Ryder Cup pants propel Captain America into contention

By Randall MellJune 17, 2017, 10:23 pm

ERIN, Wis. – We’ve been waiting for this guy to show up at a major.

You know, Captain America.

AKA Patrick Reed.

We’ve been waiting for Reed to work out exactly how to channel all the ferocity and intensity that makes him such a force at the Ryder Cup into a force in a major championship.

Well, he arrived in a big way Saturday at Erin Hills.

Reed got himself into contention with a 7-under-par 65, equaling the lowest score in relation to par in U.S. Open history. He lipped out a 6-foot birdie chance at the last that would have momentarily given him a record-breaking effort.

“All I could ask for is to get myself in a position where if I go out and have a good round tomorrow, I win a golf tournament,” Reed said

When Reed walked out of his post-round interview, he was locked in a seven-way tie for the lead, though he had a pretty good idea that wouldn’t last with all the other leaders still out on the course.

In fact, Reed’s share of the U.S. Open single-round scoring record didn’t last, either. About an hour after Reed finish, Justin Thomas posted a 9-under 63 to set the new mark.

Still, Reed got himself in the Sunday hunt to win his first major championship title.

Really, though, Reed gave all the credit to the women in his life for figuring out how to channel some of his Ryder Cup mojo into a major. They encouraged him to wear red, white and blue every round this week.

“I don't have a say in the wardrobe change,” Reed said. “I have my wife, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. And they mainly tell me, 'This is what you're going to wear.’ I just say, `Okay. Sounds good.’”

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They also got him to wear a pair of actual Ryder Cup pants on Saturday, with “USA” lettering down a pant leg.

“First time I've worn them in competition,” Reed said. “I've worn them a lot around the house and stuff like that and practice. Yeah, it was the first time popping them back out in play. They felt good.”

Reed, 26, a five-time PGA Tour winner, has been such a formidablee Ryder Cup player. He’s 6-1-2 in his two Ryder Cup appearances. He took down Rory McIlroy in an epic singles match at Hazeltine in the American victory last September.

While Reed loved hearing all the “Captain America” shout-outs to him Saturday at Erin Hills, he said playing the role in majors has been tougher than wearing Ryder Cup clothes. He isn’t quite sure if the role translates the same.

“It's hard to say,” he said. “You always can take that fire from the Ryder Cup and use it in other events. But you're talking polar opposites. You're talking one-on-one competition against 155. And because of that you can go out and play some great golf, but you have a bunch of guys out there that can play some good golf, as well.

“I think the biggest thing is not getting ahead of yourself. Every time I've been in majors so far, my first two years, I've put so much emphasis on them and tried so hard at them that I kind of got in my way.”

In 13 previous major championship starts, Reed doesn’t have a top-10 finish. He has never gone into the final round of a major with a real chance to win. Reed says he put too much pressure on himself going to majors early in his career.

“I worked too hard Monday through Wednesday,” Reed said. “And so by Saturday, I was tired. And then also I was living and dying with every golf shot, every putt and everything. Coming into this year, I was like, `It’s just another golf tournament. Show up. Do what you do on a normal event and just play golf.’ Because at the end of the day, if I go out and play the best I can and am happy with how I play, the result will take care of itself. And that's the kind of mindset I am going into tomorrow with.”

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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.