US Ryder Cup team visits White House
Seven of the 12-member U.S. Team were joined by Azinger and assistant captain Raymond Floyd in meeting Bush, who was joined in the Oval Office by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
'This was the icing on the cake for me and the players,' said Azinger, who said that he was making his fourth White House trip, but first as a Captain. 'I was really proud of what the players were able to accomplish on a stage of this size, one of the biggest stages in the world when you consider there were some 600 million viewers. It was a great honor to have the president invite us, and to show how much he cared for and followed our team.'
Azinger said that Bush, in first speaking about the Oval Office, told a story about how he had chosen the pattern of carpet for one reason.
'The president said that he wanted the new carpeting to 'scream optimism,' ' said Azinger. 'That story stuck with me and it is something that I will remember for a long time. I said to the president how much I appreciated the joy that he and his staff had for us. He spoke to us from the heart, which was very touching, and I remember telling him how much I appreciate all his efforts to keep our country safe.'
The U.S. Team was accompanied by PGA of America President Jim Remy, Vice President Allen Wronowski, Honorary President Brian Whitcomb and Chief Executive Officer Joe Steranka.
The U.S. Team was represented by Chad Campbell, Stewart Cink, Ben Curtis, Jim Furyk, J.B. Holmes, Hunter Mahan and Boo Weekley.
'I don't know what words you can use other than how inspirational it was to be with the president. I wish that everyone had the same opportunity to get a chance to meet him in a setting like this,' said Remy. 'It was a fantastic day. The president spoke about how he came into office with the same set of values that he will take with him. The whole experience was like a dream and you want to pinch yourself.'
The U.S. Team presented Bush with a personalized Ryder Cup golf bag, the same Sunday red golf shirt and sweater vest worn by the team and a Ryder Cup money clip.
Weekley, who wore a big smile as he entered the White House, had one word for the visit.
'Wow!' he said. 'I can't believe that I was able to walk through this son-of-a-gun,' said Weekley, who despite his 'rookie' status entering the Ryder Cup became a quick team and fan favorite.
'There's so much stuff here, so many pictures and so much history. I was honored to meet the president. He's like one of us. The only thing that would top off this year any better for me would be to go out and get me a big deer. I'm headed to Missouri and Illinois to do some hunting.'
Cink delivered a most unusual, yet meaningful gift - a jar of homemade pickles. The pickles are the gift for participants in a charity golf tournament that Cink and PGA Professional Chad Parker of East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta have co-hosted for several years to benefit The Healing Place, a grief counseling center for children who have lost parents.
'I was too nervous to know what to say to the president about the gift of pickles,' said Cink, 'So I let him come by and then gave him the story. I let him know how much I appreciated his service to the country.'
'Our Captain and the players created this opportunity for us. We heard the president say how he had entered his office with certain beliefs and convictions,' said Honorary PGA President Brian Whitcomb, who had presented the Ryder Cup last Sept. 21 to Azinger, following the victory over Europe at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. 'This was the most inspirational day that I can remember.'
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
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
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
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.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
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."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “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. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
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.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
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