You Oughta Know: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Will GrayMarch 23, 2013, 11:58 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – After most of Sunday's final round at Bay Hill was wiped out by storms, Tiger Woods goes into Monday's finale with 16 holes to go and a three-shot lead over Keegan Bradley, Ken Duke, Rickie Fowler and John Huh. Mark Wilson, Brian Stuard, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Thorbjorn Oleson and Justin Rose are another shot back. Here is what You Oughta Know heading into Monday's conclusion of the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Woods appears on the verge of his third win this season:

• Woods heads into the final round in position to pad his already illustrious credentials at Bay Hill. A win Sunday would be his eighth at this event, tying Sam Snead's record for the most career wins at a single PGA Tour event. Snead won what was formerly known as the Greater Greensboro Open eight times, with his last victory coming in 1965. Woods has already won seven times at four different events: WGC-Cadillac Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Farmers Insurance Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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• A win Sunday for Woods will also have implications for the Official World Golf Ranking. Should he leave Bay Hill with the trophy, the 14-time major champion will supplant Rory McIlroy atop the standings. It's a position that he last held Oct. 30, 2010, with Lee Westwood taking over the top spot the following day. McIlroy has led the world ranking since August 12, 2012, a day after his eight-shot win at the PGA Championship.

• Stop me if you've heard this before, but Woods is pretty good with a 54-hole lead. Six of his seven prior API wins have come after holding at least a share of the lead after three rounds, while overall he has converted 51 of 55 third-round leads or co-leads on the PGA Tour into wins. The last time Woods failed to win after holding a share of the 54-hole lead was at the 2009 PGA Championship, when Y.E. Yang won despite trailing Woods by two shots entering the final round. 

• Fowler is in the final group alongside Woods, hoping for some redemption from the last time they were paired together for a final round. That was at the Memorial in 2012, a round in which Woods shot 67 en route to victory – while Fowler ballooned to an 84, the highest round of his professional career.

• Englishman Rose appears to be the most likely candidate to break a recent string of American dominance on the PGA Tour that dates back to last season. Since Tommy Gainey won the 2012 McGladrey Classic, Americans have won 14 consecutive Tour events, with Woods the only multiple-event winner during that span. A win for Rose would mark his first victory since last year's WGC-Cadillac Championship, and he appears in position for his third consecutive top-10 finish after tying for fourth at the Honda Classic and tying for eighth in defense of his title at Doral earlier this month.

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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.