Branshaw Maintains Lead at Tour Championship

By Sports NetworkOctober 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Nationwide Tour ChampionshipPRATTVILLE, Ala. -- David Branshaw carded a 3-under 69 on Saturday to move four strokes clear of the field after three rounds of the Nationwide Tour Championship. He completed 54 holes at 11-under-par 205.
 
Eric Axley shared the low round of the day with his 6-under 66. He stands alongside Steven Bowditch (70) at 7-under-par 209. Jon Mills, who was one of three leaders after the opening round, struggled to a 1-over 73. He is alone in fourth place at minus-6.
 
Jerry Smith posted the other 66 on Saturday. That got him to 5-under-par 211, where he was joined by Peter Tomasulo and Jim McGovern on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill.
 
This event features the top-61 players on the 2005 Nationwide Tour money list. Jason Gore, second on the money list, already made it to the PGA Tour via the 'battlefield promotion,' so the top-20 other players on the money list after the final round will head to the PGA Tour for the 2006 season.
 
Branshaw is 29th on the money list and needs a big finish this week to earn his playing privileges on the PGA Tour next year. He got off to a quick start with a birdie on the second.
 
The 36-year-old sank another birdie try on the fourth to get to 10 under, which was four strokes clear of Mills and McGovern at the time. Branshaw moved to 11 under with a birdie on No. 8. He kept rolling with a birdie on the par-4 11th.
 
He tripped to his first bogey at the par-4 14th when he missed a 5-foot par putt. Branshaw atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the 15th to get back to 12 under.
 
Branshaw stumbled to the second bogey of his round on the 16th after his tee shot to the par-3 found a greenside bunker. He parred his final two holes to lead by four after three rounds.
 
'It was a good round,' said Branshaw. 'I was fortunate to shoot 69. What made it hard was pretty much every putt I had was downhill putts.'
 
In the first 12 Tour Championships, seven of the 12 36-hole leaders have gone on to win the title. Branshaw is looking to make that eight of 13. A win would guarantee him his PGA Tour card for next year.
 
'Tomorrow will be a hard day, but you've got to put that out of your mind and just play golf,' Branshaw said. 'I'm good at having the same mindset for each tournament. I'd like to get in a fog tomorrow and be oblivious to everything going on.'
 
Axley began the day seven strokes behind Branshaw. He didn't look like he'd be flying into contention as he played his first five holes in 1 over. Axley righted the ship with birdies on Nos. 6 and 8 to move to 2 under.
 
Around the turn, Axley drained another birdie try at the 10th. After a bogey on 12, he really caught fire. The left-hander converted consecutive birdies from the 13th to get to 4 under. Axley then eagled 17 and birdied 18th to jump to 7 under within four of Branshaw.
 
'I've made a few more putts after that poor first round,' Axley said. 'I've been taking it one shot at a time. First things first, hit the fairway, then try to put it in the right position on the green and try to make a putt. I'm just trying to execute each shot and whatever comes of it, we'll go from there.'
 
Bowditch, who won the Jacob's Creek Open earlier this season, birdied the sixth and eight to make the turn at minus-7. He picked up another stroke on the 11th with the third birdie of his round.
 
The Australian tripped to back-to-back bogeys from the 14th to slide back to 6 under. Bowditch got one of those strokes back with a birdie at the last.
 
Ryan Armour is alone in eighth place at 4-under-par 212 after a 73. Bubba Dickerson and Steve LeBrun are one stroke further back at minus-3.
 
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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.