Women on Tour Becoming a Trend
The 2004 season might get under way with 14-year-old Michelle Wie at the Sony Open.
B.J. Wie, her father, said tournament sponsors are deciding this week whether to offer the teenage prodigy a sponsor's exemption at Waialaie Country Club in Honolulu, her hometown. She tried to Monday qualify last year, shot 73 and missed by seven strokes.
'She's got a good possibility, but not a final word yet,' the father said.
Is this a sign of more gender blending in golf? PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem doesn't think so.
'I don't see a trend involved here where a lot of tournaments are going to want women golfers to play,' Finchem said. 'I frankly don't think there are many that add much to a tournament at this point in time.'
In other words, the novelty might be wearing off.
Sorenstam sought a personal challenge and turned in a captivating performance at the Colonial, although she missed the cut by four shots. She has said repeatedly she won't play another PGA Tour event.
Suzy Whaley was the only woman to qualify, winning a PGA club pro sectional from a shorter set of tees to earn a spot in the Greater Hartford Open.
They were followed by Wie (Canadian and Nationwide tours), Laura Davies (Asian PGA Tour), Jan Stephenson (Champions Tour) and Se Ri Pak (Korean PGA Tour).
Finchem says Wie still grabs attention because of her youth and power.
'The question on everyone's mind is how far can this young gal go?' he said.
Still, he said most PGA Tour events are looking for players who have a future on the PGA Tour or past champions hoping to regain their form.
'I don't see a big shift in the usage because of what happened,' he said.
Meantime, B.J. Wie said in the event his daughter doesn't get an exemption to the Sony Open, she might try to Monday qualify again.
'It's a $400 entry fee,' he said. 'But that's still cheaper than flying to the mainland.'
The PGA Tour's other two awards might not be that difficult to figure out.
Ben Curtis is a lock for rookie of the year.
A year ago, Jonathan Byrd won the award because he was the only rookie to win a tournament. The 26-year-old Curtis happened to win a major - the first one he played, no less.
As for comeback player of the year?
Fred Couples would seem to be the logical choice. He overcame back problems to win the Houston Open, his first victory in five years, and he finished 34th on the money list.
Also making a strong case is Tommy Armour III, who started the year on conditional status and won the Texas Open by setting the 72-hole scoring record at 26-under 254.
The Skins Game won't be using a back tee on the 415-yard 14th hole at Trilogy Golf Club, and ESPN general manager Chuck Gerber offered one good reason: Annika Sorenstam.
The 33-year-old Swede will be the first woman to compete in the Thanksgiving weekend exhibition. The course, used for the first time in this event, will be about 7,100 yards and is a par 72.
'We're not using it because I wanted to limit the number of times that Annika had a fairway wood in her hands to make the second shot,' Gerber said in a conference call last week. 'I think that's necessarily fair.'
Sorenstam played Colonial at 7,080. In her opening round of 1-over 71, she hit 4-iron twice and a 7-wood into three of the par 4s. She also hit a 4-wood on a par 3.
'When you put Annika on a golf course that is 7,100 yards, she's at a disadvantage of having to play a long iron or a fairway wood into every par 4,' Gerber said. 'I think it's asking too much of any golfer to take a fairway wood and put it within 8 or 10 feet of the hole every time.'
Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara will be hitting from the same tees.
Until this year, John Daly was the only player to average over 300 yards per drive on the PGA Tour. Not only did Hank Kuehne end Daly's eight-year reign as the leader in driving distance, he had plenty of company in the '300 club.'
Kuehne finished at 321.4 yards and was one of nine players to average over 300 yards a drive.
Fred Funk won the driving accuracy category for the fourth time in five years, although his average (77.9 percent of fairways hit) was his lowest during that stretch. Joe Durant hit the most greens in regulation at 72.9 percent.
The putting leader was John Huston at 1.713, narrowly beating out Justin Leonard.
Leonard was No. 1 last week, but he slipped just enough after having to spend four days on the county-sized putting surfaces at Champions Golf Club at the Tour Championship.
Tiger Woods won the all-around ranking, a combination of every category.
Arnold Palmer made it official: The King introduced Kit Gawthrop as his fiancee during a press conference last week to announce MasterCard as the presenting sponsor of the Bay Hill Invitational. They did not mention a wedding date. ... Tiger Woods finished 17 shots behind Chad Campbell at the Tour Championship, the most he has trailed a winner since he was 17 shots behind Fred Couples in the 1998 Memorial. ... David Duval finally slipped out of the top 200 in the world ranking. At No. 204, he is only two spots ahead of Nationwide Tour player of the year Zach Johnson. ... Fredrik Jacobson, who has taken over as the top Swede in golf, signed a management deal with IMG. ... Nick Faldo withdrew from the Franklin Templeton Shootout this week because of a back injury. He was replaced by Matt Kuchar, whose partner will be Fred Funk. ... Des Smyth and Vicente Fernandez fill out the Rest of the World team in the UBS Cup next weekend at Sea Island.
STAT OF THE WEEK
The Tour Championship has been played 17 years without a repeat winner, the longest any event on the PGA Tour schedule has gone before someone won it twice.
'It worked for Hogan. It's definitely working for me.' - Vijay Singh, on the long hours he spends hitting balls.
Copyright 2003 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