More Money More Problems for Els

By Tom AbbottOctober 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editors Note: Tom Abbott is the host of Golf Central UK. He will be filing a bi-weekly column on thegolfchannel.com with news, opinions and his inside knowledge of the European Tour.
 
Els a Big Winner, Volvo Masters Not:
Its funny, really, how some players always seem to do well on a certain course, but I suppose when its your home club you can see why. Ernie Els lives just off the 16th hole at Wentworth; he could probably hit a wedge from his back garden over the house and almost hit the green. He feels comfortable on the West Course, which goes someway in explaining his seven titles at the HSBC World Match Play Championship.
 
Since 1994 and his first victory, beating Colin Montgomerie in the final, Els has ruled the event. Last week he added that magical seventh win, the most of any player in the tournament, taking out Angel Cabrera in the final with a comfortable 6-and-4 margin. Els then jetted off to Paris in a private jet to watch South Africa beat Argentina in the Rugby World Cup semi-final. His Springboks will now face England in the final, where this writer hopes the South African winning trend will come to an abrupt halt. But back to golf. With his victory Els won $2.03 million, the largest first-prize cheque in our sport. However, because such a large amount would alter the European Order of Merit so drastically, he only gained about $830,000 to be applied to the money list. The paycheck still takes him to the top of the Order of Merit, ahead of second placed Padraig Harrington.
 
There are three events left on the European Tour schedule: this weeks Portugal Masters; the Mallorca Classic; and the season-ending Volvo Masters ' easily enough time for Padraig, third place Justin Rose, or even fourth placed Henrik Stenson to come through and sneak past Els. All is set for an exciting finish to the season at Valderrama, except theres one problem. Els cannot play the Volvo Masters because hes already contracted to go to the Singapore Masters on the Asian Tour, where more than likely hes receiving a hefty sum just for turning-up. How sad, and embarrassing to all parties involved. Els said after his World Match Play win Id love to (play Valderrama), its a bit of an embarrassment I think, obviously for myself, the Asian Tour and European Tour, they have those two events on the same date. I signed a deal with the sponsor over there (Singapore) and I have to honour the deal. So once again big money talks in golf. How ironic in the first year of the FedExCup, which was a Tiger Woods walk-over, we have a great finale to the European Tour Order of Merit race, but not all the players will be there to face the music during the final few events sound familiar?
 
A New Star:
Does golf need a new star to fuel some enthusiasm, Wie tried but failed. Tadd Fuijikawa doesnt seem to be going anywhere at present. And Tony Finau well, length isnt everything. How about Rory McIlroy, then. The 18-year-old from Northern Ireland has had an outstanding summer: his performance at the Open Championship; a Walker Cup cap; third place at the Dunhill Links; and fourth last week in Madrid. This young man is a player and having interviewed him at the Open Championship this year, hes a very nice chap to boot. He has, roughly, just under four months to win on the European Tour and become the youngest winner in tour history, breaking the mark set by Dale Hayes at the 1971 Spanish Open. I dont think hes going to need all that time; a win could come very soon.
 
His finish in Madrid gets him into Portugal this week and at the time of writing, McIlroy is planning to play. One difference between McIlroy and the others I mentioned at the beginning of the article is that he didnt have as much media hype. Ive kept a close eye on his amateur career, which was very impressive. Players were beginning to talk about him, but aside from a few golf publications, he went quietly about his business. At the Open Championship folks were asking, Whos this McIlroy chap? Thankfully, hes let golf do the talking.
 
Another young star well keep an eye on this week is 20-year-old Melissa Reid, who plays Stage 1 of the L.E.T. Q-school. The reigning British Amateur Stroke-Play champion and lowest amateur at the Ricoh Womens British Open is gunning for a tour card next year. Shell be a great asset to the tour and hopefully will draw some attention to a circuit which deserves some more publicity.
 
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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.