Former LPGA Tour Player Materne Leads
Former LPGA Tour player Nicole Materne of Spokane, Wash., fired a 5-under-par 67 to take the first-round lead. One shot back and tied for second are rookie Jan Dowling of Bradford, Ontario, and third-year Futures Tour veteran Kalen Anderson of Edina, Minn. Four players are tied for third at 69 (-3) including amateur Aree Song, formerly Wongluekiet, of Bradenton, Fla.
Materne, who teed off at 9:20 A.M., got her round going with an 18-foot birdie putt on the first hole. She followed with three others on four, seven and drained a 25-foot putt for birdie on eight, turning at 32 (-4). Materne continued her strong play on the par-5 514-yard 10th hole, two-putting from 20 feet for birdie. Her only blemish of the day was a bogey on 14, but she finished strong with her sixth birdie on 18.
'I felt great out there today,' stated Materne, who finished 10th on the 2002 Futures Tour Money List and earned an automatic bid to last years LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. 'I had a few errant shots, but overall, the round went smoothly. I took three months off this winter and coming back I feel completely refreshed and enthusiastic.'
Materne is playing in her first Futures Tour tournament since mid-July. After finishing second at the Lincoln Futures Golf Classic in Avon, Conn., Materne broke her hand in an incident unrelated to golf. At the time of her injury, she was ninth on the Tours money list with $24,999. With four tournaments left on the schedule, there was plenty opportunity for other players to steal her position in the top-10.
'Right after I broke my hand, I kept a really close eye on the money list,' mentioned Materne. 'I did some traveling with my family and was able to get my mind off of it, but it was still very hard. I was so happy when I found out that I stayed in the top-10, but I was not sure how my hand was going to be for LPGA Q-School.'
Three weeks prior to attending the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament, Materne began practicing after weeks of rest.
Materne continued, 'My hand was still not healed and trying to swing the club was very painful. I just wanted to prepare myself to try to play well and get through the tournament. I was not about to miss the opportunity.'
With only two nine-hole practice rounds under her belt, Materne traveled to Q-school and missed the 54-hole cut with a three-round total of 223 (+5). Two weeks later, the doctor declared her fully healed. She played in one more tournament before taking three months off to ski, relax, and spend time with family. In February, the 29-year-old Futures Tour veteran began practicing for the upcoming season.
'I was completely immobile for 10 weeks with my injury and I was concern that my hand would never be the same,' said Materne, who recorded six top-10 finishes in 14 events last season. 'Once the doctor told me that I was fully healed, it was a complete relief. Now Im back and ready to play.'
Dowling, playing in her first official professional tournament, recorded six birdies, including four on the front nine, and two bogeys for her 68 (-4) performance. Anderson, who played in the afternoon, birdied one, three, five, seven, 10, 15, and bogeyed eight and 16.
'I was hitting the ball really well today,' said Dowling, winner of the 2000 Canadian Womens Amateur Championship. 'I spent the entire winter in Dallas working on my swing which has helped me get more distance and control on my shots. I was able to finish strong with birdies on 17 and 18. My goal is to come out each day and put myself in a position to win. This was a good start.'
Song, who was the 2001 and 2002 Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament co-medalist, had two birdies, one bogey, and an eagle on the par-5 493-yard fifth hole. Using a 3-iron, Songs second shot from 234 yards landed 25 feet from the cup and she made the putt.
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
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
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
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.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
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."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “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. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
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.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
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