European Tour Season Begins in Taiwan

By Golf Channel NewsroomNovember 20, 2002, 5:00 pm
Padraig Harrington was in for a bit of a shock when he arrived in Taiwan for this weeks BMW Asian Open. It seems he didnt dress properly.
'This is my first trip to Taiwan and I was expecting it to be warmer. I didn't bring any sweaters with me,' he said. Apparently he didn't expect chilly weather, though it is now the third week of November.
Harrington is hoping to get a jump-start in his quest to become Europe's No. 1 player as another European Tour begins. The Irishman finished runner-up for the second straight year to South African Retief Goosen in Europe when the season ended two weeks ago.
The tournament, the first in the 2003 season, actually is played more than a month before the 2002 year ends. Asia's richest tournament outside of Japan, it is also the third last leg on the Asian PGA-run Davidoff Tour.
'I've had a solid year and I'm happy that I've played nicely and feel I can improve majors, said Harrington. I learned a lot of good stuff and played pretty solid in all the majors.
'I featured in the skins game in Singapore on Sunday and finished second again, as usual (behind Goosen). My game is not quite there, I just need to do a bit of things but it'll be OK.
Harrington, who has won five times in Europe and a string of runner-up outings, displayed his major credentials by finishing tied for fifth in the Masters and British Open, tied for eighth in the U.S. Open and tied for 11th at the PGA Championship this year.
He played on Europe's winning side against the United States in the Ryder Cup in September, then went on to claim his first title of the year at the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland the following week.
'I was in contention at some stage in the first three majors and I was happy with that form. It's very promising,' he said.
His main challenge at the BMW Asian Open could come from Thai standout Thongchai Jaidee, who finished second behind Colin Montgomerie at last week's TCL Classic in China after a stirring back-nine duel.
Other big names in Taiwan include defending champion Jarmo Sandelin, former Masters winners Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Woosnam, Paul McGinley, who holed the winning putt in the Ryder Cup, Europe's captain Sam Torrance and American John Daly.
A weary Thongchai, who has played regularly in Japan this year, is ready to soldier on in his bid to regain his Davidoff Tour money tiyle. The former paratrooper earned widespread praise from Montgomerie, who rated Thongchai as 'the best Asian player that I've played with.'
'I'm a bit tired after a hectic season, but finishing second behind Colin Montgomerie has given me a boost and the chance to finish the year as No. 1 in Asia again. It's good to be back for the BMW Asian Open as I finished joint second here last year.
'While my aim is to win the Order of Merit (money title), it could so easily change as this week's purse is the biggest one on our tour,' said Thongchai, who will be playing in his 37th event of the year this week.
Thongchai, who will play the first two rounds with Olazabal and Daly, leads the merit battle with a haul of $183,014, with previous pacesetter Arjun Atwal of India in second place, who has won $177,674. But with a first prize check of $250,050 this week, the scenario could change dramatically after the BMW Asian Open.
Atwal, who won the European Tour-sanctioned Caltex Singapore Masters in February, is hoping to regain some form. 'I've been struggling of late, so the important thing for me is to play some decent golf here. I'll aim to keep things easy and just hit fairways and greens and make some putts,' said the Indian star.
Defending champion Sandelin, who came to Asia at the end of last year to 'make some Christmas shopping money', is hoping to get the perfect wedding gift as he will marry long-time sweetheart Linda in Stockholm next month.
'It's good to come back as the defending champion. I've not won back-to-back titles in my career, so maybe history will be made here this week. I'm getting married next month and it'll be nice to have some money for the wedding this time!' said the Swede.
'After winning the BMW Asian Open last year, I played very well for next few months. But after that, I changed my swing. I've started analysing my golf swing with a digital camera and then inputting the data into a swing analysis program this year. It's slowly coming together and I played well in my last event two weeks ago, so it is a nice time to find some form as I defend my title this week,' said Sandelin.
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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, 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 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 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