Notes: Injuries are a pain in the neck; Good-timing award

By Doug FergusonJuly 27, 2011, 2:35 am

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Kevin Sutherland stepped back to line up a shot on the practice range at the Texas Open in April when his foot caught a rope and he fell over backward. Little did he know then it would cost him the majority of his season.

He tied for 11th that week - his best finish of the year - and that was that. With pain increasing each week, Sutherland missed the cut in his next three tournaments through The Players Championship before heading home to Sacramento, Calif., to find out what was wrong.

“I’ve got a herniated disk in the base of my neck, and I have a bone spur in the middle of my neck and that drove it into the spinal cord,” Sutherland said. “There was a bunch on inflammation. They told me I needed rest.”

Turns out to be a lot of rest.

He likely is done for the year, having already been given approval to take a major medical exemption for 2012. Sutherland has gone so long without playing that when he picked up a 6-iron last week, it felt strange in his hands. If rest doesn’t fix it, the 47-year-old Sutherland isn’t interested in surgery.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to do surgery if it bothers me in everyday life,” he said. “I’m not going to have surgery just to play golf.”

Sutherland’s lone win on tour came at the Match Play Championship in 2001. He has been a steady performer, never losing his card since he joined the PGA Tour in 1996 while averaging 28 starts a year. He played 11 times this year, which has made one person happy - his 10-year-old son.

“Keaton is loving it,” Sutherland said. “He thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world, because he’s got his dad for the summer. So that’s obviously one of the plusses. But I am going a little stir crazy.”

FIRESTONE FIELD: Ryo Ishikawa still hasn’t won this year on the Japan Golf Tour, although he has a knack for finishing runner-up at just the right time.

In the final week to earn a spot in the U.S. Open, the 19-year-old from Japan lost in a playoff and earned enough world ranking points to move to No. 49 and get an exemption into Congressional. On Sunday, he was runner-up to K.T. Kim and moved up four spots again to No. 49—just in time to qualify for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, the third World Golf Championship of the year.

The cutoff for the top 50 was Sunday, with another cutoff after this week. Ryan Palmer (No. 52) and Webb Simpson (No. 53) are not eligible for Firestone, although both are playing the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.

Also at The Greenbrier is Anthony Kim (62), who has not missed Firestone since his rookie year in 2007.

SETTING ASIDE RIVALRY: Raising money to help tornado victims is enough to united Alabama and Auburn.

Three days of festivities will conclude Aug. 15 with a charity pro-am at Greystone Golf Club in Birmingham, Ala., in which tour players such as Jerry Pate, Leonard Thompson, Steve Lowery and Boo Weekley have agreed to participate. Among the school celebrities who plan to play are Cornelius Bennett, Lee Roy Jordan, Al Del Greco, Gene Stalling and Pat Dye.

Amateurs will play in a group featuring one pro and one celebrity.

The pro-am follows a flag football game between former players of the two schools on Friday and a silent auction on Saturday. The weekend is known as “Heart in Dixie,” and all proceeds go to the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund.

DIVOTS: Asked on Tuesday if he were still Tiger Woods’ swing coach, Sean Foley replied, “Yes.” And the Internet-fueled rumors that he is not? “Hilarious,” he said. … There were no bogey-free rounds at the Canadian Open, the first time that has happened at a regular PGA Tour event was in 2008 at The Players Championship. … Paul Casey has donated the $32,600 he won from the “PowerPlay Golf” exhibition at Celtic Manor to the English Golf Union for its help during his amateur career. “I had great support from the EGC when I was coming through the ranks as a junior, so I am very happy to help them with their player development program,” Casey said. … With so much attention on UCLA freshman Patrick Cantlay, Bud Cauley has quietly put together a nice summer since turning pro at the U.S. Open. Cauley already has earned $319,145 in four starts, and needs another $244,584 by the end of the year to earn special temporary membership.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Only 10 players who won an NCAA title have gone on to win majors over the past 50 years.

FINAL WORD: “What keeps you going is just your love for the game and the love for the competition. Plus, if I quit I’m probably going to be flipping burgers because I can’t do anything else.” - Sean O’Hair.

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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, 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 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 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