Gilder Golden at Allianz

By Sports NetworkSeptember 1, 2002, 4:00 pm
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Bob Gilder closed with a 4-under-par 67 Sunday to win his third Senior Tour title in his last six starts at the Allianz Championship. He finished the 54-hole event at 13-under-par 200, one stroke ahead of overnight leader John Bland.
Gilder, who needed playoffs to capture his first two titles of the season in consecutive weeks in late July, avoided extra holes by rolling in a four-foot knee-knocker at the final hole.
'I made things interesting at the end by leaving that first putt short,' Gilder said of his two-putt par at the 18th. 'Luckily I got the next one in.'
Bland, a 56-year-old South African with a slew of victories around the world, was in position to win his sixth Senior Tour event and his first since 1996. He began Sunday's round with a two-stroke lead but shot a 1-under 70 that featured a costly bogey at the par-4 17th.
'I'm quite happy with my game at the moment,' said Bland, whose second-place finish was his best of the season. His previous best showing of 2002 was a tie for third at last week's Uniting Fore Care Classic.
'There are lots of wonderful players out here. Your game has to be in top form and you've got to putt under pressure.'
Gilder, who opened with two birdies Sunday to tie Bland at 11-under, later took his first lead with a 12-foot birdie putt at the 13th. Bland matched his playing partner at 13-under when he wedged his third shot to six feet at the par-5 15th hole and sank the putt for birdie.
Both players had birdie chances at the par-3 16th -- the hole Bland aced on Saturday en route to his career-best 63 and the second-round lead -- but missed their putts and settled for pars. Bland then seemed to have the upper hand at the par-4 17th when he found the fairway off the tee and Gilder drove into the right rough.
But Bland missed the green right, executed a mediocre chip to 12 feet and two-putted for bogey. Gilder, who knocked his approach to 18 feet, took two putts to get down for a par and led by one shot with one hole to play.
'I didn't feel comfortable shooting at the flag at 17 and pushed it to the right a little bit,' Bland said.
'John left himself with a tough chip at 17. The rough is pretty gnarly,' said Gilder. 'I felt good after he missed his putt there.'
Needing a birdie to tie Gilder at the last, Bland drove into the rough but managed to save par with a six-foot putt. Gilder put the pressure on himself when he left his first putt a couple of feet short of tap-in range, but he stepped up and split the cup to seal the win.
Gilder, who won twice last year and garnered the Senior Tour's 2001 Rookie of the Year award, now has a total of five victories on the 50-and-over circuit. He racked up six wins on the PGA Tour.
Hale Irwin, the Senior Tour's all-time wins leader who tops the 2002 season money list, was in the mix at 11-under after his third birdie of the day at the 13th. However, he hit his tee shot onto a trap at the par-3 14th and wound up carding a five. Irwin finished with a two-under 69 and tied for third place with Bruce Lietzke (67) at 10-under 203.
'It was a killer,' Irwin said of the 14th hole. 'I hit a bad shot and then had a tough bunker shot. Three putts later, I walked off with a double-bogey.'
Irwin, who is tied with Gilder for the most victories of 2002 with three, has 11 finishes in the top-three and 18 in the top-10 in 21 starts.
Final results from the Allianz Championship
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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.

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Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

“Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

“I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.