Leaders never tee off Saturday at PGA Championship

By Ryan LavnerJuly 30, 2016, 9:54 pm

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Another PGA Championship at Baltusrol is likely headed toward a Monday finish after afternoon thunderstorms wiped out third-round play before the leaders even finished their warmup.

The horn sounded at 2:15 p.m. ET Saturday, with tournament officials optimistic that the delay would last about an hour. Instead, it turned into an all-day affair, with play eventually called at 5:46 p.m.

The third round will resume at 7 a.m. Sunday, when the forecast is no less ominous – there is at least a 65-percent chance of storms from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. The final round is slated to begin at 8:40 a.m., keeping the same pairings as Round 3 and going off the first tee.

If there are no further delays – a big if, given the forecast – then a winner could still be crowned Sunday evening.

“We do have Monday as an option, to continue into Monday if need be,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s chief championships officer, “but our primary aim is to try and finish tomorrow evening.” 

This PGA is already beginning to resemble the last time the championship came here, in 2005. That year, an exciting final round was twice delayed by afternoon thunderstorms – which the forecast called for and the PGA ignored – pushing the event into a Monday-morning finish in front of few fans.

Though it escaped Friday with only a 41-minute delay because of weather, the PGA clearly botched the tee times for the 86 players in the third round; even as early as Friday evening, the next-day forecast called for storms to arrive in the area at about 2 p.m. Saturday.

Rather than start early in threesomes off split tees, the PGA followed tradition and sent out the final group of Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb at 2:55 p.m., hoping to deliver a 7 p.m. finish for TV partner CBS.

Haigh said that the possibility of a two-tee start was not even “significantly discussed,” because the forecast for Saturday was not dissimilar to the past two days, when they dodged summer storms. 

“It’s a major championship, and we want it to be ran and perform as a major championship,” he said. “We feel it’s important for all the players, in an ideal world, to play from the first tee and play the holes in order.” 

When play was suspended at 2:15 p.m., only 37 players had finished their third round, with Kevin Kisner and Padraig Harrington pacing the field with 65s. Most annoyed should be Marc Leishman, who marked his 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole just as the horn sounded.

Ten players, or five groups, have yet to begin their round.

“I was a little surprised they didn’t do threesomes,” Streb said. “I don’t know if they would have gotten done, but they would have been close. But it’s not our tournament to run, it’s theirs.” 

Haigh said that the weather Sunday morning will determine whether they re-pair for the final round. If not, it could produce a scenario in which the back half of the field plays in wildly different conditions than the leaders. 

“That will be an interesting dynamic, for sure,” he said. 

Baltusrol has already been pounded by more than four inches of rain since Monday. Because of the soft conditions, Walker and Streb (on the strength of a Friday 63) posted a two-round total of 9-under 131, which tied for the championship record for low 36-hole score. Before play was suspended, a handful of players, including Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, predicted that someone would challenge the major barrier and shoot 62 (or lower), based on the receptive conditions and gettable hole locations for the third round.

Now, the wait will continue into Sunday – or later.

For more news and information regarding the action at Baltusrol follow along with the official PGA Championship app.

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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.