Gustaffson Leads Els Stumbles

By Sports NetworkDecember 10, 2004, 5:00 pm
European TourMALELANE, South Africa -- Sweden's Peter Gustafsson posted a 4-under 68 on Friday to take the lead midway through the dunhill championship. He stands at 7-under-par 137 and leads by two shots over four players at Leopard Creek Country Club.
Warren Abery (70), Des Terblanche (70), Neil Cheetham (71) and Oliver Whiteley (67) are knotted in second place at 5-under-par 139.
The two biggest stars, and highest finishers, after Thursday's first round struggled in Friday's afternoon tee times.
Bruce McDonald, a 23-year-old sponsor's invite from Zimbabwe, held the opening-round lead after a 6-under 66. He only managed a 4-over 76 on Friday and is part of a group tied for 18th place.
He birdied his first two holes, but bogeys at 10, 11, 12 and 14, and a double bogey at No. 15 dropped him down the leaderboard.
Ernie Els, a three-time winner who owns a house on the course, shot a 67 on Thursday, but only posted a 75 on Friday. He is one of the 10 players tied with McDonald at minus-2.
Els struggled with the driver at two of the par-5s on Leopard Creek's back nine. He put two balls in the water at the 13th en route to a double bogey, then drove out of bounds at 15 and carded another double bogey.
The No. 3 ranked player in the world failed to get up and down for par at the 16th. Els recovered with his second straight birdie at 18, but the three-time major winner is five off the lead.
Gustafsson, a 28-year-old who played primarily on the European Challenge Tour in 2004, started on the 10th hole Friday and birdied No. 11 for the second time in as many days.
He made a spectacular run around the turn with three consecutive birdies from the 17th. Gustafsson dropped a shot at the second, then knocked his approach to a foot at the third to set up birdie.
Gustafsson parred his final six holes to take the lead through two rounds. Not bad for the medalist at Q School last month and that was only after he missed his card by finishing one place outside the top-15 on the 2004 Challenge Tour money list.
'I've never led anything like this,' admitted Gustafsson. 'I've been leading on the Challenge Tour a few times and in Austria last year, but nothing like this.'
The group tied for second place took different paths to get there. Abery recorded four birdies and two bogeys for his 70, while Terblanche mixed six birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey for his 2-under-par round.
Cheetham tallied four birdies and three bogeys on Friday, while Whiteley, who matched the lowest round of the day, totaled six birdies, including three in his last four holes, and only one bogey.
South Africans David Frost (70) and Charl Schwartzel (69), Scotland's Euan Little (69) and Leif Westerberg (70) of Sweden are knotted in sixth place at 4-under-par 140.
Marcel Siem, who won the title last year, improved to a 3-under 69 and is part of a group tied for 42nd place at 1-over-par 145.
The 36-hole cut fell at 4-over-par 148 and 79 players advanced to the weekend.
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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.