Punch Shot: Story of the 2013 season?

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2013, 7:10 pm

Before the new season begins – in two weeks – we’re looking back at the year that was on the PGA Tour. Our writers debate: What was the story of the 2013 PGA Tour season? 


By REX HOGGARD

For those scoring at home, it has now been 18 majors played since Tiger Woods last hoisted a Grand Slam keepsake. That’s 18 misses in his quest to reach Jack Nicklaus’ benchmark haul of 18 majors.

To put that in context, the world No. 1 won six majors in his first 18 Grand Slam starts as a professional. Blatantly unrealistic expectations considering that historic start? Without a doubt. But Woods’ drought, now five years and counting, still registers as the year’s top story.

In Woods’ defense, 2013 can hardly be considered a lost year. He won five times, including two World Golf Championships and The Players, easily collected his eighth Vardon Trophy for low scoring average and is the likely winner of the Player of the Year award when voting is completed on Thursday.

In this, Woods seemed to take the long view.

“It's nice to win golf tournaments and as I said, it's over the course of a career. It's not just one year. You're looking over a course of a career, and you're going to have years where you don't win major championships and years that you do,” Woods said at The Barclays. “There are years where I've won one tournament and years where I've won nine. So as long as I keep winning in all those years, it's not too bad.”

Without question, 2013 was a successful campaign for Woods. But that doesn’t change the narrative – Woods’ record in the majors, successful or otherwise, is still the year’s top story.


By JASON SOBEL

Hmm ... the oft-forlorn superstar conquering personal demons or the other oft-forlorn superstar conquering personal demons. Tough call, but I'll take Phil Mickelson's brand of demonology over that of Adam Scott.

For the first half of the year, Scott's inspired Masters victory in the rain served as the no-doubt-about-it top story, but he was eclipsed – ever so slightly – by the mercurial left-hander winning the Open Championship, a development that he had long deemed improbable.

For two decades, Mickelson and links golf were star-crossed lovers, their torrid affairs brief and quickly interrupted by lengthy bouts of frustration. That changed at Muirfield, when he put together a come-from-behind victory for the ages on Sunday afternoon.

It should speak to the number of great stories this year that Mickelson's long-elusive title isn't a unanimous choice. It is, though, still the best of a very good bunch.


By RANDALL MELL

Anchors away.

That was the story of the year in golf.

The USGA and the Royal & Ancient teamed to generate anchoring news through most of the year, first with all the angst over their proposed ban on anchored putting and then with their official ban of such strokes in May.

From a contentious players' meeting with the USGA at Torrey Pines near year’s start, to Keegan Bradley’s plight hearing taunts of “cheater” as he used his belly putter in the spring, to R&A chief Peter Dawson’s confrontation with PGA of America president Ted Bishop and through threats of legal challenges to the ban, there was no shortage of compelling developments over the anchor ban. It dominated golf’s news cycle through most of the year. With the ban not taking effect until 2016, expect anchoring to continue to make news over the next three years.


By RYAN LAVNER

It’s easy to forget now, of course, after Jordan Spieth posted a Tour-best nine top-10s, amassed nearly $4 million in earnings, won the John Deere Classic, finished second three times and earned a spot on the Presidents Cup team. It’s easy to forget that last fall, he bombed out of Q-School’s second stage. That in January, he relied on a sponsor’s exemption to make his first Tour start. That the next two months, he was playing Web.com Tour events in Panama and Colombia.

That’s a far cry from the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus. Yet there was Spieth, just 15 months removed from helping lead Texas to the 2012 NCAA title, vying for the victory at East Lake and forcing Tour mathematicians to calculate the various scenarios in which he could walk away with the biggest financial prize in golf.

In the last two decades only Tiger Woods – two wins in eight starts in ’96 – has made a bigger splash on Tour as a rookie, and we’ve since seen how his career panned out. Sure, Spieth could suffer a sophomore slump, but he’s more likely to build on his sensational rookie campaign, make a bid for a multiple-win season, challenge for WGC and major titles.  

At age 20, Spieth is not just tabbed as the next American star – he already is one. 


By WILL GRAY

The biggest story of the 2013 PGA Tour season focused on the middle of a fairway in northern Georgia. While he didn’t ultimately win the event, the cloud that surrounded Tiger Woods and “Dropgate” during the second round of the Masters created more discussion and garnered more headlines than any other singular moment this year.

The issue, discussed and dissected at length over the subsequent days and weeks, centered not only on Woods’ illegal drop on the 15th hole during his second round, but also the consequent decision by the tournament rules committee to assess him with a two-shot penalty. Amid calls for his disqualification, the world No. 1 played the next two rounds under a microscope that was sizeable even by his lofty standards.

While Woods won five times this year – and four other players hoisted major trophies – the single biggest storyline from this past season was one that caught the attention of sports fans and media well beyond the game of golf: The Drop, The Penalty and The Fallout witnessed at Augusta National.

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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.