Daly switching putters in effort to spark Sunday run

By Mercer BaggsMay 7, 2016, 9:42 pm

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – John Daly made a 25-foot putt on Saturday at the last. At last.

“I needed that one,” he said walking off the green. “First one I’ve made today.”

Daly birdied the par-4 18th in Round 2 of the Insperity Invitational to finish off a 1-over 73. He dropped to 1 under for the event, tied for 21st and six off the lead held by Jesper Parnevik and Jeff Maggert.

Prior to the start of the tournament, Daly lamented his short game, particularly his putting. After needing 31 putts on Day 1, he took 35 on Day 2 – and that’s with three less greens hit in regulation.

Daly continued to strike the ball well, finding 11 fairways and 13 greens. But that putter …

"It was kind of like yesterday. I didn't hit it real close today, but the wind was a little tricky on the back nine," Daly said.

"But, all in all, I hung in there. I mean, I had some opportunities."

That putter won’t see the light of day tomorrow. Daly said he is switching out this Scotty Cameron 8802 model with a heavier version for Sunday’s final round.

"This one is a little lighter and the greens are quick. I feel like my stroke is getting a little long. It might be decelerating," he said. "So I have one that's a lot heavier that might shorten my stroke. Maybe I can hit my putts a little more on line tomorrow, I hope."

Daly also said he might be a little more aggressive, using driver on a couple of extra holes. He’s stuck to a game plan of five drivers and nine irons off the tee box, on par 4s and 5s, for each of his first two rounds. That's one of the few similarities between Saturday and Friday.

If the Day 1 vibe was festive, Day 2 was business. Daly’s debut included an introductory cake and the presentation of a bottle of vodka on the first tee. There were lots of laughs along the way, playing alongside good friends Peter Jacobsen and Fuzzy Zoeller.

Daly was grouped with Kevin Sutherland and Esteban Toledo in Round 2.

"Kevin and Esteban are great guys, but they are not  they are totally different than Peter and Fuzzy. Everybody is. But they are great guys. I enjoyed playing with them," Daly said.

There was also a noticeable difference in the crowd. The gallery off the first tee wasn’t quite as deep and the following not quite as long, as on Friday. There were more khakis and solids than garish garb.

But it was still an impressive gathering, with hundreds watching Daly. He got off to a great start with a birdie at the par-5 first. He parred his way to the eighth, where the previous round he made birdie. This time he made bogey. He then bogeyed the ninth, which he had also birdied on Day 1. And then came two more bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11.

"Just bad execution, bad chips, bad putts," Daly said of the four dropped shots in four holes.

After steadying himself with three consecutive pars, Daly birdied the par-5 15th with two putts and then made the lengthy one to cap things off.

“Longest putt I’ve made so far on the Champions Tour,” he said.

It’s been a long week for the freshly-turned 50-year-old. He’s played six consecutive rounds, dating back to a quartet of pro-ams to begin his week.

After signing his scorecard and signing every autograph he possibly could, Daly said he was ready for an early night – after fulfilling one more sponsor obligation, of course.

"I'm going to cook out for the Loudmouth people," he said, "and then I'm going to bed."

He'll have plenty of time to sleep in. Daly tees off at 12:58 p.m. ET with Billy Andrade and Mark O'Meara in the final round.

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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.