Watson leads Travelers, trying to win wire-to-wire

By Associated PressJune 27, 2015, 12:01 am

CROMWELL, Conn. - Bubba Watson had to think a bit more Friday at the Travelers Championship, where the wind was a little stronger, the greens a bit firmer and the pin placements more challenging.

The long-hitting lefty shot a 3-under 67 to maintain the two-stroke lead he took with an opening 62.

''[Thursday] I added it up after I left the media center, I had three holes I didn't have a wedge into,'' he said. ''Today was different, because the wind conditions were different. They were faster and it was coming from a different direction, so it made the golf course a little bit tougher.''

The two-time Masters champion is trying to become the first wire-to-wire winner at TPC River Highlands since Peter Jacobsen in 2003.

Watson won his first PGA Tour title at the 2010 event and has finished in the top 20 five times in eight previous starts. He tied for sixth in 2008, tied for second in 2012, and finished fourth in 2013.

He was delayed in talking to the media Friday after being pulled for a random drug test, something he saw as a positive sign.

''I hope I passed it,'' he joked. ''It's usually when you're at the top of the leaderboard they want to drug test you, especially me.''

Brian Harman birdied two of his final three holes during an afternoon round of 65 to join Brian Stuard and Carl Pettersson at 9 under.


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Stuard, who followed an opening 64 with a 67, pulled within a shot of Watson after back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16. But he bogeyed the 17th after hitting his second shot over the green and missing an 8-foot par putt. He then saved par on the 18th with a 19-foot putt.

''That was kind of a nice momentum-keeper going into the weekend,'' he said.

Pettersson started on the back nine and shot a 31 on those holes before finishing with a 66.

The back nine was less affected by the wind than the front, where a headwind had several holes playing longer than their yardage.

Scott Brown had a double bogey on his first hole and posted a 38 on the front. But after making par on the 10th, he reeled off six straight birdies to finish with a 67. He was 8 under, tied for fifth place with Jason Gore and Chris Stroud, who is still looking for his first tour win after losing here in a playoff to Ken Duke in 2013.

''The back nine always plays a bit easier here anyway, so I knew there were going to be some opportunities out there,'' Brown said. ''So I just kind of hung in there. When my caddie said, 'Let's go get them on the back nine,' that's what we did.''

Nick Watney had the round of the day, shooting a bogey-free 64, with three birdies on each side of the course. Watney was at 7 under in a group that included New England native Keegan Bradley.

Thirty-three players were within six shots of the lead.

Ernie Els, who shot a 66 in the opening round, bogeyed the first five holes and missed the cut after shooting a 76 to finish 2 over after 36 holes. Els, making his first appearance here since 2002, threw his club into the air in frustration after bogeying the 12th hole and hitting his tee shot on the 13th left and into the water guarding the green.

Others notable names who failed to make the cut include Stewart Cink (139), who has won this tournament twice; defending champion Kevin Streelman; four-time major champion Padraig Harrington (141), 2007 winner Hunter Mahan (141) and Louis Oosthuizen (142).

Representatives from the British Open brought the claret jug to display at the Travelers on Friday, as a reminder to players that four spots and as many as nine in that tournament are up for grabs this week.

The leading five players, not already exempt, from the top 20 in the FedEx Cup will be part of the field at St. Andrews next month.

In addition, the leading four players who finish in the top 12 at TPC River Highlands also will get spots. The Travelers is the first of three PGA Tour events where top finishers can get into St. Andrews. There are four spots available at The Greenbrier Classic, and one at the John Deere Classic.

''I've been in professional golf for 18 years now and I've never been to Europe,'' Gore said. ''So that just blows my mind. It blows a lot of people's mind. Playing at St. Andrews would be a lot of fun, but we've got a long way to go.''

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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