Rain washes out most of the first day at men's NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 24, 2014, 12:08 am

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – It took Texas A&M 11 1/2 hours to play 11 holes Friday.

For once, this is not the start of a slow-play joke.

There were 8 hours and 10 minutes of delays Friday during the opening round of the NCAA Championship. Teams with an early-morning tee time arrived at Prairie Dunes at 6:30 a.m. local time. They left 12 hours later, with the lead group only through 11 holes and just half of the 30-team field underway.

First-round play will resume at 7 a.m. CT Saturday.

“This was one of the toughest days I’ve ever been a part of,” Texas A&M coach J.T. Higgins said.

The first round of stroke-play qualifying began ominously, with a 40-minute delay because of lightning. Alas, that proved to be the shortest suspension, because not long after a band of showers and thunderstorms rolled through the area and caused a delay of more than five hours.

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Teams were able to play for about 90 minutes before the opening round was stopped again, this time for good. At the time of this writing, more than two inches of rain had fallen on the links-style course.

“It was one of those frustrating days,” SMU coach Josh Gregory said, “because you think you’re going to play and you don’t.”

The Mustangs are currently on Nos. 6-8, while Texas A&M, Texas and USC have played the most holes (through 11). The top 12 seeds didn’t even hit a shot.

The ’Bama players arrived at the course around noon, but only because they had grown tired of sitting in their hotel rooms. Washington, which also had an afternoon tee time, tweeted a photo from their leisurely round at Carey Park Golf Course, about seven miles south of Hutchinson and, apparently, bone-dry.

During the delay, players combated boredom any way they could. Some gorged on fried chicken strips, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Others played blackjack. A few spent time with their families, or napped in the locker room, or, in Texas A&M’s case, slipped into the team van and watched “Miracle.”

Funny, too, because those same teams thought they’d caught the luck of the draw. In the morning Prairie Dunes was soft and receptive, and there was virtually no wind. They just couldn’t get out on the course to exploit it.

“I thought it was a tremendous break,” said Gregory, but the rain never relented and the stop-and-start nature of the round made it difficult to establish a rhythm. Through 5-7 holes, SMU is 2 under par.

“It sucks for everybody,” Higgins said. “They’re doing their best to get us around, but it’s more than likely that teams are going to be playing a different golf course now.”

With only 15 teams underway, the schedule for the rest of the week is now thrown into flux. Even in perfect conditions – there’s a 50-percent chance of showers and storms Saturday – it seems unlikely that 36 holes will be completed by day's end.

The 54-hole qualifier is scheduled to wrap up Sunday, with a cut to the low eight teams for match play and low 40 individuals. On Monday, those players are supposed to compete in the fourth and final round to crown an individual champion. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday, with the two-team finals on Wednesday.

Officials will worry about the tournament schedule later. For now, Saturday figures to be an all-day affair, with play beginning at 7 a.m. and, weather permitting, continuing until sunset at 8:45 p.m.

“It’s more tough mentally than physically,” Gregory said. “It’s just a mental grind. It’s a test of mental patience.”

With an iffy forecast the rest of the way, it’s clear that more patience will be required.

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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.