Spieth leans on experience in third round

By Randall MellAugust 16, 2015, 2:01 am

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Another storm blew through Whistling Straits Saturday at the PGA Championship.

This time the lightning bolts came crashing out of a clear blue sky.

Jordan Spieth was a human tempest making one of the best back-nine charges you’ll ever see in the third round of a major championship, in any round of a major for that matter.

With six birdies over the final eight holes, Spieth jolted the grounds here with his hard climb up the leaderboard. His bogey-free 7-under-par 65 moved him into position to make history. He’ll tee it up Sunday looking to join Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players in the modern era to win three major championships in a single season.

At 15-under 201, Jason Day is the man Spieth will be chasing in their Sunday final pairing together. Spieth’s two shots back.

Spieth closed his charge with three consecutive birdies.

“Very, very pleased to have a chance to win another major,” he said.

A day after a thunderstorm ripped through this area, causing the suspension of the second round, Spieth reveled in a warm, sunny Wisconsin afternoon. At 22, he’s turning these majors into his playgrounds. He’s already drawing on major championship experience that players twice his age don’t have. He’s squeezed a lifetime of experience from his victories this year at the Masters and U.S. Open and even from his near miss at the Open Championship last month.

Spieth might be just one missed putt at St. Andrews away from trying to become the first player to claim the Grand Slam with victories in all four professional majors in a single season.

Don’t think that missed chance at the British Open doesn’t fuel him and his caddie Michael Greller.

“I certainly have a little chip on my shoulder this week, but that won't be in my head tomorrow” Spieth said. “Tomorrow it will be drawing all the positives that we've done, when we did win.”

Spieth said he battled impatience on the front nine Saturday, but he learned something winning the first two majors this year.

“In the majors we've won, the putts have fallen on the weekend, strictly by just letting it happen,” Spieth said. “By giving yourself opportunities, believing that it will fall, being stubborn on the greens, is what Michael likes to say.”

Spieth made his Saturday charge fueled with the confidence won under major championship pressure.

“I would draw back on past major weekends as a different type of experience than any other experience that you can have,” Spieth said. “Luckily, that hole looks big recently for us on major weekends, and that's what we just had to keep believing today.”

Frustrated from missing chances on the front nine Saturday, Spieth lit a fire under himself after missing a 15-foot birdie chance at the 10th hole. He stepped to the 11th tee having slipped five shots off the lead.

“I was pissed, so I swung really hard,” Spieth cracked. “I lined up over a bunker and said let’s try to kill this.”

Spieth did. He isn’t a long hitter, but he crushed a 343-yard drive, helping him reach that par 5 in two and make the first of his back-nine birdies.

You wouldn’t know the major championship was building with Spieth mounting his charge. He looks totally immersed in the thrill of it. He looked comfortable. He hit 11 of 14 fairways. He hit 16 greens in regulation.

“I really, thoroughly enjoy playing in majors,” Spieth said.

After that birdie at the 11th, Spieth carved his tee shot at the 12th to 4 feet to setup up another.

“The holes started to look bigger,” Spieth said. “A lot of times it just takes one to go for me to really find that extra confidence, that extra little pop in my stroke.”

The closer Spieth got to the lead, the better he played. He reached the 16th in two and two-putted for birdie. He carved a 4-iron to 12 feet at the 17th for another, and he stiffed a 6-iron at the last to 7 feet for yet another.

While Spieth knows his history, he already seems to know how it’s best pursued.

“Just to try to get my name on the Wanamaker Trophy, that's about it,” Spieth said. “That’s the only history I'll be thinking of when we step on the first tee, is we can hoist that trophy tomorrow, and make it happen.

“I'll go into tomorrow strictly for the history piece of trying to get my name on a different major. It's a goal of mine to capture all four throughout my career. I've got a great opportunity to get the third right now.”

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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.