After Further Review: Daly's new start feels familiar

By Mercer BaggsMay 8, 2016, 10:27 pm

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds. 

On Daly’s first senior start

John Daly’s PGA Tour Champions debut was marked as the beginning of something new, but it had a lot of familiar feelings. Daly powered 320-yard drives, catered to fans, challenged for the lead and ultimately faltered in the end. He even ignored the print reporters following a triple bogey-par finish on Sunday.

All in all, though, it was a good week for Daly, who had previously played only two competitive events this year. He was more accurate than expected and had a great shot at a top-10 finish. He just needs to make sure that he doesn’t wear himself out (four pro-ams in four days, leading into the 54-hole event). As Fuzzy Zoeller said, Daly is going to have to learn to say no. Just not to the media. – Mercer Baggs

On Hahn's win and the mysteries of golf 

Everyone who picked James Hahn in your PGA Tour pool raise your hands. Liars.

The Wells Fargo Championship winner was fresh off eight consecutive missed cuts and hadn’t broken 70 in a Tour event since February, yet he won his second Tour title, once again in a playoff, on Sunday at Quail Hollow. Asked to explain his sudden change of competitive fortunes, Hahn summed the situation succinctly, “I can’t.”

Three of the world's top-10 players – Rory McIlory, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose – and Phil Mickelson were likely wrestling with the same question late Sunday, all four finishing within two strokes of Hahn.

Good form and a solid history at a particular event are all solid ways to predict potential success on any given week, but sometimes it’s just your week. - Rex Hoggard

On some lesser-known American winners 

It’s back-to-back wins now for Americans on the PGA Tour, ratcheting up momentum for the Red, White and Blue as the Ryder Cup draws ever closer. Except, this was James Hahn beating Roberto Castro, and last week was Brian Stuard beating Jamie Lovemark – four players who are unlikely to factor this fall at Hazeltine.

A few of the top Americans won early in the year, names like Spieth, Watson and Snedeker. But more recently the Americans lifting trophies have been the likes of Hahn, Stuard, Jim Herman and Vaughn Taylor – not exactly prime captain’s pick candidates. This latest result came after Rickie Fowler gave up a 54-hole lead, the second time this year he has let a domestic victory get away after an early win in Abu Dhabi.

Will winning in May help hole putts in October? Probably not. If anything, a run of results that differs from what we’ve seen out of American stars leading into the last half-dozen Ryder Cups could at least be viewed as a change of pace.

But if the U.S. is going to end its Ryder Cup drought this fall, the heavy hitters need to build some confidence this summer. A few pieces of hardware wouldn’t hurt, and next week at TPC Sawgrass might be a good place to start working toward that end. - Will Gray

On the rise of Thailand in women's golf 

And now here come the Thai in women’s golf. Asia continues to explode with talent in the women’s game.

Ariya Jutanugarn’s breakthrough victory Sunday at the Yokohama Tire Classic is yet another sign Thailand’s getting ready to step up and join the Asian reign in the women’s game. Jutanugarn is the first player from Thailand to win an LPGA event, but there’s a line of emerging Thai players looking to join her. Fellow countrywoman Pornanong Phatlum has been knocking on the door to an LPGA victory for the last four years, with second-place finishes in each of those years. Ariya’s older sister, Moriya, was the LPGA Rookie of the Year three seasons ago. Back in December, a wave of eight players from Thailand burst through LPGA Q-School gaining full or conditional status. China’s beginning to come on now, too. Last month, China beat out defending champion Spain as one of the eight nations qualifying for this summer’s UL International Crown. In fact, China finished seventh in team qualifying, ahead of Australia.

Ten of the 12 winners of LPGA events this year are Asian-born players. An 11th, Minjee Lee, was born in Australia to Korean parents. Lee’s mother was a golf instructor in Korea before moving to Australia. - Randall Mell

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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