Simpson puts on show in scrapped first round at Hyundai

By Jason SobelJanuary 5, 2013, 2:15 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Matt Kuchar stood in the player locker room holding up a piece of paper as a few of his fellow competitors huddled around, marveling at it like a winning lottery ticket. Close. It was Webb Simpson’s scorecard, showing him at 3-under through seven holes in blustery, drenched, brutal conditions during what was supposed to be the opening round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

“Is he really?” “Let me see that!” “Is that net?”

That piece of paper was rendered nothing but an obsolete souvenir when Friday’s play was suspended after just 131 minutes, then wiped off the books completely.

Hyundai TOC: Articles, videos and photos

That’s right. It never happened. Just one giant mulligan.

The PGA Tour wanted to put on a show for Opening Day. Well, this one was kind of like Seinfeld. A show about nothing.

As far as ominous signs are concerned, wiping away the first round of the season might be akin to breaking a mirror while walking under a ladder with a black cat crossing your path.

Instead, the 30-player field will return Saturday for a scheduled 36 holes on the Plantation Course, with impending weather predicted to be even worse than the day that was just deemed irrelevant. More on that later. First let’s get to a few reactions from players about the notoriously un-Maui-like conditions on Friday.

“This isn’t golf; it’s goofy golf,” said Bubba Watson, who never teed off.

“It was really bad. I mean, it was gusting 35. It was real borderline from the first tee shot,” Ian Poulter opined.

“That rain and wind combination, that was about as bad as I’ve seen. I couldn’t even get the umbrella up straight – and I’m pretty strong,” deadpanned Kyle Stanley.

This was the first time the PGA Tour declared a round and void since the second round of the 2005 Players Championship – and you’d be hard-pressed to find a player not named Webb Simpson who wanted to remain on the course.

“It stinks for me,” he said. “I got off to a great start but that's the way it goes. I'm sure they made the decision that's best for all the guys.”

While Simpson may have been left screaming toward the heavens like the Bishop from “Caddyshack,” the rest of the players in the field will be more than happy to start anew.

“[Thursday] we were joking with our amateurs [in the pro-am] that we really didn’t need to play,” Zach Johnson explained. “Then after six or seven holes, I wasn’t beating around the bush at all. I was like, ‘Guys, we can go have lunch and just converse.’ But they wanted to play. Long story short: That was one of the worst experiences I’ve had on a golf course in terms of weather, but today would have been even worse.”

He continued: “You can’t use an umbrella, because it’s too windy. When you combine it with the rain, it’s just tough. You can’t get the ball to stay on the greens – and they’re slow. … I saw some of the pin placements. A ball would get to three feet, look like it was going to stop, then all of a sudden it’s off the green. Those kinds of things should be taken care of tomorrow with a level playing field.”

So now the PGA Tour season will officially begin at 7:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, with players starting on two tees and theoretically playing two full rounds. Theoretical because the forecast calls for 25-35 mph winds with gusts of up to 40 mph.

While the plan makes sense on paper, it was enough to leave a few players snickering due to the fact that Friday’s eventual delay was caused by a 41 mph gust and the biggest wind of the day was 45 mph. What it means is that we could be doomed for a long weekend through the scheduled Monday finish, one in which some more severe decisions could still loom.

“I can honestly say the forecast isn't real good but maybe we'll get lucky,” PGA Tour vice president of rules and competition Slugger White said. “That's the hope.”

Usually the most difficult decisions here on Maui involve choosing between the beach or pool and whether to hit the buffet line for another helping of pineapple.

Of course, Maui doesn’t often feel like a preheated version of Scotland, with violent winds ripping through the course. Much like the players who will attempt to slog it out for 10 hours on Saturday, it appears those windy conditions aren’t going anywhere for a while, either. All of which renders the season-opener little more than an open-ended question right now.

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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.