Campbell Leads Harrington and Lawrie in Ireland

By Sports NetworkJuly 6, 2002, 4:00 pm
KILDARE, Ireland -- Michael Campbell of New Zealand birdied the 18th hole Saturday to shoot a 2-under 70 and grab the 54-hole lead of the European Open at The K Club. He finished at 7-under-par 209 for a one-shot lead over Ireland's Padraig Harrington and the 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie.
Barry Lane is alone in fourth place at 5-under-par, followed by Colin Montgomerie (68) and Joakim Haeggman (71), who share fifth at minus 4.
Harrington bogeyed the 17th hole Saturday to fall to 4-under-par but rebounded in a big way at the par-5 18th. He bombed his drive down the fairway and was left with only a 6-iron into the green, which he played to six feet. Harrington ran home the eagle putt to reach 6-under-par and share the lead with Campbell.
'That was important to me,' said crowd favorite Harrington. 'After not birdieing the 16th and bogeying the 17th I would have been frustrated because I had a lot of chances today but I stayed patient and got rewarded on the last.'
Campbell quickly grabbed the lead back at the par-5 16th when he wedged his third shot to three feet to set up birdie. Campbell nailed his approach over the green at the 17th and tried to chip his third shot left of the hole but the ball ran through the green and nestled on the front fringe leaving him 40 feet to the cup.
Campbell chipped close and tapped in for the bogey to fall back into a tie for the lead. While Campbell was bogeying 17, Lawrie in the group ahead narrowly missed a 30-foot eagle putt at 18 but settled for birdie and joined Campbell and Harrington at minus 6.
The New Zealander hit another long approach at 18 when he roped a fairway-wood over the green. Campbell chipped 15 feet past the hole but drained the putt to take back the lead and put himself in the final group Sunday.
'It was frustrating for me today,' said Campbell, who last won on the European Tour at the 2001 Heineken Classic. 'I played well from tee to green but missed a lot of putts coming home. The putt on the last was nice to lead the tournament with 18 holes to play. I had a lot of opportunities but didn't convert them. Hopefully tomorrow it will it will be my turn.'
One of the major factors that Campbell will have to contend with Sunday is playing with Harrington, who will have a decided home-field advantage.
'It is going to be a great day for everyone out there tomorrow, especially the spectators,' said Campbell. 'Having played the New Zealand Open for the past seven years I can understand why Padraig is playing so well, like Darren Clarke did last year. He will have the home support but the Irish people are very knowledgeable about the game of golf and respect all the players so it will be fun tomorrow.'
'This is a big event in a European context but means more because it is at home, only half an hour from where I grew up, so there's more to it than just the European Open,' said Harrington, who posted his second 69 in as many days.
Lawrie also shot a 3-under 69 Saturday and is in position for his first victory since last year's Dunhill Links Championship. Over the last three holes, Lawrie had putts that skimmed the cup and could have easily given him the 54-hole lead.
'I played beautiful today,' said Lawrie. 'I hit one bad shot off the first and that was it. The last nine holes I made two birdies and missed a putt on pretty much every green. All good putts, all dead pace.'
Paul Casey is alone in seventh at 3-under-par. Ian Woosnam and American Fred Funk shared low round of the day honors with 5-under 67s. The pair are part of a group tied for eighth place at minus 2.
Full-field scores from the Smurfit European Open
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.