Chopra Finding his Comfort Zone

By Associated PressJanuary 6, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Daniel Chopra was born in Sweden and raised in India, the product of two cultures that has served him well in his travels around the globe to prove himself as a world-class golfer.
 
Three languages roll easily from his tongue. Chopra recalls one practice round on the PGA Tour when his group included either Arjun Atwal or Jeev Milkha Singh -- both good friends from India -- along with a Swedish player.
 
'I'll speak Swedish to him, Indian to him and English to my caddie,' he said, nodding for emphasis. 'And I remember we had some American guy playing with us and he was like, 'What the hell just happened?''
 
Victories translate in any language, but even Chopra must be wondering about the last few months of his life.
 
Even though he stands out from his heritage and his spiked blond hair, Chopra was an afterthought in the world of golf. Most of his 11 trophies came from the minor leagues, with his biggest two on the Asian Tour against weak fields. It wasn't until Chopra was 31 that he joined the PGA TOUR, and he didn't crack the top 50 on the money list for three years.
 
Chopra went 132 starts before he finally won the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro against a watered-down field in the Fall Series.
 
The bigger step came Sunday at the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship, where his victims include four major champions and seven of the top 15 players in the world. And when he defeated Steve Stricker in a four-hole playoff at Kapalua, it was his second PGA TOUR victory in his last three starts.
 
What just happened?
 
'I don't know,' Chopra said, a purple lei draped around his neck. 'You just need to get comfortable with the situation. I most certainly felt 10 times more comfortable going out there today than I did that final round at Tesoro. I felt more in control. And I'm sure the next time I'm in contention, I'll be even more comfortable.'
 
Chopra referenced the career path of David Duval, a runner-up seven times until he won his first event at Kingsmill toward the end of the 1997 season. Then he won at Disney, and made it three in a row at the TOUR Championship. Duval went on to stardom, and within 18 months had become No. 1 in the world.
 
It's too early to determine whether Chopra has that kind of game, but he can no longer be overlooked.
 
He started the year at No. 120 in the world ranking, and his victory moved him up to No. 61, in range of making his first World Golf Championship in Arizona next month. He'll make his debut in the Masters -- he has only played four majors so far. And most importantly, he moved up to No. 2 in the Ryder Cup standings.
 
Chopra has never given the Ryder Cup much thought, noting that a U.S.-based player from Europe has to rely mainly on world ranking points, and he doesn't consider himself in the same league as players such as Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia or Henrik Stenson.
 
But the European system doesn't consider the world ranking, rather ranking points earned since September.
 
Chopra has shown a complete game, and he starts the 2008 on equal footing. The more big tournaments he plays, the more ranking points available, the greater chance he has of making the team.
 
'I have to be among the very elite that Europe has in order to make the team, which is a tough road,' Chopra said. 'But I'm in position now. We'll see what happens.'
 
It didn't hurt that European captain Nick Faldo had a seat in the booth for his season-opening victory doing his TV duties.
 
Chopra wasn't spectacular off the tee, which doesn't matter on a Plantation Course where the fairways are bigger than an L.A. freeway. What surely impressed Faldo was his putting. According to PGA TOUR statistics, he made nine putts over 20 feet.
 
And he probably should have ended the playoff much earlier than four holes.
 
Four times, Chopra hit putts that he thought were pure. A 12-footer on the 18th hole in regulation stopped an inch short. A 7-footer for birdie on the 18th in a playoff somehow stayed out to the right. His 25-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole was a blade of grass away from falling, much like his 25-foot eagle putt on the fourth and final extra hole.
 
That one didn't matter because Stricker, who took only eight putts on the final holes of regulation and birdied three of the last four, missed the par-5 ninth green to the left, chipped hot some 15 feet by the cup and missed his birdie.
 
It culminated a week of calm and confidence for Chopra, whose worldwide travels have broadened his experience in life and on the golf course. Kapalua requires imagination with its shifting winds and greens that are large, contoured and break severely with the grain.
 
'I was able to use my imagination to read putts. It just comes naturally to me,' Chopra said. 'I can see the slopes, I can see the grain, I can see where the wind is going, and all my years of playing all over the world on different types of greens helps me.'
 
Few players are as worldly as Chopra.
 
Born to a Swedish mother and Indian father, he lived six years in Sweden before a brief stop in England, and his family thought it would be a good idea to experience his heritage in India. When it was time to move back, he didn't want to leave.
 
'The fact I grew up in Indian, my thinking might be a bit more Indian,' Chopra said. 'I think the physical side of me might be a little more Swedish. I feel right down the middle.'
 
And when he's on the course, does he feel more Swedish or more Indian?
 
'Between the ropes, you're just playing golf,' he said. 'You're trying to the do the best you can.'
 
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    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

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    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.