Stat attack!: BMW Championship review

By John AntoniniSeptember 8, 2014, 3:07 am

Billy Horschel sure knows how to recover from disappointment. One week after a final-hole bogey cost him a chance to win the Deutsche Bank Championship in a playoff, the fourth-year PGA Tour player rebounded to win the BMW Championship, the third leg of the PGA Tour Playoffs, with a stellar 14-under 266 at Cherry Hills CC. Horschel shot four rounds in the 60s to become the sixth player since 2010 to win after finishing second the previous week, and he brought back memories of other great recoveries of recent years.

Players who won on the PGA Tour one week after finishing second: 2010-2014

 Player Runner-up Victory
 Billy Horschel 2014 Deutsche Bank 2014 BMW Championship
 Matt Kuchar 2013 Colonial 2013 Memorial
 Brandt Snedeker 2013 Waste Management 2013 AT&T Pebble Beach
 Kyle Stanley 2012 Farmers Insurance 2012 Waste Management
 Rory McIlroy 2012 Match Play 2012 Honda Classic
 David Toms 2011 Players 2011 Colonial

Memorable recoveries after losses in recent men’s golf history

 Billy
 Horschel
Needing a birdie at the last hole to force a playoff at the 2014 Barclays, he chunked a chip and made bogey. There were no such issues Sunday, as a final-round 69 kept him two comfortable strokes ahead of Bubba Watson at the BMW.
 Kyle
 Stanley
Stanley imploded at the 2012 Farmers, making 8 on the last hole and losing a playoff to Brandt Snedeker. One week later he made up 8 strokes in the final round to win in Phoenix.
 Rory
 McIlroy
Not a week-to-week rebound, but major-to-major. Rory recovered from his final-round 80 in the 2011 Masters to win the U.S. Open with a record-setting 72-hole score (268).

 Phil
 Mickelson

Another major-to-major rebound, Phil was the 54-hole leader at the 2013 U.S. Open, then shot 74 Sunday to lose by two. He followed with his first Open Championship victory in his next major start.
 Jim
 Furyk
Furyk bogeyed two of his last three holes at the 2005 Barclays to lose by a stroke to Padraig Harrington, and then won the Western Open (now the BMW) the following week.
 Bernhard
 Langer
After missing a 6-foot putt on the last hole of the 1991 Ryder Cup that cost Europe a chance to win, Langer won the following week’s German Masters in a playoff. 

Horschel’s victory at the BMW Championship was the work of improved putting (he led the field in strokes gained after entering the week ranked 100th on Tour in that category) that led to four rounds in the 60s for the second straight week. Entering the playoffs, Horschel’s longest streak of rounds in the 60s this season was three, all coming in the FedEx St. Jude Classic. These past two weeks mark the third and fourth times in his career that Horschel has had four rounds in the 60s.

Billy Horschel: Four rounds in the 60s

 Tournament Scores Finish
 2014 BMW Championship 68-66-63-69—266 Won
 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship 69-66-67-69—271 T-2
 2013 Waste Management Open 69-68-64-67—268 T-11
 2013 Humana Challenge 67-68-65-67—267 T-10

Horschel also was second in the field in greens in regulation at the BMW, hitting 55 of 72, including 11 straight to end the second round. Accuracy on approach shots has long been a staple of Horschel’s game. He’s fourth on Tour in GIR and has been in the top 50 in each of his four full seasons. He famously hit all 18 greens in regulation in the second round of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.

Billy Horschel’s rank on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation

 Year GIR percentage Rank
 2014 70.03% 4
 2013 67.48 27
 2012 68.79 14
 2011 67.07 47

Next up for Horschel is the Tour Championship at East Lake, which he enters as the hottest player on the PGA Tour. But he’s not the only golfer playing well entering the season finale. Six men come into the Tour Championship with two top-10 finishes in the PGA Tour playoffs.

Golfers with two top-10 finishes in the PGA Tour Playoffs

 Player Barclays Deutsche Bank BMW
 Jason Day T-2 T-7 WD
 Rickie Fowler T-9 T-23 T-4
 Jim Furyk 8 T-23 T-4
 Morgan Hoffmann T-9 T-35 T-3
 Billy Horschel MC T-2 Won
 Rory McIlroy T-22 T-5 T-8

All six will have a chance for a third top-10 (and perhaps more) at East Lake, although Day must be considered questionable after withdrawing from the BMW with a sore back halfway through the second round. The 30 players who advanced to East Lake include every one of the top 10 finishers at Cherry Hills. The big winners were Morgan Hoffmann, who climbed from 68th to 21st by virtue of his third-place finish, and Ryan Palmer, who finished T-4 and moved from 37th to 23rd on the point’s list.

How the top 10 finishers at the BMW Championship rank entering the Tour Championship

 Finish Player FedEx rank Rank entering BMW
 1 Billy Horschel 2 20
 2 Bubba Watson 3 6
 3 Morgan Hoffmann 21 68
 T-4 Jim Furyk 7 8
 T-4 Sergio Garcia 13 23
 T-4 Ryan Palmer 23 37
 T-4 Rickie Fowler 9 10
 T-8 Adam Scott 12 13
 T-8 Rory McIlroy 4 2
 T-8 Jordan Spieth 11 9

While the top finishers at the BMW Championship all lived to play another day and continue their 2013-14 PGA Tour seasons, the next five finishers at Cherry Hills all failed to advance.

How the players who finished 11-15 did not qualify for the Tour Championship

 Finish Player FedEx rank What was needed to advance
 11 Graham Delaet 37 T-4 with no more than three players
 T-12 Angel Cabrera 50 Solo fourth or better
 T-12 Charl Schwartzel 43 Solo fourth or better
 T-12 J.B. Holmes 42 T-4 with no more than two players
 T-12 Chesson Hadley 49 Solo fourth or better

As the players above lament missed chances, the most snake bit player after the BMW Championship was Stuart Appleby, who finished 31st in the FedEx Cup standings, 14 points behind Dustin Johnson. Appleby, who finished T-46 at Cherry Hills, basically finished two strokes too high, needing a solo 44th or no more than a three-way tie for 43rd to advance. To add to Appleby’s poor luck, Johnson, who finished 30th, is not going to play in the Tour Championship, having taken a leave of absence from the Tour prior to the Playoffs for personal reasons.

 

 

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."