After Further Review: Woods keeping options open

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 1, 2016, 10:00 pm

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

On rumors of Tiger Woods' return ...

Depending on which Twitter thread, hotel reservation log or tea leaf you read, Tiger Woods will come back sometime in the next seven months: at The Players, Memorial, Quicken Loans National or World Challenge. Thing is, not even Woods himself knows at this point.

In the past, sure, he could be accused of withholding information just to reassert his dominion over the game. But that doesn’t seem like the case here. He looks and sounds genuinely unsure when he’ll play again, as he recovers from his third back surgery in the past two years.

There are several factors in play, but the threat of re-injury looms large – it would render his months of hard work meaningless and send him to the sidelines for good. With so much at stake, can you really blame him for, quite literally, keeping each and every option open? – Ryan Lavner

On John Daly turning 50 ...

John Daly turned 50 on Thursday, which means the PGA Tour Champions gets a much-needed shot in the arm next week. Daly will make his debut on the over-50 circuit at next week’s Insperity Invitational, a second chance the two-time major champion has been thinking about for some time.

For the PGA Tour Champions, however, it could be an even more beneficial mulligan. As evidenced by the reaction of fans to Daly as he prepares for the next phase of his eventful life, the often-troubled star still connects with a unique portion of the golf world. It’s a portion of the populace that suddenly has a reason to pay attention. – Rex Hoggard

On Jim Furyk's return at Quail Hollow ...

Jim Furyk hasn't been on the PGA Tour since withdrawing from last year's BMW Championship with a wrist injury. The injury led to surgery, and now Furyk will return this week at Quail Hollow and no doubt have one goal in mind – getting ready for the U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Furyk came agonizingly close to winning in front of a home crowd in 2007, the last time the U.S. Open was held at Oakmont. He was No. 7 in the world when he landed on the disabled list, and the soon-to-be 46-year-old has proven he still has plenty of game left. Let's hope his wrist won't keep him from a run at a Cinderella story in June. – Ryan Reiterman

On the youth movement in the LPGA ...

The youth movement continues in the women’s game with Jenny Shin breaking through to win her first LPGA title Sunday at 23 years, 6 months and 24 days old. Remarkably, through 11 events this year, Ha Na Jang remains the oldest winner. She was 23 years, 10 months and 4 days old when she won the HSBC Women’s Champions in February.

This year’s winners: Hyo Joo Kim (20) at Pure Silk Bahamas, Jang (23) at Coates Golf Championship, Haru Nomura (23) at Women’s Australian Open, Lexi Thompson (21) at Honda LPGA Thailand, Jang (23) at HSBC Women’s Champions, Sei Young Kim (23) at Founders Cup, Lydia Ko (18) at Kia Classic, Ko (18) at ANA Inspiration, Minjee Lee (19) at Lotte Championship, Nomura (23) at Swinging Skirts Classic and Shin (23) at Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. - Randall Mell

On Bhavik Patel's comeback from suspension ...

Bhavik Patel has yet to play in a PGA Tour event, but that streak will likely end in a few months.

Patel raced out to an early lead at this week’s Tour stop in Indiana, and while he faded over the weekend he still finished T-18. That marked his third top-20 finish in his last four starts, a run that was sparked by a runner-up finish in Brazil last month. He currently sits 11th on the season-long money list, with the top 25 earners receiving PGA Tour cards for the 2016-17 season.

If the name sounds oddly familiar, that’s because last year Patel became just the second player ever to be suspended under the PGA Tour’s anti-doping policy. He was suspended for a year for what he described as a “lapse in judgment” that occurred while he was trying to overcome an injury, and the 25-year-old went nearly 18 months in between competitive appearances as a result.

While many players might need a few starts to kick off the rust, Patel has quickly become a mainstay on Tour leaderboards early this season. Should he keep up the pace, he could have a tee time on the big stage by this fall – a notion that seemed unlikely a year ago. – Will Gray

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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