Notes Tigers Huge Impact Strickers Comeback
Tom Cannon, dean of business at the University of Buckingham, says in his research for HSBC that Woods' presence in England and Ireland over the next three weeks will boost the golf economy by as much as 5 percent. Including press coverage, travel, sales of golf equipment and broadcast rights, Cannon estimated the total value on the core golf economy could be as high as $320 million.
'The size and reach of the Tiger economy is remarkable,' Cannon said. 'Drawing these figures together gives an astonishing picture not only of the impact of a single, outstanding sportsman but of the growing power and influence of sport and sporting celebrity.'
After the World Match Play, Woods will play the Ryder Cup in Ireland, then return to the London area for the American Express Championship.
STRICKER'S STIRRING COMEBACK
Steve Stricker went from desperation to disappointment, a wild swing in emotions that ultimately indicates a successful season.
Consider his toughest adjustment.
'It was weird to change your focus from trying to get into tournaments to trying to get on the Ryder Cup team,' he said.
Having failed to make it through Q-school, the only status Stricker had at the start of the year was as a past champion. That only got him into three tournaments the first 15 weeks of the season. Four months later, he did well enough in limited opportunities to finish 21st in the Ryder Cup standings and get serious consideration from Tom Lehman as a captain's pick.
Like others who got passed over, the disappointment has grown stronger as the Ryder Cup approaches. But at least Stricker has some perspective on how far he has come.
'I couldn't be that upset, not with the year I've had,' Stricker said.
His year isn't over. Stricker shot four rounds in the 60s and finished 10th in the Canadian Open. Not only was that his third consecutive top 10, he moved up to No. 36 on the money list with just over $1.6 million, nearly as much as he earned the last four years combined. An even stronger indicator of his play is that Stricker ranks fifth in scoring average.
Stricker's last victory was the Accenture Match Play Championship in Australia at the start of the 2001 season. He felt his game sliding a year later, and it fell off the map the next two years. The harder he worked, the more it seemed he went backward. The low point was not turning in his application for Q-school in 2004, then falling out of the top 150 by one spot in the final tournament.
'Going back to Q-school was a shot in the gut, a real wake-up call,' Stricker said.
He only made it to the final stage last year, but he was headed in the right direction. He finally broke through with a third-place finish in Houston, then followed that with a tie for sixth in the U.S. Open and a tie for second a week later at the Booz Allen Classic.
He wasn't eligible for any of the majors at the start of the year, but qualified for two -- tops 10s in the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship -- and couldn't qualify for the British Open because the 36-hole qualifier was rained out.
What also might have spurred him on was having another mouth to feed.
Stricker's wife, Nicki, gave birth to another daughter (Isabella) on May 10. She learned she was pregnant about the time he was getting for the second stage of Q-school. Their other daughter was born in August 1998, the year he finished 13th on the money list and was runner-up to Vijay Singh in the PGA Championship at Sahalee.
'Maybe we need more kids,' he said with a laugh.
Stricker and his wife joked during the offseason that he should try to get comeback player of the year, which would mean he at least earned his card for the '07 season. That now seems a lock.
And at 36th on the money list, the Tour Championship isn't out of the question.
YOUTH IS SERVED
The latest teenager to make a splash is Gipper Finau, a 16-year-old from Salt Lake City, who earned a spot in the Nationwide Tour event last week by shooting 63 in the Monday qualifier, then became the youngest player in that tour's history to make the cut with a 67 in the second round.
He finished at even-par 288 to tie for 58th among the 61 players who made the cut, turning heads along the way. Finau averaged 339.3 yards off the tee -- the highest average of any player this year in a Nationwide event -- and led the field with 24 birdies.
Finau, a junior at West High School, was the youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event since 15-year-old Bob Panasik in the 1957 Canadian Open.
Cristie Kerr's victory turned the LPGA Tour's player-of-the-year award into a four-way race. Lorena Ochoa is still in control with 216 points, followed by Annika Sorenstam (194), Karrie Webb (184) and Kerr (174).
Sorenstam has won the award the last five years, and even though she is having to catch up, she likes her position. Sorenstam has finished first and second in her last two events, 'so I would say I'm ready.'
With 30 points available for winning, all it takes is one victory to put Sorenstam into the lead. And with the ADT Championship worth double points, the race could be decided in the final tournament of the year.
Charlie Sifford has been selected to receive the Old Tom Morris Award, the most prestigious honor by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. ... The top five players from the Futures Tour money list earned LPGA Tour cards for 2007 -- Song-Hee Kim, Charlotte Mayorkas, In-Bee Park, Kristy McPherson and Meagan Francella. ... Peter Jacobsen's season on the Champions Tour most likely ended when he had surgery to replace his left hip over the weekend. Jacobsen said he expects to be out six to seven weeks, although he expects to be 'as good as new.' It was the fourth surgery in the last three years for Jacobsen, who said this about his hopes for 2007: 'I like to use 14 clubs, and I don't want one of them to be a scalpel.'
STAT OF THE WEEK, PART I
Paula Creamer used the phrase, 'I mean,' 12 times during her news conference at the John Q. Hammons Classic.
STAT OF THE WEEK, PART II
Michelle Wie used the phrase, 'You know,' 13 times during her news conference at the Women's British Open.
'There have been enormous galleries, which have been difficult to control. But I still think the worst crowd you can have is no crowd.' -- European Tour chief executive George O'Grady after Michelle Wie missed the cut at the Omega European Masters.
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