Els Leads by Four at Heineken Classic

By Sports NetworkFebruary 2, 2002, 5:00 pm
Ernie Els posted his second straight round of 3-under 69 to take a four-shot lead at the Heineken Classic Saturday. Els stands at 14-under 202 heading into the final round.
Peter O'Malley carded a 2-under 70 to move into second at 10-under 206 while five players lie two shots further back at minus-eight, including defending champion Michael Campbell (68) of New Zealand.
Els began the day with a three-shot lead and got off to a quick start with a birdie on the second. However, he ran into trouble with bogeys on the fourth and sixth, finding greenside bunkers on both holes.
'I had a bit of a shaky start but after No. 6 I really thought I played OK.' said Els.
The two-time U.S. Open winner countered with a birdie on the seventh while Australian Stephen Leaney had begun a charge of his own.
Leaney picked up two strokes with back-to-back birdies from the second and added another on the par-5 ninth to move into a tie with Els at 11-under.
He jumped into the lead momentarily with a birdie on the par-5 10th but Els matched him with a birdie at the ninth.
The South African regained the lead outright on the following hole. Despite finding the rough off the tee he managed to reach the green in two and rolled home the 15-foot putt for an eagle to move to 14-under.
Meanwhile Leaney began to fall apart on the 11th with the first of four bogeys over his next five holes to finish at 8-under.
Els played at even-par to close out the round. Sunday he will be looking for his seventh win on the European Tour and his first since the Standard Life Loch Lomond in 2000.
'I don't know if I'm all that comfortable. You've got to be careful when the wind's blowing out there,' said Els. 'The greens were a bit softer out there so you could be a bit more aggressive.'
O'Malley got within three shots of Els but three-putted the 17th for a bogey to drop to 10-under.
Campbell and Leaney were joined by Englishmen Barry Lane (68) and David Howell (70) as well as Richard Lee (71) of New Zealand.
Lee torched the Composite Course at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club with eight birdies and an eagle en route to a course record 10-under 62 during Friday's second round.
The 28-year-old got off to a hot start in the third round holing out from the fairway for an eagle on the first but managed only two birdies to go along with five bogeys the rest of the way.
'I'm very happy with a 71. I had a chance to do better but a couple of bad drives towards the end just cost me,' he said.
A group of seven players are knotted at seven-under 209 including Greg Norman.
Norman. a playing partner of Els, bogeyed the third but hit his approach to within six feet for a birdie on the sixth. He added back-to-back birdies around the turn but ran into trouble with three bogeys on the back nine.
The 46-year-old finished alongside three of his fellow countrymen in Adam Scott (70), Peter Fowler (70) and Robert Allenby (71), Mark Pilkington (73) of Wales and the English duo of Nick Faldo (69) and Philip Golding (70).
Full-Field Scores from the Heineken Classic
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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.