Stock Watch: The highs and lows from 2014

By Ryan LavnerDecember 9, 2014, 1:29 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf. This is the season-ending edition, looking at the 2014 golf year in its entirety.

RISING

Rory (+10%): Remember that pudgy lad with the moptop? He’s been transformed into the ripped badass who pummeled courses with his aerial assault and put the golf world in a full nelson.

Lydia Ko (+9%): How dispiriting it must be for the LPGA elite, losing to a 17-year-old kid who over the next few years will only get bigger, stronger and better. Godspeed.

Rickie (+8%): Until this year he was known mostly for his wild hair, motocross background and flashy outfits. Now, he’s recognized as the third player in history to post top 5s in all four majors in the same season, though he’s the only one without a W. He can’t take a back seat to Rory forever ... right?

LPGA (+7%): Stacy Lewis swept the season-ending awards, Lydia Ko won the year-long race, Michelle Wie captured that elusive major and Cheyenne Woods earned her tour card. So, Mike Whan, about that encore ...

P-Reed (+6%): He’s bold, brash and, best of all, better than a lot of PGA Tour players. Not quite top 5, but he’ll get there sooner than later.

Jordan Spieth (+5%): At 21, the kid had almost become underappreciated before this torrid run around the globe. Seriously, folks: Tiger reached three pro wins only four months faster. Monster things are ahead.

Good Bubba (+4%): More than just a brainless basher, Watson won three times on three decidedly different courses. Assuming he’s still motivated, he could be a factor at Augusta for the next, oh, 15 years.

BillyHo (+3%): His late-season surge wasn’t enough to save the U.S. Ryder Cup team, for which he should be grateful. Just imagine Horschel watching that disaster while sitting on his couch made from stacks of dollar bills.

R&A (+2%): Hey, welcome to the 21s ... nah, 20th century!

Martin Kaymer (+1%): It’s easy to forget just how impressive he was in May and June. He won more big-time titles in six weeks than some accomplished players do over an entire career.


Stock Watch: Who will rise and fall in 2015?


FALLING

Adam Scott’s reign at No. 1 (-1%): And oh, what a glorious 11 weeks they were. Thanks to Rory and Co., it’s possible, maybe even probable, that Scott never reaches that pinnacle again.

Sneds (-2%): During last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs, one of the best putters on the planet was ranked No. 7 in the world. Now, he’s dropped outside the top 50, after a miserable year in which he changed instructors and hit it all over the map. He’ll be back. We think.

Social media (-3%): Geez, who is advising these guys, Steve Elkington? The year was chock-full of foot-in-mouth moments, and we were more than happy to document each and every one of them.

Bad Bubba (-4%): By now the fans’ battle lines are clearly drawn: You either think the guy is a titanium-denting, ball-shaping, crowd-pleasing magician, or you think he’s a foolish, petulant phony who takes pleasure in berating his caddie. That he’s probably a little bit of both makes him one of the game’s most fascinating characters.

Old Guard (-5%): Tiger got hurt. Phil’s play was uninspired. Steve Stricker all but disappeared. And Jim Furyk continued to find ways to lose with 54-hole leads. Sorry, aging warriors, but battling the Rorys, Rickies and Jordans of the world sure won’t be getting any easier, either.

Dustin Johnson (-6%): Depending on which side you believe, the immensely talented but maddeningly immature star either got popped for a third drug test or took a voluntary leave of absence. Either way, he squandered what was shaping up to be a career year, with a win, two runners-up and $4.2 million in earnings. Speaking of which ...

PGA Tour (-7%): The Tour thinks not disclosing player discipline protects sponsors and fans from learning that its players are indeed fallible. Really, though, the antiquated stance forces everyone involved to perpetuate lies. P.R. blundering at its finest.

Team USA (-8%): Look, the Americans were always going to lose at Gleneagles – Europe was loaded. But the U.S. team didn’t just lose in a rout. It also undermined the captain and then blew up the system to create a hilariously unnecessary task force, which was just about the most American thing ever.

Tom Watson (-9%): His legacy isn’t tarnished forever, of course, but the 65-year-old’s ill-fated reign as U.S. Ryder Cup captain will go down as arguably the worst ever. Everyone figured his tough-guy act wouldn’t fly with coddled millionaires. Fortunately for us media types, it was even worse than anticipated.

Ted Bishop (-10%): The self-styled maverick did a lot of good, but in short order his Watson experiment went up in flames, as did his tenure as PGA president, after hitting publish on a sexist tweet directed at Ian Poulter. There’s a reason no one can recall the 37 PGA presidents who preceded him, but until the bitter end Bishop loved the platform, the celebrity and the spotlight. No more.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.