Day continues march into elite conversation on Friday

By Randall MellSeptember 4, 2015, 9:44 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Jason Day didn’t take long to get everyone’s attention again Friday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

He birdied his first, second and third holes.

And just like that, he was atop another leaderboard.

“You can’t miss it,” Ryan Palmer said of Day’s name up so early over everyone else. “You expect it, the way he’s playing.”

Though Day didn’t have the lead at round’s end, he quickly put himself in position to keep his red-hot run going in a bid to win his fourth event in his last five starts. With a 3-under-par 68, he’s just three shots behind Brendon de Jonge, the leader.

Palmer finished his round tied with Day, knowing that’s not a bad place to be.

“You beat Jason Day, you’re going to finish top three,” Palmer said.

Day stumbled a bit coming home, bogeying two of his last five holes, but nothing seems to rattle him with his confidence soaring, not even a three-putt at the last. In tough conditions, with swirling, gusting winds and challenging hole locations, Day was more than satisfied with his start.

“It was a very patient day,” Day said. “You can't get out there and be so disappointed. Once you're frustrated you're going to make some mental errors, and it's going to be bad for you. You're going to make more mistakes that way. I just had to keep pushing forward and try to get the best score in.”

Day closed out last week’s victory at The Barclays shooting 63 and 62 on the weekend. He put his foot right back on the gas pedal Friday at TPC Boston. At his opening hole, he carved a 7-iron from 176 yards to 4 feet for that first birdie. He hit his tee shot to 10 feet at his second hole and poured that in for birdie. At the next hole, he holed his birdie putt from 20 feet.

That’s 10 consecutive rounds in the 60s for Day now.

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“I got off to a fantastic start,” Day said. “A couple of blemishes coming in, but once again it was just tough. The speeds of the greens got gradually quicker as the day went on. And I think everything started drying out, baking out.”

Day’s level of play really stood out competing alongside Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson. They’re 1-2-3 in the FedEx Cup standings, but Day looked as if he were playing another course. Spieth was six shots behind Day through the first five holes. He shot 75. Watson shot 73.

Playing a couple holes in front of Day, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy saw Day’s name hit the leaderboard early. He was asked if it motivated him.

“Not when it's the first round,” said McIlroy, who shot 70. “I obviously saw that he got off to a great start, but it really doesn't change how I play, or how I think out there. At that point, I think I was 1-over par, so I was just trying to get it back into red numbers for the day and finish there.”

Spieth created excitement with a run at the Grand Slam this year, winning the Masters and U.S. Open. If Day wins this week, he’ll be aiming to do something nobody’s done in the nine-year history of the FedEx Cup. He’ll be looking to sweep all four playoff events. Yes, it isn’t a Grand Slam, but a playoff sweep wouldn’t just win Day the FedEx Cup and its $10 million jackpot, it would give his peers something to think about in PGA Tour Player of the Year voting. It wouldn’t make Spieth the lock he is now.

A win this week might also vault Day over McIlroy to No. 1 in the world rankings. Day says that lofty ranking is his No. 1 goal in golf.

With all the talk of Day, McIlroy and Spieth as the game’s Big 3, Day said on Thursday his aim is to be at the top of the discussion. A dominant playoff run would help him move him there.

“I'm excited about it, but I can't think about that too much because I need to make sure that I stay focused on what I need to do to keep the flow going,” Day said.

Day’s hard run at McIlroy and Spieth has got the attention of the golf world.

“It's a good battle right now,” said Luke Donald, who opened with a 67. “I think it's fun to see that back and forth going on.”

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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.