Notes: Nine spots available for British at Travelers

By Doug FergusonJune 24, 2015, 3:25 pm

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Kevin Kisner had to wait until a week before the U.S. Open to find out for certain that he had a spot in the field at Chambers Bay.

He'll have a little more time to prepare for the next major.

As many as nine spots for the British Open are available this week at the Travelers Championship.

Kisner is not playing, though that shouldn't matter. The leading five players – not already exempt – from the top 20 in the FedEx Cup will be part of the field at St. Andrews next month.

Kisner already has playoff losses at Hilton Head and The Players Championship. His tie for 12th at Chambers Bay moved him up to No. 14 in the FedEx Cup, making him virtually a lock for the British Open.

Charley Hoffman (No. 6) and Robert Streb (No. 11) also are set to be exempt. Both won PGA Tour events in the fall. Steve Bowditch, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson, is at No. 18. He essentially needs to make sure he stays in the top 20 after the Travelers to be exempt.

Everyone else from the top 20 already is in the British Open. Daniel Berger, the Tour rookie who lost in a playoff at the Honda Classic, is at No. 27 and would need a solo third place to get into the top 20. But then, third place would get him to St. Andrews, anyway.

The leading four players who finish in the top 12 at the TPC River Highlands also are exempt. The Travelers is the first of three PGA Tour events where top finishers can get into St. Andrews. There are four spots available at The Greenbrier Classic, and one spot at the John Deere Classic.


AUSSIE OMEN: Anyone looking to win a major might want to consider playing the Australian Open this year.

Rory McIlroy was going through a slump in 2013 after going through a management change. He finally won at the end of the year in the Australian Open when he birdied the last hole to beat Adam Scott.

The next year, he won back-to-back majors at the British Open and PGA Championship.

Jordan Spieth was winless on the PGA Tour in 2014 until he found his form late, starting with a 63 in the final round to win the Australian Open.

He has won the past two majors.


MAJOR SHARING: Jack Nicklaus once pointed out that rivalries in golf don't always require going head-to-head as much as trading off victories in the majors. Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer had that 18-hole playoff at Oakmont that Nicklaus won in the 1962 U.S. Open, but they rarely battled each other on the back nine.

That's been the case with Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, though it's very early. Spieth is just 21.

They were paired together for the opening two rounds of the 2013 Masters (Spieth tied for second) and the 2014 British Open (McIlroy won). They have played in the same event only five times this year, and only 13 times in the last year.

But they own all the majors – the last two for McIlroy in 2014, the first two for Spieth in 2015.

The last time four consecutive majors were split by two players was in 1972. Lee Trevino won the U.S. Open and British Open at the end of 1971 (the PGA Championship was in February that year), while Nicklaus won the Masters and U.S. Open in 1972.

That's happened only three other times since the PGA Championship began in 1916:

- Bobby Jones won the British Open and U.S. Open in 1930, and Tommy Armour won the PGA Championship and the 1931 British Open (the first major of the year).

- Walter Hagen won the PGA Championship in 1925, Jones won the British Open and U.S. Open in 1926, and Hagen added the bookend with another PGA title in '26.

- Hagen won the 1921 PGA and the 1922 British Open, followed by Gene Sarazen winning the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.


YOUTH IS SERVED: For the first time in 90 years, five straight majors have been won by players in their 20s – Jordan Spieth (21) in the U.S. Open and Masters, Rory McIlroy (26) in the British Open and PGA Championship, and Martin Kaymer was 29 when he won the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 last year.

The kids still have a way to go to catch up to a streak in 1920s.

Walter Hagen was 28 when he won the 1921 PGA Championship, the start of seven consecutive winners in their 20s (Hagen twice, Gene Sarazen three times, Bobby Jones and Arthur Havers).


DIVOTS: Ollie Schniederjans will play the British Open (he's exempt as the No. 1 amateur in the world last year) and then turn pro. He will try to play a number of PGA Tour events, and possibly some Web.com Tour events, and at least try to qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals (the new version of Q-school). ... The Australian PGA Championship will be counted as a European Tour event for next year. It will be played Dec. 3-6 at Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast. ... Martin Kaymer can go back to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf even if he doesn't win a major this year. Because Jordan Spieth has won the first two majors, the tournament goes to its alternate system. Kaymer gets in as the defending champion. If Spieth (or Kaymer) wins another major, a points list from the majors will be used.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods are the only players since World War II to win at least four times on the PGA Tour before turning 22. Woods had six wins and a major. Spieth has four wins and two majors.


FINAL WORD: ''You have to use your brain, which is a rare thing in modern golf and something we're not very good at, I don't think.'' - Geoff Ogilvy, on playing Chambers Bay in the U.S. Open.

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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