By the numbers: Top stats of the year

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2016, 4:30 pm

Arnold Palmer’s golf bag from the 1975 Ryder Cup was placed on the first tee on Friday morning of the Ryder Cup Matches at Hazeltine. So, it was only fitting that the United States swept the opening session of the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1975, when Palmer was captain.

Palmer's team defeated Great Britain & Ireland, 21-11 that year at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania. Forty-one years later Love's team rode an identical 4-0 start to a 17-11 win against Europe.

That's not the only similarity between those matches, either.

Every U.S. player won at least one match at Hazeltine. The last time that happened for the American side? In 1975.

Those Ryder Cup facts lead off our collection of stats of the year. Here are some more numbers to chew on:

• Although his team lost, Belgian Thomas Pieters put together arguably the greatest rookie performance in European Ryder Cup history, becoming the first European/GB&I rookie to win 4 points in a single Ryder Cup.

Palmer's storied career

As we remember Palmer, who died Sept. 25 at age 87, here are some numbers from the legendary career of the King:

• 1960s: Associated Press Athlete of the Decade

• 1960, 1962: PGA of America Player of the Year

• 1960: Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year

• 1974: Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame

• 2004: Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

• 2009: Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

• Palmer is one of only three golfers to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with Jack Nicklaus (2005) and Charlie Sifford (2014).

• 7: Number of majors won by Palmer, all between 1958 and 1964. In that time period, the most majors won by anyone else was three (Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus).

Major accomplishments

• Henrik Stenson won The Open at Royal Troon with a score of 264, the lowest 72-hole total in major championship history. The next-lowest major-winning scores are 265 (David Toms, 2001 PGA) and 267 (Steve Elkington, 1995 PGA; Greg Norman, 1993 The Open).

• Stenson became the second player in major championship history to shoot 63 in the final round of a victory, joining Johnny Miller, who did it in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

• Phil Mickelson’s 11th runner-up finish in a major championship (The Open) broke a tie with Arnold Palmer for second most in men’s golf history. Jack Nicklaus has the most, with 19. Mickelson has now finished runner-up to the two lowest total scores in the history of 72-hole major championships (Stenson, 264, The Open, 2016; and Toms, 265, PGA, 2001).

Golf in the Olympics

• In Rio de Janeiro, Justin Rose won the first Olympic gold medal in men’s golf in 40,867 days. Rose has spread his 16 professional victories across nine different countries: (U.S., 7; South Africa, 2; and Australia, Brazil, England, Hong Kong, Japan, Scotland and Spain, 1 each)

• Inbee Park became the second woman to win a golf major and an Olympic gold medal. Babe Didrikson Zaharias won 10 majors and 2 gold medals in track and field in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. 

Langer's three-peats

• Bernhard Langer won the Schwab Cup for the third consecutive season. However, it was not the only race Langer won for the third straight year. He also ranked first on the PGA Tour Champions in scoring average, earnings, greens in regulation, ball striing, birdie average and par breakers.

• For the third consecutive year, Langer finished first and Colin Montgomerie finished second in the PGA Tour Champions season cup standings:

On the college front

• For the second consecutive year, the 13th-ranked team according to Golfstat came to the Women’s NCAA Championships, eliminated a Pac-12 rival top seed, and won the program’s first national championship. This year it was Washington, which beat No. 1 UCLA in the semifinals. In 2015 it was Stanford, which beat No. 1 USC in the semis.

• The Oregon men became the second team to win both the individual (Aaron Wise) and team national championships as the host school in the men’s NCAA Championship. Ohio State also accomplished the feat in 1945, with John Lorms taking the individual title.

Ko makes history

• Lydia Ko won her second career major championship at the ANA Inspiration. With her victory, she became the youngest player - man or woman - to win multiple majors, since Tom Morris Jr. Morris was 18 years, 4 months and 27 days old when he won his second major, the 1869 Open Championship. Ko was 18 years, 11 months and 10 days old when she won the ANA Inspiration.

• Ko is closing in on matching her age (in years) with her career LPGA wins. A look at when some of the greatest of all time in men’s and women’s golf accomplished that rare (and obscure) feat:

Tiger Woods, 24 wins at age 24

Nancy Lopez, 25 wins at age 25

Mickey Wright, 26 wins at age 26

Kathy Whitworth, 27 wins at age 27

Jack Nicklaus, 29 wins at age 29

Lydia Ko: 14 wins at age 19 (will turn 20 on April 24)

Jutanugarn breaks through

• Ariya Jutanugarn became the first player in LPGA history to earn her first three career victories in three straight tournaments held. She also became the first player since Suzann Pettersen in 2007 to win five or more times in a season after never winning previously in the LPGA. Pettersen won five times that year. Other previous non-winners to break through with five or more wins in the last 40 years were Nancy Lopez (nine wins in 1978) and Debbie Austin (five wins in 1977).

Youth rules the LPGA

• 26 of the 33 official LPGA tournaments this season were won by a player 23 or younger. Seven were won by someone 19 or younger and only one was won by someone 30 or older. The Average age of an LPGA winner was 22.3 years.

Dustin Johnson wins the U.S. Open

• At Oakmont, Johnson became the fifth different player in the last 100 years to win the U.S. Open the year after finishing runner-up, joining Tiger Woods (2007-08), Payne Stewart (1998-99), Jack Nicklaus (1971-72) and Bobby Jones (did it three times).

• Shane Lowry became the third player in U.S. Open history to lose a lead of 4 strokes or more entering the final round. Payne Stewart led by 4 after 54 holes in 1998, and Mike Brady led by 5 in 1919. Both finished second. Lowry finished T-2.

Willett takes the Masters

• Danny Willett became the third Masters champion to shoot a bogey-free 67 or better in the final round, joining Phil Mickelson (67 in 2010) and Doug Ford (66 in 1957).

• Twice, a defending Masters champion has held the outright 54-hole lead. In neither instance did the player go on to win. Jordan Spieth led by one in April, shot 73 and finished tied for second. Ben Hogan also led by one in 1954, but he shot 75 and finished second.

McIlroy wins at East Lake

• Rory McIlroy's Tour Championship victory was the 13th PGA Tour win of his career. Over the last 30 years, only Tiger Woods (39) and Phil Mickelson (14) have more PGA Tour wins before age 28 than McIlroy.

• McIlroy also has three more wins than any other player currently in his 20s. Jason Day, 29, has 10, Jordan Spieth, 23, has eight and Patrick Reed, 26, has five.

Matsuyama's charge

• In the HSBC Champions in China, Hideki Matsuyama became just the second player to win a WGC event by 7 strokes or more. Tiger Woods is the other, having done it four different times.

• Matsuyama is now tied with Shigeki Maruyama for most PGA Tour wins by a player from Japan (3).

Compiled from information provided by the Golf Channel research unit.

Getty Images

Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

Getty Images

Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

Getty Images

Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.