Notes Lehmans Passion Tigers British Digs
He won the '96 British Open, and there has never been a U.S. captain without a major championship. Lehman, however, won only four other PGA Tour events and played in just three Ryder Cup matches. Other candidates, such as Mark O'Meara and Larry Nelson, had won more majors, played in more Ryder Cups and were eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame.
'Do you have to win a lot of tournaments to be a good captain? That would be my criticism of the criticism,' Jim Furyk said.
Lehman never felt as though he had to apologize for not winning more, or explaining why he was chosen.
But when he hosted an informal cookout at the Wachovia Championship for prospective Ryder Cup players earlier this month, he openly discussed his record as a way of showing that his chief asset as captain was his passion for the matches.
'I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not,' Lehman said in an interview a week after the cookout. 'I know who I am as a player. I could tell them who has been ranked No. 1, who has won majors. There are other players who have won more and could have been captain. I'm well aware of that, and I have respect and admiration for those who were not selected.'
Lehman said he does not feel less worthy as a captain because he has only five trophies, including a claret jug. And he understands why some would question his selection over someone like O'Meara (16 wins, two majors, five Ryder Cup teams), Nelson (10 wins, three majors) or even Fred Couples (14 wins, one major, five teams).
'I'm a realist,' he said. 'I'm not living with my head under a rock. I can completely see why that would be said, and it would be a mistake not to understand that way of thinking.'
What he feels he brings as captain is desire, which he believes will rub off on his team.
'There's no way you can inspire somebody unless you're truly inspired yourself,' Lehman said. 'Nobody loves the Ryder Cup more than I do. I promise you, nobody loves it more.'
Furyk says Lehman made his point perfectly clear.
'All Tom was trying to say was that he was really passionate about the Ryder Cup, it's one of his favorite events and he was proud to be the captain,' Furyk said. 'He wanted that to reflect on us. He wants to do everything to help guys win.'
Which guys that will be remains a work in progress. Tim Herron climbed into the top 10 this week by winning Colonial. The player in 42nd place in the standings -- Joe Durant -- is one victory away this week from moving into the top 10.
TIGER'S BRITISH DIGS
Tiger Woods' return to golf remains uncertain after the May 3 death of his father, although he at least has rooms booked for the British Open -- a lot of rooms.
According to a British tabloid, Woods has paid about $265,000 to book the entire Hillbark Hotel for five nights. The hotel has 19 luxurious rooms, is located among 250 acres and has its own helipad. The executive suite has panoramic views of the Dee Estuary and North Wales. One hotel source told The Mirror that the hotel also has a fleet of luxury cars available to the guests.
The British Open will be held at Royal Liverpool for the first time since 1968.
TREVOR TAKES CHARGE
Trevor Immelman of South Africa received a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour when he was a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup. Turns out he didn't even need it.
Immelman earned $614,867 last year and became a special temporary member. But that money list did not reflect his earnings from two World Golf Championships ($112,000), which gave him more than enough to be the equivalent of the top 125 and get his card for 2006.
With runner-up finishes at the Wachovia Championship and Byron Nelson Championship in consecutive weeks, the 26-year-old is 16th on the money list with nearly $1.7 million and is assured of keeping his PGA Tour card for 2007.
'There were two great weeks,' he said. 'I think I'm playing the best golf my career so far. I've got to just keep plugging away and doing what I'm doing and eliminate a few of those errors, and hopefully pick up a couple of trophies along the way.'
Val Skinner raised another $500,000 to fight breast cancer by staging a pro-am involving 16 players from the LPGA Tour. In seven years, she now has raised $3.5 million from the LIFE Event, which she started as a tribute to Heather Farr, a former LPGA Tour member who died of breast cancer.
Skinner presented $250,000 checks Monday to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
'It's hard to believe that we've been coming together for seven years already, but we have,' Skinner said. 'We continue to lose women we love to this disease, and we continue to raise funds to fight it. One day, together, we will beat it.'
RETURN TO OAK HILL
Oak Hill is returning to the major championship landscape, landing the Senior PGA Championship in 2008 and the PGA Championship in 2013.
Oak Hill previously has held the U.S. Open three times, the PGA Championship twice and the 1995 Ryder Cup. The last time a major was held there, Shaun Micheel clinched the 2003 PGA Championship with a 7-iron that stopped 2 inches from the cup for a tap-in birdie and a two-shot victory over Chad Campbell.
The Senior PGA Championship will put Oak Hill in rare company. It will join PGA National, Laurel Valley and Valhalla as the only courses to host the three biggest events organized by the PGA of America -- the PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
The Honda LPGA Thailand has been added to the 2006 schedule, a $1.3 million event that will push prize money over $50 million for the first time in LPGA Tour history. The tournament will be played Oct. 20-22 at Amata Spring Country Club near Bangkok, the start of three straight tournaments in Asia. ... Dean Wilson tied for 12th at the Colonial and now has $763,644, the earliest he has secured his card in four years on the PGA Tour. ... Donald Trump finally got a USGA championship to one of his golf courses. The U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Girls Junior Amateur will be held at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey in 2009.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Lorena Ochoa has two victories and four runner-up finishes in her last six starts.
'If you're not in the Ryder Cup when you play the level I play at, you're not playing the right sort of golf.' -- Thomas Bjorn.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
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
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
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.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
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."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “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. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
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.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
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