Can Harrington End the Drought

By Mercer BaggsJune 11, 2003, 4:00 pm
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- Europeans are too creative to win the U.S. Open. At least thats one way to surmise why no European-born player has won this event since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
 
U.S. Open golf is really not what European golfers are familiar with, said Ireland's Padraig Harrington.
 
The courses we play in Europe definitely require more flair, and thats the last thing you want in a U.S. Open. You want to be sort of like a machine, just hit it down the fairway, hit it on the green.
 
The golf courses we play in Europe, the type of pin positions we play, the weather we playasks for a little bit more imagination.
 
You want to be the most boring golfer around this week.
 
Harrington, Europes top player at seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking, may be Europes best bet to be the most mundane man this week and break the 32-year drought. He tied for eighth a year ago at Bethpage, and tied for fifth in 2000 at Pebble.
 
I enjoy it because its different, he said of U.S. Open set-ups. Its great to see if you can stay focused and disciplined and not make mental errors over four days. I think its something that does suit me.
 
In all, he has five top-10 finishes in major championships. He also tied for second in this years Players Championship; though, he missed the cut in the Masters Tournament with rounds of 77-73.
 
The 32-year-old Dubliner, who is currently second on the European Tours Order of Merit (money list), thanks to a pair of victories, has spent the last two weeks in the States in preparation for the seasons second major championship.
 
Its been good that I played the last couple of weeks ' a certain amount of climatization, Harrington said, adding that he picked up on a few quirks in his swing that he probably wouldnt have noticed had he been practicing at home.
 
Ive highlighted a few areas of my game that I would certainly like to work on for this week, he said. Whether or not I get that done between now and the start of play, I dont know. But its (playing in the U.S.) has been a good experiment so far.
 
He tied for 13th in both the Memorial and the FBR Capital Open. Because last weeks event spilled over into Monday, due to a wash-out Saturday, Harrington is one of nearly 40 players who arrived on site late. Not that he believes it will affect his performance.
 
I needed a day off, so whether I had Saturday off or Monday, it didnt really bother me, he said. The goal for the next couple of days is to do a little bit of practice, but not go overboard.
 
Harrington has never lacked for a work ethic; thats his strong point. Confidence, however, is another issue. It seems to be that department in which he most needs to improve.
 
I need a lot of things to go right for me in order to be a winner here this week, he apprehensively answered when asked if he was ready to win a major. Im prepared if that happens to go with it ' am I ready? If I get the chance (pause), yeah, Im ready.
 
Not the most convincing response, but one coming from Europe's odds-on favorite to be the last man standing come Sunday night.
 
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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.