Pressure Packed Week Begins

By Sports NetworkOctober 28, 2003, 5:00 pm
What's at stake? Only your livelihood and a chance to play with the big boys in 2004. That's what the top-55 players on the Nationwide Tour's money list will be experiencing this week at the Nationwide Tour Championship, as they try to gain entrance to the PGA Tour next season.
The rules have changed for 2003, as the top 20 players on the season-ending money list (top 15 in 2002) will graduate to the PGA Tour next year. Only $8,542 separates number 20 from 25th on the money list, as Kyle Thompson holds down the 20th position. Players who finish 21-55 are exempt for the 2004 season on the Nationwide Tour.
Last season, weather played a key role in determining the champion, as the event was shortened to 54 holes. When it was all said and done, Patrick Moore came out on top, as he posted a two-shot win over Steven Alker, Mike Heinen and Jeff Klauk.
With the victory, he earned the automatic Battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour. Earlier in the season, Moore won the Richmond Open and Lake Erie Charity Classic. He became just the fifth player in history to receive the promotion. For the first time since 1993, a player in the top-15 on the money list entering this event wasn't bumped out.
Klauk is once again in need of a top finish, as he ranks 36th on the money list and must win or place second to gain his PGA Tour card for 2004. Among the notable players who won this event are: former British Open champion David Duval, who titled in 1993, Allen Doyle in 1995, who is once again having a sensational year on the Champions Tour and former U.S. Ryder Cup player Stewart Cink, who earned the title in 1996.
There has never been a wire-to-wire winner of this event. The first two years, Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon played host to this tournament while the event was held at Settindown Creek in Georgia in 1995-96. The 1997 event was held on the Lake Course at Grand National Golf Club in Opelika, Alabama, while the 1998 tournament was staged at Magnolia Grove outside of Mobile, Alabama. The 1999-2000 events were held at Highland Oaks, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which has hosted this event since 1997.
This is the third consecutive year in which the Senator Course at Capital Hill is hosting the tournament. The state of Alabama is hosting the tournament for the seventh time in 11 seasons.
There have been two playoffs in event history, the last coming in 1999 when Bob Heintz defeated Marco Dawson. The 2001 winning total of 284 was the highest in event history, bettering the mark of 283 set in 1995 by Allen Doyle and John Maginnes, Bob Burns in 1998 and Heintz and Dawson in 1999.
The only two players who were outside the top 15 heading into the Tour Championship and jumped in by winning the event were: Bob Heintz and Steve Flesch. Flesch captured the event in 1997 and gained his PGA card after beginning the tournament 24th on the money list.
Heintz, who won in 1999, started the event in the 16th spot and shot up to sixth on the money list. The purse was increased by $25,000 from last year. Heintz is the only past champion of this event in the field this week.
The hottest player on Tour has to be Jason Dufner, who has surged into the top-20 with three consecutive top-five finishes. Dufner, who ranks 10th on the money list, is the only player in the top 19 without a win.
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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.