Texas, Oregon set to face off for NCAA title

By Jay CoffinJune 1, 2016, 3:20 am

Following the first round of stroke play at the NCAA Championship, Oregon was in 19th place. Forty-eight hours later, this became a cute story when the Ducks made the 15-team cut. A day later, they found a way into the top-eight and the quarterfinals of match play. On Wednesday, Oregon plays for the NCAA title on its home course.

In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, “boy, that escalated quickly.”

Oregon ousted 2015 champion LSU, then clipped perennial powerhouse Illinois in the semifinals to march on at Eugene Country Club. The Ducks will square off against top-seed Texas and are looking to become the second men’s team in history to win the individual and team title as host of the event. Sophomore Aaron Wise collected medalist hardware a day earlier.

“Our work is not done,” Oregon coach Casey Martin said, “but this really feels great.”

That’s just one side of the equation.

Texas has a load of drama on its side as well. And it’s not the kind anyone wearing burnt orange would ever think could happen.

Beau Hossler, the Longhorn’s best player all year and five-time tournament winner, struggled to finish his semifinal match against USC’s Andrew Levitt when he injured his shoulder hitting a 4-iron from 228 yards into the 15th green.

The junior was in extreme pain over the next couple holes and nearly forfeited his match. But he gutted out the par-5 17th hole, dumped his second shot into the greenside bunker, putted (yes, putted!) out of the bunker, then made an incredible, downhill, sliding 30 footer for par to win the match 2 and 1.

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That’s the good news. The bad news is that, even though Hossler wasn’t too forthcoming with information, his coach John Fields made it seem like it’d be a minor miracle if Hossler could tee it up for the championship match. (Later, Hossler tweeted: “Thank you for all the love and support. I will be fine. Looking forward to tomorrow.”) 

“Our kids will regroup, they’re tough kids,” Fields said. “We’ll give Oregon everything they want tomorrow if it’s four guys or five guys.”

Texas, in search of its fourth national title, is looking to make a little history itself, as the No. 1 seed hasn’t won this championship since the format changed to match play in 2009.

In any other scenario, Texas would be the overwhelming favorite in this championship match. The Longhorns, who beat Oklahoma and USC to get to the championship match, have won seven times this year and have more talent than Oregon from top to bottom. However, the Ducks, only a winner of one tournament this year, is on this spectacular role on its home course with top-Duck, Wise, seemingly unbeatable.

Common belief was that Fields would try his best to get Hossler into a match against Wise. It makes sense for so many reasons. Most think that Wise would win his match against any opponent so put the injured man against him and try to win three of the remaining four matches.

It didn’t work out that way. After Fields put sophomore Scottie Scheffler out in the second position, Martin countered with Wise. Instead, Hossler is in the third match against senior Zach Foushee, an Oregon native.

Wise and Hossler have been the two biggest headlines all week and it seems like both will factor heavily in the final outcome, for better or worse.

“Certainly it’s a fairytale,” Martin said. “It’s going to be a lot of nerves.

“Hopefully we finish this in style, but regardless, whatever happens tomorrow it’s been an amazing week.”

Amazing indeed.

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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