Stock Watch: Great to be Spieth; Rough time for Davis

By Ryan LavnerJune 23, 2015, 2:57 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jordan Spieth (+10%): He won with flawless golf at Augusta, and now ugly golf at Chambers Bay. The strength of his game is that he has no weaknesses.

Grand Slam talk (+8%): As if a return to St. Andrews wasn’t exciting enough – Rory’s defense, Watson’s farewell, the Home of Golf for goodness’ sake – we now have the possibility (likelihood?) of Spieth nailing down the year’s first three majors. Whoa. 

Jason Day (+6%): They won’t make a movie out of his gutsy week at the Open, but to finish in the top 10 at the toughest major, on one of the most grueling walks of the year (eight miles, 195 feet of elevation change), with those symptoms, was a remarkable feat.

King Louie (+5%): Would he have won in a rout if he weren’t paired with Tiger? Only half kidding, because that sweet swing was grooved at Chambers. Just in time for his St. Andrews Open defense.

Michael Greller (+4%): Spieth’s caddie was so popular at Chambers Bay, he purposely kept his head down to avoid getting distracted by all of the reminders from his past, including his former students and principal. A well-deserved, full-circle journey for one of the game’s good dudes.

Steve Williams (+3%): OK, so Chambers’ greens didn’t reward the best putters, but surely it’s not just a coincidence that Adam Scott challenged for a major with Stevie back on the bag. He’ll be a force the rest of the year.


FALLING

Branden Grace (-1%): One of golf’s most underrated talents missed only two fairways Sunday, but his foul ball on 16 was one of the worst shots of the week – at least 50 yards right of where he was aiming.

DJ (-3%): Gotta feel for Johnson, who had almost no chance to hole that lightning-fast eagle putt. He is the sport’s Teflon man, but this close call will hurt even more than his other near-misses.

Phil’s Grand Slam hopes (-4%): Chambers was his last best chance to win that elusive Open, and he got his annual flirtation out of the way on Thursday. As he gets more crooked off the tee, his only other reasonable opportunity is Erin Hills in 2017. He’ll be 47. 

Tiger (-5%): Another start, another worst-ever performance. Maybe he’s done. Maybe he’s not. But his fall from grace has been so dramatic, how incredible would it be if he were to once again come back and win?

Chambers Bay (-6%): The course is spectacular visually and a blast to play under normal conditions, but it proved to be seriously flawed for an Open: the USGA wasn’t as forthcoming about the quality of the greens as it should have been, and the spectator experience was one of the worst this scribe has ever witnessed. Rare is the Open one-off, but many obstacles remain before another major comes back to University Place. 

Mike Davis (-8%): Though he should be applauded for dialing up a lively Sunday setup, it’s clear now that he plays too prominent of a role at the year’s second major. With so much pent-up frustration with the USGA – the past failures, the anchor ban, the pre-Chambers bluster – this was a make-or-break Open for Davis and Co. He seemed to lose many players’ trust, perhaps for good.   

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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.