Notes For Singh Houston Might Be Launching Pad
He missed a cut on the West Coast. He was dismissed early from the Match Play Championship. He was never a serious threat at the Masters, except for whatever went on in the Champions Locker Room during his spat with Phil Mickelson over spike marks.
His dry spell might be cause for alarm, but only if taking a snapshot of his 2005 season.
The big picture shows Singh in the same position he was a year ago when he arrived at the Houston Open.
His only victory was at Pebble Beach. He missed the cut at the Buick Invitational, didn't last long at La Costa and didn't offer anyone much of a clue that he was on the verge of a special year.
Then he won Houston by two shots over Scott Hoch, shot 29 on the back nine the next week in New Orleans for a comeback victory and wound up winning nine times and nearly $11 million when the season was over.
PIGSKINS AND THE PGA
Except for one week in October, the PGA Tour won't have to worry about the NFL getting in the way of its fall tournaments.
Still, that tournament is a big one.
The American Express Championship will be played Oct. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco, finishing the same day the San Francisco 49ers host to the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning.
Otherwise, the tour has no conflicts with the NFL.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the road during the 84 Lumber Classic. And the Sunday of the Presidents Cup in northern Virginia, the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens have a bye.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a bye during the Funai Classic at Disney, and the Bucs are on the road the next week during the Chrysler Championship at Tampa. During the one fall tournament in North Carolina, the Carolina Panthers are at home on Monday night -- the day after the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
The season-ending Tour Championship is again at East Lake in Atlanta. The Falcons play at Miami that week.
The World Golf Hall of Fame is constantly looking at ways to tweak its induction ceremony. One suggestion was to have LPGA Tour players inducted at age 40, the same age when PGA Tour players are eligible for the ballot.
``That has come up in conversation,'' LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said recently. ``It came up in our committee meetings, as to whether we would look at that. But I don't think we'll look at it very long. We think our 10-year requirement is reasonable.''
The LPGA requirement for the Hall of Fame is 27 points -- one point for a victory, two for a major, and points for winning the Vare Trophy for player of the year -- and playing 10 years on tour.
Annika Sorenstam was inducted into the Hall of Fame when she was 33. Karrie Webb will be 30 when she is inducted this fall after completing her 10th year. Votaw said their induction, along with Se Ri Pak at age 30 in 2007, is a reflection of three great players who came along at about the same time.
Some found it strange that Vijay Singh was voted the 2004 player of the year on the European tour, even though he played only four times in Europe.
Singh is a European tour member, so that made him eligible.
The same ostensibly holds true for Padraig Harrington. The Irishman was named European tour player of the month for March ``following his superb victory in the Honda Classic.''
Harrington only played three times in March -- all of those tournaments in Florida.
He was selected over a ``strong list of contenders,'' one of those being Ernie Els, who won back-to-back weeks on the European tour in Dubai and Qatar.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Darren Clarke had a six-shot lead after 36 holes of the MCI Heritage, then closed with rounds of 73-76 and lost to Peter Lonard of Australia.
He became the first player to blow a six-shot lead at the halfway point of a PGA Tour event since Nick Price in the 1984 Canadian Open.
Price also closed with rounds of 73-76 and wound up losing to an Australian -- Greg Norman.
The Magnolia Course at Disney is the latest PGA Tour course to get lengthened.
During a makeover this summer, Disney plans to lengthen 10 holes on the Mag by a total of 300 yards, making the course play about 7,500 yards from the championship tees. Three changes will come on the par 3s, and four of the par 4s will be at least 480 yards.
``When Joe Lee designed our finishing hole, his intention was for players to use a 4- or 5-iron for their approach,'' Disney head pro Kevin Weickel said. ``Now we have some players using a wedge. By adding 30 yards to the length of No. 18, we won't return it to Joe's original intent, but we will make it more interesting and challenging for the players.''
Disney also will be resurfacing the greens on the Magnolia, having done that to the Palm Course last year.
Tiger Woods now has three homes to go along with his boat. The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reports that Woods and wife Elin Nordegren have bought a two-bedroom apartment worth $1.8 million in central Stockholm, where his wife's family lives. Nordegren's mother, Barbro Holmberg, is Sweden's migration minister. ... Davis Love III went over $30 million in career money with his tie for second in the MCI Heritage. The others to surpass $30 million are Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. ... The Wachovia Championship has spared no expense in running a first-class tournament, and that extends to the trophy. The tournament commissioned Waterford Crystal in Ireland to create a trophy that is 20 inches tall and weighs 23 pounds. ... Chick-fil-A will no longer be the title sponsor of the LPGA Tour event after this year. Tournament officials say the tournament will continue with a multiyear commitment from Metro South Golf Charities.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Fourteen of the 16 events on the PGA Tour this year have been won by players who competed in the 2003 Presidents Cup.
``I think the American teams have a tendency to get uptight.'' -- Jack Nicklaus, U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup. The U.S. men have not won a cup competition since 2000.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey
SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.
The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.
Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.
It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.
“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”
Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.
According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.
“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”
Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.
And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.
As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.
He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.
“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”
If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.
Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.
“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”
Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.
Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.
“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.
Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.
Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1
SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.
After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.
With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.
“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.
“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”
Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'
SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.
“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”
On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”
Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”
Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.
“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.”
Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines
SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.
The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.
Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.
Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.
Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:
• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10
• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1
• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1