Stenson (63) bests Mickelson by three to win Open

By Nick MentaJuly 17, 2016, 5:29 pm

In a duel for the ages, Henrik Stenson blistered Royal Troon for a final-round 63 and bested Phil Mickelson by three shots on Sunday to win the 145th Open. In the process, Stenson broke Greg Norman’s record for the lowest four-day total in an Open and tied Jason Day's mark for the lowest score in relation to par in a major championship. Here’s what happened on one of the most entertaining Sundays in Open history:

Leaderboard: Stenson (-20), Mickelson (-17), J.B. Holmes (-6), Steve Stricker (-5), Rory McIlroy (-4), Tyrell Hatton (-4)

What it means: This is Stenson’s first major title and 15th career victory across the PGA and European tours. He is the first Swedish male in history to win a major title. As Stenson alluded to with 18 holes to play on Saturday night, the win serves as a bit of revenge after he finished runner-up to Mickelson at Muirfield in 2013. Stenson and Mickelson left in the field in the dust when they combined to shoot 8 under on the front nine with matching 4-under 32s. Mickelson did his best to keep pace, but Stenson finally separated himself with back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15, the latter a 51-foot make from off the fringe that the Swede walked in before a big fist pump. He maintained his two-shot lead when both players birdied the par-5 16th. From there, Stenson made a two-putt par at 17 and a lengthy birdie at 18 to play his way into the record books. He shattered Norman's 267 total set a Royal St. George's in 1993 with a four-day score of 264. He also tied Day's record of 20 under par in a major, set last year at Whistling Straits. The lowest previous score to par in an Open was set by one Tiger Woods (19 under) at St. Andrews in 2000. In finale, just like Mickelson on Thursday, Stenson tied the record for the lowest round in a major, with 63. At 40 years old, Stenson won his first major title in the most convicing way possible. 

Round of the day: Stenson opened with a three-putt bogey at the first and rebounded with five birdies across his next seven holes, making three in a row on Nos. 2-4. After trading a birdie and a bogey at Nos. 10 and 11, Stenson staked his claim to the claret jug with three straight birdies on Nos. 14-16, finally shaking free of Phil after an hours-long battle. After a two-putt par at 17, Stenson missed the Norman bunker on the home hole by at most a yard, his ball coming to rest just short of the mouth of the bunker. He found the green with his approach and poured in the birdie putt to make his mark on Open and major history.

Biggest disappointment: It’s strange to call a bogey-free final-round 65 from a member of the final pairing a disappointment, but there’s no way around it for Mickelson. The 46-year-old has made repeated mention this week – with respect to both his bid for 62 and a sixth major championship – that he doesn’t know how many more chances he’s going to get. Mickelson opened with a birdie at the first and followed up with an eagle at the par-5 fifth. On two occasions down the stretch, with a birdie try at 12 and an eagle attempt at 16, Mickelson put the perfect pace on his putt only to have the ball come to rest next to the hole, an inch away. Mickelson made par at 17 and 18 to finish an incredible 11 shots clear of the field and yet still three behind the champion. Sunday marks the five-time major winner’s 11th career runner-up at a major and his third since his last win of any kind in 2013. He is second all-time to only Jack Nicklaus, who finished second 19 times, in that category.

Best of the rest: Making his pseudo title defense after missing the Open last year, Rory McIlroy tied for fifth place at 4 under for the week with a round 4-under 67 Sunday. The 2014 champ made six birdies around a pair of bogeys at Nos. 11 and 12. Sunday marked his ninth career top-5 finish in a major championship.

Shot of the day: Stenson’s improbable make at 15 to go up two and distance himself from Mickelson for good.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."