Punch Shot: Biggest surprise who hasn't won in 2013

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 28, 2013, 2:15 pm

Tiger Woods has four wins on Tour this season, but his success also serves to highlight other players’ winless campaigns.

So we ask: Which player are you most surprised hasn’t won yet this year?

By RYAN LAVNER

Keegan Bradley.

I expected huge things from the 2011 PGA champion. He was coming off another stellar campaign, and his spirited Ryder Cup performance helped bolster his reputation as one of the game’s most exciting players.

The only thing the 26-year-old hasn’t done this season is win. OK, so there were the no-shows in the big events – the first-round loss at the Match Play, the 73-73-82 start at the Masters, the MC at The Players.

But there are the close calls, too: the T-4 at the season opener, the runner-up at the Nelson. In all, he is ranked 13th in the world, he has six top-10s, he sits eighth in scoring average (69.96), and he’s ninth in FedEx Cup points, the only player inside the top 10 without a victory.

If Bradley ends 2013 without a win – it could come as soon as this week’s Memorial, or perhaps at the PGA – feel free to bash me upside the head with a belly putter.


By JASON SOBEL

I thought this was going to be a big year for Justin Rose. Still do, actually.

At 32, he’s just entering what is generally considered to be the prime of most professional golfers’ careers. He’s a ball-striking machine whose iron and wedge game is among the world’s top five. And he’s coming off a season in which he had 14 top-10 finishes around the world, including his first WGC title.

It just felt like talent and success were going to happily intersect, resulting in Rose hoisting a few more trophies this year.

It hasn’t happened yet, but he’s hardly been a disappointment. Rose has runner-up finishes in Abu Dhabi and at Bay Hill to go along with a pair of other top-10s. Let’s remember the question here: I’m not calling him this year’s most disappointing golfer so far; I’m saying he’s the one I’m most surprised hasn’t yet won.

There’s still plenty of time, though. In fact, Rose’s first PGA Tour win came three years ago at The Memorial Tournament. He’s back at Jack’s place this week and while Tiger Woods remains the prohibitive favorite, Rose could very well erase his name from the non-winners list this season.


By RANDALL MELL

Rory McIlroy’s the biggest surprise.

He did, after all, begin the year No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s still No. 2 despite a sluggish start to this season. There was a lot going on in his life with all that comes with being No. 1, with his equipment change, with reports he’s about to leave another management company and with speculation over who he will play for when the Olympics come around. Still, it’s surprising that he hasn’t even given himself a chance to win anything other than the Valero Texas Open late on a Sunday this year. 

He’s been here before, though, just last year. The 2012 Memorial marked his third consecutive missed cut, but he ended up going on a tear in August and September, winning three of four starts, including the PGA Championship. 


By WILL GRAY

This season, Keegan Bradley has done everything but win – literally. Among his six top-10 finishes – tied with Brandt Snedeker for the most this year on the PGA Tour – are a second (HP Byron Nelson), a third (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and a pair of fourths (Hyundai TOC and Honda Classic). A year after leading the Tour in the all-around ranking, the former PGA champ is once again near the top of myriad statistical categories: sixth in total driving, 10th in par-4 performance, 11th in scoring average and eighth in the all-around.

The 26-year-old has demonstrated an ability to close out PGA Tour events – see last year’s win at Firestone in addition to his playoff triumph at the 2011 PGA Championship. This year, though, he hasn’t been able to close the deal, coming closest in his most recent start at TPC Four Seasons, where he led much of the week after setting a new course record in the first round, only to be passed on the final day by Sang-Moon Bae. At ninth on the current FedEx Cup points standings, he remains the highest-ranked player without a win to his credit this season.

Through the first five months of 2013, Bradley has demonstrated an ability to thrive on a variety of courses; he’s posted high finishes at Doral and Redstone, when birdies were required in bunches, as well as Riviera and PGA National, where par was often a good score. Though it’s surprising that he hasn’t already hoisted a trophy this season, with his game clearly at an elite level, the prevailing sense is that it’s only a matter of time before he’s back inside the winner’s circle.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.