Honesty and Anger Sutton Speaks

By Rich LernerNovember 3, 2006, 5:00 pm
From the range of his new golf course in Fredericksburg, Texas, 60 miles from Austin, Hal Sutton looks beyond the rugged hill country and plainly does not like what he sees on the horizon.
Im so disgusted with where everythings gone I dont even want to play the game, he told me Thursday by phone.
Hal Sutton
Hal Sutton has played in only one PGA TOUR event this year, missing the cut in the Nissan Open.
And so he hasnt. I havent played but three times in the last three months, he said with his cowboy drawl. Ive enjoyed being a daddy and a husband. Now 48, Hal has four kids age three to 10.
The call to Sutton was intended to yield an opinion on Paul Azinger, the new Ryder Cup captain. Hes the right choice, Sutton responded without hesitation. He represents what the Ryder Cup is all about. Hes got passion. But there have been captains before that have had passion.
In fact, the U.S. is 0 for its last four blood-and-guts, spit-in-your-face captains: Lanny Wadkins, Curtis Strange, Hal, and most recently, Tom Lehman. Ben Crenshaw, the only victorious captain of the last decade, surely had passion, but it was served differently, with the gentle touch of an old mystic. Tom Kite, on the losing end in 1997, didnt outwardly breathe fire.
Theres no captain thats going to make the difference, Sutton said with a tinge of resignation. Of course now, the phone call was no longer about Azinger.
Were in a vacuum in golf in America, Sutton began, and I knew I was about to experience a strong Texas wind.
Were consumed by the almighty dollar, he said. Weve forgotten that we all play the game because we love it. Greatness doesnt worry about money. Greatness worries about bein great.
Were a product of our environment, he explained. Were playing a game that requires us to hit it high and long. In the old days we had to do more with different golf shots.
Sutton emphasized that its not necessarily the fault of the players. We got too many people in leadership capacities that dont understand the game at its core, he said. Were conforming to what they say the market wants and what manufacturers are giving us and its weakening our players.
The market wants Tiger Woods. And therein, Sutton believes, lay a problem.
Everyones trying to be like Tiger, said the man who took heat for pairing No. 1 with Phil Mickelson in an experiment gone terribly wrong at Oakland Hills. Theres no individualism. Theyre all trying to swing like Tiger.
Look, Rich, he implored, growing more animated, its 400 yards to the other end of the range from where Im sittin and if Jack and Arnie and Raymond and Lee and Gary and Tiger were hittin balls we wouldnt need to walk down there to tell which is which. You could tell em from 400 yards away.
Is that the players fault? No. Its just that weve got it built in our minds that you have to be a certain way to be good.
I have respect for Jim Furyk because he doesnt conform to anybody, Sutton added. Hes been doin it his way for a long time and hes been doin it pretty damn good hasnt he?
Sutton puts some blame at the doorstep of Americas junior golf system.
We dont have world class players in their 20s, he said. Thats a failure on our part.
The greatest in the world learned the game on the golf course, Sutton said. People think you can learn it on the range. Mechanics make you tight. It will not free you up to play the game. There were many days when the great players werent hittin it their best and they still figured a way to win. You dont need reinforcement after every shot.
With the promise of PGA TOUR millions, youngsters and parents chase the dream, often spending lifes savings to attend intensive academies while traveling a junior tournament circuit that would wear down even a hardened veteran.
We need to go back to investing in kids' futures with no agendas and no management fees, try to realign whats important in the game. Everyones taking out of the game and not putting back in. I had people teach me the game and never charged me for a lesson.
We all have an investment in this game.
It took us a generation to get into this and it will take us a generation to get out of it.
And then, Hal had to go, the competitor who once feared no golfer, not even Tiger, now in something of a self-imposed exile. The work of fixing the game too big for one man, hes content to put the finishing touches on a golf course amidst the rolling hills of Texas, far from the profession he no longer knows.
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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.