Sluman Wins GMO But Not Trip to British
On Sunday he completed a four-day demolition of Brown Deer Park and the field at the Greater Milwaukee Open. His 23-under par total fell one shy of the tournament's all-time scoring mark of 24-under-par by Loren Roberts in 2000. But that isn't the only thing Sluman falls a bit shy of as he journeys to the state of New York to defend this week's B.C. Open.
Sluman is now 26th on the PGA Tour's money list. Last year he was 21st at year's end. His Sunday win in Milwaukee was his sixth on the PGA Tour. It was his fifth since 1997, the fifth in the last six years in fact. Yet the 44-year-old will not travel across the pond for this week's Open Championship.
Simply stated, Sluman didn't qualify under any of the system's opportunities to do so. He didn't earn enough money last year. He didn't finish high enough in the World Golf Ranking. He didn't finish high enough on the leaderboard at week's end in Chicago at the Advil Western Open. And he didn't qualify under this year's money list deadlines.
And he knows that. Yet it seems quite odd that the man who's accomplished so much since the age of 39 won't be a part of the year's third major championship.
Sluman made Brown Deer Park his own personal picnic place with rounds of 64 and 63, sprinkled in with a few 'sub-standard' rounds of 66 and 68. He won by four shots. He's playing great golf, and yet he's not qualified under the British Open's qualification system.
With all due respect to others, Sluman belongs ahead of the likes of first-timer Neal Lancaster or veteran major winner Corey Pavin. Perhaps he could replace Brandt Jobe, who's bypassing his opportunity to be closer to home with his wife Jennifer, who's set to give birth to the couple's second child any day now. Just for fun, check the 2002 PGA Tour money list at this stage against the British Open field. Look at all the names behind the pesky little pro, this guy who knows how to navigate most golf courses as well as Charles Lindbergh navigated his way across water. Ironic isn't?? Lindbergh made it across the water, yet Sluman remains grounded in the States. Go figure.
Sluman's playing well enough to go. Just three bogeys all week at Brown Deer Park. So unhappy about a bogey on Sunday was Sluman that he promptly rolled off four straight birdies to 'right the victory ship.' He began Sunday with a two-shot lead, and had no plans of giving it up. His win stopped a three-week streak of come-from-behind victories (Phil Mickelson in Hartford, Len Mattiace in Memphis, and Jerry Kelly in Chicago.) Sluman deserves the chance.
Sure, Muirfield's loss is Endicott, N.Y.'s gain. They get the Rochester, N.Y., native to come back home and defend the title he won last year when he 'slipped out' of British qualification contention. Call me crazy, but Sluman's easily the best player in the field at the B.C. Open. He's playing the best, he's coming off victory and he might just have a chip on his shoulder for the second straight year.
As shocked as I am that Sluman's not going overseas, I'll be equally as shocked if Sluman's not in position to win again at En-Joie Golf Club. It's just my opinion. Feel free to disagree. But I just spent four days in Milwaukee watching Sluman. And if you don't want to take my opinion, ask Tim Herron, Steve Lowery or Kenny Perry. They couldn't catch him. And they tried. Boy did they try!
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.