. That hasnt happened, of course.
The game ' youre continually learning, learning about my swing and what shots I should take on at the right time. Making the right decisions is the hardest part, he said.
I would not say that Im very good at that most of the time.
Thats a big confession. But it is the nature of this big man. Honesty ' and having a good time ' are the very best policies.
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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x