Davison Leads Tough Day at Sun City
Davison signed for a round of 4-under-par 68 at the Lost City Golf Club to lead by one over the trio of German Sven Struver, Jean Hugo and Chris Williams, who also all played the Lost City course on Thursday. The first two rounds of the tournament are played on both the Lost City and Gary Player Country Club courses, with the final two rounds played solely at the Gary Player Country Club course.
But on a day when both courses took their toll on the field, the Lost City layout yielded far more easily than Gary Players other collection of fairways down the road. The leading score there was 2-under-par 70, held by a collection of players including Nick Price, twice a winner of this event.
Nicholas Lawrence crumbled to an 11 on the par-5 18th, which traditionally plays as the ninth but the nines have been switched for this event, and Lebo Ramukosi signed for a 12 on the same hole. Veteran professionals Nico van Rensburg and Justin Hobday were other more surprising victims of the Gary Player Country Club course.
Van Rensburg, who was in contention for the South African Airways Open, signed for a first round of 82, while Hobday carded an uncharacteristic 85 including a back nine of 48. Only 15 players managed to break par on Thursday. Of those, only five came from the Gary Player Country Club course.
But thats not to say it was a walk in the park for the likes of Davison and company at the Lost City course. If you miss the fairways here, weve got a golf competition on our hands because the ball just disappears in the kikuyu. If youd offered me a 68 at 5:30 this morning, I would have gladly taken it, Davison said. The greens were a bit slow which will make things tough on us in the second round because we go from these slow greens to the much quicker ones at the Gary Player Country Club for the second round.
Davison, who last week claimed a hole-in-one during the dunhill championship at Houghton, came close to two holes-in-one during his round on Thursday. At the par-3 13th Davisons 7-iron pitched once and hit the back of the cup, rolling back to 12 feet from where he made birdie. He used the same club on the par-3 15th, with the ball finishing inches form the cup for a tap-in birdie there.
Im going to have to re-grip that club I used it so much today, said Davison, whose last and only win on the Tour since 1994 was in the 1999 Vodacom Players Championship at Royal Durban Golf Club.
Rd. 1 Scores:
68 - Chris Davison
69 - Sven Struver (GER), Chris Williams (ENG), Jean Hugo
70 - Joachim Backstrom (SWE), Albert Kruger, Brett Liddle, Callie Swart, Nick Price, Grant Muller
71 - Adilson da Silva (BRA), David Frost, Warrick Druian, Omar Sandys, Bradford Vaughan
72 - Alan Michell, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Darren Fichardt, Etienne Bond, Andr Bossert (SUI), Mark Mouland (WAL), Doug McGuigan (SCO), Andrew McLardy, Louis Oosthuizen, Keith Horne, Andrew Butterfield (ENG)
73 - Scott Dunlap (USA), Wickus Myburgh, Marco Gortana, Bobby Lincoln, Dean van Staden, Steve van Vuuren, Ben Mason (ENG), Dijon Tintinger; Sean Ludgater, Titch Moore, Wallie Coetsee, Stuart Manley (WAL), Bruce Vaughan, Michiel Bothma
74 - Kevin Stone, Alan McLean (SCO), Vaughn Groenewald, Robbie Stewart, Gerlou Roux, Johan Edfors (SWE), Divan van den Heever, James Hepworth (ENG), David Dixon (ENG), John Mashego, Shaun Norris, Henk Alberts, Craig Lile, Niki Ferrari (GER)
75 - Derek Crawford (SCO), Simon Hurd (ENG), Obed Sithole, Mawonga Nomwa, Shane Pringle (ZIM), William Morgan (ENG), Thomas Aiken, Roger Wessels, Ulrich van den Berg, Sandeep Grewel (ENG), Nikki Zitny (AUT), Richard Mudd (US), Mike Michel
76 - Schalk van der Merwe (NAM), Dougie McCabe, Nico Le Grange, James Kamte, Mike Lamb (ZIM), Cliffie Howes, Andr Cruse, David Carter (ENG), Ian Palmer, Desvonde Botes, Ciaran McMonagle (IRL), Ryan Reid, Mark Murless, Makhosonke Mlotshwa, Steve Basson, Lindani Ndwandwe, Richard Sterne, Michael Kirk, Joseph Daley (US), Bafana Hlophe, Barry Painting (ZIM)
77 - Steven Waltman, Michael Scholz, Anil Shah (KEN), Gary Thain, Travis Frazer (ZIM), Lee Slattery (ENG), Colm Moriarty (IRE), Des Terblanche, Nicolas Lawrence, Sean Farrell (ZIM), Marc Cayeux (ZIM), Bradley Davison, Ian Kennedy, Ian Hutchings, Nic Henning, Deon Fourie
78 - John Bele, Jeff Inglis (ENG), Sammy Daniels, Jean van Zuydan, Thabang Simon
79 - Lewis Atkinson (ENG), Johan Geldenhuys, Brandon Pieters, Alexander Mogridge, Tyrol Auret, Clinton Whitelaw, Hennie Walters
80 - Alain Norris, David Ryan, Padraig Dooley (IRE)
81 - Michael McGill, Stevie Phytides, Wilhelm Winsnes
82 - Nico van Rensburg
83 - Gavan Levenson
85 - Justin Hobday, Teboho Sefatsa
86 - Eddie Lombard, Stephen Moloi
87 - Forster Sikolobo, Jason Jackson (ZIM)
88 - Irvin Mosate, Lebo Ramukosi
89 - Peter Msiza DSQ - Eugen Marugi, Ashley Roestoff
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.