Spieth passes Stenson, eyes FedEx Cup title

By Doug FergusonSeptember 26, 2015, 8:08 pm

ATLANTA - Jordan Spieth was so consumed with trying to make birdies and save pars on a rugged, rainy afternoon at the Tour Championship that he didn't realize until after he signed for a 2-under 68 that he had a one-shot lead.

He knows exactly what's at stake Sunday in what was shaping up as a dynamic end to the season.

Spieth made four big par saves and ended with a 20-foot birdie to overtake Henrik Stenson for the lead at East Lake. Already with the best year in golf, the Masters and U.S. Open champion is now one round away from the richest year in golf history.

A victory would push him over a record $12 million for the season, and give him the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup.

''No matter what, it's a dream-come-true season,'' said Spieth, who was at 8-under 202. ''So I don't need tomorrow to justify it. I'm not going to sit here and say $10 million doesn't mean anything to me, because it does. It's a fantastic bonus that I don't even know where it came from ... but all of a sudden they just want to give us more money. So it's fine with me.

''I'll work hard for the win tomorrow because I want to win this golf tournament,'' he said. ''It would be special to get your name on that trophy.''

He's not the only one who feels that way. And he's not the only with that chance.


Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Stenson had another ordinary day by his standards with his ball-striking, though he held it together for a 72. It was his first time in seven rounds that Stenson was over par, and the first time in his two trips to the Tour Championship that he was no longer in the lead.

''We're still at the races,'' Stenson said. ''I would have liked to have gone a few better, but we're still up there and yeah, it's all going to be decided tomorrow.''

Don't overlook Rickie Fowler.

He shot 31 on the back nine for a 67, the low score of the third round, and was four shots behind.

Spieth, Stenson and Fowler are among the top five seeds in the FedEx Cup, and only have to win the Tour Championship on Sunday to claim the FedEx Cup.

Starting the FedEx Cup playoffs, Spieth always knew that the Tour Championship was the only event that really mattered for winning golf's biggest bonus. He looked at East Lake like the final major of the year, and it played like that on Saturday.

A light, steady rain made the course so long that Stenson had to hit fairway metal twice into par 4s, and he couldn't reach one of them. Spieth narrowly cleared the water to the lay-up zone on the par-5 ninth.

''What is that race called, 'Tough Mudder?' That's what it felt like,'' Stenson said.

As tough it was in the third round, the FedEx Cup finale might be even more difficult - if not because of the course, then the competition and what's at stake.

Six players were separated by five shots, which includes Paul Casey (71) who was tied with Fowler at 4-under 206. Casey is unlikely to win the FedEx Cup and might have the least amount of pressure on him. Stenson already has four runner-up finishes this year - two in the FedEx Cup playoffs - and is determined to win.

''I'm very pleased with where we stand going into tomorrow, and Henrik's going to come back very strong,'' Spieth said. ''This was his off day, and so I'm going to have to play even better.''

Spieth says he doesn't feel any pressure at all. Win or lose, his year is tough to beat. But over the last two days, the 22-year-old Texan is looking like the guy who was tough to beat in the biggest events this year.

He has made only two bogeys all week, and he has produced an array of amazing par saves. The most timely were on Saturday.

Spieth saved par with a long bunker shot on the par-3 second, and he got up and down from 70 yards on the par-4 fifth hole, even after blasting a driver and a 3-wood. He was four shots behind and in the front bunker on No. 8, a flat lie facing a steep hill, and he was resigned to making bogey. Stenson was about 10 feet away for birdie. Spieth picked it clean and got up and down from 5 feet, while Stenson missed.

''I could have easily been 3 over through eight,'' Spieth said.

The other big save was on the 16th, when Spieth blocked it so badly off the tee he called out, ''Holy, right!'' It missed by a foot going into the bushes, he drilled a line drive through the pine trees to the first cut, hit wedge to 20 feet and holed it for par.

''A miracle save on 16,'' Stenson called it.

Stenson's three-shot lead began to vanish with back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine, and he fell into a tie with a bad miss on the 17th into a bunker that left him no choice but to play away from the flag about 25 feet away. The lead was gone when Spieth made his birdie on the final hole.

''It's just like a major championship. That's what it feels to me like out there,'' Spieth said. ''And we're in another position to do some fun stuff.''

Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.