Punch Shot: Greatest season of all time

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 2, 2013, 2:00 pm

Inbee Park has won the first three majors of the season on the LPGA. With that in mind, we ask GolfChannel.com writers: What is the greatest season of all time? (Click here for photo gallery)


By REX HOGGARD

Inbee Park is at the precipice of something special, historic even. But on this the style guide to greatness is very clear.

Bobby Jones penned the best single season in the game’s history when he stormed to the impregnable quadrilateral in 1930 to become the only player to claim the Grand Slam.

Although the structure was different from its current form when Jones completed the single-season Grand Slam (U.S. Open, British Open, British Amateur and U.S. Amateur), the pressures were the same.

Tiger Woods’ “Tiger Slam” in 2000-01 was impressive given the depth of the modern game, but his four consecutive major victories spanned two calendars. As inspiring as that accomplishment was, it lacked the scrutiny that comes with time constraints.

A single-season Grand Slam is the ultimate benchmark of success because there is no room for error or bad bounces or lapses in concentration.

Park may match Jones’ feat next month at the Women’s British Open at St Andrews, a fitting tribute considering Jones’ affinity for the Old Course, and she would surpass him if she were to win the LPGA’s fifth major, the Evian Championship in September. Call it the Super Slam.

Until then, however, the greatest single season still belongs to Jones.


By RYAN LAVNER

Tiger Woods, 2000. We may never see anything like it again.

In 20 starts, he won nine events, was a runner-up four times and finished third once. He had 17 top-10s. He never finished worse than 23rd.

Most memorably, however, Woods saved his best work for the majors. He finished fifth in the Masters, undone mostly by an opening 75, the only over-par score he would shoot in 16 major rounds. At the U.S. Open, Woods shot 12-under 272, was the only player under par after 72 holes and won by 15. At the British Open, he shot four rounds in the 60s, romped by eight shots and completed the career Grand Slam. At the PGA, he closed with 67 and prevailed in a playoff, becoming only the second man in history to win three professional majors in a season.

Add it all up, and it’s a season that may never again be duplicated on the men’s side.


By JASON SOBEL

The best season ever was that of Byron Nelson in 1945.

The numbers are the stuff of legend. He won 18 times in 35 tournament starts, including 11 in a row at one point. He finished second another seven times, easily led the PGA Tour money list and owned a scoring average of 68.33.

Contrarians will be quick to point out two drawbacks: He won “only” one major and fields were depleted during wartime. However, majors weren’t viewed in nearly the same light back then, so his PGA Championship title wasn’t necessarily treated with more reverence than his other 17 wins. And yes, he may not have been facing the toughest competition, but the likes of Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were playing that year, so he wasn’t exactly beating up on also-rans, either.

As is often the battle cry from mid-major programs in college football and basketball, you can only beat who you’re playing against. In 1945, Nelson beat ‘em more often than not – and beat ‘em more than anyone else in the history of the game.


By RANDALL MELL

Byron Nelson didn’t just win 18 PGA Tour events in 1945, 11 of them consecutively. He finished second seven times.

Yeah, folks argue that it was during World War II, that not all the best players were competing because of military duties, but that’s not true. Hogan played in 19 events that year and won five of them. Snead played in 27 events and won six of them. Hogan even set a 72-hole scoring record that year at the Portland Invitational.

Nelson’s mark is one of sport’s most untouchable. Nobody in golf will ever duplicate it.

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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.