Holmes (62) tames Blue Monster, leads by 4 at Doral

By Doug FergusonMarch 5, 2015, 11:01 pm

DORAL, Fla. - J.B. Holmes never liked the old Blue Monster at Doral because he thought it was too easy for a World Golf Championship.

He said this with a straight face Thursday after a 10-under 62 that tied the tournament record at the Cadillac Championship, gave him a four-shot lead and left the rest of this world-class field to wonder just how he managed.

''I was able to hit the shots where I envisioned and hit good shots, and today the putter was on,'' Holmes said. ''Put that combination together, you do everything pretty good, you're going to shoot a good score.''

He made it sound as easy as it looked. Except that Trump National Doral wasn't all that easy for everyone else.

Rory McIlroy again felt tentative with his swing and shot 40 on his opening nine holes before finishing without a par on his last six holes - an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys that allowed him to salvage a 73. The world's No. 1 player has shot 73-74-73 in his three rounds in Florida this year.

Phil Mickelson shot 74 and failed to make a birdie for the first time in 186 rounds on the PGA Tour, dating to the final day at Olympic Club in the 2012 U.S. Open.

''Ten under? You're joking,'' Shane Lowry said after a hard-fought 71.

Ryan Moore was hanging with him until he hit his tee shot into the water on the par-5 18th hole and made double bogey. He still had a 66.

''It was a very fair test of golf,'' Moore said. ''I mean, it's difficult, but you can make some birdies.''


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Dustin Johnson ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine and was at 68, along with Alexander Levy of France and Rickie Fowler, who thought his round was solid. ''To shoot 68 in some tough conditions on a tough golf course and be six back, wouldn't really expect that,'' Fowler said.

Henrik Stenson, making his American debut, had six birdies and joined Phoenix Open winner Brooks Koepka at 69. The group at 70 included Adam Scott, who used a conventional putter for the first time in just over four years.

Holmes last played at Doral in 2010, missing time with injuries, not the least of which was surgery to remove a piece of his skull in 2011. Gil Hanse renovated the Blue Monster to make it more sensational with so much water hugging the fairways and greens. That was never an issue for Holmes. He finished his round with an 8-foot par putt, which he said was the closest he came to bogey all day.

''By about 5 feet,'' he said.

The start was nothing short of deal. Holmes two-putted for birdie on the par-5 10th, holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the 11th, and then smashed a drive downwind on the 603-yard 12th hole. He hit 6-iron thinking he might be able to clear the bunker, and it turned out better than he imagined, a foot away from the hole for an eagle.

The rest of the round, playing in tropical warmth and typical south Florida wind, was a matter of keeping it below the hole and making putts.

This was never his favorite WGC event the two previous times he played it.

''One of my least favorite tracks on tour,'' he said of the previous design. ''It was just too easy. I felt like for a World Golf Championship, 22 under winning shouldn't really happen. It's a very difficult golf course. I played great today.''

He was right on both counts.

The average score was 73.4, meaning that Holmes was more than 11 shots better than the field, the best standard of a great round. His 62 matched the tournament record set by Bubba Watson at Doral in 2012, and Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen at Mount Juliet in Ireland in 2002.

McIlroy's standard is slightly off at the moment.

Already a winner in Dubai and a runner-up in Abu Dhabi, he missed the cut last week at the Honda Classic after a month break and said he felt tentative. A week later, not much changed. Poor tee shots kept him from reaching the par 5s on the back nine in two. He twice failed to save par from the bunkers. And then from the middle of the fairway on the 18th hole - the tee shot is supposed to be the hard part - he was caught between clubs and tugged a 7-iron short, down the bank and into the water for a double bogey.

On his next tee shot, McIlroy was 5 yards away from going into the water - on the adjacent Red Course.

''It is very good on the range and it is very good in normal play when I'm not playing a tournament,'' McIlroy said. ''Then I've got a card in my hand the last couple weeks and it just hasn't quite been there. It's nice you can get round rounds this week and sort of try to play your way into some sort of rhythm. I don't feel like it's that far away. That's the frustrating thing.''

But he's far away from the lead. McIlroy already was 11 shots behind.

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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