Lefty Hope-ing for Fresh Start

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Bob Hope Chrysler ClassicThere's Ray Romano, Huey Lewis, Yogi Berra, Clint Eastwood, Roger Clemens, Oscar De La Hoya and even American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. And let's not forget the new official host of the event, George Lopez.

Sure, they're big stars and all, but they'll be dwarfed by the attention paid by the one true star of this year's edition of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic: Phil Mickelson. Lefty.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has won in his first start of the season on five different ocassions.
The three-time major winner. The owner of the now infamous quote, 'Im such an idiot.' -- his comment after his meltdown on the 72nd hole at Wingfoot.

After much has been written and debated over that last couple of months regarding him and his mental health, the 35-year-old Mickelson makes a very attention-grabbing return to the TOUR, having not played in an official PGA TOUR event since the WGC-NEC Invitational in late August.

Has he put that disaster behind him? Will he be refreshed and ready to climb back into the No. 2 spot in the world rankings?

He has too much talent not to recover,' said Golf Channel and CBS analyst Peter Oosterhuis, 'but who knows?

One would think that he would, but having not played at the end of the year, and having not played very well when he did, there are some questions he has to answer (in 2007).

These questions may or not be answered over 90 holes of golf in the desert, but perhaps more importantly is the fact that golf fans will at least get to see one of their favorite players back out on the course.

This week also marks the 2007 season debut of David Duval. It was here eight years ago that Duval became the third and, at the moment, last player to shoot a 59 on the PGA TOUR.

Duval is playing out this season by using his exempt status as a top-25 player on the career PGA TOUR money list. After making just one cut in 2005, Duval saw much improvement last season, making 11 of 24 cuts with his best finish coming at the U.S. Open, where he tied for 16th.

The Hope is a five-day event played on four different courses - Classic Club (host course), PGA West, LaQuinta CC, and Bermuda Dunes CC. The tournament has a purse of $5 million with $900,000 going to the winner.

Chad Cambell is the defending champion.

Heres our list of players to watch for ' with a twist. Instead of nominating our overall tournament favorites ' which can consist of many of the same players each week ' we will present our favorites from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has won before, but not in some time).

Well, this one was easy, considering the fact that Mickelson is the only player from the top-10 in the rankings teeing it up this week. He would have been the logical choice anyway due to his past success here and also because of this little nugget: five times in his career Lefty has won a title in his very first appearance of the season. His line for the last five times he's been at the Hope: Win, T6, Win, T12, T5.

Second Tier
Currently ranked 41st in the world, Lucas Glover is someone to watch for after his solid showing a year ago. It was his first time in the event and he posted a tie for 10th, one of his eight top-10 showings for the year. Seeing that this event is played over 90 holes, Glover will have plenty of opportunities to score. He was second only to Daniel Chopra in total birdies last season.

Like father, like son. Back in 1980, Craig Stadler won his first-ever PGA TOUR event with a win at the Hope. Now his son Kevin will look to do the same. Having played on three different tours last season - six starts on the PGA TOUR, 10 on the Nationwide Tour, and six on the European Tour - Stadler earned enough on the Nationwide to regain his PGA TOUR card of the '07 season. He also broke through last year in one of his six Euro starts with a win at the Johnnie Walker Championship.

A former winner in 2000, Jesper Parnevik has always played well here in the desert. The colorful Swede has teed it up 10 times in this event, and in addition to his victory, has four top-10s, with two top-5s coming in his last three starts. He finished second only to Campbell last year, his best showing since a runner-up at the 2004 Chrysler Championship. Parnevik, whose last win on TOUR came in 2001, played well last week in Hawaii, until a closing 2-over 72 dropped him into a tie for 28th place.

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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