Lewis embarking on summer that includes wedding

By Randall MellJune 1, 2016, 8:45 pm

A life-altering summer run begins in earnest this week for Stacy Lewis.

A big three-month run is ahead for all the top players in women’s golf, but there are more than three major championships and the Olympics among the marquee events on Lewis’ schedule over the next 12 weeks. She’s getting married, with the wedding planned Aug. 6, the week after the Ricoh Women’s British Open and 11 days before the start of the Olympic women’s golf competition.

“It's been a challenge,” Lewis said in a pre-tournament news conference Wednesday at the ShopRite Classic. “It's been a lot more than I thought it was going to be. I kind of handed the reins to my mom and said, `Do what you want to do,’ but there's still a lot that I have to do and that we need to take care of.”

Lewis is marrying Gerrod Chadwell, the University of Houston women’s golf coach. She is scheduled to play eight of the nine LPGA events leading up to their wedding.

“The golf has honestly been good, because I think it's my time to get away from all of that and not have to worry about it,” Lewis said. “But we're kind of at the place with the wedding where a lot of stuff is done, which is good, because now I'm heading into the busiest time, and now it's just little stuff.

“I'm looking forward to September, I can tell you that.”

Why is Lewis scheduling her wedding in the middle of such a rigorous run of big events? Her answer says a lot about her changing priorities.

“Some people might think, `Why isn't she waiting until after the Olympics and all that stuff is over?’” Lewis said. “I've waited for this for a long time, and I've wanted this for a long time, and just because of some golf tournaments I'm not going to put my life on hold. I've done that enough, and it's time to do something for myself that I've wanted, and that's what we're going to do.”

At the ANA Inspiration in April, Lewis opened up about her changing priorities, how she’s learning to balance the importance of her personal life with her career.

“The biggest thing is I’ve got somebody in my life that’s more important than any golf tournament I’ll ever play in, or any tournament I’ll ever win, and I honestly never thought I would be up here saying that,” Lewis said at Mission Hills. “It’s a little bit strange to me, and that’s one thing I’m trying to figure out right now.”

Lewis opened the year No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. The former world No. 1 slipped a spot to No. 5 last week and another spot to No. 6 this week. She said at the ANA that in learning to juggle priorities, a return to No. 1 might no longer be a pressing goal, because of the scheduling and week-to-week sacrifices that it takes. She said winning majors, however, would remain her professional focus.

Lewis is on friendly turf this week outside Atlantic City, N.J., looking for her first victory in almost two years. She won at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in 2012 and ‘14. She and world No. 4 Brooke Henderson are the only players among the top 10 in the world rankings who will tee it up in Friday’s start of the 54-hole event.

Since last winning at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in the summer of 2014, Lewis has been knocking hard on the door to her 12th LPGA title. She has logged 10 second-place finishes since that last victory. There couldn’t be a better time to mount a hot run with next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship starting the summer’s major run.

All those close calls, Lewis says, hasn’t deterred her.

“If you asked me a year ago, yes, it was driving me crazy, but I've kind of come to terms with it, that I've finished second a bunch but I've played some good golf,” Lewis said. “It's not like I haven't played well. Sometimes, you kind of take advantage of the situation. I was rolling there for so long, I didn't have to work that hard. It was just things were happening, and I was playing good, and now it's like I've been working hard and I've got to get my act together a little bit.”

Lewis isn’t having a bad year. She has two runner-up finishes this season. Her ball-striking stats are strong. She’s No. 4 in hitting greens in regulation and No. 4 in driving accuracy. She led the tour in putts per greens in regulation last year but has slipped to 24th this year. She is 10th in scoring this season.

“I like what I'm working on,” Lewis said. “I like where the game is going. It's just getting back in those last couple groups, which I've done the last few weeks and getting comfortable there again. I'm starting to trust the swing under pressure. Alabama (the Yokohama Tire Classic) was big because I hit some shots there down the stretch that I needed to hit. Things just didn't quite work out, but being able to hit the shots under pressure is what's going to get that win.”

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.