Barclays featured groups: Day, DJ, Scott out early

By Will GrayAugust 23, 2016, 5:29 pm

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – A total of 121 players will kick off the FedEx Cup Playoffs Thursday as The Barclays returns to Bethpage Black for the first time since 2012. Here are some early-round groupings to keep an eye on, as world No. 1 Jason Day defends his title (all times ET):

7:42 a.m. Thursday, 12:22 p.m. Friday: Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, Kyle Reifers

Rose will make his first start since winning the gold medal in Rio, entering the postseason at No. 51 in the FedEx Cup standings. He’ll be joined for the first two rounds by Johnson, who was one of the few marquee names at the John Deere Classic while Rose played in Brazil, and Reifers, whose consistency this season included five top-10s and eight top-25s in 31 starts.

8:15 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na

Reed enters this week squarely on the Ryder Cup bubble, clinging to the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot by less than $31,000 over J.B. Holmes. Mickelson will be making his first start since the PGA Championship on a course where he finished second in both the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open. After a top-10 at Wyndham, Na will look to bolster his FedEx Cup standing before skipping next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship for the birth of his first child.

8:26 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott

The top three players in the FedEx Cup standing have combined for seven wins this season, and the trio is headlined by Day who won this event last year at Plainfield Country Club. All three players are coming off a bit of a break, having last played at Baltusrol. Johnson finished T-3 the last time this event was staged at Bethpage four years ago, while Scott has only one top-10 finish since his back-to-back wins in Florida earlier this season.

12:44 p.m. Thursday, 8:04 a.m. Friday: Rory McIlroy, Harris English, Daniel Summerhays

McIlroy returns this week to Bethpage, where he finished T-10 at the 2009 U.S. Open at age 22. Like many big names, he’s had the last three weeks off and will return to competition alongside English, whose best finish this season was a runner-up at Colonial, and Summerhays, who qualified for the Masters with his third-place finish at Baltusrol.

1:06 p.m. Thursday, 8:26 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Russell Knox, Brandt Snedeker

Spieth will begin the defense of his FedEx Cup title Thursday as he makes his first professional start at Bethpage. He’ll play the first two rounds alongside another FedEx Cup champ in Snedeker, who took a big step toward securing a Ryder Cup berth with his T-3 finish last week. Rounding out the group will be Knox, who put himself firmly in the discussion for one of Darren Clarke’s three selections with his win earlier this month at the Travelers Championship.

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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.