You Oughta Know: Spieth has dominated Stenson

By Nick MentaSeptember 26, 2015, 8:04 pm

Jordan Spieth poured in a 20-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over Henrik Stenson heading into the final round of the Tour Championship. Here's what You Oughta Know for Sunday at East Lake, where the winner will walk away with a small fortune.

• The top three on the leaderboard - Spieth, Stenson and Rickie Fowler - are all in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings, which means they can claim both the tournament and postseason trophies with a win tomorrow. The total jackpot for winning both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup is $11,485,000.

• Before any of the other relevant history, this is worth addressing up front. The last four times Spieth and Stenson have played in the same group, including Saturday, Spieth has beaten him by a combined 25 shots. Spieth is 25 under and Stenson is even par, having broken par just once. Prior to Saturday, in the previous three instances at the Hero World Challenge and in two rounds at the Masters, Spieth went on to win the tournament. With that out of the way ...

• Spieth, 22, would be the youngest to win the Tour Championship and the youngest to win the FedEx Cup. He would be the first player to win the Masters and the Tour Championship in the same year.

• Spieth is in search of his fifth victory this season, which would tie him with Jason Day for the most on Tour. Spieth would be the youngest player to win five or more times in a season since 21-year-old Horton Smith won eight times in 1929. Spieth would also become just the fourth player in the last 20 years to win five or more times in a season, joining Day, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods. The last time multiple players won five or more times in a season was 1973, when Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf combined for 13 victories.

• Spieth is in position to set a record for earnings in a PGA Tour season. Singh won nine times in 2004, racking up what was a record $10.9 million. Spieth currently sits at $10.5 million and would move to $12,030,465 with a win. That figure does not include the $10 million bonus, which would raise his total on-course earnings this season to $22 million, but wouldn't factor into the total. (Don't worry. It spends the same.) Spieth needs a two-way tie for fourth or better to set the record, which would still represent a lesser percentage of total potential winnings relative to Singh, as Tour purses have grown in the intervening decade.

• As for chances of cashing in, Spieth has converted each of his last three 54-hole leads. That said, no one has converted a one-shot lead through 54 holes in nine attempts this season. Stenson himself has failed to do it twice, at Bay Hill in March and at TPC Boston earlier this month.

• Speaking of Stenson, his Saturday round proved something of an outlier. His third-round 72 proved the first time the Swede had ever failed to break par at East Lake and the first time he ever didn't finish the day leading the Tour Championship. Stenson went wire-to-wire in his only other appearance at the Tour Championship in 2013. Saturday also marked his first round over par this postseason.

• That kind of play is why Stenson, despite not having won an event this year, could join Woods as the only players to win multiple FedEx Cups.

• Though he hasn't won on Tour since 2013, Stenson's resume is pretty impressive. His four wins are comprised of a WGC, a Players and two playoff events.

• Lurking four shots back, Fowler has come from behind in each of his three PGA Tour wins. He played the back nine in 31 spotless shots on Saturday and has broken par in each of his last 11 rounds, during which he is a combined 33 under. Fowler was 14 for 14 on putts inside 10 feet in the third round.

• Finally, in a most disappointing fashion, Rory McIlroy actually leads the field this week in birdies with 15, but he enters the final round five shots back at 3 under par because he keeps giving those shots back. On Saturday, he made six birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey on the 18th hole to shoot even par.

Information courtesy the Golf Channel Editiorial Research Unit

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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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.