Impossible to Compare Records in Golf
Tiger Woods tied the record last week ' Byron Nelsons cut record. And Tiger Woods dropped to second on this years money list. But the money list doesnt mean a whole lot when he has teed it up eight times fewer than the man in first place. And the record will never be broken, since they dont hold golf tournaments the way they did when Byron Nelson was playing.
Vijay Singh is a wonderful player, but it doesnt seem right to confuse his record this year with Woods. Woods has played 17 times and made $6,577,413. Singh has started 25 times and made $6,827,507. Woods, if my calculator is working properly, is making $386,906 for every week he enters an event. Singh is averaging $273,100.
The point here is certainly not to belittle Singhs record. I dont know anyone who would pooh-pooh $273,000 for a weeks work. But just because he has the lead in the money chase doesnt mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that he has played better than Woods. On the contrary, Woods per-event average is about $113,000 more than Singhs.
Singh, of course, cant do anything about Tiger not playing more often. This week is Exhibit A ' Woods is skipping the Chrysler Championship near Clearwater, Fla., though it is less than 100 miles from his home in Orlando. Singh is playing, and he could put the money chase out of reach, regardless of what happens in the Tour Championship.
Woods chooses not to play. The money title is not that important to him. It may not be THAT important to Singh, either, but he plays more than half the events on the tour schedule and he makes the big bucks when he plays. Maybe it is to his credit that he chooses to play so frequently and STILL averages 273 thou.
The other issue is one that also is a disservice to Woods, but it has to be mentioned if you are going to lump him and Nelson together in the made-the-cut category. This one, when you think about it, is even more odd than the money race.
The PGA Tour recognized Nelsons record of 113 events in the money before Woods matched it at the Funai Classic last week. But Nelson had to finish in the top 20 most of time to earn a check. He finished no worse than a tie for 17th in any of the tournaments he played during the streak. The mark, set during 1940-45, still ranks as a tribute to consistency perhaps unrivaled in sports.
Tigers 113 includes 23 events which dont have a cut. And of the ones that do have a cut, the top 60 and ties - or the top 70 and ties - earn a check. You have to ask yourself if the two streaks can possibly be compared.
On the one hand, Nelson faced weaker competition. A lot of the prime talent was gone from the golf tour to World War II. But was that a reason to denigrate his record? He still had Sam Snead and Ben Hogan to joust with him.
Tiger, on the other hand, has done everything asked of him. In several instances, he has won the events in which there wasnt a cut ' World Golf Championship events, Tour Championships, etc. Do you arbitrarily throw out those tournaments, just because everyone gets paid?
You see, there is no plausible way to compare the two different eras. Nelsons record will ALWAYS stand ' just as Woods now has a record that is far superior to anyone playing today.
And just as important, Singhs mark cannot be compared with Woods. You cannot say that Singh has had the more productive year, just because he has amassed more money. Give him the crown for players who have played 25 or more times. Give him a gold star for the PGA Tour record. Just dont believe he has earned more per tee-up than Tiger Woods.
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Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."