Am Tour: Erdman shoots tournament record 66 to climb back into contention

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 22, 2015, 6:06 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Not only is this the largest Championship flight in recent years at Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship, it's delivered some of the tournament's most spectacular scores.

Jordan Massey, who we profiled earlier this week, carded a 36-hole tournament record (68-69=137). Then, in round three on the Stadium Course at PGA West, two-time National Champion Paul Erdman, from Erie, Colo., shot a tournament record single round score of 66. 

After an opening round 79, which the Colorado resident chalked up to a failure to adjust to yardages at sea level, Erdman found his distances in Round 2 and arrived at Round 3, seemingly out of contention and totally relaxed. 

"I couldn't have dreamed there would be a 12-shot swing," said Erdman. "I kept making putts, making birdies. I had no idea I was 8-under going into 17."

Then, "Alcatraz", the famous island green on the Stadium, bit him. He found the water right and made a double bogey.

With the runaway leader Massey stumbling to a 78, Erdman, who won the Championship flight in 2011 at PGA West and 2014 in Scottsdale, is three shots back. That's the same deficit he had heading into the final round in '11.

Kody Conover rallies, guarantees victory 

You may remember Am Tour member Kody Conover, who Mike Bailey profiled in the 2014 National Championship in Scottsdale and was also featured in this Morning Drive feature by Rich Lerner:


 


Well, Kody is back at Nationals in 2015, having won two major tournaments (he won five tournaments in a row in 2014). Playing in the Sarazen flight (handicaps 12-15.9), he had high hopes for Nationals, but an opening round 103 set him considerably off the pace in his flight. His caddie and father Clifford said the round was simply a matter of ball position and perhaps being a little bit excited for the tournament.

But Kody has stormed back in the last two rounds. He shot a 94 in Round 2 and then went even lower with an 83 on the Palmer Course today.

He may be in 48th place and 37 shots off the lead heading into the final round, but as one of Am Tour's most prolific golfers, he's still plenty confident in his chances.

"That 103 I had was a bad round for me," said Conover. "But I'm going to come back and shoot a 61 to win."

Fireworks at the 15th

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There was plenty of hootin' and hollerin' at the par-3 14th hole of the Palmer Private course this afternoon in the Sarazen flight grouping of Mel Imad, David Holcomb and Jay Harjo.

Imad, from Virginia Beach, Va., aced the dramatic par-3 that plays along the side of the mountain. It was his first ever hole-in-one.

It was a group effort on the tee. Holcomb, playing first, hooked his tee shot into the bunker. Watching the shot, Imad then made the decision to play a little further right of the pin.

"I hit an easy 9-iron and aimed to the right," he said. "Hoping it will roll to the left. I hit it perfect, two feet right of the hole, it rolled left and disappeared."

As they arrived onto the green, a crowd had gathered and photos were taken. Even a bighorn sheep was perched above the green in the rocks.

Then Holcomb went down into the bunker and holed his shot for birdie, which sent all onlookers into a frenzy.

Well, maybe not the bighorn. They've been all over the Palmer and Nicklaus courses at PGA West recently, including this flock that wandered onto the first green of the Nicklaus course this afternoon: 

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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.