Seve: A Captivating Artist

By Brandel ChambleeMay 8, 2011, 7:52 pm

I first remember seeing Seve Ballesteros on the cover of GolfWorld, contorted in his finish, straining for some advantage with his Elvis dark hair and the cover read, “Can This Teenager Win the Masters?” The year was 1976 and though he didn’t even play the Masters that April, he did announce his presence to the masses with a runner-up finish at the British Open, hitting, on the final hole, one of the most famous chip shots in golfing lore that was a harbinger of the stride-stopping talent that he possessed. Like Walter Hagen and Arnold Palmer before him, it wasn’t so much what he did but how he did it that captivated people.

While here in the U.S., we had a history of colorful champions, but in Europe the golf was more prosaic. Yes, they had great players like Henry Cotton and Tony Jacklin written in their history but, for the most part, Europeans played a straightforward game that may have won tournaments but rarely incited hysteria. That changed in 1976.

Too often analogies to other athletes and stars seem far-reaching when a sport loses one of its own but it is impossible to overstate Seve’s impact upon golf in Europe specifically, and around the globe peripherally. His animated style commanded your attention. He was a walking verb. He got into trouble spectacularly and out of it magically, with a big wide swing that caused his left shoulder to go way down and around, and his right shoulder seemed impossibly displaced from where it had been at address. His legs bowed, turned, squatted and exploded with an athleticism that was as alien to the game as anything the sport had ever seen.

Having started golf in 1975, I grew up watching Seve play. I would go to the backyard and watch my reflection in the window trying to make his backswing. On the range I would imitate his set up and wild music conductor finish and talk to the ball in Spanish, saying things I had heard him bark when he was burning up the screen winning tournaments. I tried to learn his short game and recognized immediately in others who were copying him as well.

Colin Montgomerie held his finish when he putted just as Seve did, where his hands where somewhat down and in and the putter was out, extending down the line. My colleague Frank Nobilo also did this. I played the Japan Tour in 1989 trying to swing like Seve from start to finish. As crazy as it sounds that someone who played golf for a living would abandon what they did to copy someone else, that was Seve’s effect on people who saw him play.

Seve won two Masters and three British Opens but of course he wanted more, he wanted to go down as one of the greatest of all time and to him that meant also winning the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. His was not the style of game that was rewarded in those events. At that time, artists didn’t win the U.S. Open, accountants did, and Seve was an artist.

Just as Ivan Lendl had done in tennis when he decided to change his game to try to win the one major that had alluded him (Wimbledon) and then lost his edge, so, too, did Seve when he sought to find control. Slowly his skills eroded to the extent that he couldn’t find his way back. Before time had robbed him of his abilities, Seve forgot what made him a champion. His peers never forgot though and until he officially retired, everywhere he went players followed him like pilot fish, trying to sponge what they could from his towering genius.

It’s been almost 20 years since Seve was a factor in a major championship but with his passing I am reminded of the adage that when the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.

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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