After Further Review: Remarkable week for Tiger

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 3, 2017, 11:31 pm

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

On Tiger's successful return ...

If a 280 total for 72 holes isn’t convincing enough, let the professionals prove the point.

“No doubt about it,” Patrick Reed said when your scribe asked if Tiger Woods could win in 2018.

Woods finished tied for ninth at the Hero World Challenge, an 18-man field. Assess that however you like, but the performance was nothing short of remarkable considering it had been 301 days since the 14-time major champion had played for anything more important than a few bucks with his friends.

Woods will need to clean up the mistakes that cost him on Saturday when he struggled to a 3-over 75, and he still must see how his body withstands consecutive weeks of competition; but if he remains healthy it’s impossible not to think that he can become competitively relevant again. – Rex Hoggard


On Tiger's Masters odds ...

There’s plenty of reason to feel optimistic about Tiger Woods’ 2018 prospects following a Bahamian return filled with plenty of highlights, but let’s pump the brakes on talk of a fifth green jacket.

Woods exceeded nearly every expectation at the Hero World Challenge, closing with a 68 to tie for ninth. But even a hint of success over the weekend led bettors to flock to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, where Woods’ Masters odds that opened in August at 100/1 fell as low as 15/1.

He is currently listed at 20/1 to win the next major, and while few can match his knowledge of Augusta National those odds are still lower than three-time winner Phil Mickelson and defending champ Sergio Garcia, both listed at 30/1.

A successful spring could very well return Woods to the discussion of Masters favorites, and his popularity at the window means true odds will never be available. But those backing Woods at such short odds should probably find better ways to spend their hard-earned cash. – Will Gray


On Woods' prospects for 2018 ...

Tiger Woods will play in all four majors and as many as 12 PGA Tour events in 2018. Four days ago that didn’t seem possible. Now, I’m convinced it will happen.

Funny what four days in the Bahamas will do to change the mind when watching Woods blast drives past playing partners Justin Thomas, Henrik Stenson and Hideki Matsuyama. Funny what watching him hoist long irons high into the sky will do to change the mind. He made putts, he grinded, he showed potential. Woods made a believer out of me.

I’m not ready to say Woods will win, he did still finish 10 shots behind Rickie Fowler at the Hero World Challenge. I don’t see a scenario where he’ll be so dialed in that he can beat any of the strongest fields of the year, which are the events he will play. That won’t happen. But I’ll be happy enough just to see him play and smile; There was a time, not too long ago, when we didn’t know if that would ever happen again. – Jay Coffin


On Maria Torres making history ...

Maria Torres radiated with excitement finishing 20th Sunday in the final stage of LPGA Q-School in Daytona Beach, Fla. It made her the first Puerto Rican to earn LPGA membership.

Back in her home in San Juan, where she says families are slowly making their way back from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, her parents shrieked with joy when she passed along the news in a phone call.

Maria reveled knowing her success would feel like a triumph for the entire commonwealth. She will revel all next year seeing her flag fly among the LPGA’s flags. – Randall Mell

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.