Hearn (64) enjoying final Tour event with anchored stroke

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2015, 9:47 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Thursday at gloomy Sea Island Resort was pulled straight from Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ famous verse:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

This week’s RSM Classic is the swansong for anchored putting on the PGA Tour with next year’s ban looming, and David Hearn appears to have plucked a page from Thomas’ poem with an opening-round 64 that left him tied for second place and in the hunt for his first Tour title.

This week’s stop isn’t Hearn’s last on Tour, but it will be the last time the Canadian will be allowed to anchor his signature broom-handled putter in competition.

“I obviously prefer to putt the way I am right now, but I am just going to enjoy it this week,” said Hearn, who plans to try a cross-handed grip when he changes to a non-anchored putter. “It's the last week I will be putting with it. I putted last weekend actually with a short one in Mexico and felt fine.”

The move back to something familiar paid off on Thursday, with Hearn rolling in putts from 17 feet (No. 10 and 14), 14 feet (No. 3) and 10 feet (No. 8) to match his lowest round of the young 2015-16 season.

Hearn, like most players who currently anchor, voiced a familiar refrain on Thursday – when it’s time to change he’ll figure it out.

“Obviously I put a lot of thought into it. Fortunately for me I putted on Tour when I first got on in ’05 with a short putter. It's something I have done at a high level,” Hearn said. “I'm confident in my transition, but only time will tell.”

Tim Clark faces the same unknown after a particularly difficult year on the greens.

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“It’s been so much on my mind,” Clark said following a first-round 1-under 69 on the Seaside layout that included 31 putts. “My putting has been really bad no matter what I used this year. Once it’s done I can just move on and stick with it. I’ve been stuck between two minds.”

Following surgery on his left elbow that forced him to miss 22 weeks of competition, the South African switched to a non-anchored putter when he returned at the Travelers Championship.

It was an experiment that lasted just one tournament before he switched back to the broom-handle model he’s been using since he was in college due to a congenital problem with his arms in which he can't supinate his wrists.

“It’s been 20 years, figured I’d give it another few weeks,” said Clark, who plans to try the “Matt Kuchar” method of putting next year with the end of the putter grip pressed into his forearm. “It’s not like I’m going from belly putter to a normal putter, I’m going to be using a completely different way of putting. That’s going to be the hard part of next year.”

If either Hearn or Clark needed a paradigm of putting hope on an overcast day they could have taken a peek at Adam Scott’s Round 1 card at the Australian Masters.

Scott carded a 7-under 64 in what he called “stress-free golf” with a non-anchored putter after a rocky transition away from an anchored model. After a rough week at the Presidents Cup last month, he saw progress with the new putter at the Japan Open (T-7) and CIMB Classic (second), and needed just 28 putts on Thursday in Melbourne.

“I didn't putt well at all this year with the long putter,” Scott said. “My stats were horrible and it was a very frustrating year, so the change has actually been quite refreshing for me.”

While Scott’s transition has been anything but “stress free,” and a few good starts against relatively weaker fields is hardly a definitive statement, he does provide those facing a similar overhaul a reason to be optimistic heading into next season and a new era of non-anchoring.

Until then Hearn and Clark have 54 holes to make the most of anchoring, which the R&A and U.S. Golf Association announced they were banning in 2013.

“For now I'm just going to enjoy it this week and see if I can make a few putts and take the anchored putter out on top,” Hearn said.

Dylan Thomas couldn’t have said it any better.

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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.