Maruyama Cruises to Greensboro Win

By Sports NetworkOctober 19, 2003, 4:00 pm
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Shigeki Maruyama fired a 5-under 67 on Sunday to pick up the win at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro. He finished at 22-under-par 266, one shot off the tournament record, and won by five strokes over Brad Faxon.
Matt Gogel shot a 68 on Sunday and finished alone in third place at 15-under-par 273, followed by Robert Allenby, who also carded a 68 in the final round to finish at minus-14.
Maruyama was three ahead of Faxon at the start of the final round at Forest Oaks Country Club and the last 18 would be a two-man race. Maruyama and Faxon traded three birdies over their first five holes and with pars at the next three, the par-5 ninth would be a pivotal hole.
Maruyama drove left of a cart path at the ninth and laid up with his second coming up short of the putting surface in the right rough. He knocked his wedge over the green with his third and left himself with a difficult pitch.
Faxon found the fairway off the tee, then reached the green in two with a 5-wood. Maruyama flopped his fourth 45 feet past the hole and missed his par save. Faxon left himself with a five-footer for birdie and a chance to complete a two-shot swing. Faxon, one of the top putters in the game, burned the edge on his birdie try and settled for par and a one-shot shift with Maruyama, who bogeyed the hole.
'Does that change the whole scope of things if I make that?' Faxon said. 'I don't know. Maybe it wasn't in the cards.'
It wasn't in the cards for Faxon. Maruyama holed a short birdie putt at the 11th and the duo exchanged birdies at the par-5 13th.
At the par-5 15th, Faxon's third from the left rough fell 18 feet right of the target. He missed his putt right of the hole but Maruyama sank a five-footer for birdie to essentially seal the tournament. He was four ahead with three holes to play.
Faxon dropped a shot at the 17th to make the final margin five strokes.
The win on Sunday was Maruyama's third on the PGA Tour. His first victory came in the 2001 Greater Milwaukee Open and took last year's Byron Nelson Classic. Maruyama became the fourth player to win a tour event in each of the last three seasons, joining Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard and Jim Furyk.
'I wasn't expecting this kind of golf this week,' said Maruyama, who has battled through a neck injury this season. 'I'm really happy to be one of those players, to be listed with the big names. This big win gives me a lot of confidence.'
The win also gave Maruyama an $810,000 first-place check. He vaulted to 35th on the money list and with the top 30 making it to the Tour Championship in two weeks, Maruyama will try and make some cash next week in Disney World.
'A couple of weeks ago I was just trying to get to 125th on the money list,' said Maruyama. 'After this win, I can see the Tour Championship. That would be a big chance.'
For Faxon, it was another second-place finish, his fifth since his last trip to the winner's circle at the 2001 Sony Open in Hawaii. He shot a 68 on Sunday and gave the credit to Maruyama.
'He's obviously a great player,' said Faxon. 'He's won a lot in Japan. I think if putting is his weakness and he continues to putt well like this, I think he's going to do extremely well over here.'
Jay Haas (68), Brenden Pappas (66), John E. Morgan (67), Jonathan Byrd (68), Jeff Brehaut (68), Stephen Ames (69) and K.J. Choi (70) shared fifth place at 13-under-par 275.
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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.

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.