The Minors: Consistently searching

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 29, 2011, 1:33 pm

Golfers can’t help themselves. Be they amateur or professional, winless or a major champion, players just can’t keep from tinkering with their game.

“You’re always trying to get better,” Jack Newman said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work that way.”

After casting aside early-season swing changes in the middle of the year and reverting to his action of old, Newman found himself still making adjustments.

“I’d play well one week, try and do something a little different the next week to make things better and that would usually lead to a missed cut,” said Newman.

“It was just too much tinkering. I wish I would have figured that out sooner, but I’ve come to realize that my swing doesn’t need to change. I just need to improve the little things.”

Newman’s recent results on the NGA Hooters Tour back his statements. Since July he's gone, T30-MC-T10-MC-T52-MC-T7.

After finding success one week, Newman felt urged to improve thereafter. It’s only natural: figure out what didn’t work during one event, fix it, and all will be better the next. What it took a little while to realize was that the changes that needed to be made had nothing to do with his mechanics.

“Course management,” Newman said. “That’s the main thing. I got away from what made me a good player and that’s my consistency.

“I’ve always been good tee to green. Nothing flashy. I have a casual game and that has always served me well.”

Newman found himself trying to “hammer” the ball at times. In the end, his quest for more power led to increased bogeys, a little more red for a lot more black.

“If I have to hit wedge into a par 5 (for his third shot), that’s fine. I was taking a lot of chances and they weren’t paying off,” he said.

His new/old outlook helped gain him his best round of the year, a closing 64, in his most recent event at Peoria Ridge Golf Club in Miami, Okla.

“Everything was working,” he said of his nine-birdie, one-bogey performance. “On the front nine I missed two putts inside 15 feet for birdie, but didn’t get frustrated. Then on the back, I made about everything I looked at. I had one bogey so there is always something you can nitpick, but I’m very happy with my process.”

Now comes the challenge: trusting what worked and not getting too caught up in what didn’t.

Tuesday, Newman was home in East Lansing, Mich., on campus at his alma mater Michigan State University. He was getting ready for a two-tournament stretch on the Hooters Tour which will lead to a 10-day respite and then a trip to the first stage of PGA Tour Q-School.

“Just working on my wedges, working on my tempo. Hitting some low cuts off the tee, but not doing any tinkering (with the overall swing). I feel like if my short game had been a little better last week I could have really contended.”

From East Lansing, Newman will head to Auburn, Ala., and then to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for his two Hooters Tour events. He’ll then trek back to Michigan before traveling to Pinewild Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C., for Q-School. It will mark his second trip to first stage, where he missed out on advancing by two strokes last year.

“I’ve got a month to get everything together,” Newman said. “I need to get hot. Actually, I shouldn’t even say that. I need to play solid golf. If I can do that then the results will take care of themselves.”

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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.