Woods possibly on his way to 100 PGA Tour wins

By Damon HackJanuary 29, 2013, 2:00 am

For his 50th PGA Tour victory, the folks at the Buick Open gave Tiger Woods a cake. It was huge, big enough for a family of about the same number.

Tiger took a swipe of the frosting and sampled it. His grin was a mile wide.

“It took me 10 years to get here; hopefully I can continue playing well over the next 10, 20 years,” Woods said back in August of 2006, smack dab between winning the Open Championship at Hoylake and PGA Championship at Medinah.

On Monday, an older, more fragile Woods won his 75th PGA Tour event at the Farmers Insurance Open, throttling the field in a style both familiar and brand new.

Tiger holed bunker shots and chip shots and he buried putts that bounced along poa annua. He threw darts with his wedges. He ran away from the field, pushing his lead to eight before settling for a four-shot win.

Even when Tiger hit wild shots off the tee (he historically is iffy with the big dog) he got by with his skill and imagination (best combination the game has ever seen).

The win along the rugged Pacific coastline pulled Tiger within seven of tying Sam Snead for the all-time record for wins on the PGA Tour.

There was no cake, but no matter. The victory – so old-school Tiger – brought up something even sweeter: the specter of a race to 100 victories.

I hadn’t even considered the number attainable until Tiger slammed the door at Torrey Pines, where he has won eight times as a professional (including the 2008 U.S. Open) and stands to win a few more.

Tiger has more happy places in golf than anyone. Bay Hill (seven victories). Akron (seven). Memorial (five). Augusta National (four). Like Torrey Pines, none of those tournaments is going out of business any time soon.

The odds for Tiger reaching 100 are favorable.

Even as his winning rate has slowed – it took him 10 years to reach 50 victories and another 6 ½ to get 25 more – there are many reasons to believe he can get to that magic number.

The farther away from the dark days of 2009-2010 he gets, the more comfortable he looks. His swing changes have come together and his short game is sharp. He’s also as healthy as he’s looked in years.

Then there are the less tangible forces, the outside motivation that always fuels him. The ascendance of Rory McIlroy has Tiger’s attention, not to mention his nearly lifelong quest to upend Jack’s major record of 18.

Don’t underestimate fatherhood, either. Tiger has video of his son Charlie’s swing on his phone and has been showing off the little guy’s move to his Tour pals.

You don’t think Tiger wants his kids to see the old man as No. 1 in the world?

Beyond being a mythical number, 100 could be a game-changer in the argument for who is the greatest of all time, even if Tiger fails to catch Jack.

Tiger has already passed Jack for PGA Tour titles, 75 to 73. Score a point for Tiger. But Jack had 19 second-place finishes in majors (Tiger has six). Point for Jack.

But Tiger won six straight USGA Amateur titles (three junior amateurs, three amateurs) from 1991-1996 to Jack’s two U.S. Amateurs in 1959 and 1961. Point for Tiger.

Jack had better competition, more Hall of Famers to take down. Tiger had the cut streak. Jack has a better Ryder Cup record.

And back and forth it goes.

Tiger vs. Jack is the game’s water-cooler debate that just won’t go away (and what will happen if those two face off in the golfchannel.com Ultimate Match Play competition? Could happen.)

But Tiger with 100 victories would add a huge wrinkle to an argument with so many textures.

One hundred wins, as Tiger might say, would be pretty good.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.