Annika Funk Battle for Yards

By George WhiteNovember 25, 2005, 5:00 pm
The professed aim at the Merrill Lynch Skins Game is to arm-wrestle each other for skins. But to Fred Funk and Annika Sorenstam, theres a subplot at work that is decidedly more interesting: who can bash it further off the tee?
 
Fred and Annika join Fred Couples and Tiger Woods in the annual match which has been going on every Thanksgiving weekend since anybody can remember. But the REAL match will involve Annika and Funk. And its taken on a decidedly humorous twist ' who can launch it further?
 
Theyve taken to the topic with a great deal of good-natured ribbing. That's a big issue going into this Skins thing for me, said Fred, joining in the fun with a enthusiastic zest.
 
Funk has the statistical edge this year, though it can be argued he benefits from firmer, PGA Tour fairways. His average drive measures 270, which was 197th on the PGA Tour this year. Annika is pretty far behind, averaging only 264 this season. But she averaged 268.2 last year, so maybe she can reach back and get a little extra zip on it, a la yesteryear.
 
The two met last week at the ADT Skills Challenge and the ribbing began. Sorenstam is a proper lady ' she would never make an issue of something this male-demeaning. But Fred started it, and Annika hopped into the discussion with gusto.
 
He was actually the one that brought it up, Annika confirmed, and now Im just kind of going with it. I've had a little chat with Fred, and I gave him a hard time that I might outdrive him. I'm going to try and do the best I can. So I think it will be a fun one.
 
Actually, Tiger was the instigator in all this. Funk says the kidding has been going on nearly non-stop since Funk was confirmed in the four-person field.
 
Woods has been relentless with the barbs, says Funk. You know, he says, You better not let Annika outdrive you,said Fred.
 
I've already ASSUMED that she's going to outdrive me.
 
Annika took on a concerned look.
 
You've become a big hitter in the last few months, she told Fred. I'm getting a little worried. I've been pumping up, pumping some iron to have a chance. I'm not sure if I can do it. But obviously, I'm going to tee it off and hit it as hard as I can.
 
Funk recoiled in mock horror. I'm the underdog here, he snorted, not her!
 
But - that makes it so much fun! Im going to have a lot of fun with it.
 
All in a days work, you might say. Tiger and Couples will far outdistance them off the tee. But Annika and Fred will enjoy the laughs after they hit their drives.
 
Funk confesses that he is has become a major admirer of Sorenstam, as just about everyone in the universe has.
 
I just really love Annika, he said. I've become a huge fan of Annika after the way she handled herself at Colonial, and I just thought the world of her, and now that I've gotten to actually know her a little bit, I like her even more.
 
And I'm so excited about being in the event, and I think we can make this a little fun. We'll have a little side contest going, because I'm not the longest guy on our tour, and Annika is pretty powerful and it'll be a challenge. So we'll have a little side match off the tee as well.
 
Annika has age on her side ' she is 35, hes almost 50. And Annika probably works out a little more often ' and harder ' than Fred. So if that matters, give the edge to Annika. If pure statistics matter, give the edge to Funk.
 
Someone will win the most skins ' probably Woods or Couples. And someone will win the major share of the money. But its no question who will enjoy themselves the most. Annika or Fred ' who is the longer hitter? Makes you want to watch just to see who will come out front in that little subplot.
 
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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