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

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.
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.
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).


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.
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.
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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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