School Time for the Big Wiesy

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
In Backspin, takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.

WHO KILLED THE LIGHTS?: For the first time in nearly 20 years, the PGA TOUR took a week off in the middle of the season. They pick up this week is Mississippi for the Viking Classic, opposite of the 37th Ryder Cup Matches.
Backspin Commissioner Tim Finchem built this break into the schedule last November so certain players would not have to compete four straight weeks in the FedExCup and then head straight to Valhalla for the Ryder Cup (really it was just to try and get Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to play in all the Playoffs events). But true to form, the TOUR will still have a tournament during a major event, when even some of the players would rather watch the Matches.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Michelle Wie, who was not able to earn her LPGA card by playing on sponsors exemptions, has entered the LPGA Qualifying School and will play the first stage this week in California on the course where she first rose to fame. Wie, who turns 19 in October, has not won an event since the U.S. Womens Amateur Public Links in 2003 at age 13.
Backspin The story of Wie's career has been well documented, but still it is hard to believe that only two years ago she had at least a share of the lead on the back nine of three majors. For the first time in a long time, though, she is finally making the right decision by going to Q-School.

WELCOME BACK: Meanwhile, in real LPGA action, Angel Stanford won the inaugural Bell Mirco Classic, despite shooting 1-over 73 in the final round. The victory was Stanfords second on tour and first since 2003.
Backspin Stanford also became the fourth different American to win on the LPGA this year and the second in a row. And she gave her victory speech in perfect English.

MODEL GAME: Fahion model/professional golfer Anna Rawson held a share of the first-round lead in Alabama after opening in 5-under-par 67. She followed that, however, with rounds of 73-75-69 to tie for 10th.
Backspin The result was Rawson's best career finish on the LPGA. The high-fashion blonde is trying to prove to people that she's more than just a pretty face. The tour, of course, would welcome her pretty face near the top of the leaderboard any time.

WARMING UP IN STYLE: Robert Karlsson grabbed the lead after the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship and never relinquished the top spot, winning by two shots for his first victory of the season.
Backspin Already having a solid year ' a remarkable five consecutive top-4 finishes in one stretch ' the tall Swede made good on his decision to play the week before the Ryder Cup. Captain Nick Faldo must certainly be pleased to see one of his players coming into Valhalla beaming with the kind of confidence that comes only from a win.

CHAMPION'S TOUR:R.W. Eaks successfully defended his Greater Hickory Classic title, carding a final round 1-under 71 on a windy Sunday en route to a four-stroke victory over Tom Jenkins and Tom Kite.
Backspin Eaks sure does like Rock Barn Golf and Spa. The 56-year old has not finished worse than second there in the past three years, fired a 61 in Round 2, which is the lowest round all season on the Champions Tour, and had only one bogey all week on his way to victory. Maybe it's time that Eaks looks into buying some real estate in the area.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Englands Laura Davies successfully defended her Austrian title, shooting a 4-under-par 68 on Sunday for her second straight win ... Chris Tidland fired a 7-under 64 in the final round to cruise to his first Nationwide Tour victory at the Boise Open ... Remnants of Hurricane Ike damaged parts of Valhalla, knocking over a camera tower on the 12th hole.
Backspin After the win, Davies 'pulled a Kenny Perry' saying, 'I want to get my confidence back; I want to be ready to go again next year and be in the Solheim Cup. That is a big thing for me next year.' ... With the win, Tidland moved into the top 25 players on the money list, who at the end of the season will earn 2009 PGA TOUR cards ... Repairs have already been made in preparation for this weeks Ryder Cup as the long-range forecast is promising for the rest of the week with mostly sunny weather expected.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage ' Bell Micro LPGA Classic
  • Full Coverage ' Mercedes-Benz Championship
  • Full Coverage ' Albertsons Boise Open Presented by Kraft
  • Full Coverage ' Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn
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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