Quit Not in Players Vocabulary

By George WhiteAugust 25, 2004, 4:00 pm
On Nov. 1, he will be 70 years old. He stopped aging at 60 ' his looks and general fitness take on the appearance of a man at least 10 years younger. Hes a professional golfer ' has been for 50 years. And hes equaled or broken his age six times already this year ' on courses set up for men 20 years younger.
 
Hes Gary Player. And at nearly 70, hes still hitting drivers a shade under 250 yards.
 
Player stood on the edge of the driving range at the Champions Tours Hickory Classic last week and laced a succession of fairway woods on a straight line over bunkers 220 yards distant. His swing was flat, Hogan-esque, and repeated itself time after time. His 155-pound frame moved easily into the ball, almost without effort.
 
How far would he have hit drives in his prime in say, 1965, if he had the same equipment as he does today? If I average 250 today, I would have averaged 285 back then, said Player.
 
Its the head, the shaft, the ball and the agronomy. They are all so much better. No, I would probably have hit it 50 yards further in my heyday. Larry Nelson says (he) hits the ball 50 yards further, and many guys hit it 50, 60 yards further.
 
But advancing age has robbed him of strength, and all the workouts and exercise in the world wont give that back. Hes lost the equivalent of about three clubs distance off what he had in the 60s ' if he were using similar, high-tech equipment then and now. But he still has a goal ' and he thinks it is an achievable goal.
 
I love playing golf, he says. I'm trying to be the first person in America to ever win in six decades. Im still athletic enough to win. I haven't been playing particularly well this year, but golf changes in a matter of seconds, minutes. You can find something, and I'm still a very good putter and I can still play reasonably well. I've got an outside chance to do it.
 
Player concedes it is a 1-in-100 chance, maybe 1-in-a-1000, but its still a chance. His best finish this year was a tie for 24th in the Outback Steakhouse tournament in Tampa. He finished at 4-under par. To win, he probably needs to finish at least 10-under.
 
His last victory on the Champions Tour came six years ago, at the rather advanced age of 63. He has steadily been chalking them up, though, on the Georgia-Pacific Grand Champions ' a category of the Champions Tour reserved for players aged 60 and over. He already has 11 of those, the last coming a couple of years ago in 2002.
 
He does it, he says, because its what he was raised to do. And nothing has prepared him to experience people like the travels of a professional golfer.
 
I'm not only going to continue events like this, I'm going to continue the tour, Player says. I love people, and I love travel. I find it - well, it's without a question the best education that one can obtain, better than any college degree or university. I enjoy traveling and I'm designing a lot of golf courses, over 200 golf courses around the world, visiting a lot to mainland China, Poland, Bulgaria, a lot of countries that I never went to to learn their traditions. In Qatar, in the Middle East, you learn an awful lot, and I love it.
 
I'm very pleased I played when I did play because I mixed more than the average man in the street. I mixed in at country clubs and had dinners and I dined with the members. I had a different life, and I'm pleased I came along when I did.
 
Player won 24 times on the PGA Tour. And he has won 53 times in his world travels. But even he says that, to win again on the Champions Tour, that seems a little far-fetched.
 
The rest of the world has no idea just how tough it is to win on this Champions Tour, he said. You've got a short window to do it. You've got a maximum of eight years to do it. And when I tell people that, they think I'm a bit nuts.
 
Most people probably would agree that his sanity is a bit suspect when he mentions winning in the seventh decade of life. Player realizes it, too. But dont ever think that the idea is off the charts in his mind. Gary Player has faced more unbelievable obstacles. And, he has overcome them.
 
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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.