Harris Holds Leads in Chitengwa Memorial
Heading into play co-leading with five others, the 1998 Northeast amateur champion fired a 7-under 64 at the Keswick Club for a 36-hole total of 13-under 129 and a one shot lead over Chris Wisler (Dover, Del.). Virginia native Cameron Yancey, who received a sponsors exemption into the event, is three strokes back. David Hearn of Brantford, ON is four off the pace.
Just as he had in his opening round, Harris, 24, was quick out of the gate Friday, with birdies on his first three holes. On the par-5 third, Harris snaked home a 45-foot putt from the back fringe to get him to 3-under for the day.
Eighteen greens - that is all you can really say, said Harris following his bogey-free round. When you are putting for birdie 18 times, things seem to work themselves out.
As he goes into the weekend in search of his first professional win, Harris doesnt plan on changing his approach with a slim one-shot lead.
Theres 36 holes left - anything can happen on one hole, let alone 36. Ill go in with the attitude that it is the first hole on the first day, and take it from there. There is still a lot of work to do.
Coming off a tie for tenth at the Buy.Com Tours BMW Charity Pro Am in Greenville, SC two weeks ago, Wisler seems to be firing on all cylinders this week. On Friday, he canned a seemingly impossible 100-foot birdie putt on the final hole to get to 12-under.
To be honest, I just kind of closed my eyes and hit it. It was just one of those days where things went my way, admitted Wisler. I would have been more than happy with a two-putt from there. To see it fall in the cup, well, that is just a great way to walk off the golf course.
The Canadian Tours eighth official event of the season is named in honour of Lewis Chitengwa, a popular 26-year-old tour rookie who passed away suddenly last summer in Edmonton from meningococcemia, a strain of meningitis. Yancey, a close friend of Chitengwa while the two starred at the University of Virginia, feels the perfect tribute to his late friend would be to hold the championship trophy high come Sunday afternoon.
Its tough in a way being here, since this event is in memory of a good buddy, but it also shows he was a well-liked guy and that he hasnt been forgotten, said the 22-year-old, who made his first cut in three pro events Friday. It would mean a lot to play well here. If Im lucky, hes looking down right now and is going to try to give me some bounces this weekend.
Brennan Webb of Bracebridge, ON, also a close friend of Chitengwas, is playing his best golf of the year and is at 7-under. Farai Chitengwa, the 15-year-old younger brother of Lewis, missed the cut playing as an amateur.
With Canadians Rob McMillan and Derek Gillespie having won the past two tour events, the first back-to-back Canadian winners since 1997, Hearn would like nothing better than to complete the tours version of a Triple Crown in Charlottesville.
With Ron and Derek winning, I think that has allowed us to feed off each other, he said. The first part of the year, the American guys dominated - now it seems the guys from home are getting the job done. Hopefully, we can carry that with us when we head up to Canada (next month).
Full Coverage of the Lewis Chitengwa Memorial
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.