Fowler outlasts Kuchar, Jacquelin at Scottish Open

By Jason CrookJuly 12, 2015, 7:14 pm

Rickie Fowler earned his second big worldwide victory of the year on Sunday, finishing with a flurry of birdies to win the Scottish Open by one stroke over Matt Kuchar and Raphael Jacquelin.

The leaderboard: Rickie Fowler (-12), Matt Kuchar (-11), Raphael Jacquelin (-11), Marc Warren (-10), Eddie Pepperell (-10), Joost Luiten (-10)

What it means: With the victory, Fowler cemented his status as one of the favorites at next week’s Open Championship, and as a player who can close out tournaments, instead of a guy known more for his flashy clothes than his game, a stigma he’s carried since turning pro in 2010. Now he will try to go after the “Mickelson double” by following up his Scottish Open victory by hoisting the claret jug just seven days later, an accomplishment Lefty pulled off in 2013.   

Round of the day: Quite a few players carded scores better than Fowler’s 2-under 68 on Sunday, but the 26-year-old earned this honor by the way he finished his round. After making a bogey on the par-4 14th, Fowler suddenly needed a comeback reminiscent of his Sunday at The Players in May, and he delivered. Fowler birdied three of his final four holes, including the 72nd hole where he hit a wedge from 102 yards to a couple feet from the flagstick. That final circle put him a stroke ahead of Matt Kuchar, who was in the clubhouse at 11 under and hoping to get into a playoff.

Best of the rest: Scotland’s own Marc Warren carded a 6-under 64 that included an inward nine of 30, moving up 41 spots to T-4 in the process. Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg moved up 57 spots with a 64 of his own. His T-10 finish gets him into the Open Championship. Jacquelin (70) and Brooks (73) earned the other two spots available for the year’s third major.

Biggest disappointment: Brooks can take solace in the fact that he earned his way into the Open this week, but he blew a great chance at his second European Tour win, and first since the shortened 2014 Madeira Islands Open, which was marred by the death of a caddie. The 28-year-old Englishman came into the day leading by one, but got off to a rough start with a bogey on the first hole and never recovered, making only one birdie in a final-round 73.

Shot of the day: Fowler’s wedge on the final hole pretty much clinched his fourth worldwide win, but he got a scare while in the scorer’s tent when Jacquelin nearly did him one better. Needing an eagle on the final hole to force a playoff, the Frenchman nearly holed his approach shot, leaving a kick-in for birdie to finish one back.

Main storyline heading into the Open: Jordan Spieth is grabbing all the headlines in the U.S., and rightfully so, but Fowler, who had missed two straight cuts coming into the Scottish Open has once again forced himself into the conversation of “best young players.” It would be hard to bet against him if he’s in contention on Sunday at St. Andrews, especially considering his strong play on links courses even before this week. He finished T-2 at the Open Championship last year.

Quote of the day: “I had to really dig deep, made some good swings coming in … and saved the best swings for last.” – Fowler.

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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.