Notes Tiger vs Nicklaus Quite the Comparison
After he won the 2002 U.S. Open for his eighth major, Golf Digest asked readers on its Web site if they thought he would break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors, and 73 percent said yes. The same question was posed two years later -- with Woods still stuck on eight majors -- and 71 percent said no.
This week, the online survey by Golf Digest asked how many times he would win the Masters. Nearly 70 percent said either seven or eight green jackets.
If nothing else, winning the Masters allows conversations to resume about his quest to reach 18 majors. Woods now has nine majors at age 29, trailing only Nicklaus and Walter Hagen (11), tied with Ben Hogan and Gary Player.
Woods remains ahead of schedule.
He has won nine of his first 33 majors as a pro. Nicklaus had won seven at that point.
Woods twice has gone 10 majors without winning, while Nicklaus' longest drought at this stage in his career was 12 majors, from the '67 U.S. Open to the '70 British Open at St. Andrews.
But if Woods wants to keep pace, the next five years will be crucial. Nicklaus won seven of the next 22 majors after ending his dry spell, including multiple-major seasons in 1972 and 1975.
Nicklaus says he wasn't aware of Bobby Jones' record of 13 majors (including six amateur titles) until the Golden Bear won his 10th. Woods was not aware he was halfway to Nicklaus' mark after winning the Masters.
``I haven't thought about it -- that's the first time,'' he said. ``I guess I am halfway. A long way to go.''
OFF THE MARK
Mark O'Meara has one more chance to secure full-exempt status for the year.
O'Meara missed the final two months last year with a wrist injury and was given a minor medical extension. Because he earned $543,866, the two-time major winner had eight tournaments to make $79,396 -- which would give him the equivalent of 125th on the money list last year.
He has played seven times this year, made three cuts and is $10,892 short with one tournament left. O'Meara, 48, helped his cause last week at the Masters by tying for 31st to earn $46,550.
O'Meara likely only needs to make the cut at his next tournament to make up the difference.
Either way, he plans a full schedule. O'Meara already has exemptions to the Wachovia Championship and the Byron Nelson Championship. If he still doesn't have his card by the end of the year, he can use his one-time exemption for top 50 in career money to play next year.
Gene Sarazen (1935) and Fuzzy Zoeller (1979) are the only players to win a green jacket on their first try, but there was a strong showing by Masters rookies this year.
Luke Donald, who staggered to a 77 when the second round was completed Saturday morning, closed with two 69s to tie for third. Rod Pampling and Mark Hensby of Australia tied for fifth, while David Howell of England recovered from his third round (76) to shoot 69 and finish in a tie for 11th.
All of them will be back next year by finishing in the top 16.
The one to watch the rest of the year might be Donald, whose classic swing and level head might allow him to start contending in the majors on a regular basis. Donald started last year at No. 130 in the world ranking and has climbed to No. 13 after the Masters.
Nike Golf was quick to announce that for the first time in its short history making golf clubs, more players used its irons than any other brand at a PGA Tour event -- and at the Masters, no less.
But only at the Masters can aging champions tee it up, and that's what caused the biggest stir last week at Augusta National. Nike was said to have paid $20,000 for players to use its irons.
Billy Casper played the Masters for the first time since 2001, carrying a Nike bag and using its clubs to post a 106. Charles Coody also switched to the swoosh, while Tommy Aaron continued to carry a Titleist bag -- stuffed with Nike clubs, of course. Other aging champs using Nike clubs were Sandy Lyle and Ray Floyd.
Kel Devlin at Nike said it was an example of how aggressive the company has been signing up players from all tours.
``This is not a one-week deal,'' Devlin said.
Having the most irons in play, according to the Darrell Survey, allows Nike to run advertisements telling everyone about it. But it probably gets more attention from its staff member wearing a green jacket Sunday -- Tiger Woods.
CADDIE FOR A CURE
The caddie for two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer has come up with unique program to raise money for leukemia research and other charities.
Russ Holden has started ``Caddy For a Cure,'' which allows people to bid for a chance to caddie for a PGA Tour player during a practice round at five tournaments this year.
Among the players who already have signed up are Langer, Vijay Singh, Tom Lehman, Stewart Cink, Sergio Garcia, Chad Campbell, Justin Leonard, Kenny Perry and Peter Jacobsen.
Cink, Langer, Lehman and Fred Funk were auctioned off for the first tournament, the MCI Heritage.
The not-for-profit group will give 100 percent of the proceeds to four charities -- the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, the player's charity of his choice, the tournament's charity and the PGA Tour Caddie benevolent fund.
Other tournaments where players will be involved in the program are the Houston Open, the Colonial, the Barclay's Classic at Westchester and the John Deere Classic.
Players might want to consider going to the John Deere Classic with hopes of winning soon. Three players in the field last year won the following week -- Jonathan Byrd at the B.C. Open, Todd Hamilton at the British Open and D.A. Points on the Nationwide Tour. ... Chris DiMarco became the 41st player to finish second to Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour. ... Last week was the first time Woods won any tournament when shooting over par in the first round. He opened with a 74, the highest first round by a Masters champion since Mark O'Meara in 1998.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods has won as many majors (9) as the next four players in the world ranking combined -- Vijay Singh (3), Ernie Els (3), Phil Mickelson (1) and Retief Goosen (2).
``Just wondering what he was smoking.'' -- Tiger Woods, on what he thought when Jack Nicklaus said Woods might win more green jackets than Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer combined.
Copyright 2005 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