Hooks Cuts Golfs Winding Trail

By Rich LernerOctober 31, 2005, 5:00 pm
  • With Phil Mickelson bagging the Tour Championship, is there any doubt now that the current schedule is dead? The only entity in sports more suspect than the Tour Championship is the BCS, but in that case at least theyre fighting to get in, not stay home.
  • Tiger and Vijay miss the cut at Disney, Vijay misses again at Tampa, and Phil says no to Atlanta. Is this some grand conspiracy to convince Ponte Vedra that theyre not kidding when they say the seasons too long?
  • While were on the subject of fall sports, if it werent for gambling the NFL wouldnt be half the behemoth that it is. And when the Philadelphia Eagles no-showed our Big Break Challenge crew in early September, I lost respect for them on the spot.
  • Tiger against Daly in San Francisco proved that with the right stars, golf can compete in autumn. Then again, its a short list were talking about: Tiger, JD and Phil. And Tiger has to be in the mix against either JD or Phil to pull in viewers.
  • Standing on the sidelines of a pre-season game, it occurred to me that golfers might be in better shape than football players, in particular the linemen, many of whom appeared grossly overweight.
  • World ranking oddities: Howell and Clark are 18 and 19, respectively. But its David and Tim, not Charles and Darren. How is Henrik Stenson 30? When will Aaron Baddeley play better than 176? Shaun Micheel is 223, Rich Beem 236 and Craig Perks 370. David Duvals 736, below Wilhelm Schauman and Kalle Brink.
  • Jason Gore is a charismatic poster boy for The Nationwide Tour, but the Q-School still produces as well. A pair of 2004 Q-School graduates, Sean OHair and Lucas Glover, will play in The Tour Championship this week. There are no 2004 Nationwide Tour grads in the field. In fact, eight 04 Q-School products are in the top 100 on the money list and just two from the 04 Nationwide Tour.
  • Legends are still legends and good players are good players, not great. Tom Watson came from six back to beat Jay Haas at The Charles Schwab Cup Championship, prompting a stunning dose of the truth right from the lips of Haas himself. He said, When you go down the list of great players, it seems I lacked a little bit of what they had.
  • Player of the Year on The Champions Tour is no easy choice. Dana Quigley became the oldest at 58 to win the money title. But he won only twice, compared to four victories for Hale Irwin. Watson played 13 events, less than half Quigleys total. Yet Watson by far earned more per event'well over $100,000---than any other player and he won a major while Quigley and Irwin did not. Plus, Watson won the finale, in some respects more important than a major given the million-dollar annuity that was at stake. This is a judgment call, and Hale and Dana may have been better over the long haul, but in the championship game, Watson came up with a huge fourth quarter with everything riding. Quigley, who lost two majors in playoffs, will probably get Player of the Year. But Watson was the player when it really counted.
  • One 65 giant was kicked out of the game for arguing with the official. The coach later forfeited with three minutes to go because the play was getting too physical. A college football game? Pistons-Pacers pre-season affair? The 65 giant was a father, and the game was my 7-year-old sons basketball contest against a team of girls. Seriously.
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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.