McIlroy starts strong at PGA, while Woods struggles

By Doug Ferguson, Associated PressAugust 7, 2014, 11:52 pm

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rory McIlroy showed no sign of letting up. Lee Westwood might just be getting started. Momentum was a big theme Thursday in the opening round of the PGA Championship, and it even applied to Tiger Woods.

Except that Woods kept going the wrong direction.

Westwood followed up a season-best 63 four days ago at Firestone by matching his best score in a major championship. He made nine birdies at Valhalla for a 6-under 65, giving him a share of the lead with Ryan Palmer and Kevin Chappell.

One shot behind was McIlroy, the No. 1 player and overwhelming favorite in the final major of the year. McIlroy, coming off back-to-back wins at the British Open and a World Golf Championship, overcame a wild double bogey on the par-5 10th hole by running off four straight birdies. His eagle attempt on the 18th hole narrowly missed. He settled for a 66, a solid start in his bid to become only the seventh player to win the last two majors of the year.


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Woods achieved that feat twice, including at Valhalla in 2000. That now seems even longer than 14 years ago.

On a day when nearly half the field shot par or better, Woods opened with a 3-over 74. He hit two tee shots that missed the fairway by some 30 yards, hooked a 3-wood into a creek and hit a spectator with his tee shot on a par 3. His two best putts were for par and bogey.

''It wasn't very good,'' Woods said.

He didn't look very sharp. In his last competitive round, Woods withdrew after eight holes at Firestone because of another back injury. He said his trainer was able to pop a joint back into place above the sacrum, eliminating the pain. But it apparently did little for the rust.

Woods wasn't the only player who hit a few wild ones.

Right when McIlroy was building momentum, he hooked his second shot on the par-5 10th hole over a fence and out of bounds, leading to a double bogey. He was more upset about a three-putt bogey on the next hole, but then Boy Wonder bounced back with four straight birdies to get right back into the mix.

''Whenever you are confident and you have some momentum on your side, it's easier to do what I did today rather if everything is sort of going against you, and you're struggling for form and you have a patch like that,'' he said.

Everything is very much going his way right now. It was his 11th straight round under par, and his third straight round of 66.

Westwood also had a double bogey on his 10th hole that kept his score from being even better. He played the back nine first, and hit his tee shot right down the middle at No. 1, and right at the edge of a divot that wasn't entirely filled with sand.

''It was like caught or plugged,'' Westwood said. ''So it would have been a perfect 9-iron from the fairway, and just unlucky. Caught it a bit heavy.''

He flubbed a chip trying to be too perfect and missed a 4-foot bogey putt. Much like McIlroy, he responded in splendid fashion by closing out his round with four straight birdies, finishing with a 30-footer on the ninth hole.

Westwood also had a 65 in the third round at Congressional in the 2011 U.S. Open.

''I've played better rounds of golf, but I was really pleased today,'' he said. ''I hit a lot of quality iron shots, and it felt like 65 was a fair enough score for the way I played. I got a couple of bad breaks out there, but I rolled a couple of putts in that you probably wouldn't expect to hole. But that's just the way it is. A bit of momentum is a wonderful thing.''

The timing was great for Westwood, who is trying to avoid missing the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1995. European captain Paul McGinley told Westwood he wanted to see some form, and Westwood has delivered a 63 at Firestone and a 65 in the opening round of the final major.

Chappell played bogey-free in his 65, while a late bogey was about the only thing that spoiled Palmer's day. He was the only one to reach 7 under par, with a birdie on the seventh hole, and he allowed himself to think about two more birdies for a 62 and the lowest score ever in a major. He missed a short par putt on No. 8 and that was that.

''I wanted to get to 8 (under) so bad and it kept driving me,'' Palmer said. ''So we'll take 6 going into tomorrow.''

The course was generally soft and gentle, and it showed in the scores.

While it's daunting to see McIlroy anywhere near the lead the way he's playing, Valhalla offered good scores to plenty of players.

Henrik Stenson and Jim Furyk were among five players at 66. Kentucky native J.B. Holmes had a 68 despite taking a double bogey on the 13th hole when his drive landed in a divot and his next shot to the island green didn't find the island.

Phil Mickelson played alongside Woods and rallied for a 69.

For Woods, it was the second straight round in a major when he didn't beat the Ryder Cup captain, 64-year-old Tom Watson, who had a 1-over 72.

Watson was more interested in how his team was shaping up than his own game. Qualifying ends after the PGA Championship, and Watson gets three picks on Sept. 2.

''I'm going to with horses that are running well,'' he said.

After one day, Tiger was stumbling badly. Woods' first order of business Friday was simply to make the cut.

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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