Fowler rallies, clips Stenson to win Deutsche Bank

By Doug FergusonSeptember 7, 2015, 11:52 pm

NORTON, Mass. – One big putt for Rickie Fowler. One big mistake for Henrik Stenson.

That turned out to be the difference Monday when Fowler rallied from a two-shot deficit with five holes to play, making a 38-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and playing flawless the rest of the way for a 3-under 68 and a one-shot victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Fowler won for the third time this year and moved to No. 5 in the world, not quite in the conversation for the new ''Big Three'' but perhaps on the cusp of it. The victory assures he will be among the top five players in the FedEx Cup that has a clear shot at the $10 million prize in the Tour Championship.

''It's pretty special to fight it out like that,'' Fowler said.

Stenson was a runner-up in a FedEx Cup Playoff event for the second straight week, and this one figures to sting.

He grabbed a three-shot lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th, and after a two-shot swing in Fowler's favor at No. 11, the Swede drilled a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 12 to restore his lead to two shots.

Stenson never trailed until his tee shot on the par-3 16th came up short, bounced off the front of the green and down into the rocks and the water. That led to a double bogey, and Fowler never gave him a chance to catch up.


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Stenson had a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a tie, but it slid by on the right and he closed with a 70. Fowler two-putted for par from 10 feet.

''I obviously pulled the wrong club on 16 and was trying to get the most out of a 7-iron into the wind and ballooned that one a little bit and that was the crucial mistake. Making double there was really a killer,'' Stenson said. ''I tried to get those two shots back or at least one to force a playoff on the last two holes and couldn't manage to do it.''

The final hour was every bit as tense as The Players Championship in May, except instead of five players having a chance to win, this was a duel with Stenson the entire back nine. Fowler didn't make any birdies after his long putt on the 14th, but he didn't have to. Where he thrived was off the tee and his iron play into the greens. Swinging freely, he was never really out of position until he went just long of the green on the par-5 closing hole with his second shot.

He played it safe with a putter to 10 feet, putting pressure on Stenson to the very end.

Fowler finished at 15-under 269 and moved to No. 3 in the FedEx Cup behind Jason Day and Jordan Spieth, with Stenson at No. 4 and Bubba Watson at No. 5.

Charley Hoffman bounced back from a 76 to close with a 67 and finish alone in third.

One of the loudest cheers was for a player who had no chance to win. William McGirt was on the verge of being eliminated from the FedEx Cup when he holed a 7-iron from the fairway on No. 17 for eagle. A par on the 18th hole allowed him to sneak into the top 70 and advance to the third playoff event north of Chicago in two weeks.

Hunter Mahan kept his streak going by closing with a 70 to tie for fourth, moving him from No. 91 to No. 52. Mahan is the only player who has never missed a FedEx Cup playoff event since this series began in 2007. Jerry Kelly made birdie on the last hole for a 72 to narrow get into the top 70. Keegan Bradley also got in.

Two other players imploded on the back nine to end their season.

Kevin Streelman appeared to be safe until he shot 42 on the back nine for a 77. He was at No. 65 and dropped to No. 75. Carlos Ortiz of Mexico had four straight birdies and was making a late bid for Chicago until he took triple bogey on No. 9 and then shot 41 on the back nine for a 71.

There were no changes to the Presidents Cup, though Matt Jones of Australia squandered a great chance. He only needed third place to make the International team, but he made two double bogeys in three holes to start the back nine and finished in a five-way tie for fourth.

Stenson now has been runner-up four times this year without winning, and this was every bit as good a chance to win as Bay Hill.

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Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

“Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

“We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

“That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

So was Woods.

DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

“His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

“He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told PGATour.com afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.


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“The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

“Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told ESPN.com, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

“Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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With blinders on, Rahm 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.