Staton Hoping Canadian Experience Will Help on Tour
Last week, that time became now.
Almost two months after the long and tedious marathon that is PGA Q-School began, Staton put the finishing touches on securing his card for the 2002 season at Bear Lakes Country Club in Florida. Jess Daley, a Canadian Tour rookie this past season, also nailed down playing privileges on the worlds showcase circuit, while Ian Leggatt, who wound up 133rd on the PGA Tour money list this past year, regained his status with a fifth-place showing at final stage.
After four seasons on the Canadian Tour where he clearly established himself as one to watch, Staton was firing on all cylinders last week, carding rounds of 69-67-69-67-63-71 and winding up in a tie for second to Pat Perez at final stage. His play may have raised eyebrows for those who hadnt seen the 29-year-old Ormond Beach, FL native, but up north, few were surprised. A former All-American at Florida State University, Staton won four events, two official and two unofficial, during the 99 Candian Tour season, including the Benefit Partners/NRCS Classic in which he fired a then course-record 64 in the final round.
Last season wasnt exactly one to forget, but it certainly didnt pan out the way he had hoped. Despite making 10 of 13 cuts and managing a tie for second at the Ontario Open Heritage Classic, Staton, by his own admission, wasnt at the top of his game. Off-season laser surgery on both eyes helped him regain his focus, literally as well as figuratively, and Staton bounced back in 2001 with back-to-back 64s over the final two days to win the MTS Classic in Winnipeg before a season-ending triumph at the Niagara Classic. Yes, those who follow the Canadian Tour know Kenneth Staton well. It could very well be sooner rather than later before the rest of the golfing world takes notice.
The recognition is something I dont really think about, admits Staton, who toiled on the Buy.com (then-Nike) Tour back in 1999. If I can play my best, the end result is you will get that recognition. As a rookie, you have to pay your dues and earn that respect, as opposed to guys who have been on Tour for a few years. As he did during the opening two stages at Q-School, Staton gave himself some breathing room early at final stage, avoiding the prospect of having to shoot low on the final day to rubber-stamp his PGA Tour card. In fact, he was one shot up on Perez for the top spot with three holes to play during Mondays final round, but a double-bogey on 16 dropped him to second. From the opening stage on, Staton was, for the most part, on top of his game, and lingered near the top of the leaderboard through all three phases.
I was lucky enough, every stage I had that cushion, so the final round was no more difficult than the first. I didnt tighten up in that situation, as I normally would. I wasnt thinking about finishing in the top three or the top five-I just didnt want to make any big mistakes.
Like so many before him, Staton used his experience on the Canadian Tour as a springboard to the PGA circuit. Now getting set to join the ranks of the best golfers on the planet, Staton is candid when asked how his years in Canada prepared him for the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead.
It was a great experience for me, you learn what it is like to compete week in and week out against top competition, what it is going to take to win, he said, adding more and more of golfs top prospects will likely be coming north to hone their skills. I learned that I am not going to get worked up about shooting 1 or 2-over, because my confidence tells me that I can bounce back the next day. There has always been a lot of world-class players here, but this year the talent level increased in a big way.
Look at the scores from this year- 58, 61, 62, 63 people should look at the scores and then try to figure out if the guys on the Canadian Tour are good.
Kenneth Staton, among others, has helped prove that theory.
Learn about more of the PGA Tour's 2002 Rookie Class
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.