Only Thing Hot Is the Sun on the Course

By George WhiteSeptember 25, 2003, 4:00 pm
The subject was cheats, to be downright frank about it. Jay Haas and Loren Roberts were on the grill, speaking before play began at the Valero Texas Open. Oh - there arent any, both opined.
Tiger Woods has called for mandatory testing of drivers to see if those clubs get more yardage that the PGA Tour allows. Tiger stopped just short of saying some of his peers are fudging with the weapons. The tour has called for VOLUNTARY testing. Somehow, that seems to beg the question of the entire issue.
If a player knows he is playing an illegal club, he would no sooner want it to be tested than a bank robber would want his picture taken. And if the player doesnt know, doesnt believe he is playing with illegal equipment, then what would be the point of going through the rigmarole of testing?
Haas and Roberts, both old birds of 49 and 48 years old, respectively, would seem to know all the tricks of this issue. But they say golfers are conspicuously honest and would not attempt such shenanigans. Even more important, club manufacturers have millions of dollars at stake here and wouldnt monkey around with the rules.
Haas said essentially the same thing:
Number 1, I don't think that the companies would put drivers in our hands that are illegal, just because if we found out they were, we wouldn't play with them and now we're going to have to have another driver and break that in.
We're pretty funny about changing clubs. Most of the guys out here get a club they really like and they don't want to change. They don't want to try something new. If you're going to take that out of their hands after they find out it's illegal, that's going to affect them.
And theres more, he said.
Number 2, this is a game of honor and integrity and all that. If you trust in us that we're not going to tee our ball up in the rough, and mark it properly and not touch it in the sand, while all of a sudden we're going to have guys use illegal clubs - that's not right. That's just part of the rules. So I don't think you're going to have guys knowingly break the rules.
Roberts gave the idea of someone tinkering around with the clubhead an equally short shrift. Of course, he jokingly said that he, personally, might be tempted.
I'm 180th in driving distance out here, 182nd or 185th in driving distance, he said, grinning. If I had one (a hot driver), who would know?
Yeah, hes right. If he goes from 185th to 175th, no one is going to yelp. But then, getting down to serious business, Roberts defended his fellow pros.
If it (the testing) is voluntary, first, there is no player out here that is knowingly playing with an illegal driver. I can't fathom that, he said.
We get it from the manufacturer, and you go out and you hit 20 drivers and you're going to pick the one you hit best out of 20 drivers. So nobody is really going to be knowingly playing with an illegal driver. You're not going to measure the face. The only way you can find out is do voluntary testing.
If it's voluntary, why would you do it? That would be my point. I think it ought to be mandatory.
In other words, no one is going to knowingly use a hot driver to win. But Roberts can see a situation where he might use one totally by mistake.
Haas is not so sure there is a need for even voluntary testing.
I know there's been a push - or some guys have said, I think this should be tested after a guy wins a tournament, test his equipment, Haas said.
Well, if my equipment is legal in January and I haven't made any changes, it should be legal for the rest of the time. There's a rule that says your clubs cannot become illegal just through play. There was a groove issue, and they're saying the grooves get kind of wavy after so many bunker shots. The club cannot become illegal if it was legal one time just through practice and play and things like that. To me, if my driver is legal in January, if I test it, it should be legal in September.
Its a moot point anyway, says Roberts. You count the strokes AFTER the ball plinks into the cup. You dont count it after your first whack, regardless of how far it goes with a hot club.
It's still a game of getting the ball in the hole, he said. I always felt, the farther you hit it, when it's off line, the farther into trouble it goes.
I just don't think length is really the way to make a golf course play hard. I really don't. I think when you play a golf course firm and fast, and you have got bunkers and you've got some rough and whatnot, that's the challenge. If you can hit it a long way and hit it straight, you have it made. Just to hit it long and off-line or play out of the rough, I don't think is an advantage.
He, of course, is right. The so-called hot clubs may give you an extra three yards, but unless theyre also straighter, youve lost your advantage. You still have to pop that prodigious drive out of the rough, and then youve still got to use the putter to get it in the hole.
Hot putters, anyone?
Email your thoughts to George White

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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