Six Shots that Shaped 2004

By Associated PressNovember 9, 2004, 5:00 pm
PGA TourThe first sign that Vijay Singh would be a relentless force on the PGA Tour came in a tournament he didn't win, with a putt that ultimately didn't matter.
 
Singh was five shots behind with five holes to play at the season-opening Mercedes Championships. He came within an inch of forcing a playoff when his 100-foot eagle putt on the 18th at Kapalua grazed the cup.
 
He finished one shot behind, but that putt was a powerful statement that he should never be counted out.
 
Singh proved that over the next nine months. He shot 29 on the back nine to win in New Orleans. He refused to get flustered at the Buick Open after John Daly started birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. He won the PGA Championship despite trailing by two shots as he stood on the 16th tee.
 
And in perhaps the most amazing of his nine wins, Singh made two triple-bogeys and still won the Canadian Open.
 
Singh's best shot of the year was his 3-iron into 6 feet on the par-3 17th at Whistling Straits during the three-hole playoff at the PGA Championship, which assured him a one-shot lead going to the final hole.
 
There were dozens of other memorable shots - Craig Parry holing out with a 6-iron to win at Doral, Todd Hamilton's bump-and-run with a utility club on the 18th at Royal Troon; Mike Weir chipping to 5 feet from the side of the hill at Riviera to save par and win for the second straight year.
 
But other shots, some of them obscure, helped shape the year on the PGA Tour.
 
Phil Mickelson at Augusta National:
The 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th at Augusta National is what gave Mickelson his first major, but he might not have been in that position without a birdie on the par-3 16th.
 
No. 16 can be a tricky hole for a lefty, and it cost Mickelson in 2001 when he put his tee shot atop the ridge right of the flag, three-putting for bogey.
 
He was up to the task this year. One shot behind, Mickelson hit 8-iron into 15 feet and made birdie to draw even with Ernie Els and set up his dramatic finish.
 
And without that green jacket, a spectacular year in the majors would have looked like a flop.
 
Mickelson was tied with Retief Goosen at the U.S. Open until a three-putt from 5 feet to make double-bogey on the 17th hole. He had the lead at Royal Troon until missing a 4-foot par putt on 13 and settling for pars the rest of the way, finishing one shot out of the playoff.
 
But he has a green jacket. It was a great year.
 
And it was a perfect 8-iron on the 16th.
 
John Rollins on No. 18 at La Costa:
Rollins wasn't even eligible for the Match Play Championship until Els withdrew, and he wasn't optimistic about a first-round match with defending champion Tiger Woods.
 
The match was even on the par-5 18th, and both players had to lay up about 100 yards short of the green. Woods went first and hit a marginal wedge into 20 feet. Rollins tried to stick it close, but the ball drifted just long enough to catch the bunker. He wound up with a bogey and lost.
 
Woods went on to win his next five matches for his only victory of the year.
 
John Daly at Torrey Pines:
It had been 10 years since Daly won a PGA Tour event on American soil, and it looked like he might have to wait even longer.
 
Luke Donald hit a wedge into 6 feet on the par-5 18th, the first playoff hole at the Buick Invitational. Chris Riley, one of the best putters on tour, was about 5 feet away. Daly went for the green in two and found a bunker, leaving him 100 feet from the cup on a downhill shot with water on the other side.
 
With exquisite touch, Daly blasted out to 4 inches, then won when Donald and Riley missed.
 
Galleries had even more reason to follow Daly the rest of the year. He made the Tour Championship for the first time in 13 years, and was a hot topic in August whenever someone mentioned the Ryder Cup.
 
Joey Sindelar at Quail Hollow:
One of the most congenial players in the game, Sindelar showed that it's never too late to recapture the magic.
 
He made up four shots over the final three holes in the Wachovia Championship, no shot more important than a 4-iron into 3 feet on the par-3 17th, which has a peninsula green and ranks as the hardest hole at Quail Hollow. It was enough to get into a playoff, where the 46-year-old Sindelar won for the first time in 370 tournaments spanning 14 years.
 
Sindelar was one of six players in their 40s who won this year. Fred Funk won for the first time in six years, Woody Austin for the first time in nine years, and Stephen Ames and Bart Bryant had never won.
 
Tom Lehman at Las Vegas:
Lehman went three straight weeks with at least a share of the 54-hole lead. During that stretch, he talked about wanting to play in the next Ryder Cup, but only if he could earn a spot on the team by ending five years without a victory.
 
Lehman didn't convert any of those leads. He best chance was Las Vegas, when he missed a 3-foot par putt on the 17th hole and wound up one shot behind.
 
Just think if Lehman had made that putt and gone on to win in Las Vegas. When the PGA of America came calling two weeks later, would he have accepted the job as Ryder Cup captain?
 
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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