624th-ranked player leads Watson, Lee at U.S. Open

By Randall MellJune 16, 2016, 10:11 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. – PGA Tour rookie Andrew Landry looked as if he were going to make his first major championship appearance historic.

Bubba Watson looked poised to pick up where he left off the last time he played the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.

Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy just plain looked out of sorts.

But Thursday’s start of the year’s second major never fully came into focus with passing storms causing three suspensions of play before the USGA halted action for the day.

Just nine players completed the first round when the weather horns blew a final time at 3:51 p.m. Round 1 will resume Friday at 7:30 a.m.

The entire afternoon wave of 78 players, which included Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, never even reached the first tee. The first suspension was 1 hour and 19 minutes. The second was 2 hours and 26 minutes.

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“The U.S. Open is a test of patience,” Lee Westwood said. “This just adds to it. So try and get your head around it and make the best of it.”

Amateur Scottie Scheffler – the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champion who just finished up his sophomore year at the University of Texas – is the leader in the clubhouse after posting a 1-under-par 69.

“The experience, I can't even describe it right now, but I didn't really let the magnitude of what's going on kind of get to me,” Scheffler said.

Landry, 28, leads the suspended round. The 624th-ranked player in the world is 3 under through 17 holes. He was lining up a 10-foot putt for birdie at the ninth hole, his last hole of the day, when play was halted.

With Oakmont softened by overnight rains, Landry took advantage with a hot start. At 5 under with five holes to go, he appeared poised to challenge the record 7-under-par 63 Johnny Miller shot in the final round at Oakmont Country Club when he won the U.S. Open in 1973. The second weather delay, however, cooled Landry off. He came back out and bogeyed his 16th and 17th holes of the day.

Watson, who finished fifth when the U.S. Open was last played at Oakmont in 2007, is at 2 under through 14 holes. Danny Lee, the 2008 U.S. Amateur champion and winner of last year’s Greenbrier Classic, is also at 2 under through 13 holes.

Westwood (13 holes), Kevin Streelman (16 holes) and Harris English (12 holes) are all at 1 under.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth was at 1 over through 11 holes.

“Completely different golf course than we played in the practice round,” Spieth said. “I mean, night and day.”

Fowler is at 6 over through 12 holes with McIlroy at 4 over through 13 holes.

Players were held in shelter on the course during the first suspension of more than an hour and didn’t get to warm up before returning.

“It's a challenge not being able to warm up, going out there and trying to hit tee shots at the U.S. Open, but it is what it is,” Spieth said.

Landry said the rain took some of the fierceness out of Oakmont’s famed greens.

“I think they stimped the greens at like 16 whenever I got here on Monday, which is absolutely crazy,” Landry said. “Now, obviously, they're a good speed, and they're so perfect out there. You can make so many putts.”

Watson made five birdies and three bogeys over his first 11 holes. He rolled in a delicate 50-foot downhill putt at the 10th for his final birdie before the suspension of play.

“I just kept fighting,” Watson said of rebounding from three bogeys. “You don't really think about the mistakes or the bogeys, because everybody's going to make bogeys out here. The golf course is that difficult.”

While Oakmont was softer, it was far from easy. Bryson DeChambeau was on the leaderboard at 3 under before making back-to-back double bogeys at his ninth and 10th holes.

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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.