Labor Day Hooks Cuts

By Rich LernerSeptember 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
  • Understanding that youre reading this in hopes of gleaning minor pearls of semi-lucid golf wisdom, youll forgive me for starting this effort with a riff on the sport of tennis. Very early this morning, at about 12:45 eastern time, I finished watching one of the most compelling events Ive seen in years. Andre Agassi ran to the corners of the earth and back at age 36 to outlast the gamest of opponents, 21-year-old Marcos Baghdatis, who fought from 4-0 down in the fourth set and through leg cramps in the fifth to extend the legend to the bitter end of a sweat-soaked fifth set. Agassi won and staved off retirement. 23,000 stayed and stood and cheered and cried into Fridays first hour. Each man hit ground strokes as hard as Tiger hits 2-iron. Im no tennis maven, but I guarantee theyll talk about that match for years.
  • When I was a kid, we used to play baseball, basketball and hand-ball with tennis balls. Not surprisingly, they frequently ended up on the roof. Thats why I wasnt shocked to see Tiger get a free drop at Firestone. My dad used to do the same for us.
  • Everyones piling on the poor U.S. Ryder Cup team. Rick Reilly humiliated them in SI and John Hawkins panned them in Golf World. Its all part of Tom Lehmans master plan to make absolutely, positively certain that the Yanks go in as the underdog this time.
  • Can you think of a single player ready to challenge Tiger on a regular basis?
  • Just returned from Bandon Dunes but it could have easily been Scotland or Ireland. Three courses sit on a remote patch along the rugged Oregon coast. When the mist crawled across the fairway I experienced one of those moments you read about in those golf-as-mystical-journey books that are so popular. Pacific Dunes in particular is hauntingly beautiful and in my humble estimation easily the equal of Pebble Beach.
  • Young golfers would do well to watch Agassi for the manner in which he gives so completely of himself to the fans who adore him and to the sport which has given him so much. He takes nothing for granted and leaves everything on the court.
  • Tigers halfway to a second version of a slam. Obviously, hell be a prohibitive favorite at Augusta. If he wins the Masters, and theres little reason to think he wont, well go to Oakmont next June with a chance to end any and all debates about whos the best ever even before he gets to 18 majors. If Tiger were to own two runs of four majors in a row, the question wont be, is he better than Nicklaus but is he better than Jordan or Thorpe or Mays or Gretzky and the answer will very likely be yes.
  • I missed a 3-footer for all the cheese on my last hole of my last round at Bandon. Hooded the putt dead left and never even sniffed the cup. My partner bought me a commemorative cap. Instead of Bandon Dunes it said Bandon Dunce.

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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.