Durants Win a Classic and a Record

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 18, 2001, 5:00 pm
For at least one week, Joe Durant knows what it is like to be the best golfer on the planet. When all the drives find the fairway, all the approaches find the green and all the putts find the bottom of the cup. When all mistakes are quickly rectified through skill and a bit of good fortune.

Durant capped a dream week in La Quinta, Calif., by establishing a new 90-hole PGA Tour scoring record at 36-under-par 324. His final-round 7-under 65 at PGA West was good enough for a four-stroke victory over Paul Stankowski, who shot a nine-under-par 63 - a rather blas round, this week.
Durant comments on his record setting win.
'It really was a magical week,' said Durant, who won $630,000. 'It seemed like every time I needed to make a crucial putt I did.'
Read what Durant had to say at the winner's news conference
From the time Durant singed for a second-round 61 - a personal best by four strokes - the event was his to lose. An easy proposition when guys are shooting 65 and getting lapped in the process.
One of the Tour's most accurate players, Durant maintained his position at the top of the leaderboard by shooting 67 in the third round. He then carded a 66 on Saturday to move to 29-under-par for the tournament, setting a new 72-hole PGA Tour record by a shot.
Through four rounds, Durant was five-up on the field. His nearest competitor, Mark Calcavecchia, said: 'If he doesn't fill up the pond with his golf balls he's going to win the tournament. He's just too focused on what he's doing.'
Indeed, even Durant knew he was in 'the zone.'
'I just don't want to wake-up,' Durant said after the fourth round.
The former insurance salesman, who never sold a policy, continued to sleepwalk on Sunday. Showing no signs of complacency, Durant birdied the second, sixth, eighth, 10th and 11th holes to move to 34-under-par for the tournament - just one stroke shy of Tom Kite's 90-hole scoring record set at the Hope in '93.
Durant kept his momentum going by sinking a seven-foot par putt at the 12th, the first of four consecutive pars. At the par-4 16th, he tied Kite's mark by dropping in a 10-foot birdie putt; and then did the same at the par-3 17th to move to 36-under.
Durant finally woke from his slumber when he narrowly missed a short birdie putt at the last. But when he wiped the sleep from his eyes, he saw clearly a new record and a new trophy for his mantle.
'To win again means a lot,' said Durant, whose first victory came in the 1998 Western Open. 'In fact, it almost means more to me than my first time. I feel like I've gone full circle and my game is where is should be.'
News, Notes and Numbers
*Robert Gamez shot an 11-under-par 61 in the final round to finish tied for 11th at 23-under. He is one of seven players to shoot 62 or lower this week. Because he finished a stroke out of the top ten, Gamez will have to Monday qualify to compete in the upcoming Nissan Open.
*David Duval shot a final-round 2-over-par 74 to tie for 51st. Two years ago, he fired a 59 at PGA West to win the tournament.
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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.