Swedens Johnson Records First Win at ANZ
'To win in Australia is really special, as it really feels like home here,' said Johnson, who has spent a handful of summers in Australia. 'It means so much to me. When I hit the last putt, it changed my life - it was my week.'
The final 18 holes at The Lakes Golf Club featured a tight battle with Johnson, Laycock, Parry and overnight leader Andre Stolz deadlocked with 41 points at the turn.
Although Johnson was the first to stumble when he bogeyed the 10th hole after hitting into water, he was able to rebound with birdies at Nos. 11 and 14. Laycock, meanwhile, birdied the 11th and 15th holes to move one ahead of Johnson at 45 points.
Johnson then picked up a crucial two points by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt from off the green at the 16th. Laycock, playing in the group ahead, hit a poor approach to the par-5 17th to set up a bogey that cost him a point.
Laycock would have run away with the title had he holed makeable birdie putts at the 13th, 14th and 16th holes.
'I missed some real good opportunities on the back nine,' said Laycock, who collected 10 points on Sunday. 'You just can't afford to let those chances go that at this level.'
Parry was also in contention until the end. He notched his fourth birdie of the round at the 17th to climb within one point of Johnson, only to end any hope of a final birdie when he missed the green at the par-3 18th.
Parry then gave up sole possession of second place by missing a putt from inside three feet for his only bogey of the day. He finished alongside Laycock with 44 points after closing with seven points.
'If I talk about it, I'll swear, it is so frustrating,' said Parry, who captured last month's New Zealand Open. 'I played pretty well, but that's just the way it goes.'
Parry came into the ANZ Championship first on the Australasian Tour Order of Merit (money list) but only 86th in the World Golf Ranking. He was counting on a victory this week to lift him into the top 64, which would have earned him a bid in the WGC-Match Play Championship later this month.
Stolz, the leader after the second and third rounds, finished solo fourth with 43 points. He produced just four points in the final round, as did Stephen Gallacher, who was alone in fifth place with 39 points.
Ian Garbutt enjoyed the biggest surge Sunday with 19 points off seven birdies and an eagle, moving him from 45th to sixth place with a total of 38 points.
Jonathan Lomas had trouble building on his opening avalanche of 20 points that gave him the first-round lead and left him 17 points ahead of Johnson, who managed just three points on Thursday. Lomas went on to post one, nine and seven points over the next three days and wound up in seventh place with 37 points.
The modified Stableford scoring system, which was making its first appearance in a European Tour event since 1991, awards five points for an eagle, two for a birdie and none for a par. One point is deducted for a bogey and three are taken away for a double-bogey or worse.
The ANZ Championship was co-sanctioned by the European and Australasian Tours.
Full-field scores from the ANZ Championship
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.