Love shares FedEx St. Jude lead; Lefty over par

By Associated PressJune 7, 2013, 12:23 am

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Davis Love III is busy still trying to play his way back into shape after back surgery in February. Playing with Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson, he did a bit better than just keep up.

The 49-year-old Love shot a 4-under 66 for his best round of the year on Thursday for a share of the lead with five other players after the first round of the St. Jude Classic, the final event before the U.S. Open next week at Merion in Ardmore, Pa.

''I still hit some bad shots,'' Love said.

''At the Players and Memorial, I felt like I was playing better than I was scoring. I think it's rust. I'm excited to be back, and I'm anxious and I want to play better than I'm playing. I'm a little bit tired from the two 36-hole qualifiers as well. You got to be a little bit more patient and polished. That's going to take some rounds of golf to get back.''


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Stuart Appleby, Harris English, Nathan Green, Martin Flores and Glen Day also pushed their way into the lead on a day where at least three others had a piece of the top spot at some point.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson was 5 under through six holes, taking advantage of near perfect conditions at TPC Southwind with a temperature in the low 80s and only a slight breeze early. But Johnson finished with a 67 and was tied with 10 others including David Toms, a two-time winner here, and Shawn Stefani, who was tied for the lead before he hit into a fairway bunker and bogeyed No. 18.

Snedeker, currently No. 6 in the world, opened with a 70. Boo Weekley, who won at Colonial, shot a 68 and was tied with seven others. Phil Mickelson had a 71.

Mickelson struggled on Nos. 15-17 with two bogeys and a double bogey on the par-5 16th, where he hit into a greenside bunker, into the rough and into another bunker before finally holing out. He said he wasn't sharp with his short game on small, fast greens that don't hold shots well in his first competitive round in a month.

''This is great because it's a great test,'' Mickelson said. ''The guy that strikes it well is going to have a big advantage, but when you do miss greens, you've got to be pretty sharp with your short game because the lies around the greens are some of the most difficult that we get.''

But for someone who hadn't played in so long, Mickelson said he was happy with how he hit the ball.

''It's about as good as I've been striking it, and I feel like there's a good round in me,'' Mickelson said.

Love took off in February for surgery to relieve numbness and weakness caused by spinal stenosis and bone spurs. He didn't play at all in March or April, and this is his fourth tournament back on the PGA Tour. He tied for 29th at Memorial last week and tied for third here a year ago in what wound up being his best finish of 2012.

He credited his good start to being grouped with Johnson and Snedeker, who also like to play fast.

''I tried to keep up with Dustin and Brandt,'' Love said.

Love made the turn at 2 under and birdied Nos. 10 and 11 to move into a five-way tie at 4 under with six others, a stroke back at that point. He bogeyed No. 12 and bogeyed the par-3 14th. But Love birdied two of his final three holes to finish with a piece of the lead.

Appleby had five birdies and a bogey for his best round this year. The Australian with nine victories hasn't won since The Greenbrier Classic in 2010, and his best this year was a tie for 35th at the RBC Heritage. He said he was surprised the scores weren't lower on a day where there wasn't any wind.

''I thought there were some more birdies out there,'' Appleby said. ''I think just with the pace of the greens if you're above the hole it's tricky. I'm happy with the way I played today. Anybody who got under par today, the scoreboard, certainly fought to get there.''

English, a 23-year-old from Georgia, got to 5 under on his back nine only to bogey his next hole at No. 5. Flores also got to 5 under when he birdied No. 13 to take the lead by himself only to double bogey the 14th after hitting into a bunker. He birdied No. 16 to get back into the lead group.

Green, who lost his card last year, was the clubhouse leader at midday. The Australian, who won the 2009 Canadian Open, has been busy rebuilding his chipping and putting. This is his best round this year, but it had been a while since Green had seen his name at the top of a leaderboard.

''I was starting to get nervous seeing my name on the board and made two good up and downs to finish off the round, which is nice,'' Green said after hitting into bunkers on Nos. 17 and 18 on his way in.

Notes: Paul Goydos, who shot a 73, may have re-injured his left wrist hitting out of some deep rough on No. 15. This was his first event in more than a year after extensive surgery on his wrist. He wrote on Twitter that he got some therapy after his round and planned to ice every hour but will not know how bad it is until he warms up on Friday morning. ... Guan Tianglang, the 14-year-old from China who made the cut at the Masters, opened with a 73. ... Matt Bettencourt withdrew because of illness after shooting a 39 on the front nine.

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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