Dufner stays hot, trails leader Johnson by 1 at Colonial

By Associated PressMay 24, 2012, 8:55 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – Zach Johnson stood behind the fourth green looking at his club and then the ball that rolled within 4 feet of the hole.

''I got lucky,'' Johnson said about his second shot on the 244-yard par 3 – his 13th hole Thursday – after his tee shot went through the green and stopped in a clump of grass.

Three holes later, Johnson was so deep in a greenside bunker that he couldn't even be seen from the other side of the green until he popped up to watch his blast over the ridge to 2 1/2 feet from the cup.

Those par-savers were part of a bogey-free 6-under 64 that gave him a one-stroke lead after the first round in the Colonial, where 20- 30-mph wind with higher gusts whipped through the big oak trees lining the fairways.

''Today was great. I got off to a good start, just hit some quality shots. I didn't put myself ever in a position that was too worrisome,'' Johnson said. ''I kept the golf course in front me. I attacked when I could attack. I had a couple of nice saves when I needed it. ... I've got zero complaints.''

Jason Dufner, rookie Harris English, Tom Gillis and Kyle Reifers were tied for second.

Dufner won the Byron Nelson Championship last week, and both of his PGA Tour victories have come in the last four weeks. He started at Colonial with three consecutive birdies, was 5 under after a 10-foot birdie putt at the 174-yard eighth hole, then overcame two bogeys in a three-hole stretch.

Johnson opened with a 40-foot birdie putt at the 396-yard 10th hole on way to his 13th consecutive under-par round at Hogan's Alley. He set the Colonial tournament scoring record with his 21-under 259 in 2010, when he had a pair of 64s in his last PGA Tour victory.

After hitting into a greenside bunker at the 435-yard 12th, he blasted to 9 feet to save par.

''The big putt that got me going,'' he said. He then had four consecutive birdies, a span that included two par 3s and all the putts between 14 and 21 feet.

Sergio Garcia, the 2001 Colonial champ in the same group as Johnson, shot a 66 to match Chris DiMarco, Tommy Gainey and Andres Romero.

English, 22, had never played a full round at Colonial until Thursday. That came three days after he shot rounds of 60 and 63 during a British Open qualifier at Gleneagles. That is a much more wide-open layout just outside of Dallas about an hour from Colonial.

''Three bogey-free rounds I have had in a row, which I've never done,'' English said. ''I'm playing solid golf and not really getting out of position. I'm getting my putter going. I'm hitting it to 15 or 20 feet a lot and seemed to be making a good many of those. It's just been good.''

English, a winner last year on the Nationwide Tour as an amateur, has made 11 of 14 cuts in his first season on the PGA Tour.

Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, hasn't won since slipping on that winner's plaid jacket at Colonial two years ago. But he has made all 12 cuts this year, with a runner-up finish at Hilton Head and a tie for second at The Players Championship in his three previous events.

Garcia had an eagle-3 at the 558-yard No. 1, getting him to 5 under through 10 holes. His only bogey came after he hit his tee shot at the dogleg-left third hole into a greenside bunker, and he saved par out of bunkers his last two holes. He hasn't won on the PGA Tour in four years.

Defending Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial champion David Toms, in the group with Johnson and Garcia, had only one birdie in an opening 74. Last year, the 45-year-old Toms started with consecutive rounds of 62 to match the PGA Tour scoring record for the first 36 holes of a tournament.

Duner's approach at No. 9 was just off the back fringe, and he chipped to 6 feet before his par putt circled the cup without falling. A 25-foot birdie attempt at No. 10 rolled over the right edge of the cup, then he bogeyed the 635-yard 11th hole when his third shot went in a greenside bunker and he then two-putted from 9 feet.

Dufner was playing with Matt Kuchar, who two weeks ago won The Players Championship, and Rickie Fowler, The Players runner-up who the week before that got his first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow.

Kuchar's only birdie in a round of 72 came on the par-5 No. 1. Fowler birdied two of the last three holes for a 68.

''Decent. Not good, not bad,'' Fowler said. ''It's nice to make two birdies in the last three holes and get back under par and give me some momentum.''

Divots: Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen shot 71, ending his round with an eagle by holing his approach from 117 yards at the par-4 18th. ... Ben Crane's round of 70 included six birdies, six bogeys and six pars. ... Hunter Mahan, the only other two-time winner this season besides Dufner, shot a 69 with three bogeys. ... Sean O'Hair withdrew because of a neck issue.

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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.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

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.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry