European Rookie Fires 61 in Portugal

By Sports NetworkOctober 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
European TourVILAMOURA, Portugal -- Martin Kaymer, a European Tour rookie, matched the lowest round on tour this year Thursday with an 11-under-par 61 and owns the first-round lead at the inaugural Portugal Masters.
 
Kaymer, a favorite for European Tour Rookie of the Year, tied Chapchai Nirat and Lee Westwood for the lowest round this season. Nirat shot his 61 in the first round of the TCL Classic and went on to victory, while Westwood fired his 61 in round one of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, but tied for sixth.
 
The German Kaymer also established a new course record at Oceanico Victoria Club de Golfe. He won twice last year on the Challenge Tour and has a tie for third and a tie for second on the European Tour in 2007.
 
'I really enjoyed the day,' said Kaymer, who shot a 13-under 59 last year on a third-level tour in Europe. 'I was playing awesome today. Every putt went in. It was a perfect golf day.'
 
Martin Erlandsson and Daniel Vancsik, last week's 54-hole leader at the Madrid Open, are tied for second place after opening rounds of 8-under-par 64.
 
Westwood, two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen and Gregory Bourdy are knotted in fourth place at minus-7.
 
These five players carded great scores on Thursday, but were not close to Kaymer.
 
He parred his first two, then rattled off back-to-back birdies from the third. Kaymer posted two in a row again on his front nine, from the sixth, and made the turn in 32.
 
It was on the back nine that Kaymer got into the record books.
 
The German birdied the 10th and 12th holes to reach 6 under par for the championship. Kaymer then caught fire at the end of his round to not just take the lead, but tie the European Tour record for the year.
 
He birdied four holes in a row from the 13th, but needed a birdie at the last to match the low score of the year. Kaymer drained a 15-foot birdie putt at the closing hole to do just that.
 
'It was a day that everything goes in,' said Kaymer. 'I've been waiting for this day for a couple of weeks. My putting has been so-so, but every putt went in this time.'
 
Kaymer has enjoyed a spectacular rookie season on tour. He held the 54-hole lead at the Wales Open, but only managed a 1-over 70 in the final round and tied for 14th. At the Scandinavian Masters in August, Kaymer owned first heading to the final hole, but made double-bogey on the 72nd to share second.
 
'I was in a really good position in Sweden,' acknowledged Kaymer. 'I learned a lot of things. We'll see how it ends this weekend. I'm not thinking about victories. There's still 54 holes left.'
 
Fredrik Andersson Hed, Ariel Canete, Emanuele Canonica, Alfred Dunhill Links Champion Nick Dougherty, Jean-Francois Lucquin, Andrew McLardy, Francesco Molinari, Alvaro Quiros, Charl Schwartzel, Sam Walker and Steve Webster share seventh place at 6-under 66.
 
With the season winding down, the Order of Merit title is still up for grabs. Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington are not here this week, but No. 3 Justin Rose is in the field.
 
Rose, battling a recurring back injury, shot a 3-under 69 on Thursday and is tied for 44th place with, among others, Andres Romero, who is seventh in the money race.
 
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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.