Stenson Leads Asian Open Monty in Hunt

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
European TourSHANGHAI, China -- Sweden's Henrik Stenson posted a 5-under-par 67 on Thursday to take the first-round lead of the BMW Asian Open.
 
Jean van de Velde, the winner of this year's Madeira Island Open and the man who famously threw away the 1999 British Open, and Stephen Gallacher are knotted in second place at 4-under-par 68.
 
Eight-time Order of Merit champion Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn, Peter Lawrie, Marcus Fraser, Frankie Minoza and this year's Malaysian Open winner Charlie Wi are tied for fourth place at minus-3 at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club.
 
Stenson, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 15, began on the 10th tee Thursday and collected his first birdie one hole later at the par-4 11th.
 
He added back-nine birdies at 13 and 16 to make the turn at 3-under-par 33.
 
The 30-year-old, who vaulted up the world rankings thanks to a runner-up finish at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, then a win at his next start, the Qatar Masters, promptly traded a birdie and a bogey at the second and third holes.
 
Stenson rebounded at the fifth with a birdie to reach 4 under par. He found water at the seventh hole, but was able to get up and down and save an unlikely par.
 
Stenson birdied the par-3 eighth to separate himself and take sole possession of the lead.
 
'It was dead calm,' said the Swedish Stenson, referring to the optimum scoring conditions in Thursday's opening round. 'The greens are putting well and the sun is shining.'
 
Stenson's start of the 2006 campaign rocketed him up the world rankings, but things have since cooled for the three-time winner on the European Tour. It might have to do with his relocation.
 
He went to the United States to prepare for The Masters, and despite a tie for third place at The Players Championship, struggled. Stenson made the cut at the Nissan Open, but tied for 77th. He tied for 17th at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, played well at Sawgrass, then missed the cut in back- to-back weeks at the BellSouth Classic and at Augusta.
 
Stenson, who tied for 20th last week at the China Open, believes Thursday's play could be a stepping stone in returning to the winner's circle again this season.
 
'I had birdie chances on virtually every hole and knocked a few of them in,' said Stenson. 'Hopefully we're moving in the right direction and I can keep it up tomorrow.'
 
Van de Velde also started on the back nine Thursday and was 4 under through his first 11 holes. He made a 'silly' bogey at the eighth hole, but atoned for the miscue with a three-foot birdie putt at the ninth to get within one of the lead.
 
'The conditions were ideal and I knew it was a morning to put it together if you could,' said Van de Velde.
 
Gallacher birdied three in a row from the 11th, his second hole, and reached 5 under par thanks to back-to-back birdies from the first. He bogeyed No. 4 and parred out his remaining holes to join Van de Velde in second place.
 
Paul Lawrie, who went on to victory at that 1999 British Open, Francois Delamontagne, Alessandro Tadini, Ted Oh, Wen-chong Liang, Scott Drummond, Boonchu Ruangkit and Chapchai Nirat tied for 10th place at 2-under-par 70.
 
The Golf Channel will televise all four rounds beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. (ET).
 
Related Links:
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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.