Willis Victorious at Utah Classic

By Sports NetworkSeptember 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
Nationwide TourSANDY, Utah -- Garrett Willis survived a bogey on the 17th hole Sunday to win the Utah Classic. Willis carded a 2-under 70 in the final round to end the event at 13-under-par 275.
'I woke up at six this morning as bright eyed as a kid. I couldn't wait to get started,' said Willis, who picked up $85,500 for the win. 'It is nice to finally see the fruits of my labor, all of the work is starting to pay off.'
Brian Henninger carded a 3-under 69 Sunday, but his bogey on the 72nd hole cost him a playoff. He finished at 12-under-par 276 and was joined there by Mathew Goggin (70) and Kris Cox (68).
After a lengthy weather delay Friday, the second round was completed Saturday and the third round finished earlier Sunday.
Willis got off to a quick start with birdies on one and three, both par-5s, to move to minus-13. He put it in cruise control from there as he parred the next seven holes at Willow Creek Country Club.
The 31-year-old stumbled to a bogey at the par-3 11th. Willis bounced right back with an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-5 12th.
Willis made it two in a row as his 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th found the bottom of the cup. He parred his next three holes, but trouble loomed. Willis tripped to a bogey on the par-5 17th to drop to minus-13 and a share of the lead with Henninger.
Henninger, playing right in front of Willis, stumbled to a bogey at the last to slip into a share of second place and cost himself a shot at forcing a playoff.
Willis, who watched Henninger make his mistake, calmly two-putted for par on the last to earn his first Nationwide Tour title. He also won once on the PGA Tour back in 2001.
'It was a stressful day from the get go,' said Willis. 'With five par-fives, anything could happen. When the putt went in on No. 13 it was the first show of emotion for me all day. But I never thought about winning until that last putt.'
Henninger tripped to a bogey on the first. He came back with birdies on three and four to move to 10 under.
The three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour picked up another birdie on the eighth. Henninger collected back-to-back birdies from the 12th to get to 13 under. After Willis bogeyed 17 to drop back alongside Henninger, the USC alum bogeyed the last to share second.
'My approach hit a sod seam and it bounced straight back,' said Henninger of his shot on 18 that took a bad bounce into a water hazard. 'It was the weirdest bounce I've ever had and the worst break I've ever had in my career.'
Cox started with a bogey on the second. He got the stroke back with a birdie on three. The 31-year-old birdied the seventh and eighth to get to 10 under. Around the turn, he collected birdies on 12 and 17 to tie for second.
Goggin posted a 2-under 70 thanks to two birdies and a bogey on each nine.
Dave Christensen and second-round leader Brendon De Jonge shared fifth place at nine-under-par 279. Greg Chalmers, Deane Pappas and Tim Wilkinson tied for seventh at 8-under-par 280. Bill Haas was one stroke further back at minus-7.
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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.