Big Three Stumble Home

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 20, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England (AP) -- Ben Curtis was sputtering toward the finish and Thomas Bjorn was imploding in the sand. If ever there was a British Open begging to be taken, this was it.
 
Tiger Woods knew it as he stalked the fairways over the final holes. So did a couple of other guys with major championship credentials.
 
Tiger WoodsIn the grandstands, the massive crowds sensed something historic in the making. On the edge of their seats, they were ready to erupt at any sign of a move by players who had been there before.
 
For the lack of a few simple pars, it never came.
 
And the contenders who would be king left Royal St. George's with their heads down, trying to figure out how this one could have slipped away.
 
'I had my chances and I blew it,' Vijay Singh said. 'There's no excuse for that.'
 
He wasn't alone.
 
The greatest player in the world needed only to par his last four holes to get in a playoff. Surely, Woods would be hoisting his second claret jug on the 18th green.
 
He didn't come close, bogeying two of the last four to stretch his major championship winless streak to five.
 
'I just didn't make some good swings when I needed to,' Woods said.
 
Vijay SinghAnd what about Davis Love III? Wasn't he playing in the final group and heading for the relatively easy par-5 14th with a chance to tie for the lead?
 
He was, until he made par on the hole and a bogey on the 17th to finish tied with Woods two shots back.
 
'If I'd putted well I would have won. If I'd hit a few more good shots I would have won,' Love said. 'Thomas, Tiger and Vijay are all saying the same thing, so it's unfortunate but I gave it my all.'
 
The biggest surprise in one of the most surprising Opens may not have been Ben Curtis hanging on to win by a shot over Singh and Bjorn. It may have been that three players with 11 major titles between them couldn't even play par golf on the finishing holes.
 
'Probably that's where Ben sneaked in,' Singh said. 'Everybody was talking about Tiger, Love and Bjorn. Ben just played his round and got away with it.'
 
Curtis, a 500-1 longshot playing in his first major championship, predictably bogeyed four of the last seven holes to give everyone a chance. Bjorn was ready to take it until he had one too many misadventures in the sand on the 16th hole.
 
Woods, Singh and Love didn't need to make a string of birdies to win. They just needed to keep from giving shots away.
 
Shockingly, they couldn't.
 
'It was sad actually because I thought I was playing real well,' Singh said. 'Coming down the stretch you can't make any bogeys.'
 
Davis Love IIISingh made his on the 16th hole, a relatively benign 163-yard par 3 where all the trouble is in the bunkers surrounding the green. Singh was 1-under-par at the time and needed only to par out to get into a playoff.
 
He put his tee shot in one of the bunkers, though, couldn't get up-and-down and then couldn't birdie either of the final two holes. When his chip shot on the 18th hole slid by, his chance to add this to his PGA Championship and Masters titles was over.
 
'I came over here to win it,' Singh said. 'I felt I had the game to win it, especially when I started off today. But maybe next year.'
 
Woods barely tried to hide his disappointment. He got to 2-under after seven holes and seemed ready to take command, but played the last 11 holes 3-over. Bogeys on the 15th and 17th holes sealed his fate.
 
Woods wasn't happy that on the 12th hole Open officials put his group on notice to speed up play, hinting that it may have affected his concentration on missed putts on 13, 15 and 17.
 
'When you're on the clock you're not in your normal rhythm, that's for sure,' he said.
 
Woods has eight major championships, but his 2000 win at St. Andrews was his only British Open title. He now hasn't won a major title since last year's U.S. Open.
 
'It's never been easy,' he said. 'You've got to have things go your way in order to win. The times I have won I've had some great breaks go my way. This week I got my share of good breaks but I got my share of bad breaks, too.'
 
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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."

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    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