Ko, Park, Lewis battling for No. 1 at Women's PGA

By Randall MellJune 8, 2015, 8:41 pm

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship begins Thursday at Westchester Country Club in New York with more than a trophy at stake for Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis. The Rolex No. 1 ranking is up for grabs for the top three in the world rankings.

No. 2 Park moved within ten hundredths of a point of No. 1 Ko in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week. Park can get to No. 1 with a finish of 29th or better at Westchester, depending on what Ko and Lewis do. No. 3 Lewis is more than a full point behind Ko in her average world ranking but can still get to No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Ko and Park do.

Golf Channel will televise the first two rounds (1-4 p.m. ET) with NBC televising the weekend rounds (3-6 p.m., ET) Here are six groups to watch in the first two rounds (all times ET):

Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson and Suzann Pettersen: 8:30 a.m. Thursday; 1:40 p.m. Friday.
Though this is the inaugural KPMG Women’s PGA, Park is technically the defending champion. She won the LPGA Championship last year, and LPGA Championship records are carrying over to the Women’s PGA.

Park defeated Brittany Lincicome in a playoff in the LPGA Championship at Monroe Golf Club just outside Rochester, N.Y. Thompson is looking for her first victory since she won her first major, the Kraft Nabisco, early last year.

Pettersen enters this week red hot after winning the Manulife LPGA. Pettersen was in the final Sunday pairing with a chance to win at last year’s LPGA Championship but struggled to a 76 in the final round.

Lydia Ko, Christina Kim and So Yeon Ryu: 8:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:50 p.m. Friday.
Ko, 18, is looking to win her first major. If the Rolex world No. 1 does so, she will become the youngest woman to win a major.

Kim showed she remains a factor on tour winning the Lorena Ochoa Invitational late last year. There are a lot of Solheim Cup points up for grabs this week as Kim looks to make the American team heading over to Germany in September. Kim is 15th on the USA points list and needs to rank among the top eight to automatically qualify for the team on points.

Ryu is looking to win her second major. She won the U.S. Women’s Open four years ago.

Stacy Lewis, Mi Hyang Lee and Caroline Hedwall: 1:30 p.m. Thursday, 8:20 a.m. Friday
Lewis is looking to heat up again after missing the cut last week at the Manulife Classic, her first MC in almost two years. There’s a lot to motivate Lewis at Westchester. KPMG is one of her sponsors, and she helped bring the company together with the PGA as a sponsor of the year’s second major.

Lee won her first LPGA title last fall, the Mizuno Classic. Hedwall is a European Solheim Cup dynamo but has yet to win an LPGA title.

Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr and Jessica Korda: 8:20 a.m. Thursday, 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Lincicome won the year’s first major, taking the ANA Inspiration in a playoff. She lost last year’s LPGA Championship in a playoff to Inbee Park.

Kerr won the Kia Classic in March for her 17th LPGA title but stumbled down the stretch last weekend with a chance to win the Manulife Classic.

Korda finished T-2 at the season-opening Coates Golf Championship but has missed the cut in two of her last three starts.

Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer and Anna Nordqvist: 1 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday.
The Hall of Famer Webb is seeking her eighth major championship title, her first since winning the Kraft Nabisco in ’06. Creamer is returning to form after a short spring struggle. Nordqvist won the ShopRite Classic two weeks ago.

Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel and Charley Hull: 1:40 p.m. Thursday, 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Wie missed the cut at the ShopRite Classic in her last start, struggling with a left hip injury. She withdrew from the Manulife Classic before last week’s event started. She’s still looking for her first top-10 finish this season.

Pressel is showing the kind of form that made her so formidable on tough tracks like Westchester. She has finished third or better in three of her last seven starts. Hull is coming off a T-11 finish at Manulife last week.

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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