You Oughta Know: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

By Will GrayAugust 4, 2013, 12:16 am

With one round remaining at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the biggest question appears to have shifted from whether or not Tiger Woods will hold the trophy Sunday afternoon to what his final margin of victory will be. Here's what You Oughta Know heading into the final round at Firestone Country Club, where Woods leads by seven strokes over his nearest competitor:

• Woods' seven-shot advantage after 54 holes marks the 12th time in his career that he has led by at least five shots heading into the final round of a PGA Tour event. He has converted each of the previous 11 instances into wins, most recently at the 2009 BMW Championship where he turned a seven-shot lead into an eight-shot margin of victory.

• Remarkably, this is the third time that Woods has appeared to have the event already in hand after just three rounds at Firestone. In 1999, he took a five-shot lead into the final round and held on to win by one over Phil Mickelson, while the following year he led by nine shots through three rounds and went on to win by 11 over Justin Leonard and Phillip Price.

• Should he increase his advantage by the conclusion of play Sunday, it would become just the 10th instance in which Woods has won a PGA Tour event by eight shots or more. Included among that list in addition to his romp at Firestone in 2000 is the 2000 British Open which he won by eight, the 1997 Masters which he won by 12 and the 2000 U.S. Open which he won by 15 shots, the largest margin of victory in his professional career.

• Woods' seven-shot lead after three rounds marks the largest such advantage at a PGA Tour event since the 2011 U.S. Open, when Rory McIlroy took an eight-shot lead into the final round at Congressional Country Club. Prior to this week, the largest 54-hole lead on Tour was Phil Mickelson's six-shot cushion heading into the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he ultimately won by four shots.

• Despite the chasm between him and his nearest competitor, history indicates Woods will likely challenge par during the final round Sunday on the par-70 South Course. Across his PGA Tour career, the 78-time winner boasts a 70.5 scoring average when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

• In a statistic unlikely to change, Woods has forfeited a 54-hole advantage only four times during his career. The largest lead he held after three rounds that did not translate into a victory was two shots, as Y.E. Yang passed him at the 2009 PGA Championship despite starting the day two behind Woods.

• Should he hold on to win Sunday, it would mark the 10th season in which Woods has won at least five times on the PGA Tour in one calendar year. A victory would also mark Woods' 18th career WGC victory in just his 42nd start in a WGC event.

• With a victory, Woods would equal a record he already shares with Sam Snead for most wins in a single PGA Tour event. Already a winner seven times at Firestone, Woods has also won eight times at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, most recently this past March, while Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times during his career.

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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.