Mickelson wows, but Cabrera leads at Quail Hollow

By Will GrayMay 1, 2014, 10:38 pm

Birdies were plentiful Thursday at the new and improved Quail Hollow Club, where Phil Mickelson finally showed signs of life. Here's how things look after the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship:

Leaderboard: Angel Cabrera (-6), Phil Mickelson (-5), Martin Flores (-5), Webb Simpson (-4), Jonathan Byrd (-4), Stewart Cink (-4), Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose among nine players at -3

What it means: Cabrera made the most of an early tee time, and by the end of the day he was still the man to beat as he looks to win a non-major on the PGA Tour for the first time. Mickelson briefly drew even with the Argentine, but even though a late bogey dropped him back he still appears to be in good position to record his first top-10 finish this season.

Round of the day: Cabrera has had a forgettable season, with seven missed cuts in nine starts and no top-40 finishes, but he took a big step toward rectifying that with an opening 66 at Quail Hollow. The two-time major champ notched seven birdies against just one bogey, including a stretch of four straight birdies from Nos. 9-13. Cabrera was third here in 2010 and after one round, he’s again in line for another high finish in Charlotte.

Best of the rest: Mickelson got off to a hot start, with six birdies across his first 12 holes to move in front before a bogey on the par-3 13th. He again tied Cabrera after another circle at No. 15, but his short par putt at the 17th caught the edge and lipped out. Despite the hiccup, Mickelson was left with a 5-under 67 that marks his lowest score since an opening 66 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Biggest disappointment: Bill Haas was born in Charlotte and went to school at nearby Wake Forest, but despite the local ties he struggled to a 3-over 75 in the opening round. Haas was making his first start since a wrist injury forced him to withdraw from the RBC Heritage, and the former FedEx Cup champ made six bogeys on his round, including three straight from Nos. 16-18. While he finished with three birdies across his last five holes, he still faces an uphill battle just to make the cut.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Cabrera's name may currently occupy the top spot, but there are several big names still within striking distance after one round. In addition to Mickelson and Simpson, a Quail Hollow member who opened with a 4-under 68, both McIlroy and reigning U.S. Open champ Justin Rose carded rounds of 3-under 69.

Shot of the day: Martin Kaymer holed a 66-yard pitch for eagle at the par-4 eighth hole, an impressive shot that became even more impressive considering the fact that it followed an eagle at the par-5 seventh. The stretch buoyed Kaymer to a 3-under 69, and he became just the third player this season to record back-to-back eagles on the PGA Tour.

Quote of the day: "I holed some nice putts today, which was good to see. At least it tells me the stuff I'm working on is going in the right direction." - McIlroy

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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