Scott Matures Fujikawa Plans

By Brian HewittJanuary 18, 2007, 5:00 pm
Butch Harmon liked what he saw last November at East Lake when his pupil, Adam Scott, handled the moment of dealing with Vijay Singh in the final round en route to winning The TOUR Championship.

Harmon and Scott hooked up again two weeks ago in Hawaii at the Mercedes-Benz Championship to work more on Scotts game. This time Singh emerged victorious, but not before Scott took a serious Sunday run at the Big Fijian.

Adam Scott
Adam Scott has risen to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
All of which was enough for Harmon to predict Scott will have a breakout year in 2007. He feels that way, too, Harmon said.

The clues are everywhere. The 26-year-old Scott tied for eighth in last years Open Championship and followed that up with a tie for third at the PGA Championship. Were just looking for more consistency, Harmon said.

Meanwhile, Harmon has begun working with Jason Gore. Gore dropped to No. 118 on the money list in 2006 after a terrific 2005 season.

He was lost last year, Harmon said of Gore.

Justin Leonard, another member of the Harmon stable, went from No. 12 on the money list in 2005 to No. 109 last year.

Harmon said Leonard had legitimate reasons. Leonards three children are aged 3 years, 22 months and six months. Now that domestic adjustments have been made, Harmon said, he expects Leonard to be back strong this season.

Finally, Harmon is also high on new student Nick Watney who had six top-10s in 2006.

Tadd Fujikawa is already thinking ahead to this summer. And the 5-1, 16-year-old Hawaiian isnt thinking small.

Fujikawa rallied the entire golf world behind him last week at the Sony Open when he became the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut at a PGA TOUR event.

Now, Fujikawa says his goal for 2007 is to win the U.S. Amateur. This, of course, is easier said than done. But Fujikawa wants to play in the Masters Tournament one day. And the quickest way for him to get to Augusta would be to automatically qualify by winning the U.S. Amateur, which will be played in August at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, sources say Fujikawa has decided he needs a full-time swing coach but hasnt selected one. Sources also say he has reluctantly told his high school golf teammates that he wont be playing on the team this year because of all the opportunities now in front of him. Among those, Golf Channel has reported, will be special exemption offers to play on the PGA TOUR in 2007.

Fujikawa also wants to return to the U.S. Open where he surfaced as a 15-year-old phenom last year at Winged Foot. Fujikawa qualified for that tournament out of the Hawaii sectional where one spot was available.

The USGA subsequently pulled the plug on the Hawaii sectional. That means any Hawaiian residents, who advance through local qualifying, will have to travel to the mainland to compete in a sectional.

Reminded of this Tuesday, Fujikawa said he was very disappointed about the USGA decision to make the Hawaii sectional go away.

By winning the Sony Open last week, Paul Goydos rocketed to No. 39 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Heady stuff.

If he remains in the top 64 through the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, scheduled to conclude Feb. 11, he will gain a berth in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship later next month.

Here are the names of a just few players Goydos finds himself ahead of in the rankings: Darren Clarke, Lucas Glover, Mike Weir, Thomas Bjorn, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Bart Bryant, Scott Verplank, Charles Howell III, J.J. Henry, Tom Lehman, J.B. Holmes, Fred Couples, Tim Herron, Sean OHair and Kenny Perry.

If Goydos remains in the top 50 as of March 26, nine days in advance of the Masters, he will get an automatic invitation to Augusta.

Goydos, who has battled injuries in recent years, hasnt played in any major championship since 2002.

There are 27 rookies on TOUR in 2007. There are 24 Australians on TOUR this year. The tallest player is 6-5 Jay Delsing. The shortest is 5-4 Gavin Coles..While winning at Sony last week, Goydos made 59 of 63 putts inside of 10 feet. Better yet, he sank six of 13 between 15 and 20 feet.

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Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

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Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

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Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1