Lehman looking for third straight Regions Tradition

By Associated PressJune 6, 2013, 12:30 am

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. –  Tom Lehman knows there are hotter players going into the Regions Tradition. He's also not thrilled about his putting lately.

Those are reasons why Lehman might not win for the third straight year, but they're not nearly enough to count him out of the $2.2 million major championship which starts Thursday on the par-72, 7,145-yard course at Shoal Creek.

Lehman is trying to join Hale Irwin as the only Champions Tour player to win the same major three years running. Irwin won what was then known as the PGA Seniors' Championship from 1996-98.

''Of course, everybody brings it up all the time: 'Hey, win three in a row,''' Lehman said on Wednesday. ''I understand the way sports are and the way golf is. This is a new year. My game is in a good place, but I'm not at my very best. My short game's been a bit weak. There's guys who are playing better right now than me. I kind of feel like if I play well, I'm going to have a chance to win three in a row.

''But I certainly can't do that on Wednesday. I can't even do it Thursday.''

He has done it Thursday through Sunday the past two years, scoring in the 60s in seven of the eight rounds since the Regions Tradition moved to the Jack Nicklaus-designed course at Shoal Creek.

Lehman called the course ''pretty much perfect'' and doesn't expect the nearly an inch of rainfall that interrupted Wednesday's pro-am round to change that.

''What I like about the course is it demands a complete game,'' he said. ''You've got to drive it well, you've got to hit good iron shots to the right spots on the greens. You've got to putt well. You've got to have patience. You've got to have some courage. It brings out everything that you have, and the person who has the most complete game this week is going to win.''

He said the course requires the patience of not thinking ahead to any upcoming string of holes. To him that's the definition of a good golf course.

''Every hole is a good hole and you have to have your full attention on that hole,'' Lehman said. ''You aren't able to look ahead to, 'If I can kind of just get through these holes, I've got this really easy stretch coming up where I can make some birdies.'

''This course really doesn't do that. Every hole is a good hole. They may not all be super-duper hard holes but they're all good holes.''

Like Lehman, points leader and World Golf Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer said avoiding the Bermuda grass off the tee is important.

''The key is to hit good tee shots where you find your ball in the fairway because this Bermuda rough is very hard to control, and then you have small targets, difficult greens to hit to,'' said Langer, who finished tied for second last year. ''If you miss them in the wrong place, you're going to make bogey or worse.

''But it's really a testing golf course. You've got to use pretty much every club in your bag. You're not going to get away here playing bad golf and hoping to win. It's not going to happen.''

Steve Elkington is a Champions Tour rookie who hadn't played Shoal Creek since the 1990 PGA Championship. The thick rough provided one lasting memory at the course flanked by Talladega National Forest.

''I do remember that in a practice round one of our guys dropped his Rolex on the 18th hole and it took six guys about 10 minutes to find it,'' said Elkington, who won the 1995 PGA Championship and nine other Tour events. ''That's what the rough was like in '90. The course is uncovered from that. It's a beautiful course.

''It's probably one of my favorite Jack Nicklaus courses I've ever seen. It's really an unreal location right at the base of that national forest there and I'm so impressed with this place.''

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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