A Walk-Off Masters Invite

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the GOLFCHANNEL.com editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
MASTERFUL PERFORMANCE: Lorena Ochoa pulled away from the field Sunday afternoon to win the LPGA Tour's first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship by five strokes. It was Ochoa's second straight major championship, following her victory in last season's Women's British Open at St. Andrews.
Backspin Some still are not comfortable with Ochoa being labeled the greatest player in the women's game, especially when it was just a short time ago that the same was being said of Annika Sorenstam. But facts are facts, and the fact is Ochoa clearly is not only the most dominate player on the LPGA Tour by far, but perhaps one of the most dominate players in all of sports at this moment. Though this week might be the playing of the actual Masters, it was Ochoa herself who was masterful this past week. Two final points: Ochoa, although facing final round pressure as the leader, shot the day's low score (5 under); she was also the only player to shoot under par for all four days. Facts are facts.

WHAT IF?: Annika Sorenstam posted a final-round 4-under 68 to finish five strokes adrift of Ochoa at the Kraft Nabisco. At one point during the final round, however, Annika had gotten to within three shots of her rivals lead before Ochoa gradually pulled away.
Backspin The 'What If?' factor here is the illness that befell Sorenstam during Saturday's third round, where she was almost forced to walk off the course and withdraw. If not for a brutal stretch of four bogeys in a five hole stretch that no doubt was caused by her nausea, it would have given golf fans one helluva Sunday show - Ochoa and Sorenstam grouped together in the final round of a major. But instead, all we were left with was a big, giant 'What if?'

WALK-OFF INVITE: Johnson Wagner held off a slew of challengers late Sunday afternoon - as well as his own nerves - to win the Shell Houston Open. It was his first-ever PGA TOUR victory and with it came an automatic two-year exemption as well as a trip to this week's Masters.
Backspin For Wagner, what a major difference a win makes. Not only does this lock up his TOUR card for two more years - which is huge, considering he came into Houston ranked 193rd on the money list - but it also fulfills an obvious lifelong dream of playing in the Masters. Missing the cut in six of his previous nine events to start the season, a stunned Wagner summed up his feelings thusly, 'I dont care if I shoot 90 both days and miss the cut. Im so excited to be there (Augusta) and its just a dream come true.' Be careful, Johnson; those greens at Augusta can quickly become a nightmare.

WHERE'S WALDO?: There are a few familiar faces that will not be amongst the azaleas for the years first mens major. Davis Love III headlines the list of players we are used to see playing at the Masters. Joining Love on the cut list is Colin Montgomerie, who has played at Augusta in 15 of the last 16 years.
Backspin With Augusta week upon us, it will indeed be odd to not see DL3s name on the leaderboard at a major - seeing as he hasnt missed one since the 1990 U.S. Open - a remarkable run of 70 in a row. As for Monty, he had some cheeky words for Augustas selection committee, pontificating that if he were from China or Japan he would have been selected for the event, based on worldwide television rights. Point taken, Monty, but having to rely on a special invite isn't your style. Is it?

CHEVRON WITH TIG-RON: Tiger Woods landed a new title sponsor for his holiday tournament in southern California, signing a five-year deal with Chevron. The Chevron World Challenge will be held Dec. 18-21 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Backspin Tiger's event is based on the designs of raising money and developing programs to support his education-based Tiger Woods Foundation. And with gas prices slowly approaching four bucks a gallon, it seems like the Tiger Woods-Chevron partnership is a smart match because, soon enough, even one the world's richest athletes will need a possible discount when filling up his gas tank.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Spain's Alejandro Canizares missed the cut at the Shell Houston Open after posting a 12 at the par-4 18th hole on Friday; Gregory Bourdy won the Estoril Open in Portugal in a playoff to earn his maiden European Tour title.
Backspin We were surprised to see Canizares with a 12 on his card, as we thought John Daly had bought the rights to any scores in double digits; Question: if a player wins an event in Portugal a week before the Masters does it make a noise? Actually, yes, especially if you defeat a world-class player such as England's David Howell in a playoff.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Shell Houston Open
  • Full Coverage - Kraft Nabisco Champ.
  • More Headlines
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    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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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.