Furyk, Goosen share lead at Transitions

By Doug FergusonMarch 18, 2012, 12:01 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. ' Retief Goosen was about ready to give up.

His lower back was in so much pain that he decided to withdraw next week from Bay Hill so he could get treatment. A double bogey late in his round knocked him nine spots down the leaderboard, which he figured was the end of his hopes to get into the Masters.

One day later, everything changed.

Goosen ran off three straight birdies on the back nine and closed with a tough par from the fairway bunker on the 18th hole Saturday for a 6-under 65 that put him atop the leaderboard with Jim Furyk in the Transitions Championship.

Goosen is No. 52 in the world ranking, and he has to be in the top 50 after next week to avoid missing Augusta National'along with St. Andrews, his favorite course'for the first time since 1999.

Or he can avoid the math and just win the tournament, which comes with an automatic invitation.

Those prospects looked dim when he decided Friday to pull out of Bay Hill and arranged for a protein injection in Virginia on Wednesday. Suddenly, the final round is packed with significance.

Maybe Im fighting for that last spot in Augusta, he said.

Either way, it figures to be quite a battle.

Furyk, determined to overcome an atrocious season in 2011, surged into the lead with a 6-iron that covered the flag on the par-3 15th hole and settled three feet away for a birdie. He fell back into a tie on the 18th hole with a three-putt bogey up a steep ridge. That gave him a 66.

Furyk and Goosen, former U.S. Open champions who have won before at Innisbrook, were at 11-under 202.

I made some birdies out of the rough today and was able to knock some putts in and keep the round going, Furyk said. I played very patient, and when I struggled'no putts were going in'I didnt let it bother me.

Furyk was tied for the lead with Sang-Moon Bae, the South Korean rookie who lost in the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship to Rory McIlroy.

Bae escaped with a par on the par-5 14th after his 3-wood found the water by making an 18-foot putt. He wasnt so fortunate on the 16th, however. He drove left into the trees to protect against water running down the right side of the hole. He pitched out to the fairway into the rough, flew the green and three-putted for a triple bogey.

He at least made birdie on the 17th and wound up with a 68.

Bae was one shot behind, along with Jason Dufner, who struggled to a 71 and hopes is worst round is out of the way as he tries to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Dufner tends to see the glass half-full. Even though he made three straight bogeys to lose a five-shot lead in the final hour of the PGA Championship, he thinks about the tough par he made on the 18th to at least get into a playoff that he lost to Keegan Bradley.

And even though Dufners bogey-free streak ended Saturday on a par 5, he walked off the Copperhead Course realizing that he was only one shot behind, very much in the hunt.

Anything can happen with as many people bunched up like that, he said.

How many?

Goosen started the third round five shots out of the lead and finished atop the leaderboard. There are 28 players separated by five shots going into the final round Sunday.

Ernie Els, who likely would need to win to get into the Masters, had a 68 and was only three shots behind. So was Luke Donald, who can return to No. 1 in the world by winning at Innisbrook.

Harrington has been dropping shots since his course-record 61 on Thursday. He had a 72, yet still was only four behind.

The mystery, however, is Goosen.

He has a bulging disk and a degenerating disk in his lower back, which forced him to miss two majors last year. Kicking a soccer ball with his son last month caused it to flare up again, and the pain has been getting worse. What has saved the South African this week is the warm weather and a few adjustments in his stance to help get through the ball.

Its not good, Goosen said.

He plans to get a protein injection in his disks on Wednesday in Virginia, similar to the treatment that Vijay Singh and Fred Couples have received in Germany. Goosens pain was so bad last year that his left leg went numb when he stooped over, and he started to put 90 percent of his weight on the right side.

He has lost length off the tee, which isnt as big of a factor at Innisbrook. He atoned for that with his putting, which has carried him to a pair of U.S. Open titles over the years.

The last three weeks, its really just started getting bad again, Goosen said. So hopefully, Ill be ready to get going again after the Masters'or maybe the Masters, if I play well tomorrow.

Furyk won the Transitions two years ago, part of a big year that ended with a $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup. He hasnt won since then, and Furyk said he had no one to blame but himself for falling out of the top 50.

He couldnt wait for last year to end, though it finally did on a happy note. He shot 69 the last day at Sherwood for a tie for sixth, earning just enough points that he finished the year at No. 50 by two-hundredths of a point. That at least made him eligible for the Masters, though Furyk hasnt had to worry about qualifying for majors for some 10 years.

His long offseason'Furyk didnt return until Pebble Beach'allowed him to clear his head, and he also sorted out some equipment.

My results probably dont look good on paper, but I feel good about the way Im playing, Furyk said. Ive been playing much better golf this year than I was last year.

DIVOTS: Stewart Cink had a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth, notable in that he said he also made an ace on the same hole 10 years ago Nine of the 20 players separated by four shots going into the final round are not eligible for the Masters. A win comes with an automatic invitation. The group includes Chris DiMarco and former PGA champion Shaun Micheel.

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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