Griff Kuehne Share Lead at Texas Challenge

By Marty HenwoodMarch 16, 2002, 5:00 pm
All through Saturdays third round of the Texas Challenge, Canadian Darren Griff heard the cheers for defending U.S. Amateur champion Hank Kuehne behind him. On Sunday, he will get a chance to hear them first-hand.
Playing one group ahead of Kuehne, the 30-year-old Griff fired a course record 8-under 64, one shot better than the previous Circle C Ranch best, for a 54-hole total of 205 and is atop the leaderboard with the 1998 U.S. Am king. Griff, Kuehne and Steve Runge (-9) will make up the final group Sunday. Four others are at 8-under 208.
With cool temperatures and a tricky wind enveloping the 6,859-yard layout Saturday, Griff, who has two second-place showings in his Canadian Tour career, hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation en route to a bogey-free round. In fact, Griff has hit 81.5 percent of his greens over the first three days.
I hit my irons well all day, although my driver was a bit sketchy at times, said the 1994 B.C. Amateur champion, who was the top Canadian at the 2002 Panasonic Panama Open (T18). I made my putts on the back nine, but I missed some chances on the first seven or eight holes.
Griff vaulted into top spot on the par-5 14th hole when his 25-footer found the bottom of the cup for eagle. He followed that up with back-to-back birdies to put the record within reach.
In the final round, Griff will be paired with Kuehne, who had quite a cheering section in his gallery Saturday.
We were joking that it was like Jack (Nicklaus) at Augusta with that following Hank had, laughed Griff. The good thing was we always knew in a hurry when he had made birdie. So, I guess its going to be Hank and the Fat Man should be a lot of fun. If youre not looking forward to something like that, you shouldnt be playing this game.
Kuehnes effort Saturday was a complete reversal from last weeks third round of the Texas Classic in Houston. On that day, he was 4-under through his first ten holes to move into top spot before faltering down the stretch and winding up with a 3-over 75. He bounced back on Sunday with a 64 to finish tied for second in his first Tour start.
Yeah, its a little different than last week, isnt it? mused Kuehne after playing the par-4s at 4-under Saturday. It was just a good, consistent round today. Ive been striking the ball very well, and that is a good sign.
Kuehne reeled off six consecutive birdies beginning on the par-5 7th hole. Despite the birdie binge, Kuehne admitted his shot of the day was from the bunker on the par-3 13th, when he blasted out to within six inches of the pin.
One of the longest hitters in the world, Kuehne, 26, said his distance off the tee could sometimes result in a disadvantage.
I played the par 5s 1-under today, and that is very frustrating to me. Power is a great asset, but I have to be more in control of my driver. If you go offline here, the ball is just going to keep rolling and rolling. I want to stay aggressive, but at times I need to show some restraint.
Full-field scores from the Texas Challenge
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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.