Cink Leads Suspended NEC

By Sports NetworkAugust 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
AKRON, Ohio -- Stewart Cink, fresh from being named one of Hal Sutton's captain's picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, is 5 under par and in the lead during the suspended World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational.
The first round was suspended for darkness, but the start of the tournament was delayed for several hours as heavy rain pounded Firestone Country Club. Officials decided to change the tee times and sent the players off in threesomes off both the first and 10th tees.
During the round, there was another delay thanks to a thunderstorm in the area. Play resumed and 16 of the 76 players in the field completed their first rounds.
The remaining players will come back to Firestone at 7:30 a.m. ET Friday morning to complete the first round.
Cink is 5 under through 10 holes, while Rod Pampling, the winner of the International two weeks ago, is 4 under par through 12 holes.
Tiger Woods, a three-time NEC Invitational champion, is fighting to keep his No. 1 ranking. This week, he broke Greg Norman's record for most weeks atop the rankings with 332, but there are several scenarios where PGA champion Vijay Singh or Ernie Els could overtake him. Woods responded on Thursday.
He is 3 under par with one to play, but was tied for the lead until some late miscues. Woods bogeyed 16 and 17, both times missing putts inside 10 feet, and is tied with Zach Johnson and Carlos Franco, who are both early on their back nines.
'I was feeling I was playing well and throwing away too many golf shots,' said Woods, who won this event from 1999-2001. 'When you make seven birdies on this golf course, that's not easy to do, and then you throw it right away with four bogeys, that's not very good.'
Woods, who bogeyed the first but responded with three birdies in a row from the second, holed out from short of the green at the ninth and made it to 2 under par. He added birdies at 12, 13 and 15, but dropped a pair of shots late in his round.
Singh, playing in the first group out on the back nine Thursday, struggled after his third major title. He bogeyed two of his first three holes, but got it back to even par when he played his final two holes.
At the eighth, Singh landed in the right bunker and could not get up and down for par. One hole later, Singh drove into the left rough and tried to hack it out and left it short. He left it short of the green again, chipped on and made the putt for a double bogey.
All totaled, Singh carded a 3-over 73.
'The high was really last week, and now I've got to get over it and start a new week,' said Singh, who defeated Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco in a playoff last week at Whistling Straits. 'It's not an excuse, but it does kind of affect you a little bit.'
Els is 1 under through 11 holes with two birdies and one bogey.
As Singh and Els are chasing Woods for first in the World Rankings, Woods will be chasing his new Ryder Cup teammate Friday morning.
Cink, who was added to the team Monday morning and will be participating in his second Ryder Cup, began on the back nine Thursday and tallied four birdies in his opening nine holes.
At the 10th, Cink drained a 7-footer for birdie to go one clear of Pampling. Did his recent piece of good news impact how he played in his first round since the selection?
'It didn't hurt but I don't think it really had any effect,' said Cink, who moved up the Ryder Cup table with top-10 finishes at the Buick Open and the International. 'I'm obviously glad I've been picked and it's nice to start out in this tournament right after that, but it really is more of an indication of the way I've been playing for the last couple months than just one pick.'
Pampling recorded four birdies through his first seven holes, including an 8-footer at No. 7. He mixed a birdie and a bogey the rest of the way and was on the 13th fairway when the horn sounded.
'It was a long day,' said Pampling. 'Everybody was kind of waiting around, but I got off to a nice start, made some nice putts and just kind of held it there.'
Jim Furyk, who lost this event in a playoff to Woods in 2001, shot a 2-under 68 and is tied with Davis Love III and Frenchman Thomas Levet. Shigeki Maruyama is 2 under through 16 holes, DiMarco through 15, Sergio Garcia through 14 and David Toms is making the turn at minus-2.
Phil Mickelson played poorly on Thursday. He drained an 18-foot eagle putt at the second, but attempted a risky shot from the rough at three and splashed in the water. He made double bogey at that hole and bogeyed nine and 13. The Masters champion is 2 over through 14 holes.
Defending champion Darren Clarke is also 2 over and will be playing his 17th hole Friday morning.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC-NEC Invitational
  • Full Coverage - WGC-NEC Invitational
  • 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.