Goosen Els Monty Fall Short in Thailand

By Sports NetworkMarch 4, 2007, 5:00 pm
European TourPHUKET, Thailand -- Anton Haig picked the right time for his first birdies at the 18th hole.
 
They gave him his first European Tour win.
 
Haig, a 20-year-old South African, birdied No. 18 at Blue Canyon to make a three-way playoff with Richard Sterne and Oliver Wilson, then returned to the par-4 and birdied it again to walk away a winner Sunday at the Johnnie Walker Classic.
 
He shot his second consecutive 2-under 70 in the final round and came from two shots down -- clinching the win with a 10-foot putt on the first extra hole.
 
'It feels absolutely amazing,' Haig gushed. 'I didn't think this would be possible, but after shooting 64 in the second round I knew I was hitting the ball well enough to win.'
 
Sterne, the overnight leader after twice tying the course record with consecutive 64s, managed only an even-par 72 on Sunday and bogeyed the 17th hole to fall into a tie.
 
Wilson, the second-round leader, closed with a 1-under 71 and made the playoff with a bogey-free back nine that included two birdies.
 
The trio finished 72 holes knotted at 13-under-par 275.
 
Haig moved into the clubhouse lead with a virtuoso finish at the 18th, clearing trees with his lob wedge on a tough 100-yard approach shot and knocking it within three feet to set up his closing birdie.
 
'One of the best shots I've ever hit,' he declared.
 
Wilson and Sterne also had birdie putts at the 72nd hole with a chance to edge Haig in regulation, but neither could get their try to drop.
 
With several of the word's best golfers safely out of the picture -- Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Mike Weir all finished within five shots -- the co-leaders headed back to the 18th for their playoff.
 
All three reached the green in regulation, but Wilson missed a 20-foot putt and Sterne botched a 10-footer to open the door for Haig, who rolled in his own 10-foot try for the win.
 
'What a feeling. I am struggling to [put] it into words,' Haig said.
 
For the others in the playoff, there was disappointment.
 
Wilson played his back nine flawlessly, but had back-to-back bogeys on the front and went out in 37 -- his worst front-nine score this week by three shots.
 
'I had my chances but didn't take them,' said Wilson. 'I hit great tee shots at the 18th in regulation play and in the playoff but was disappointed not to be putting from less than 20 feet either time.'
 
Sterne was unable to enjoy the fruits of his back-to-back record-tying rounds. He had an early bogey at the par-4 third, then strung together 11 pars and two birdies before stumbling to another bogey at the par-3 17th.
 
'It was close, but what can I do?' said Sterne. 'I played my best but it didn't go the way I wanted. I am disappointed but it's great for Anton.'
 
Goosen, the 2002 champion, shot a final-round 70 and finished three shots behind the leaders at 10-under 278. Weir had a 67 and was a stroke further back at 9-under 279.
 
Two-time champion Els (70) and Montgomerie (71) tied for sixth place at 8- under 280. They were joined by David Frost (69) and Gaurav Ghei, who became the latest player to match the course record of 64.
 
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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.