Monday qualifier Wheatcroft grabs Houston lead

By Will GrayMarch 29, 2013, 11:21 pm

After a second consecutive round of 5-under 67, Steve Wheatcroft finds himself in an unfamiliar position – atop the leaderboard at a PGA Tour event. Here's the scoop heading into the third round at the Shell Houston Open, where Wheatcroft holds a one-shot lead over a pair of golfers:

The leaderboard: Steve Wheatcroft (-10), D.A. Points (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brian Davis (-7), Stewart Cink (-7), Bill Haas (-6), Angel Cabrera (-6)

What it means: Having only even gained entry into this week's field through a Monday qualifier, Wheatcroft now finds himself in sole possession of the overnight lead on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career. While many of the bigger names like Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy struggled to make the cut, the veteran of the Tour appeared at ease while carding a bogey-free 67 Friday. 

Round of the day: Still seeking his first win since the 2009 Open Championship, Cink carded a 6-under 66 Friday, the lowest round of the day. The Georgia Tech alum notched three straight birdies from holes 4-6 and added three more on the back nine, completing his second round without a bogey.

Best of the rest: Though he still missed the cut, Peter Tomasulo deserves credit for an impressive turnaround. After a lackluster 82 Thursday, Tomasulo was a whopping 15 shots better during the third round, one of just three players (along with Wheatcroft and Josh Teater) to card a 5-under 67 Friday.

Biggest disappointment: In need of a strong finish to secure an invitation to the Masters, Geoff Ogilvy fell apart Friday. The Aussie shot a 7-over 79 in the second round, including a quadruple-bogey 7 on the par-3 seventh hole, and missed the cut by a wide margin. Though he is currently No. 50 in the world rankings, the missed cut will likely drop him outside the top 50 and deny him a return trip to Augusta.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: Can the unknowns stay out in front? Of the top five players on the leaderboard, three are seeking their first career PGA Tour win, while Points has only one win to his credit and Cink has not hoisted a trophy in nearly four years. Strong players loom just a few shots off the lead, though, including Haas and Dustin Johnson, who is 5 under through 36 holes.

Shot of the day: A runner-up here a year ago, Carl Pettersson was in danger of missing the cut after opening with a 2-over 74 Thursday. He was able to advance to the weekend, though, largely thanks to his effort at the par-3 seventh hole Friday, where the Swede recorded a hole-in-one from 174 yards out en route to shooting a 3-under 69.

Quote of the day: 'This is about the same position I was in in 2011 when I ended up winning, I was about 50th...I finally feel like my game is in the position to light it up, where when I go to the range I'm not trying to search for something.' – Mickelson, who begins the third round nine shots off the lead at 1-under 143.

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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