Eaks Leads Watson Others in Naples

By Sports NetworkFebruary 17, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 ACE Group ClassicNAPLES, Fla. -- R.W. Eaks posted a 7-under-par 65 Friday to grab a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the ACE Group Classic.
Tom Watson, the reigning Senior British Open champion, posted a 6-under-par 66 to share second place. Watson, who owns 47 wins combined on the PGA and Champions Tours, has never won in the state of Florida.
Watson was joined in second place at The Club at TwinEagles by Brad Bryant, Don Pooley and Rick Karbowski.
Gil Morgan, a two-time winner of this event, is one stroke further back at minus-5 and stands alongside Fuzzy Zoeller, Dan Pohl and Loren Roberts, who has won the first two Champions events this season.
Eaks, who is still in search of his first Champions Tour crown, got off to a quick start with a birdie on the first. He came back to birdie the third from 4 feet out and the fifth to quickly get to minus-3.
The 53-year-old made it two in a row as he got up and down for birdie on the par-5 sixth. Eaks parred six straight holes around the turn. He then drained a 38-foot eagle effort on the par-5 13th to jump to 6 under.
Eaks, who also shared the lead after the first round here last year, parred each of his next four holes to remain there. He moved one stroke clear of the field with a birdie on the last.
'That was a very solid round of golf,' Eaks said. 'I am trying to hit it softer and hit more fairways. I hit 40 percent of my fairways last year. I have a better chance of winning hitting it in the fairway and not quite as long.'
Watson got on the board with an eagle on the par-5 third. He then picked up birdied on Nos. 5 and 7 to get to 4 under. Watson drained his next birdie on the 10th. He moved within one of the lead with a birdie at the 15th, but parred out to remain there.
'The scoring conditions were ideal with no wind. I played well today,' said Watson. 'I've finished second a bunch of times in Florida, but I really can't explain not winning in the state.'
Bryant ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the fourth. After dropping a stroke on the eighth, the 51-year-old birdied No. 9 to turn at minus-3. Bryant birdied the 11th and 13th to keep moving up the leaderboard. He grabbed a share of second with a birdie on the 17th.
Pooley played the first five holes at even par, with two birdies and two bogeys in that stretch. He managed to make the turn at minus-2 with birdies on the sixth and ninth.
Around the turn, the 2002 U.S. Senior Open champion posted back-to-back birdies from the 12th and then again from the 16th to share second.
Karbowski was 4 under through four holes, with two birdies and an eagle. He bogeyed the fifth, but got that shot right back on the sixth. After a bogey on No. 10, Karbowski birdied the 11th to get back to minus-4. He birdied the 13th, then claimed a share of second thanks to a birdie at the last hole.
Bruce Summerhays and Dana Quigley lead a group of players tied for 10th at 4-under-par 68. They were joined there by Keith Fergus, John Jacobs, Peter Jacobsen, Tom Jenkins, Massy Kuramoto, Jose Maria Canizares, Mike San Filippo and Des Smyth.
Defending champion Mark James is tied for 54th after opening with a 1-over-par 73.
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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.