FH: Punch Shot: Who will be the 2013 PGA Tour Player of the Year?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 4, 2013, 4:20 pm

Tiger Woods won the PGA Tour Player of the Year award 10 times in a 13-year span, but has not done so in the last three years. Will he regain the Jack Nicklaus Trophy in 2013? Will Rory McIlroy repeat? In this Punch Shot, GolfChannel.com writers pick their '13 Player of the Year.


Well, I think this year we'll see a minor step back for Rory McIlroy, last year's POY. Phil Mickelson's chance of ever winning the award seems a bit of a longshot now. Same for Ernie Els. I'm bullish on Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson, but it's not over-the-moon optimism.

So, who does that leave? Just some guy named Tiger Woods.

The days of Woods' name being the only one needed on the ballot may be over; I don't think we'll see him claim another eight- or nine-win season. But if we can lower the bar just a bit, he may clear it again.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, a more realistic goal for him would be something similar to McIlroy's performance last season. In the days before Tiger's dominance, four wins including a major was good enough to take the award. It appears those days are here once again.

Woods is adjusting nicely to swing changes that he's undergone with instructor Sean Foley in recent years and he maintains that his physical health has never been better. Those should be scary propositions for other players hoping to win the award.

It may not be a landslide vote. His name may not be the only one needed on the ballot. But when the year is over and his peers vote, Woods will once again find his name on this title. 


Unless he decides to embark on a mixed-doubles tennis career with better-half Caroline Wozniacki or struggles with his new bag of Nike Golf equipment, the preseason 2013 Player of the Year nod goes Rory McIlroy.

In fact, given the 23-year-old’s record over the past 24 months there isn’t anything to suggest he will not continue to perform at a world-beater level. Check the scorecard, since last year’s British Open he has just two finishes outside the top 10 around the globe, four victories and a nearly perfect Ryder Cup.

Tiger Woods’ new swing and improved health would make him the most-likely candidate to wrest the award away from the Ulsterman, but even the former alpha male has been unable to find an answer for McIlroy in recent years.

By most accounts McIlroy may be better prepared for 2013, committing to a more streamlined schedule this season and his fulltime move to South Florida.

The only question mark seems to be his impending move to Nike Golf, which will likely be officially announced later this month in Abu Dhabi. But even that dramatic change will be mitigated by the fact that he’s had over a month to acclimate to his new implements (his last start was Nov. 25 in Dubai).

It all makes McIlroy the proverbial leader in the clubhouse for the 2013 POY.


With a long putter pressed against his non-existent belly, Keegan Bradley will ascend to new heights in 2013 and, if we’re lucky, rankle the governing bodies along the way.

No, Bradley won’t become the Tour’s Player of the Year in 2013 simply because he’s vindictive and seeks to torment the U.S. Golf Association and R&A for banning the anchoring stroke. But it’d be foolish to suggest he doesn’t have added motivation.

In November, when the proposed ban on anchoring was announced, a fan suggested to Bradley on Twitter that he send in his application to Burger King for 2016. (In other words, the moron was saying, You’re nothing without the belly putter.) Bradley himself even thinks that the USGA has “really put an X on our back and really shined a light on us.” Well, if the Ryder Cup was any indication, he isn’t one to back down from a challenge.

His rise to golf’s elite, however, will be fueled more by his stellar all-around game than any animosity. Consider that two years ago this week, Bradley was ranked 328th in the world. Now, the 26-year-old has won three times on Tour – including the 2011 PGA, where he became the first player to win a major with a belly putter – earned nearly $8 million and sits just outside the OWGR top 10 (currently 13th), with his best season forthcoming. Sorry, golf purists.


Tiger Woods.

While it’s difficult to imagine he will ever be as dominant as he was in his prime, Woods still might be the best player in the game. If it wasn’t for Rory McIlroy, there wouldn’t be any “might” as a qualifier in that assertion. If it wasn’t for McIlroy, Woods probably would have been PGA Tour player of the year last season. McIlroy might be even better this year, but so will Woods.

With three PGA Tour titles in 2012, Woods served notice he still knows how to win. Those titles helped him climb back as high as No. 2 in the world rankings. His driver came around last year, his swing was better, and though his putting stroke is less dependable, he will still make enough big putts to win big events. That includes majors.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.