Notes: Harrington says Daly 'needs to love the game'

By Doug FergusonMarch 18, 2014, 6:02 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – All signs, and particularly the numbers, pointed to another meltdown by John Daly.

He hit three balls into the water on the 16th hole at Innisbrook and made a 12, still only the fourth-highest score he has made on any one hole on the PGA Tour. And when he missed a 4-foot bogey putt on the last hole, he signed for a 90. Daly has had at least one round at 80 or higher every year since 1996.

So what was it like to be in the middle of this? Not a problem for Padraig Harrington.

''He was perfectly fine to play with – very respectful, no issues at all in terms of golf,'' Harrington said.

Daly opened with a 74 in the Valspar Championship, and his second round got off to a rocky start with a four-putt double bogey on the second hole.

''He came out pressing – as we all did – on Friday,'' Harrington said. ''But he was very respectful to play with. He was useful out there. He was trying in terms of lines and getting clubs and things like that. You could see what he was doing. It wasn't like I wouldn't prefer him to be there.''

As for his big number? Daly referred to as a ''good up-and-down for 12.''

''I didn't actually see most of the 16th. I was in the toilet when he was hitting it,'' Harrington said. ''But he didn't walk in. He didn't stop trying. He tried to hit the right shots on the last two holes. It didn't seem to us he was shooting that score.''

Two years ago, Daly hit seven shots into the water on the 11th hole at The Lakes in the Australian Open when he ran out of golf balls and walked in. He played that day with Hunter Mahan, who also found him to be good company on the golf course.

The scores paint a picture, however. It was the 62nd time that Daly has posted an 80 or higher, and that's just on the PGA Tour. His highest score was an 18 at Bay Hill in 1998 when he hit six balls in the water on the par-5 sixth hole. He followed that with a birdie on the next hole.

In the Dutch Open years ago, Daly played the final three holes in 1-under par to break 90.

''He's waiting to play well to love the game, but he needs to love the game and then wait to play well,'' Harrington said. ''It's like he's trying too hard. If I was going to say anything, it's that he tries too hard. He's caring too much. I know that's not what people see.''


SPARTAN SISTERS: Juli Inkster selected Pat Hurst to be her assistant captain at the Solheim Cup next year in Germany, a natural pick. They are longtime friends and traveling companions. Both went to San Jose State – just not at the same time.

''She actually went to San Jose State on the 'Juli Inkster scholarship.' I don't think it helped her much, but what the heck,'' Inkster said.

She said Hurst called her ''Mrs. Inkster'' the first time they met. Their friendship began in South Africa when she invited Hurst to be her partner in a World Cup.

''I'm nine years older than Pat, but we get along really well,'' Inkster said. ''We're from the same area. She's kind of a flower. She doesn't really stress out too much, which is great, and I don't, either. So that helps.

''I really trust her, and I trust her opinions. She really thinks things out. She might not make a decision right away, but she'll think it out and she'll work it out and then she'll give you her opinion. And sometimes I kind of go too quick, so I think she'll be good at reining me in a little bit.''


CHESSON'S CHASE: Chesson Hadley knocked in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and celebrated like it was a winning putt on Sunday afternoon.

This was only Friday at Innisbrook, but it was worthy of a fist pump.

He made the cut on the number.

''That felt just as good as the win last week,'' Hadley said, referring to his victory in the Puerto Rico Open. ''I hate missing cuts. It stinks.''

He knows from experience, having missed five in a row. But after the long birdie to make the cut at the Valspar Championship, Hadley made the most of his chance with rounds of 67-71 on the weekend. That moved him up to a tie for 14th.

Hadley now is No. 59 in the world, and has two more weeks to try to crack the top the 50 and get into the Masters.


ROAD TO THE MASTERS: It looks virtually certain that the Masters will again keep its field under 100 players, which Augusta National prefers. The Masters, with the smallest field among majors, has not exceeded 100 players since 103 competed in 1966.

John Senden's win at the Valspar Championship made him the 94th player eligible. There are three PGA Tour events remaining where a winner could get in (Bay Hill, Texas Open and the Houston Open). From the world ranking after the Texas Open, only Stephen Gallacher at No. 37 is a lock to get in.

That leaves Richard Sterne (No. 52) and George Coetzee (No. 56) on the outside. Neither are PGA Tour members, and there are no European Tour events remaining before the cutoff through the world ranking. Neither are in the field next week at the Texas Open.

For PGA Tour members, Chesson Hadley is at No. 59 and Ryan Palmer is at No. 63.


DIVOTS: Jason Day is done until the Masters. He withdrew from Bay Hill with lingering pain from a thumb injury. The Australian plans to rest the next two weeks, and then go to Augusta National early with Colin Swatton, his caddie and coach. ... The opening three events on the Florida Swing were won with scores of 8-under-par (Honda Classic), 4-under-par (Cadillac Championship) and 7-under-par (Valspar Championship). Throw out opposite field events or majors, and the last time three straight PGA Tour events were won with a score that was single-digit under par was in 1990. Payne Stewart won the Byron Nelson Classic (8 under), Greg Norman won the Memorial (even) and Ben Crenshaw won Colonial (8 under). ... Jonathan Byrd tied for 32nd at Innisbrook and earned $31,540. That enabled him to fulfill his major medical extension for the rest of the year. ... Here's one way to measure the conditions at Innisbrook last week. The difference between first and last place after one round was only 10 shots. ... The Valspar Championship was the fifth PGA Tour event this year that featured a 54-hole cut because more than 78 players made it to the weekend.


STAT OF THE WEEK: John Senden was the first player to win a PGA Tour event with an opening round over par since Justin Rose at the U.S. Open last year.


FINAL WORD: ''Whoever shows up at an event nowadays has a chance to win.'' – Patrick Reed.

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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