Aikens record 61 earns lead in S Africa

By Sports NetworkDecember 13, 2008, 5:00 pm
2009 European TourMALELANE, South Africa ' Thomas Aiken set a new course record with his 11-under 61 Saturday and that gave him a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
 
Aiken completed 54 holes at 18-under-par 198, which matched the tournament's 54-hole scoring record. David Frost was the first to post 198 in 1997 and he was matched by Adam Scott in 2001.
 
'I had no idea what the record was,' said Aiken of the course record. 'I heard a couple of mutters, but nothing confirmed. I hit a good shot off the tee at the last, and I was on the fairway and I had a 4-iron to the green. Fortunately, I struck it well and that was that.'
 
Len Mattiace, who shared the lead after the first and second rounds, carded a 6-under 66 and is alone in second at minus-17.
 
David Lynn (66) and Richard Sterne (68) share third place at 14-under-par 202 with second-round co-leaders Robert Rock (69) and Oskar Henningsson (69). Sterne and Henningsson both double-bogeyed the par-5 18th to close their rounds.
 
Aiken, who will go for his first European Tour crown on Sunday, did most of his damage in the middle of his round at Leopard Creek Country Club.
 
The South African birdied the par-5 second to move to 8 under. He birdied seven of the next nine holes to soar into the lead.
 
Aiken converted back-to-back birdie chances from the fifth, then poured in four consecutive birdies tries from the eighth. His third birdie in three days at the par-5 13th gave him the lead at 15 under.
 
He settled down with three straight pars. Aiken ran home a 35-foot birdie putt at the par-4 17th, then closed with an eagle at the last to cap a bogey-free round.
 
'It was a fantastic day. I had a great day (Friday) and just came out here trying to follow that 65 up and try and keep among the pack of the leaders,' Aiken stated. 'It's this funny old game called golf. You just plod along and all of a sudden, things start to happen and you get the ball rolling, sink a few putts and next thing you know you hit 11 under par.'
 
Mattiace, who has fallen out of the top 1,000 in the world rankings, flew out of the gate with birdies on three of the first four holes. As he parred seven in a row from the fifth, Aiken flew by him into the lead.
 
The 41-year-old Mattiace birdied the 12th and 15th, but now was two strokes behind Aiken. Mattiace stumbled to a bogey on the 17th, but bounced back with an eagle on the par-5 18th to end one back.
 
John E. Morgan and Tyrone Mordt, who both shot 68 on Saturday, are tied for seventh place at 13-under-par 203.
 
World No. 10 Lee Westwood, the highest ranked player in the field, posted his second straight 70 and is tied for 13th at 10-under-par 206.
 
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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.