Every shot matters on the PGA Tour

By Ryan LavnerNovember 10, 2012, 6:05 pm

Every shot matters.

Over the course of a season, PGA Tour players will remind us that they need to just go out and “play one shot at a time,” and afterward might lament that they “left a few out there,” and that throughout the day there were a couple of “loose shots” or “lapses in concentration” and, well, if a few more putts had fallen, “it could have been a really low round.”

Normally, that’s just players-speak during a 72-hole tournament, a convenient and clichéd response when a voice recorder is stuffed in their face.

Not this week.

Entering the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic, the final stop on the PGA Tour schedule, only $7,318 separates Nos. 123-127 on the money list. Yes, just $7,318 – the difference between grinding and pure glee, between the Web.com and PGA Tours, between Q-School and courtesy cars. That blade-of-Bermuda grass thin.

Maybe every shot really does matter.

So, with a tip of the cap to Golf Channel’s research department, here are the bubble boys who wish they really could have those one or two shots back – the guys who actually did leave a few out there:

No. 124 Rod Pampling ($620,893 in 25 starts): Remember the Farmers Insurance Open? Quick summary: Kyle Stanley collapses, Brandt Snedeker steals the title. Well, in the second round at Torrey Pines, Pampling missed a par putt from just outside 4 feet. He eventually shot 75 that day.

It seemed innocuous at the time, of course, but had he made that putt, had he shot 74, he would have earned $201,000 instead of $162,000 (T-8) that week. It was the 43-year-old’s first and only top 10 of the season, and just his third in the past three years.

Why is that a big deal? Because that extra $39,000 he could have earned in San Diego would have provided him more of a cushion over No. 125 entering this week’s season finale – from just less than $1,000 to more than $40,000. This time of year, that slight bump makes a huge difference.

No. 125 Billy Mayfair ($619,961 in 27 starts): The 46-year-old’s best tournament of the year was the RBC Heritage, where he shot 67-69 on the weekend to finish T-4. His next-best finish in 2012 was a T-12 in the Mayakoba Classic, an event played opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship, so the $250,000 paycheck went a long way.

But on the final day at Hilton Head, Kevin Stadler made an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that dropped Mayfair into a share of fourth place. Had Mayfair finished alone in fourth, he would have earned $22,800 more and would sit in 123th place on the money list entering the Disney event. Thanks a lot, Stads.

No. 127 Gary Christian ($616,457 in 27 events): His first year on Tour could eventually be marred by two miscues about a month apart.

First, let’s go to the 15th hole at TPC River Highlands, host of the Travelers Championship. In the third round, Christian rinsed his tee shot on the short par 4 en route to a double bogey. (The other three rounds, he made two birdies and a par on that hole.) Had Christian not found the water with that tee shot – had the 41-year-old just made par! – he would have finished 11th, not 18th, and earned $51,600 more that week.

Next, at the RBC Canadian Open, he missed a 4-foot par putt on the par-3 eighth hole in the third round. It was his only bogey over the final 36 holes, during which he shot 65-66 and finished T-10. Had he made par, he would have finished T-7, earned an extra $37,050, and the Englishman would have been inside the top 125 bubble entering this week’s season finale. Poor bloke.

No. 128 Alexandre Rocha ($605,117 in 20 events): His best chance to win this season came at the Reno-Tahoe Open, which uses the Modified Stableford scoring system. Worth points or strokes, it mattered little – in the third round, Rocha missed a 3-foot par putt on the 17th hole to lose a point. Alas, one point, in fact, would become the eventual margin of victory, with J.J. Henry hoisting the trophy.

So instead of beginning his 2013 season in the winners-only event in Kapalua, Rocha is scrapping for his Tour card at Disney, where dreams either really do come true … or they’re mercilessly crushed in front of thousands of fans.

No. 129 Bill Lunde ($593,598 in 24 events): Tour players rarely miss from inside 3 feet. Yet Lunde missed a shorty during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open, costing him $59,333 in potential prize money (or the difference between T-8 and his eventual T-13). The rub: Had he converted that tiddler, Lunde would have been No. 123 on the money list entering this week. That $1million Kodak Challenge bonus can’t last forever, you know.

No. 130 D.J. Trahan ($587,407 in 26 events): Phoenix Open, final day, opening hole. Trahan, a two-time Tour winner, missed a par putt from 4 feet, 6 inches. Had that putt fallen, had he made par instead of dropping a shot, he would have finished 13 under for the week, good for a two-way tie for third, good for an extra $61,000 in prize money. Which means that he would have been 123rd on the money list entering this week. Which means that he wouldn’t have been in imminent danger of losing his Tour card.

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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.