Lewis has low score of power trio

By Randall MellMarch 15, 2013, 1:50 am

PHOENIX – Stacy Lewis impressed the LPGA’s version of royalty.

She closed out with a birdie at the last hole Thursday at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup with three of the tour’s living founders and two Hall of Fame pioneers applauding from what looked like little thrones on a stage behind the 18th green.

“Did you make that birdie just for us?” Hall of Famer Carol Mann asked Lewis.

Lewis smiled and nodded at Mann, JoAnne Carner, Louise Suggs, Shirley Spork and Marilynn Smith.

“Yes, I saw you all sitting over here,” Lewis said.

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Lewis is chasing greatness these days. After becoming the first American in 18 years to win LPGA Player of the Year honors last season, she is now setting her eyes on the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. While it was just the first round, Lewis’ closing birdie helped her post the low round in her power pairing with reigning No. 1 Yani Tseng and Paula Creamer.

Lewis posted 4-under-par 68, good for a tie for 11th at Wildfire Golf Club. Creamer shot 69 and Tseng 70.

There’s a lot of golf left to play here, but Lewis led the way in a marquee pairing loaded with delicious subplots.

Lewis can overtake Tseng as world No. 1 if she wins and Tseng finishes third or worse.

“I like how they put Yani and me together, knowing what was at stake this week,” Lewis said. “I knew they would do that.”

Lewis is going for back-to-back victories. She won the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore in the LPGA’s last event two weeks ago. Tseng is looking to defend the title she won here last year. She is also looking for her first victory in nearly a year. She won the Kia Classic 51 weeks ago, her last victory anywhere. Creamer is looking to get into the battle for No. 1 while shaking off lingering injuries from a car crash in Thailand three weeks ago.

As much motivation as there was percolating in this group, the atmosphere was more than congenial.

“It was pretty relaxed out there,” Creamer said.

There were conversations during walks up nearly every fairway.

“We chatted all day,” Lewis said. “I talked to Paula about some Solheim Cup stuff, and I hadn’t played with Yani since Japan last November.”

So Lewis and Tseng caught up with each other.

Though Lewis is bearing down on Tseng’s No. 1 ranking, there’s a lot of mutual respect between them.

Two years ago, Tseng asked Lewis to help her write her acceptance speech as LPGA player of the year.

Last year, Lewis thanked Tseng during her POY acceptance speech for showing her how to win and how to carry success.

That doesn’t mean they don’t want to whip each other every time they tee it up.

“When you are on the course, you try to beat each other,” Tseng said. “Outside the ropes, we are friends. If I don’t win, I’m happy to see Stacy win. If I’m not No. 1, I’d be happy for Stacy to be No. 1. If I lose, it’s my problem, not her problem. It would mean I just need to work harder to get better and stay on top.”

Creamer found plenty of motivation in the pairing.

“They both have what I want,” Creamer said. “I’ve always said I want to be the No. 1 American, and I want to be No. 1 in the world. It motivates me.”

Creamer’s climb is challenged by a sore neck and a sore right shoulder, the result of injuries suffered in a car accident on the way to the Bangkok airport in Thailand three weeks ago.

“Two discs are out of place,” Creamer said. “My shoulder is tight from when I hit the dashboard. It’s hard to have this injury and play golf but I’m not doing it any harm. It’s like a sprained ankle. You just keep going, and it will get better over time, hopefully.”

The power trio will be back together again Friday with an early tee time. They’ll be going off at 7:40 a.m. They’ll be back out there pushing each other to better things.

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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.