After Further Review: Spieth's similarity to Woods

By Al TaysJuly 13, 2015, 3:12 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on a similarity between Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods, the continuing development of Rickie Fowler and the question of just how many world-class women golfers there are in South Korea, anyway.

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat - Jordan Spieth is not the next Tiger Woods. He might become the next Tiger Woods, yes, but we're talking about the here and now, so no, don't call him the next Tiger. He's the current Jordan Spieth, which is not a bad gig. Human nature being what it is, though, it's only human and only natural to want to compare excellence to excellence. Spieth is the gold standard right now. Tiger in his prime was breathtaking.

One thing struck me about Spieth's performance on Sunday, when he muddled through his first 12 holes in 1 over par, with three bogeys and two birdies. Putts weren't dropping. Approaches weren't covering the flag. I figured it was just that old saw, "The toughest thing to do in golf is to follow up a really low round with something similar" at work. But then Spieth awakened. he birdied four of his last six holes and, improbably, got himself into a playoff. Which he won.

Spieth didn't have his A-game for most of the round, but he was able to summon it when he needed it. That's something Woods used to do in his prime. Some will say that Spieth wasn't exactly facing A-competition, but the answer to that is this: When you have to sink a 20-foot putt to keep your chances alive, the ball doesn't know it's "only" Tom Gillis you're trying to catch. It just knows it has to find the bottom of the cup. And for special players, it does more often than not. - Al Tays 

Winning begets winning. There’s no way to know if Rickie Fowler would have won the Scottish Open without his playoff victory at The Players Championship two months ago, but the two results certainly looked rather familiar. With his back against the wall at Gullane, Fowler rattled off three birdies across his final four holes, including a kick-in on the final green to race past Matt Kuchar.

Fowler was already a player to watch at St. Andrews, and equipped with a career-best world ranking he will certainly be on a number of short lists. His game continues to evolve and improve at an elite level, but the intangible momentum he has derived from winning two trophies this summer can’t be overstated.

For so long, the knock on Fowler was that he didn’t have the hardware to back up the hype. With that notion now a thing of the past, expect his trophy collection to continue to grow. - Will Gray 

Add In Gee Chun to the remarkable wave of young South Koreans storming the women’s game. Chun won the U.S. Women’s Open Sunday with a record-tying 72-hole score, equaling the 272 score set by Juli Inkster at Old Waverly in 1999 and Annika Sorenstam at Pine Needles in 1996. This year’s LPGA’s rookie class is the strongest ever, in great part because Hyo Joo Kim, Sei Young Kim, Ha Na Jang and Q Baek were proven stars in South Korea before they joined the American-based tour. Kim won the Evian Championship late last year before she even joined the American tour. Chun isn’t an LPGA member yet, but she will follow Hyo Joo Kim’s lead. We’ll just have to wait to see if Chun joins the LPGA this year or next. This gifted young player will add to an international tour that’s deeper than it has ever been and will make winning on the LPGA tougher than it has ever been. - Randall Mell

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.