Estes Quietly Sneaks Up on Tour Money List

By George WhiteOctober 16, 2001, 4:00 pm
Okay now, this is getting serious. While we were all talking about Tiger or Mickelson or Duval, the Ryder Cup or Sergio, this guy has just been quietly going about his business.
 
Uh ' dont look now, but he just won a tournament. Again.
 
Bob Estes came from five back to take the Invensys at Las Vegas Classic. To win on those three Las Vegas courses would require just a ton of birdies, youre probably thinking. And Estes did ' he shot a 9-under-par 63 Sunday, the fifth day of this hole-out binge. That makes 17 straight rounds in the 60s for him. The Air Canada, the Bell Canadian Open, the Texas Open and now Las Vegas ' you have to go back to the PGA Championship to find a score in the 70s.
 
And he won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. Somebody better do something quickly before things get out of hand here. While we were out napping, someone came in and cleaned up.
 
Im finding my game, Estes said simply. And the golf world is finding him, at the rather advanced age of 35.
 
Actually, Estes was on the verge of breaking through in 1994, when he was 14th on the money list. He suddenly found he couldnt drive it in the same county as the golf course, however, and sank as low as No. 149 in 1997. Maybe, he surmises, it was the new technology that finally caught up with him. Titanium was the culprit, unlikely as that may seem to you and me.
 
Like everybody else ' they came out with these graphite shafts, big titanium heads, he said. He also was playing a 44-inch driver, while he now is playing one almost an inch shorter, at 43- inches.
 
Theres guys that I think have been knocked off the Tour because of that one club, he said at the FedEx. All of these titanium drivers are designed for higher-handicapped players. They are not designed for the good player and the professional. I think some of them are finally beginning to realize that.
 
But going shorter and heavier is just ' you feel like you cant miss a fairway.
 
Estes also threatens to make a move that is REAL heresy ' going back to persimmon heads. They dont look too good, but they sure do hit good, he says.
 
He mentioned Mike Hulbert, whose problems with an erratic driver finally cost him his Tour card. One club can do it to you, he said. Thats the one youre going to spend the most time with as far as the full swing ' the driver.
 
Estes decided to use one more throwback to get his game untracked ' the 10-finger baseball grip. In his time of desperation, he finally had to consider it. He had tried everything else ' everything. Couldnt he try one thing more?
 
I just hit the ball so much more solidly that way, Estes said. He resisted, but finally he just did it. He had to wait until he got the driver dilemma straightened out. When he got the war club solved, though, he made the change. One thing he had to do to compensate is to use larger grips. But he found he made a much better swing at the ball than he had using the overlap.
 
Without going into too much detail, it (the overlap) just didnt work as well for me, he said. I can get into a better setup position and make a better golf swing with the 10-finger grip.
 
What has followed has been an unending string of scores in the 60s. He finished in a tie for eighth at Air Canada, tied for second in the Canadian Open and tied for fourth in the Texas Open before winning at Las Vegas. Thats $1,358,425 in those last four starts, an average of almost $340,000 a start, and he has ever-so-quietly moved into the ninth spot on the money list.
 
Tiger hasnt played since the PGA. David Duval hasnt won since the British Open, Phil Mickelson since Hartford. Meanwhile, Estes has grabbed a bundle in the last month, playing a very old-style game ' new head, new grip, new length.
 
Whats new with him? Nothing. Simply nothing.
 

 
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.