Haas, Cink share Houston lead after 54 holes

By Will GrayMarch 30, 2013, 9:51 pm

After 54 holes, the leaderboard at the Shell Houston Open can be characterized by one word: crowded. Here's the skinny heading into the final round, where a pair of players share the lead at Redstone Golf Club:

The leaderboard: Bill Haas (-11), Stewart Cink (-11), D.A. Points (-10), Steve Wheatcroft (-10), Ben Crane (-10), Jason Kokrak (-10), Louis Oosthuizen (-9), Bud Cauley (-9), Keegan Bradley (-9)

What it means: With 18 holes to go, this event remains wide open. While Haas and Cink share the lead heading into Sunday, 15 players will begin the final round within two shots of the lead. As Redstone Golf Club has allowed both exceptionally high and low scores throughout the week, the outcome of Sunday's final round remains anyone's guess. 

Round of the day: Last year, Oosthuizen used a high finish in Houston to propel himself into a playoff appearance at the Masters. Saturday, the South African again played his way into contention, carding a bogey-free 65 to move up 31 spots on the leaderboard. Oosthuizen began slowly but carded six birdies in a nine-hole stretch from Nos. 8-16. At 9 under, he will begin the final round just two shots off the pace.

Best of the rest: Currently struggling through a sophomore slump, Cauley offered a glimpse of the game that helped him to a successful rookie campaign in 2012. Cauley, who has missed six cuts in eight starts thus far in 2013, rebounded from a 2-over 74 Friday to card eight birdies against just one bogey Saturday. His 7-under 65 moved the former Alabama standout into a tie for seventh entering the final round.

Biggest disappointment: One of the more consistent players on the PGA Tour across the last 15 months, Brendon De Jonge entered the third round inside the top 10. Three birdies were offset by a trio of bogeys on Saturday, though, and the Zimbabwean fell outside the top 25 after an even-par 72 during a third round where low scores were abundant.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Who can emerge from a crowded leaderboard? Several among the leaders are seeking their first career win, while others are looking for their first PGA Tour victory in several years. With so many players beginning the round in contention, Sunday could shape up as an exciting shootout in the Lone Star State.

Shot of the day: Having barely made the cut, Chez Reavie began his round with a bang at the par-4 third. Reavie had 146 yards left for his approach to a green guarded by water, but after holing the shot for an eagle 2, the veteran moved to 4 under overall.  After playing the next 15 holes in 2 under, Reavie will now begin the final round at 6 under for the week, just five shots off the pace.

Quote of the day: 'I could see something like this coming. I'm just excited for the opportunity and to tee off late on Sunday.' – Cink, who is in position for his first win since the 2009 British Open.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.