Backspin Take the Money and Run

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 5, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
I'M GOING TO DISNEY... WAIT, I'M ALREADY HERE: Stephen Ames claimed the final PGA TOUR title this season, winning the Children's Miracle Network Classic by one stroke over Tim Clark. Ames shot 4-under 68 in the final round to claim his first victory of the season and the third of his career.
Backspin Ames entered the Disney event trying to work on his swing. He left with a trophy. He said that he was planning on going to Maui for Christmas ... now he can just stay in Hawaii for a little longer since he'll be playing in the Mercedes-Benz Championships. Not a bad way to enter -- and spend -- the holiday season.
BUBBLE BOYS: This, of course, was the final shuffle before TOUR cards were secured for next year. The biggest winner in that department was Kevin Stadler, who tied for 15th to move from 127th to 124th on the money list. Mathias Gronberg held the final spot thanks to a tie for 37th.
Backspin On the opposite end was Ted Purdy, who entered Disney at No. 125, missed the cut and left No. 127. Other numbers of importance: Justin Leonard failed to crack the top 30 and earn a Masters invivte next year, while Heath Slocum bumped David Toms out of the top 30; Robert Gamez and Jeff Gove moved into the top 150 to gain a spot in the finals of Q-school and conditional status next season; and Tripp Isenhour didn't make a birdie Sunday en route to missing out on the top 150.
IN FULL BLOOM: Justin Rose won the Volvo Masters in Spain on the second hole of a three-man playoff. It was Rose's second win of the season on the European Tour and seventh top-10 in only 12 starts.
Backspin Talk about coming out smelling like a rose. The 27-year-old Englishman not only started his week with a hole-in-one in the first round, but he finished in grand style, draining a 12-foot birdie putt for the victory and with it earning the prestigous Order of Merit title. The victory also vaulted Rose to seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking. That is one helluva week.
THERE'S A REASON THEY CALL THEM 'APPEARANCE FEES': Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, the No. 2 and 4 players in the world rankings, traveled halfway around the world to play in the Singapore Open. A closing 79 left Mickelson 16 strokes adrift of winner Angel Cabreara, while Els couldn't even make the cut.
Backspin Nothing screams 'Show me the money!' more than this trip for the two superstars. Mickleson often says he wants a shorter PGA TOUR season to have time to relax in the off-season. So he then travels to Asia to play. As for Els ... well, we'll get to him in a second. They would both make Rod Tidwell (Jerry Maguire) very proud.
ERNIE'S WEEK TO FORGET: Els skipped the European Tour's season-ending Volvo Masters to play in the Barclays Singapore Open, in which he bogeyed almost half the holes he played in the second round in missing the cut.
Backspin In what was a week to truly forget, Els first had to deal with a war with words between he and the Euro Tour, and then he and Colin Montgomerie over his decision to miss the Volvo Masters. Then he contracted food poisoning. Then he missed the cut by a mile in Singapore. Then he lost the Order of Merit title when Justin Rose finished first in Spain. Not a good week for the Big Easy. But, at least he got paid for just being Ernie.
THE HALL WILL HAVE TO WAIT: Laura Davies, who held at least a share of the lead for the first two rounds, could only muster an even-par round on Sunday to finish well back of winner Momoko Ueda at the Mizuno Classic in Japan.
Backspin Davies, who is just two points (one major victory or two regular season wins) shy of qualifying for the Hall of Fame, missed yet another golden opportunity to inch closer to the Hall. The 44-year-old has 68 wins worldwide, which include 20 on the LPGA Tour, and four majors to her credit. She will no doubt be voted in by the veterans committee some day, but here's hoping she can get into the Hall on her own two feet.
NATIONWIDE IS ON YOUR SIDE: Richard Johnson established a new tournament record, winning the Nationwide Tour Championship in 20-under-par 264, breaking the old mark by six strokes. Johnson's victory was his second of the season and placed him first on the final money list.
Backspin Twenty-five players earned their PGA TOUR cards for 2008 thanks to their monetary performances. Tom Scherrer and Matthew Letzig moved into the top 25 via their results in the Tour Championship. TOUR veteran Skip Kendall and David MacKenzie fell by the wayside.
KANN NOT DELIVER A VICTORY: Kraig Kann, the anchor on GOLF CHANNEL'S Sprint Post Game Show, had the privilage of caddying for good friend and PGA TOUR professional Jay Williamson at the season-ending Children's Miracle Network Classic. The ride at Disney, however, was short lived as Williamson failed to the make the cut.
Backspin Kann had previously caddied for Steve Flesch in the Wednesday pro-am of the 2004 Colonial, an event in which Flesch went on to win. This time. however, Kann's magical touch apparently ran out of juice. The silver lining? Kann was then able to focus on his beloved Missouri Tigers football win the following day.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tiger Woods has completed three holes on his first course design project in Dubai; The USGA and R&A announced a new rules change which will allow a golfer to lift a ball for identification in a bunker or water hazard; Michael Letzig flirted with a 59 in the first round of the Nationwide Tour Championship.
Backspin It was no doubt a small case of hyperbole when Abdulla Al Gurg, the project director for Tiger's course in Dubai, stated that it has already set 'a different benchmark in the golfing industry.' Take that Pete Dye and Robet Trent Jones Jr.; No word yet from the USGA, however, that a mulligan on the first tee will become an official rule; The only problem with shooting a 60 in the first round like Letzig did, is that you pretty much know there's no where to go but backwards.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Children's Miracle Network Classic
  • Full Coverage - Volvo Masters
  • Kraig Kann's Archive
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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