Punch Shot: Most pressure to make Tour Champ.?

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 10, 2013, 6:45 pm

One event remains before the 2013 season-ending Tour Championship. Seventy players in this week's BMW Championship will try and finish among the top 30 in the FedEx Cup points standings to earn a trip to East Lake, which offers much more than some free money. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with who is under the most pressure to make it to the season finale. (Click here for full FedEx Cup playoff standings)


By WILL GRAY

Charles Howell III. Few players have as strong a bond with the Masters as does Howell, a native of Augusta, Ga. After a torrid start to the 2013 season that included a playoff loss at the Humana Challenge, the 34-year-old came agonizingly close to qualifying for the season’s first major via the world rankings system. Since that push, though, Howell has struggled to maintain his form, and as a result enters the BMW Championship ranked 91st in the world.

This week in Chicago, though, Howell is presented with another avenue through which he can earn a trip down Magnolia Lane. Currently 31st in FedEx Cup points, he would receive an invite to each of the first three majors next year should he crack the top 30 and earn a place at next week’s Tour Championship. Otherwise faced with winning an event or making another uphill climb through the rankings to get inside the top 50, a strong week at Conway Farms is likely Howell’s best opportunity to earn just his second Masters invitation since 2009.


By REX HOGGARD

Now comes the hard part.

Exhausted following a pressure-packed final round last Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship Brendon de Jonge had nothing left.

“There’s nothing more I can do,” he said of his Presidents Cup chances.

De Jonge finished tied for ninth at TPC Boston, enough to land one of International captain Nick Price’s two wildcard picks. But following four consecutive weeks on the road, he’s under the gun to make one final push to secure his first trip to the Tour Championship.

De Jonge is 26th on the FedEx Cup points list, just 131 points ahead of No. 31 Charles Howell III. If he’s going to punch his maiden ticket to East Lake, and with it his first trip down Magnolia Lane, he will need another solid week at the BMW Championship.

But after pouring his heart and soul into making Price’s team, summoning the energy for another clutch week may prove to be harder than wrapping up his spot in October at Muirfield Village.

Following his most consistent season as a professional – he has 11 top-25 finishes and missed just five cuts in 28 events – anything short of a Tour Championship start would be a disappointment.

Impressing Price was rewarding, but now comes the hard part for de Jonge.


By JASON SOBEL

The player with the most pressure to reach the Tour Championship is Roberto Castro.

Common sentiment may claim the answer is Rory McIlroy or Luke Donald or Ernie Els – each outside the top 30 entering this week’s BMW Championship – but let’s face it: If those guys don’t reach the field at East Lake, they can simply fly home in a private jet and curl up on a big pile of money for the week. None of them will lose anything – riches, fame, future tournament qualifications – by failing to get there.

The same can’t be said for Castro.

A graduate of Georgia Tech who still lives in Atlanta, qualifying for the Tour Championship would signify a home game. And more importantly, it would lead to another semi-home game next April, as inclusion in the Tour Championship field comes with the unique perk of a Masters invitation, along with spots in both the U.S. Open and Open Championship. That alone would outnumber his current career total of two major championship appearances.

Castro enters this week’s event at 25th on the current FedEx Cup list, meaning he owns an inside track on getting to the finale, but he’s hardly a lock. Unlike more prolific players who aren’t competing with as much on the line, he has plenty of pressure on his shoulders to advance to the next event.

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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, GolfChannel.com 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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