Bunker Shots Like a Rolling Stone

By Randall MellOctober 20, 2009, 9:30 pm

Blasting into the week ahead Like a Rolling Stone.

Bob Dylans first album, titled Bob Dylan, was recorded during this week in 1961. We set the weeks storylines with the Pulitzer Prize winning singer-songwriter leading the way:

Remembering a riveting year in the majors

Precious memories, how they linger

How they ever flood my soul.

In the stillness of the midnight,

Precious sacred scenes unfold.

From Bob Dylans Precious Memories

The four major championship winners teeing it up in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf Tuesday and Wednesday have iron wills.

We know because they won with so much energy working against them.

They relished the role of spoilers in denying victory to the sentimental favorites or the heavy favorite.

This weeks big event is a celebration of what Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink and Y.E. Yang overcame, but its also a reminder of what we could have seen in Bermuda. With a couple different bounces, or one less putt, we could be watching Kenny Perry, Phil Mickelson (or David Duval), Tom Watson and Tiger Woods teeing it up at Port Royal Golf Course. Yes, yes, its time to get over it, time to appreciate that this years winners gave us some terrific finishes in a riveting major championship season, but well always remember this year for what might have been.

In case youre wondering, Cinks the slight favorite to win in Bermuda, according to Ladbrokes. Hes a 2-to-1 bet. In some extremely bunched odds, Cabreras next at 9-to-4 with Glover at 3-to-1 and Yang at 7-to-2.

None of the four brings much momentum to Bermuda. They all played in the Presidents Cup, combining for a 4-11-2 mark. None of them had a winning record with Yang sporting the best mark at 2-2-1.

Money makes their world go round

The gravel road is bumpy,

It's a hard road to ride,

But there's a clearer road a-waitin'

With the cinders on the side.

Trails of troubles,

Roads of battles,

Paths of victory,

We shall walk.

From Bob Dylans Paths of Victory

The fight to claim a spot among the top 125 money winners on the PGA Tour this season intensifies with the Frys.com Open one of the last three events remaining in the Fall Series.

The fact that PGA Tours Q-School begins in earnest this week with first stage qualifying adds some incentive for struggling pros making their way to Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Mike Weir is the highest ranked player in the Frys.com Open field at No. 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but the falls big stories arent about world rankings. Every player ranked from 109th on the PGA Tour money list to 139th is in the field. Chris Stroud has this weeks honors as the bubble boy at No. 125. Those are the compelling stories.

Three players moved up and inside the top 125 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Childrens Open last week. Martin Laird, the champion, leaped from No. 134 to No. 62, Bill Lunde climbed two spots to No. 124 and Stroud jumped four spots to get on the bubble. The three players who fell out of the top 125 were Jimmy Walker (123rd to 126th), Will MacKenzie (124th 127th) and Matt Jones (125th to 128th).

The long, hard road begins

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

From Bob Dylans Like a Rolling Stone

Danny Lees the man to watch with PGA Tour Q-Schools first-stage events beginning this week.

Lee, the 2008 U.S. Amateur champ, became the youngest winner of a European Tour event when he claimed the Johnny Walker Classic title in Australia in February. He hoped to avoid Q-School by winning exempt status through the seven sponsor exemptions the PGA Tour allows and other avenues into Tour events. Lee made 11 PGA Tour starts this year, but the $359,846 he won was not enough to earn the promotion. So hell tee it up today at Stonebridge Ranch in McKinney, Texas. Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Big Break Disney Golf contestant, is also in the field.

Thirteen first-stage events will be played over the next two weeks, seven this week.

Gary Nicklaus, son of Jack Nicklaus; Erik Compton, who has twice recovered from heart transplants to pursue his dream; and Sam Saunders, grandson to Arnold Palmer, are among notables teeing it up in Wednesdays start at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Tadd Fujikawa tees it up Wednesday at St. Johns Country Club in St. Augustine, Fla. Jay Haas Jr., son of the PGA Tour and Champions Tour star, and Jon McLean, son of noted swing instructor Jim McLean, also are scheduled to play there.

Next weeks six first-stage events are scheduled to include former Oklahoma State All-American Rickie Fowler at Lantana (Texas) Golf Club, former teen phenom Ty Tryon at Grasslands Golf & Country Club in Lakeland and Manuel Villegas, brother to PGA Tour Camilo Villegas, at Kinderlou Forest in Valdosta, Ga. Mike Van Sickle, son of long-time Sports Illustrated golf writer Gary Van Sickle, also is scheduled to play at Kinderlou Forest.

About 1,000 players will be competing for about 140 berths into the second-stage events scheduled next month. The fields strengthen at the six second-stage sites with PGA Tour pros who arent among the top 150 on this years money list joining the mix.

The final stage of Q-School will be played Dec. 2-7 at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Twenty-five winners crowned this week

Come writers and critics

Who prophesize with your pen

And keep your eyes wide

The chance won't come again

And don't speak too soon

For the wheel's still in spin

And there's no tellin' who

That it's namin'.

For the loser now

Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin'.

From Bob Dylans Times They are a Changin

The Nationwide Tour Championships appeal is that all 60 players in this weeks field have a chance to win a PGA Tour card.

When the season-ending event concludes at Daniel Island in Charleston, S.C., the top 25 on the Tours money list get promotions to the PGA Tour next year. With a $1 million purse and $180,000 to the winner, even the last player into the field, Darron Stiles at No. 60 on the money list, can win a tour card.

Australias Alistair Presnell has the distinction of being 25th on the money list entering the event.

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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.