Olesen fires 63 for two-shot lead at Scottish Open

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2015, 8:46 pm

GULLANE, Scotland – Thorbjorn Olesen returned to form with a 7-under 63 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Scottish Open on Thursday, with Jimmy Walker leading a trio of top Americans in the chasing pack.

Rebounding from missing the cut in five of his last six events, Olesen made seven birdies - including three in a row on Nos. 15-17 - and was bogey-free in benign conditions for the morning starters over the Gullane links.

In a week in which Rory McIlroy withdrew from next week's British Open because of an ankle injury sustained playing soccer, it's fitting that Olesen is playing a starring role here.

The 25-year-old Dane sustained one of the most bizarre injuries of recent years when he fell off a camel while on holiday with friends in Dubai last year, pulled a groin muscle and was ruled out for two months. A hand injury forced him out of action this season from February to May, contributing to his poor recent form.

''It's been a tough time,'' Olesen said, ''but I feel like I'm 100 percent with my body now.''

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Daniel Brooks of England, playing in the last group, birdied the final hole to take sole ownership of second place on 6-under ahead of a group of seven players a stroke further back.

The 12th-ranked Walker also avoided any trouble early in the first round, with only a light breeze coming off the Firth of Forth in the morning. Two birdies in his last three holes sealed a 5-under 65 for Walker and a share of third place with Matthew Nixon, Richard Finch and Seve Benson of England, Alejandro Canizares and Adrian Otaegui of Spain, and Sweden's Johan Carlsson.

Americans Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar were in a large group on 4-under 66, along with two former champions - Graeme McDowell and last year's winner Justin Rose.

Rose picked up where he left off from Royal Aberdeen 12 months ago in what he called a ''pretty stress-free round'', while McDowell produced one of his best displays of a miserable 2015 that has seen him register just one top-10 finish either side of the Atlantic.

The 2010 U.S. Open champion, who has plunged to No. 52 in the rankings, raced to 5-under after four straight birdies on Nos. 5-8 but ruined his round by three-putting the last two holes for bogeys. McDowell is looking to revive his game by watching videos of his 2010 swing.

''It's about trying to turn this train round back the right way,'' McDowell said. ''It's been a tough grind this year.''

Olesen was regarded as one of Europe's next big things around 2011-12 but hasn't really kicked on, with his two titles coming at the Sicilian Open in 2012 and the Perth International in 2014.

Down at No. 122 in the rankings, Olesen has previous form on the links - he was runner-up at the Dunhill Links Championship in 2012, after finishing tied for ninth at the British Open at Royal Lytham.

''I grew up in Denmark and am used to playing in a lot of wind, so I think that helps me,'' Olesen said.

Olesen found 11 of 14 fairways, which he said was the key to his round and allowed him to attack a course that wasn't protected by wind. A 40-foot putt on No. 12 took him to 4 under before his three successive birdies pushed him clear on his own.

Three qualifying places for next week's British Open are up for grabs for top-10 finishes, and Olesen is among the players still to book his place at St. Andrews.

Phil Mickelson, the 2013 winner at the Scottish Open, struggled with his putting in shooting a 1-under 69.

''I haven't played the last couple of weeks and I was a little rusty,'' Mickelson said.

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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