Westwood leads Woods, Mahan by two at Muirfield

By Will GrayJuly 20, 2013, 6:40 pm

On another cloudless day in Scotland where the links at Muirfield remained firm and fast, Lee Westwood grabbed the lead thanks to a series of clutch putts. Here's how things shape up heading into the final round of the 142nd Open Championship:

Leaderboard: Lee Westwood (-3), Tiger Woods (-1), Hunter Mahan (-1), Adam Scott (Even), Henrik Stenson (+1), Ryan Moore (+1), Angel Cabrera (+1), Zach Johnson (+1)

What it means: Spurred by an eagle at the par-5 fifth hole, Westwood climbed to the top of the leaderboard and held at least a share of the lead for much of the afternoon. He now holds sole possession of the lead after 54 holes at a major for just the second time in his career, though, Woods lurks in second place, as he looks for the 15th major title of his career.

Round of the day: A month after playing in the final group Sunday at Merion, Mahan surged to the first page of the leaderboard thanks to a 3-under 68. Beginning with birdies on each of the first two holes, Mahan added red figures on Nos. 9, 15 and 17 en route to tying the low round of the day at Muirfield. As a result, he’ll again be in the final pairing, just as he was at the U.S. Open.

Best of the rest: Finishing his round as the leaders began theirs, Sergio Garcia was able to match Mahan and Richard Sterne by carding a 68 Saturday. After four total birdies across the first 36 holes, the Spaniard made six birdies during his third round, including a rare birdie at the home hole to conclude his round. After it looked like he was headed for an early exit Friday, Garcia now sits at 3-over 216 after three rounds and will begin Sunday six shots behind Westwood.

Biggest disappointment: Beginning the day one shot off the lead, Dustin Johnson stumbled out of the gates, playing the first eight holes in 5 over. Though he bounced back with a trio of birdies, Johnson ultimately carded a 5-over 76 to drop out of the top 10. While he remains in position for what would be his fourth straight top-15 finish in this event, he will now need a superb round Sunday to have any hope of contending for the claret jug.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Arguably the best player without a major title to his credit, Westwood will begin the final round with all eyes firmly fixed upon him. Though he starts the final round equipped with a two-shot advantage, the margin is tenuous at best on a course where double bogey looms around the corner. Should he maintain the prowess on the greens he has shown through three rounds, Westwood could follow in the footsteps of countryman Justin Rose by nabbing an elusive major title this summer.

Shot of the day: Appearing to be in significant trouble for the first time all day, Westwood faced a lengthy putt for bogey on the par-3 16th. He holed the 15-footer, saving bogey while Woods was unable to convert a birdie putt of similar length. What appeared as a possible three-shot swing was only one-shot, and was immediately countered a hole later when Westwood birdied while Woods bogeyed.

Quote of the day: “I think it's all an advantage. The more often you can put yourself in contention, the better. I don't think there's any downside or negativity to getting into contention in major championships.' – Westwood, assessing his recent record in majors that includes seven top-three finishes since 2008.

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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