Karlsson Stumbles Wins Wales Open
The Swede ended the tournament at 16-under-par 260. That was good enough for the tournament record. Miguel Angel Jimenez had set the old mark of 262 just last year.
Karlsson only needed to shoot even par in the final round to tie the European Tour record for lowest 72-hole score (258), but a balky putter was his undoing in the final round. He carded 32 putts in his final round
'It's nice, very nice, but it was a tough day today,' Karlsson admitted. 'There was a little bit more wind and it was not easy.'
He had established a tour record for lowest 54-hole score with a three-round total of 189. That total also bettered the tournament's 54-hole record by eight strokes.
Paul Broadhurst used a one-under 68, that included a birdie at the last, to end alone in second place at 13-under-par 263. Jose-Filipe Lima's 64 tied for the low round of the day. The five-under score moved him into third place at minus-12.
Eight-time Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie took fourth place at 11- under-par 265 after a final-round 67. Johan Skold and Phillip Archer were one stroke further back at minus-10 at the Roman Road Course at Celtic Manor Resort.
Karlsson ran in a 25-footer for birdie on the third, his fourth in four days on the par-five. However, three-putt bogeys on four and six dropped Karlsson to 17-under.
The 36-year-old two-putted for par on the next three holes. Karlsson left himself 30 feet for birdie at the 10th, but instead three-putted for the third time for bogey.
Karlsson knocked his second shot over the green on 12 and was unable to get up and down for par. That bogey dropped him to 15-under, three strokes clear of Lima. Karlsson began to rebound with an eight-foot birdie putt on 13.
'After 12 holes, I wasn't worried at all. I was just trying to do my own thing,' Karlsson said. 'Obviously, I was struggling with the putter. You get a little bit tentative when you're leading and you don't get the ball to the hole, which leads to three-putting. I loosened up a little when I birdied the 13th.'
He rolled in a seven-footer for birdie on 15, then got up and down for birdie from over the 16th green to get back to minus-18 overall and even par for his round.
Karlsson came up short of the green at 17 and pitched to eight feet. He missed that putt and also tripped to a bogey at the last, but held on for his sixth tour win.
'I did the same thing last time I won,' said Karlsson of his last win at the 2002 European Masters. 'I was leading by six with a couple holes to go and finished bogey-bogey. So I definitely have things to learn.'
With the win, Karlsson moves into the top-10 on the Ryder Cup points list. The last time he was this close, he finished 11th on the points list in 1999 and was passed over for a spot by then captain Mark James.
'It's a long time in the future, but it would a fantastic bonus if it happens,' Karlsson said of the possibility of making the Ryder Cup team. 'There are so many good players that have a shot at the team and there is a long way to go yet. It was heart-breaking not to make the '99 team, but I had to grow from there. I did win later on that year which was fantastic.'
Broadhurst entered the round at 12-under, but bogeys on three, five and 10 dropped him back to minus-nine. He recovered with birdies on 11 and 14. The Englishman birdied 16 and 18, both for the fourth day in a row, to claim second place.
Lima carded four birdies and two bogeys on the front nine. Three more birdies on the back nine got him within three at 12-under, but he could only par the final two holes.
Bradley Dredge matched Lima's 64 in the final round. That helped Dredge climb into a share of seventh place at nine-under-par 267. He was joined there by Henrik Nystrom, Gary Orr, Marcel Siem, Lee Slattery, Graeme Storm and Simon Dyson. Jyoti Randhawa and Anthony Wall were one shot further back at minus- eight.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
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
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
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.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
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.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
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.