Almost Epic

By Mercer BaggsAugust 31, 2008, 4:00 pm
Heath Slocum wins The Barclays

DON'T BLAME ME: Heath Slocum won the first FedEx Cup Playoffs event, parring the 72nd hole for a one-shot triumph over Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker. In the process, Slocum moved from 124th to third on the FedEx Cup points list.
Backspin Slocum deserves great applause for beating three sure-fire future Hall of Famers. However ... this was a MASSIVE blow to The Playoffs. To start with a sudden-death battle featuring Woods, Els and Harrington could have been like the first three rounds of the Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns fight, but with the prospect of it going nine more. In the end, The Barclays crowned a deserving champion, but one who quashed a lot of buzz by making one 20-foot putt.
Liberty National Golf Club

(DON'T) GIVE ME LIBERTY: Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., played host to The Barclays for the first time. The course offered picturesque views, including the Statue of Liberty. However, players didn't seem overly impressed with the course itself.
Backspin Tiger Woods bypassed the media each of the first two days, presumably adhering to the adage, 'If you don't have anything nice to say ... .' Even Tour nice guy Zach Johnson responded with, 'I'm not your guy,' when asked to comment on the course. Are PGA Tour players pampered and whiny? Of course they are. And they should be tased for complaining about things like bumpy greens at Pebble Beach. But they do have a point on this one: They're in the 'playoffs,' playing for millions and millions of dollars. They shouldn't be playing on tracks where one the best things anyone could muster was, building this course 'ruined a perfectly good landfill.'
Sergio Garcia at The Barclays

DO YOU MIND?: One week after coming up one inch short of missing out on a playoff, Sergio Garcia took a share of the first-round lead at The Barclays after an opening 6-under 65. He then shot 76-74-70 to tie for 31st.
Backspin Garcia remains winless on Tour since last year's Players. He's also endured some pretty brutal defeats the past few seasons. But I wouldn't advise him to see a sports psychologist, simply because I don't believe in them. Not like werewolves, I do believe sports psychologists exist. I just find their existence further evidence as to how much better Tiger Woods is than everybody else. He doesn't need one, and neither do you, Sergio. Use that money on better things. Like taffy.
Jim Furyk

NO QUIT IN FURYK: Jim Furyk closed in 69 Sunday at The Barclays to tie for 15th, six shots back of winner Heath Slocum. If not for a third-round blunder, however, he might have contended for the title. Furyk played the first two holes Saturday with an extra club in his bag. He was penalized two strokes per hole.
Backspin After becoming aware of the infraction – which turned a pair of opening pars into two double bogeys – Furyk responded with five birdies and no bogeys over the remainder of his round. He then made three more birdie to just one bogey Sunday. Furyk is the Bizarro World John Daly – or vice versa.
Adam Scott

TAKE IT EASY: The top 100 players on the FedEx Cup points list qualified for this week's Deutsche Bank Championship outside of Boston. Some of those missing the cut were: K.J. Choi (No. 101), Michael Allen (108) and Adam Scott (110),
Backspin Four players jumped inside the top 100 (Heath Slocum, Fredrik Jacobson, Troy Matteson and Richard S. Johnson) and four fell out (Choi, Matt Bettencourt, George McNeil and Ben Curtis). Thirty more players will get the ax after the Labor Day conclusion of the Deutsche Bank.
M.J. Hur wins the Safeway Classic

THAT TROPHY'S BIGGER THAN HUR: M.J. Hur, a rookie on the LPGA, birdied the second extra hole to defeat Suzann Pettersen at the Safeway Classic. Hur shot a flawless five birdie, one eagle, 7-under 65 Sunday en route to her first tour win. Pettersen was in complete control of the tournament until a bogey at 14 and a double bogey at 15.
Backspin As senior writer Randall Mell pointed out it's been nearly four months since an American has won on the LPGA. Maybe they should make more tournaments team events.
Michelle Wie

WIE'RE GETTING CLOSER: Michelle Wie finished two back at the Safeway Classic, two removed from a playoff. She shot rounds of 68-71-66 for her fourth top-5 finish of the season.
Backspin Wie was done in by an erratic second round, which included five birdies and four bogeys. But she made a game of it on Sunday, recording six birdies without dropping a shot. Wie has never been much of a closer. If that changes, she'll add considerably to the American win total each year.
Paula Creamer

SICK TO HER STOMACH: As reported by Randall Mell, Paula Creamer withdrew from the Safeway Classic due to flu-like symptoms. Her family is hoping this recent ailment is just a bug and not more serious. Creamer has suffered from a mysterious stomach malady since last year, which is still undiagnosed.
Backspin What's scarier than the unknown? You're sick and doctors can't tell you why. With my luck, they'd say: 'We've never seen this before in humans, only in lemurs.' Hopefully, for her sake and the LPGA's, Creamer will be back to full strength very soon.
Byeong-Hun An wins 109th U.S. Amateur

THE U.S. AM TO AN: Byeong Hun-An, a 17-year-old high school senior in Florida, defeated Clemson senior Ben Martin, 7 and 5, to become the youngest champion ever at the 109th U.S. Amateur. It's the second consecutive year that has happened. An is about a month and a half younger than Danny Lee was when he broke Tiger Woods’ record last year to become the youngest champion in an event which began in 1895.
Backspin An isn't just young; he's from South Korea – which isn't a bad thing. It just means that internationally-born players have won five of the last seven U.S. Amateur Championships. That's not a bad thing either, globally speaking. But when Americans stop winning American events, Americans tend to stop paying attention.
Peter Hedblom wins the Johnnie Walker

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Peter Hedblom won the Johnnie Walker Championship for his third career European Tour title. ... Loren Roberts birdied his final two holes to win the Boeing Classic on the Champions Tour. ... Tiger Woods won the second annual Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge. ... Woods also joined the field for the HSBC Champions in China, which is now part of the World Golf Championships series.
Backspin Few champions opt for the Burt Reynolds '72 Cosmo pose after victory (You can Google that one on your own). ... Roberts beat Mark O'Meara by one to keep the two-time major champion winless on the senior circuit. ... The skins game, which also featured Begay, Mike Weir and Camilo Villegas, made $750,000 for Begay's foundation, which uses sports to promote physical fitness and wellness among Native American youth. ... The Champions field includes Woods, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, British Open champion Stewart Cink, PGA champion Y.E. Yang and defending champion Sergio Garcia.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage – The Barclays
  • Full Coverage – U.S. Amateur Championship
  • Full Coverage – Johnnie Walker Championship
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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