Murless Grabs First-Round Lead in Zambia

By Golf Channel NewsroomMarch 7, 2002, 5:00 pm
Sunshine TourSouth African Mark Murless held on to his early lead to top the leaderboard after the first round of the Stanbic Zambia Open at the Lusaka Golf Club Thursday.
Murless is seeking to claim his first victory in more than five years after winning the Platinum Classic in 1996. He opened with an 8-under-par 65 and holds a one-shot advantage over compatriot Rudi Whitfield.
His nine birdies were marred only by one bogey at the third hole.
'I am happy with my round, although the bogey at 3 was frustrating,' said a delighted Murless after his round.
'I hooked my tee shot into the trees on the left and tried to play a fancy shot out, only to hit a tree on the way. I was lucky the ball spun into the fairway off the tree. I hit a sandwedge to the green and then missed about four foot putt for par.'
The 25-year-old birdied every second hole from the par-4 fifth to the par-3 16th, where he added an eighth and finished with his ninth birdie of the day on the final hole.
Murless has been experiencing a return to form lately with solid
performances toward the end of the summer tour. He finished joint eventh in the Nashua Masters and joint eighth in The Tour Championship.
'My fiancee, Joanne Uys, sat me down for a good talk just before the Nashua Masters,' explained Murless.
'She reminded me of the reasons why I started playing this game. Basically, I had forgotten to have fun out there. Instead, I was
obsessing all the time about problems around my game. I didn't enjoy
playing anymore and hated the travelling.
'Since we are getting married on the 30th of March, I'd better start making some money to support her!' he joked.
Whitfield also stumbled at the third for his only bogey of the day, but recovered well for a run of birdies that started on the fourth and continued through Nos. 6, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18.
Murless's nearest challengers are Whitfield at 7-under and a group of four on 6-under-par, including Craig Cowper and Denny Lucas from England and South Africans Hennie Otto and Andre Cruse.
The highlight of the day belonged to Cruse, who celebrated the anniversary the hole-in-one prize he won in last year's tournament with another today.
The South African hit a 6-iron from 170 yards into the wind on the 16th tee straight into the hole.
'I am shocked. We were all so shocked!', said a delighted Cruse after his round. 'Last year Ulrich van den Berg and I were 'hi-fiving' each other, but today we just looked at each other in utter disbelief!'
Almost one year since he left with a Nissan Terrano 4 X 4 after holing the par-3 11th, Cruse will drive from Lusaka, but this time in a Toyota worth approximately $15,000.
Simon Hurd and Gary Birch Jr. of England, Germany's Kariem Baraka and South Africans Titch Moore, Thabang Simon, Brett Liddle and Michiel Bothma are all at 5-under par 65.
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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.