Bennett Takes Halfway Lead in Sweden

By Sports NetworkAugust 3, 2002, 4:00 pm
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Warren Bennett moved into the lead after carding a 1-under 70 in Friday's second round of the Scandinavian Masters. The 30-year-old Englishman's 36-hole total of 6-under-par 136 left him one stroke in front of five players heading into the weekend.
Sweden's Fredrik Andersson fired a 5-under 66 -- the best round on a difficult day for scoring at Kungsngen Golf Club -- to earn a share of second place at 5-under par. He finished alongside South African Trevor Immelman (67), fellow Swede Carl Pettersson (69), Ignacio Garrido (70) of Spain and first-round leader Graeme McDowell.
McDowell, a rookie from Northern Ireland, opened with a 7-under-par 64 Thursday to set the course record at Kungsngen. He posted two birdies and a bogey through five holes Friday to climb to 8-under, but a trio of bogeys from the seventh through the 13th led to a 2-over 73 in round two.
The 23-year-old McDowell was honored with the Fred Haskins Collegiate Player of the Year Award on Saturday after a stellar career at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. He turned professional in June and is making his fourth start on the European Tour.
Niclas Fasth, the top-ranked Swede in the world and the runner-up to David Duval in the 2001 British Open, shot an even-par 71. He joined the pack at 4-under 138 that included American Jeff Sluman, winner of the PGA Championship in 1988.
In the hunt for his fourth Scandinavian Masters title is defending champion Colin Montgomerie. He began the day four strokes off the lead after a first-round 70 but needed only a 1-under 69 Friday to pull within three shots of the top spot.
'Rounds of 70, 69 is not very good, but I'm in the top-15 and poised to challenge,' said the 39-year-old Scot. 'A good round tomorrow will give me a chance of winning this. I haven't won for a year and I need to win.'
In 1991, Montgomerie reeled in the second victory of his career at the inaugural Scandinavian Masters at Drottningholm Golf Club. He produced three top-10s in the event over the next seven years, then won two of the last three editions (1999 and 2001) at Barsebck Golf & Country Club.
Bennett, a seven-time winner on the European Challenge Tour, survived a playoff with Dutchman Rolf Muntz to capture his first European Tour triumph at the 1999 Scottish PGA Championship. He has struggled with injuries throughout his career, however, and this year has yet to finish in the top-10 in 19 starts.
'It's great to be in contention again, the same old juices get flowing,' Bennett said.
Bennett can chalk his lead up to a lucky break at the 297-yard 15th. Tempted to drive the green at the short par-four, Bennett knocked his tee shot way off line and toward trouble, but his ball struck a tree and dropped down 30 yards short of the putting surface. He pitched his second to within three and sank the putt for birdie.
'That was my get out of jail free card,' he said. 'It was heading for the jungle -- you'd rather be in the water than in there.'
The cut came down at 3-over-par 145 and included 79 players.
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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.