Campbell Still Trails by Two in Paris

By Sports NetworkJune 30, 2006, 4:00 pm
European TourPARIS -- England's John Bickerton remained the in the lead after two rounds of the French Open despite shooting just a 1-under 70 on Friday.
Bickerton stands at 9-under-par 133 for a one-shot advantage over Scotland's Gary Orr, who fired a 7-under 64 in the second round to reach 8-under-par 134.
Orr went without a bogey Friday despite hitting just 7-of-14 fairways in regulation. Behind him, 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand shares third place with Sweden's Joakim Backstrom (69), Welshman Bradley Dredge (66) and Spain's Jose Manuel Lara (68) at minus-7.
Campbell was in second place overnight, two shots behind Bickerton, but failed to make up any ground on the leader after also shooting a 70 at Le Golf National's Albatross Course.
On Thursday, Bickerton parlayed a recent putting adjustment into a bogey-free round that included just 25 putts. Friday, he opened with a three-putt at the first hole for his first bogey of the tournament.
Putting trouble was a running theme during his second round, which he finished needing 32 putts.
'Yesterday they were rolling in nicely and today I was leaving a lot short on line,' Bickerton said.
Recovering nicely, Bickerton collected birdies at the second and third holes, then added a birdie at the 10th to make the turn at 10 under.
On the back nine, Bickerton found two more bogeys -- at the par-4 12th, which he birdied Thursday, and the par-4 17th. He buffered those missteps with a birdie at the 15th to help him secure his first-ever 36-hole lead on the European Tour.
Bickerton, 36, is seeking his second career victory after winning last year's Abama Open de Canarias. That title came during his 12th season as a member of the European Tour.
Victories in back-to-back seasons could be career-changing after such a drought.
'You still have to go out and play, and at the end of the day if you focus on what you are doing and don't get ahead of yourself, that is the only way to do it,' said Bickerton. 'I felt nervous out there, but stayed focused.'
Orr climbed from 33rd place overnight with his 64, which included four birdies during a seven-hole stretch on the front nine and three more birdies on the back.
Afterward, the two-time European Tour winner reflected on losing his playing privileges two years ago.
'Losing my tour card made me sit back and look at what I was doing,' said Orr, 39, who claimed both of his titles in 2000. 'In a situation like that, you have to. There is no option. It's either do that or go and do something else. It is a straightforward decision.'
Peter Gustafsson and Markus Brier shot matching 3-under 68s and share seventh place with Benn Barham (69) at 6-under-par 136. Qatar Masters champion Henrik Stenson shot a 70 and leads a group of five player knotted in 10th place at minus-5.
The cut fell at 1-over with 72 players moving on to the weekend.
Defending champion Jean-Francois Remesy stumbled to a 75, but made the cut on the number. Others who weren't as lucky: world No. 10 and leading money winner on the European Tour David Howell, Thomas Bjorn and Nick Dougherty.
Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros, a four-time French Open champion and owner of a slew of tournament records, missed the cut in last place at plus-20. His nephew, Raul, was 11 shots better, but also missed the cut.
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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.