Swede Moves into First Els Trails by Five

By Sports NetworkMarch 12, 2005, 5:00 pm
DOHA, Qatar -- Sweden's Henrik Stenson fired a 6-under 66 on Saturday to take the lead through 54 holes of the Qatar Masters. He completed three rounds at 10-under-par 206 and leads by two at Doha Golf Club.
Overnight leader Richard Green struggled in the hot conditions on Saturday. He shot a 1-over 73, but it still within striking distance of first. Green is tied for second place with Niclas Fasth, who shot a 69 in the second round, at 8-under-par 208.
Only six players broke 70 on Saturday and aside from Stenson's 66, they were all 69s. One of those belonged to world No. 3 Ernie Els. He is tied for 10th place at minus-5 and still has a chance to win in back-to-back weeks.
'That's the best I've played all week and felt I could have shot better,' admitted Els, who won last week's Dubai Desert Classic. 'I have an outside chance and we'll see what happens if there is a bit more breeze to make it difficult. I burned a lot of edges today but I kept my hope alive.'
Stenson started slowly with a birdie at the fourth, but tallied five pars to complete his front nine. He ran off three consecutive birdies from the 10th to reach 8-under par and match Green atop the leaderboard.
Stenson birdied the 16th and 17th holes to go two clear of Green and Fasth, who charged up the leaderboard thanks to four birdies in a five-hole span on his back nine.
Green bogeyed 14, but reclaimed the lost stroke at 16. Green trails Stenson by two heading into Sunday and the Swede is cautious about his chances.
'It's still a very open tournament and I think it's going to be a tight race with Niclas and Richard right up there,' said Stenson. 'Ernie's still there as well and he might give it a shot tomorrow. He's always dangerous when he gets going.'
Stenson is a two-time winner on tour with wins at the 2001 Benson & Hedges International Open and The Heritage last year. Stenson already has two top-10 finishes in the 2005 season - a tie for sixth at the Heineken Classic and a third at the Malaysian Open.
'It's certainly put me in a good position and a lot can happen,' said Stenson, who added that forecasts for heavier winds on Sunday might make the tournament more open. 'I've got a good chance now, I think.'
Green made two bogeys on Saturday, one at the par-4 sixth and the other at 14. He reclaimed the lost stroke with his third birdie in as many rounds at 16, but the Australian seemed fatigued after the round.
'I used up a lot of mental energy trying to save par and had nothing in the tank at the end,' admitted Green, who lost in the first round to eventual winner David Toms at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. 'I am going to stock up on energy goods tonight and go out there and try to get on a roll tomorrow. I lacked momentum today and clearly Henrik had that going for him.'
Fasth, a Swede who played on the Ryder Cup team in 2002, was 1 over on his round through 11 holes, but closed with four birdies in his final seven holes for his 69.
'I'm just pleased to be a couple back,' admitted Fasth, who won last month's New Zealand Open. 'No one has really taken charge except for Henrik so although I didn't get a low scoring round, I'm still in there.'
Pierre Fulke shot a 1-over 73 and is tied for fourth with Barry Lane, who carded a 69 on Saturday. The duo is knotted at 7-under-par 209.
Arjun Atwal (71), Marcus Fraser (70), Gregory Havret (72) and Robert Karlsson (74) are tied for sixth place at 6-under-par 210. Els was joined in 10th by Raphael Jacquelin (73), James Kingston (69) and Steve Webster (69).
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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.