Haas Among Leaders in Texas

By Sports NetworkOctober 14, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Administaff Small Business ClassicSPRING, Texas -- Jay Haas, who won last week's Greater Hickory Classic, fired a 7-under-par 65 on Friday and is tied for the lead with Morris Hatalsky and Des Smyth after the first round of the Administaff Small Business Classic.
Hale Irwin, who lost in a playoff last year, Mark McNulty, Bobby Wadkins and Brad Bryant are tied for fourth place. The quartet each posted rounds of 6-under-par 66 at Augusta Pines Golf Club.
Haas, technically a Champions Tour rookie because he only played three events last year, flew out of the gate on Friday with an eagle at the second hole. He parred his next seven holes to make the turn at 2 under par.
Last week's winner caught fire on the back nine. He drained a 15-foot birdie putt, then rolled in a 12-footer for birdie at the 11th. Haas continued the fine form with a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 12, then tapped in a short birdie putt at 13 for four in a row.
Haas did not give himself many good looks for birdie the rest of the way until the par-5 closing hole at Augusta Pines. He reached the green in two and two-putted from 46 feet for birdie and a share of the lead.
'I played very well today from tee to green,' acknowledged Haas, who has split time over the Champions Tour and PGA Tour this season. 'I hit a lot of good shots and had a lot of opportunities.'
Ireland's Smyth was steadier than Haas on the front nine. He collected birdies at the second, fourth and sixth holes to make the turn at 3-under-par 33.
Smyth made his move up the leaderboard with strong play at the beginning of his back nine. He tallied three birdies in a row from the 10th, but, like Haas, never gave himself great chances at birdies.
At the par-5 closing hole, Smyth landed on the putting surface with his second and lagged his eagle try inside 4 feet. Smyth converted the birdie putt for his share of the lead.
Smyth's high position so far is somewhat shocking considering the recent change of tools. He has new irons, a new driver and returned to a short putter in the last six weeks.
'The last five or six weeks, I've gone flat,' admitted Smyth, a two-time winner this season. 'I'm looking for something to kick the back end of the year. This has certainly revitalized me.'
Hatalsky, a four-time runner-up in 2005, began his first round on the back nine and recorded six birdies on his front nine. He birdied the first to get to 7 under par, but an errant drive at the fourth knocked him down to minus-6.
He birdied the par-5 sixth and appeared to be in some trouble at the par-4 eighth. Hatalsky's approach came up short of the green and his chip stopped 8 feet from the cup. He drained that and parred nine to tie for the lead.
Mike Sullivan, Dave Barr, Danny Edwards and Gil Morgan are tied for eighth place at 5-under-par 67.
Defending champion Larry Nelson struggled to a 3-over 75 in Friday's opening round and is tied for 62nd place. Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer both shot rounds of 6-over 78 and share 75th.
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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.