Canadian Tour Finishing Up Out West
Of course, as is almost customary for a good ol Canadian boy at this time of year, another sport will be front and centre when Anderson is away from Diablo Grande.
After a tooth-and-nail scrap to get into the post-season, Andersons revered Edmonton Oilers cleared their final hurdle this past weekend and seem destined to tangle with the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings when the Stanley Cup playoffs get underway later this week.
While he admits he is not much of a television watcher, Anderson concedes he is catching most of the Oiler games from the comfort of his truck, which is equipped with satellite radio.
Oh yeah, its that time of year if you are from Canada, he says from the Golden State, where he is gearing up for this weeks Diablo Grande California Classic. You can bet Ill be watching the scoreboard.
Have to support the hometown boys.
Special thanks to the (San Jose) Sharks for dusting off the (Vancouver) Canucks (last weekend).
But with all due respect to the Oilers and the quest for Lord Stanleys ancient urn, Anderson has bigger issues this week as the Canadian Tour wraps up a two-event run through California at scenic Diablo Grande Winery and Resort.
At the outset of the 2006 campaign, Anderson was looking to build on his most successful season as a professional. Months after representing Canada at the 2004 World Cup, the Edmonton resident not only notched his first Tour title but was the top Canadian on the money list, finishing fifth.
So far, in the early stages of this season, the blueprint has not gone according to plan.
Its one of those things, admits Anderson, who had his best showing in three starts with a T32nd at the Northern California Classic late last month. The ball just isnt going in the hole as fast as I want. Im definitely struggling with my putter, but Ill get it turned around. Its early.
At times, Anderson, like so many others that hit golf balls for a living, can be his own worst enemy. More often than not, you wont be a guest of honour at a Sunday afternoon trophy presentation.
Youll be watching someone else give an acceptance speech most weeks. It is just the law of averages.
For a guy that has tasted victory, it is a mindset not easily accepted.
I wear my heart on my sleeve when I play and I almost have to get out of that mode, adds Anderson. Once you win, you almost expect to do it every week. Ive improved every year Ive been out here, and at times I put too much pressure on myself.
Things got off to an ominous start this year.
For most of the week at the season-opener in Austin, Tex. Anderson fought a losing battle with an excrusciatingly painful abscessed tooth.
Now, standing at 64 and tipping the scales 230, Anderson has a high threshold for pain. But trying to walk a 7000-yard course in constant agony is not an ideal recipe for success.
As could almost be expected, he found himself at 9-over with four holes to play on Friday afternoon. In a desperate charge to make the cut, Anderson poured in four straight birdies on his way in.
The late surge wasnt enough; he missed the number by one.
I was just trying too hard in Austin. Finally I said Trust yourself and live with your mistakes. I took the positives out of (those final holes) and tried to build on that.
As the Tour sets up shop in Patterson this week, Anderson understands patience will be a virtue at Diablo Grande. The track, designed by legends Jack Nicklaus and Gene Sarazan, will offer a stiff test all four days.
Its going to be a tough week for everyone, Anderson says matter-of-factly. Its a fantastic golf course, but the way it is set up will make for some long days. It will be a test of patience in Patterson, but Im excited. This will be an ideal week to get things turned around. You always want to play well when you have a chance to defend.
Im ready physically. Beginning Monday, Ill sit down and mentally prepare myself.
You arent likely to hear Stuart Anderson complain all that often. On the course, he is as tenacious as they come; after his scorecard is signed, he is a pretty laid-back, serene kind of guy. But he is somewhat surprised, perhaps a little concerned, that his breakthrough 2005 season didnt lead to any potential sponsors knocking on his door. With a World Cup appearance, a Bell Canadian Open berth and top Canadian kudos added to his resume, Anderson figured others would take notice. But the possible suitors have remained silent.
As Anderson stresses, he isnt looking for a free ride. He knows it is up to him to deliver, and he did just that in 2005. In the past nine years, only six Canadians'Mike Weir, Jon Mills, Derek Gillespie (twice), Ian Leggatt, Rob McMillan and Ray Stewart'have ended the season on a loftier perch on the money list.
Anderson is left scratching his head, but you can see he is walking on eggshells when the topic is brought up.
He just doesnt know what else he has to do.
Im not sure what to think, but I think it is a case of having liquid cash to get to that next level. It certainly helps and allows you to focus on your game and get ready for October (the start of PGA Tour qualifying). Im not complaining, believe me, but I think a lot of good Canadian talent is falling through the cracks.
I was fifth on our money list last year with some pretty impressive company, but I just cant seem to get that help I need. Its just added pressure and, to be honest, I think that is getting to me. There have been a lot of broken promises. I just want to play golf.
As he gets set to begin preparations for his title defence in Patterson, Anderson has time to contemplate his hometown Oilers chances in their opening round showdown with the powerhouse Red Wings. It takes about three seconds before he answers.
Edmonton in six.
Youve got to love an underdog.
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.