European Perspective

By Tom AbbottMarch 18, 2010, 1:42 am

The European Tour returns to North Africa this week with the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco. The geographic location is significant, for it was on the northern portion of the African continent that in 1982, then Executive Director and now Golf Channel analyst, Ken Schofield took the tour outside of European territory for the very first time with the Tunisian Open. Twenty-eight years later, the European Tour schedule plays 22 of its 50 events outside of Europe.

I was chatting with Schofield about the decision recently, and he told me he encountered a slight resistance, mainly from the purists for moving off “home soil.” But because the tournament was played a week earlier than the usual kick-off, no existing events were jeopardized and the tour members had an additional opportunity to earn their living, it went ahead without incident.

Many players already traveled to Africa to play the South African Sunshine Tour in those days, but restrictions stemming from Apartheid prohibited them from playing elsewhere in the continent, however the tour managed to avoid that loop-hole because the event was sanctioned by a British based organization. Sunshine Tour regular, Mark James took the title in the tournaments second playing.

The European Tour began traveling to Morocco later that decade, visiting this week’s venue, Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in the capital Rabat, and the late King’s (for whom this week’s tournament is named) course in Agadir. The story goes that when the tour made its second visit to the latter in 1994, such was the privacy and therefore rare play of the course, that when the staging team arrived for a survey and to ready it for tournament play, the tee markers and pin positions were in the exact same spots they’d placed them in the year before.

A rarity this week in European golf, both the men and women will be playing in the same country at the same time in concurrent pro-ams. The men will be in Rabat, the women down the road in Casablanca.

Among the men in the field is Paul McGinley, who returns to action following a sixth operation on his left knee in November. The former Ryder Cup player and four-time tour winner has been recuperating in California but is now ready to return to action.

On the women’s side, Scottish teenager Carly Booth is making her professional debut. Booth has huge potential both in sporting and marketing circles and could provide a much needed boost to British women’s golf. Despite recent major victories from Karen Stupples and Catriona Matthew, the sport has failed to capture the public interest. Success from Carly and 22-year-old Melissa Reid from England, who’s also in the field this week having been on the tour for the past two seasons, will provide a much needed spark.

We’ve just passed the “200 days to go” marker in the run-up to the Ryder Cup. I know it seems a long way off, and indeed it is with all the hullabaloo that will occur between now and then for obvious reasons, but work continues on the Twenty-Ten course to ready it for the big occasion on the first three days of October.

Estate Manager, Jim McKenzie, has been implementing the changes authorized by European captain Colin Montgomerie, which involve tweaks to holes on the back-nine despite the awful weather the region has experienced. Snow blanketed the course for much of January and February.

Tickets for the Ryder Cup are available through a ballot system which ends in April. Practice day tickets are on sale now. Visit

But remember, and I can say this because I have Welsh heritage and family living in South Wales, in the words of Nick Faldo’s closing speech at the 2008 Ryder Cup, don’t forget to bring your rain gear.

And finally, fans of Peter Alliss will be pleased to know the legendary commentator and Ryder Cup player will be touring later this year. Peter will be conducting “An Evening with Peter Alliss” at various theatres across the UK.

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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.