U.S. holds slim lead after Day 1 at Presidents Cup

By Will GrayOctober 3, 2013, 11:02 pm

While the Americans appeared in control for much of the day in Ohio, a late afternoon rally from the International Team cut into what could have become a sizeable deficit at the Presidents Cup. Here's how things shape up after the first day of matches at Muirfield Village, where the U.S. Team holds a 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 lead:

Results: Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar (USA) d. Angel Cabrera/Marc Leishman (International), 5 and 4; Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (International) d. Hunter Mahan/Brandt Snedeker (USA), 1 up; Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel (International) d. Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (USA), 2 and 1; Bill Haas/Webb Simpson (USA) vs. Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (International), halved; Zach Johnson/Jason Dufner (USA) d. Branden Grace/Richard Sterne (International), 5 and 3; Steve Stricker/Jordan Spieth (USA) d. Ernie Els/Brendon De Jonge (International), 1 up.

What it means: The U.S. squad at one point led in all six fourball matches and seemed very much in control before a weather delay brought their momentum to a halt. The Internationals stormed back once play resumed, trimming what could have been a 6-0 or 5-1 margin to just 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 by day's end.

Match of the day: After winning the opening hole, Day and DeLaet found themselves 3 down after just six holes. The duo battled back, though, winning holes 7-8 and finally re-taking the lead after a birdie from DeLaet on No. 16. Though Snedeker squared the match with a birdie on the 17th hole, Day closed things out with a lengthy birdie at the home hole to give the International Team its first point of the week.

Best of the rest: The pair of Haas and Simpson didn't lose any of the first eight holes in their match, amassing a 2-up advantage in the process. After Scott squared the match with birdies on Nos. 9 and 11, the Americans reinstated their prior advantage with wins on holes 12-13. The International pair would not go quietly, however, winning three of the final four holes, including a kick-in birdie from Matsuyama on No. 18 to ultimately halve the match.

Biggest disappointment: Entering the day's fourth match, many expected the veteran Els to help carry de Jonge, his partner playing in his first Presidents Cup. Instead, it was the Zimbabwean that carried the team with little if any support from the four-time major champion. De Jonge carded seven birdies across a nine-hole stretch in the middle of the match, but clutch putting from Spieth and Stricker kept the Americans ahead for nearly the entire match. An International rally was largely derailed when Els, who recorded just a single birdie Thursday, missed a short putt at No. 16.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Though the Americans hold a one-point advantage, the International Team will likely take some momentum from their late rally into Day 2. Still, the Americans can take solace in knowing that the team that won Day 1 has gone on to win the cup in all but one of these competitions. Six more contests await Friday, this time in the foursomes format in which the U.S. has historically held a significant edge.

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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.