D. Johnson among co-leaders at wind-swept Doral

By Will GrayMarch 7, 2014, 11:14 pm

With gusting winds and firm conditions, the WGC-Cadillac Championship turned into a test of survival Friday afternoon. Here's how things look after two rounds at blustery Trump National Doral, where Dustin Johnson shares the lead with Patrick Reed, Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar heading into the weekend:

Leaderboard: Dustin Johnson (-1), Patrick Reed (-1), Hunter Mahan (-1), Matt Kuchar (-1), Graeme McDowell (Even), Francesco Molinari (Even), Rory McIlroy (Even), Jamie Donaldson (Even)

What it means: With the first round completed amid difficult conditions Friday morning, the only winner on the day was the Blue Monster course itself. Players were consistently baffled in Miami, with a field of just 68 players combining to put a whopping 113 balls into the water during the second round. Only four players have bettered par through two rounds, and a crowded leaderboard means that 10 players will start the third round within two shots of the lead.

Round of the day: On a day when no one broke 70, Jamie Donaldson put together the low round by carding only one bogey despite the windy conditions. The Welshman birdied two of his first six holes and then added another circle on the par-5 eighth, where he made birdie despite an errant drive forcing him to roll up his pants and play his second shot while standing in a lake. The 2-under 70 took Donaldson to even for the week and within two shots of the lead.

Best of the rest: McDowell has a U.S. Open title to his credit, so it's no surprise that he's again near the lead at an event where pars are at a premium. Like Donaldson, the Ulsterman made just one bogey Friday and countered it with two birdies en route to a 1-under 71 that got him back to even through 36 holes. McDowell didn't drop a shot until No. 6, his 15th hole of the round.

Biggest disappointment: Luke Donald opened with a solid 2-under 70 in the first round, but things fell apart for the Englishman in Round 2. Donald failed to make a single birdie, but he did card both a double bogey and a triple bogey; it all added up to a 10-over 82 for the former world No. 1, who slipped from the first page of the leaderboard into a tie for 50th.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: If winds die down as the forecast indicates, this tournament remains up for grabs. In addition to the logjam at the top, with eight players separated by just a single shot, two notable names - Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson - remain within striking distance, just six shots back in a tournament that both probably felt was lost at some point Friday afternoon.

Shot of the day: Not much went right Friday for Woods, who carded a 1-over 73 in the second round. A rare bright spot, though, came at the par-3 fourth hole, where Woods knocked in a 92-foot putt for birdie. It marks the longest made putt on Tour this year, and the seventh-longest since on Tour since 2003.

Quote of the day: "I've never played in a major before, but I hear they're set up really tough. I'm guessing that's what it's set up for." - Reed

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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.