Popgun Pavin Fires Biggest Shot

By George WhiteAugust 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
Hes a man from my era, this fellow Corey Pavin. By that, I mean someone who played at the highest peak from, say, from the mid-1980s to the mid-90s. During those years he was an absolute golfing terror, despite his unassuming size (5-foot-9), weight (150 pounds) and his short length off the tee (around 250 yards before the advent of the big-basher technology).
 
Corey played Nick Faldo head-up when Nick was in his prime, and beat him in the finals of the World Match Play in 1993 ' in England, no less. During the same period, he stared down Fred Couples, again one of the worlds best players, in a playoff at the Honda Classic in 93. In fact, he won five off his first six playoffs. He won the U.S. Open in 95, and compiled an 8-5 career Ryder Cup record, the highlight being a match in 1995 in which he chipped in on the final hole to defeat Faldo and Bernhard Langer.
 
We have heard precious little from Pavin the last 10 years. He had become the poster child for all references to puny driving, and he tried to change his game a little to compensate. Wrong move, as he was about to discover.
 
His personal life about this time also unraveled. His long marriage ended and he lived a nomads life for a time, leaving his longtime residence in Orlando, Fla., before finally remarrying and settling near Dallas. All these changes meant Pavin was destined to bounce hither and yon, doomed to year-end finishes such as 169th, 160th, 150th, 111th and 108th.
 
This is the backdrop where we found Pavin, who had all the earmarks of a 46-year-old golfing has-been, at the beginning of last week. Then, in the space of four days, Corey set a PGA TOUR nine-hole scoring record of 26, led a tournament wire-to-wire, and captured the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
 
In so doing, Pavin had to defeat a homegrown son to win the title ' Jerry Kelly of nearby Madison finished second before a wildly enthusiastic home crowd. Ironically, in his first tour win in 1984, Pavin had to pull the same trick. It was there, in Houston, that he defeated Houstonian John Mahaffey, who led the tournament going into the final round. And then, lest you forget, there was the matter of Faldo in England.
 
Corey has been a personal favorite of mine for almost 20 years, so perhaps youll forgive me for crowing just a little. Despite his difficulties the past 10 years, not once has Pavin forgotten his manners, not once has he forgotten what friendship means. Not once has he changed his upbeat persona, not once has he failed to smile and utter pleasant salutations.
 
But I digress. This renaissance of Pavins began three years ago when he threw himself at the mercy of swing coach Butch Harmon. Pavin never will launch his drives 350 yards ' he currently is averaging 264 and change, 197th and last among the players who are ranked in the tour driving statistics. Predictably, he was last at Milwaukee. But his drives certainly are higher and carry further, paramount on the tour courses which are pock-marked with fairway bunkers.
 
And hes finished in the top 30 or better in five of the last eight tournaments. That may not seem to be a bragging point. But when you have finished down around 120, 130 or 140 for much of the last decade, this is a real confidence booster. And at Hartford in his last start preceding Milwaukee, he finished 11th.
 
The situation, at least as far as golf is concerned, has brightened considerably for the 46-year-old Pavin.
 
'These last 10 years and the journey mean everything to me,' he said. 'I always feel like every part of our lives means something and builds character of some kind. That's what I feel happened over these 10 years. I've never given up on myself and it felt so good to prove to myself that I could still win.'
 
Pavin chose a perfect time ' his 95 win at the U.S. Open gave him a 10-year exemption. This is the final year. But after the Milwaukee win, he gets two more years. By then he will be almost 49, and he becomes a senior at the age of 50.
 
He and wife Lisa have a great life together now, living in the heartland and experiencing the day-to-day existence of a happy couple in suburbia, regardless of what happens on the golf course. But he is a golfer at heart, a man who needs his occupation. And despite the downturn of fortunes the last decade, his work with Harmon has slowly started to reverse the downward trend.
 
Things are starting to click a little bit. I'm getting more comfortable. I'm hitting the ball better, he said.
 
Last year I played a lot better. The whole year was a lot more consistent, and it's just working hard and hopefully working on the right things. And the changes I made with Butch were pretty good changes in my swing. It takes time to get those to a comfortablish kind of point, and I'm getting more and more comfortable and feeling a little bit better.
 
His putting is what has held him back this year ' this from a man who was absolutely deadly with the roller for the better part of 20 years. But he reunited with his old caddy, Eric Schwartz, recently and Schwartz spotted the problem immediately ' His alignment was real bad,' Schwarz said. 'It took about two, three hours to get him straightened out.'
 
But he was first in the putting stats at Milwaukee. And if he continues to feel comfortable with the revamped swing ' well, who knows?
 
Frank Lickliter, who was in the Milwaukee field, says that overlooking Pavin the rest of the year would be a huge mistake.
 
'Yeah, he's 46 years old, but he's got a huge heart,' Lickliter said. 'And the man has got a lot of talent. A lot of talent. I couldn't think of a better competitor to beat.'
 
As for Corey, he is thrilled that his career has been rejuvenated when he is on the back side of 40. And he hopes that the rejuvenation doesnt stop anytime soon.
 
I hope it never ends, he said. I love playing. I don't really want to stop playing. If I have to, obviously I will. You know, I still feel like I've got a lot of game left in me. The Champions Tour is ahead. Still five years away for me. I see myself probably playing there.
 
I don't want to stop playing. I enjoy it. I love playing golf. It's frustrating, just like it is for everybody else. But when I do play well, it's a lot of fun.
 
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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