Gustafson Grabs Early Lead in California

By Sports NetworkOctober 2, 2003, 4:00 pm
LINCOLN, Calif. -- Sophie Gustafson fired a 6-under-par 66 Thursday to take the lead after the opening round of the Longs Drugs Challenge. Karrie Webb, Michelle Ellis and Grace Park share second place at 5-under-par 67.
U.S. Solheim Cuppers Juli Inkster and Wendy Ward each fired rounds of 4-under-par 68. They share fifth place with Lorie Kane, Smriti Mehra and Gloria Park.

'I've been playing good for the last two months now,' said Gustafson, who won three times on the Ladies European Tour this season. 'I've had three wins in the last two months, so it's been working well.'
Gustafson is using her Solheim Cup experience to help her this week.
'Bringing your game from the Solheim Cup over here is tough because your mind set is very different, but it seems like I've been able to hold on to some of it,' Gustafson said. 'I think my confidence has gone up, and I've improved my chipping, so that helps.'
Gustafson, who won three of her five matches for the European Solheim Cup team, opened on the back nine at Lincoln Hills Club. She two-putted from short of the green for birdie at the par-5 11th and came right back with a 12-foot birdie putt at the next.
She pitched her third shot within three feet of the cup at 15 for birdie. The Swede dropped a sand wedge within three feet of the hole at 17 for her fourth birdie on her opening nine.
Around the turn, Gustafson rolled in a 20-footer for birdie at the first before two-putting for birdie at the next to climb to minus-6. She three-putted her way to a double bogey at the fifth.
The 39-year-old rebounded with a two-putt birdie at the eighth. She closed out her round by dropping an 8-iron seven feet from the cup for birdie at the ninth.
Park survived a pair of bogeys to grab a share of second place. She opened on the back nine with an eagle at the 11th and came back to birdie the next. She then stumbled to a three-putt bogey at the 13th and faltered to another three-putted bogey at No. 15.
She moved back to minus-2 with a two-putt birdie on the second. Park birdied the fifth and seventh before closing with another two-putt birdie at the eighth for a share of second place.
'I hit a lot of fairways and greens, but my putting gave me problems early in the round,' said Park. 'I just couldn't get the speed down for some reason. It's usually one of the strongest parts of my game.'
Ellis drained a pair of birdies on the back side. She dropped a shot at the third but birdied four of the next five holes to join the tie for second place.
Webb carded three front-nine birdies and moved to 5 under with an eagle on the 11th. However she bogeyed the 13th, but came back with a birdie on No. 15.
'The greens are a little inconsistent and a little bumpy,' said Webb. 'As you can see from my stats, I didn't have many long putts, but it's tough putting and is tough to read them, especially around the hole where they're a little bumpy.'
Beth Daniel and Suzann Pettersen, both Solheim Cup performers, lead a group at 3-under-par 69. They are joined there by Patricia Baxter-Johnson, Tracy Hanson, Angela Jerman, Emilee Klein, Yu Ping Lin and Miriam Nagl.
Defending champion Cristie Kerr finished in a tie for 39th at even-par 72.
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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.