What We Learned: Rose coming into bloom

By Jason SobelOctober 15, 2012, 12:46 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This week, we examine who's the best player in the world right now, a development in the rookie of the year race and an upcoming change in the relationship between the U.S. and European PGA tours.

Justin Rose is on the verge of very big things. He recently followed the conclusion of the FedEx Cup playoffs by playing some of his best golf of the season, which would often be considered bad timing, but in this instance clinched a few victories of widely varying degrees. His clutch putting down the stretch helped Europe secure the Ryder Cup and more torrid play in Turkey netted a monster paycheck. Neither performance earned Official World Golf Ranking points, though at No. 5 already, Rose doesn’t have very far to climb to reach the top. That may be asking a little much, but don’t be surprised if the 15-year pro – can you even believe that? – is ranked even higher one year from now. Consider these last few weeks an act of foreshadowing for the 2013 campaign. Jason Sobel

At this very moment – and perhaps this moment alone – the best player in the world is not Rory McIlroy, who got skunked in three matches in Turkey and seemed content to spend his afternoons by the resort pool with his tennis-star girlfriend. (Smart kid.)

No, at this very moment, the best player in the world is Justin Rose, and not just because he edged Lee Westwood in the championship match of the Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals. Consider the Englishman’s past four weeks. He was solo second at the Tour Championship, raking in an extra $1.6 million for his efforts. A few days later, at the Ryder Cup, he was one of only two players who went all five sessions, and he compiled a 3-2 record, including his stunning reversal in Sunday singles that may have been the most critical point in Europe’s historic comeback. 

Then the world No. 5 came to Turkey, for the meaningless cash-grab exhibition in which players wore shorts and even last place earned $300,000. That Rose prevailed over four days there wasn’t all that surprising. At this very moment, he’s playing the best golf of anyone in the world. – Ryan Lavner

The PGA Tour Rookie of the Year race is not over. John Huh seemed to have the hardware wrapped up, but Jonas Blixt’s victory at the Frys.com Open, which came on the heels of his third-place showing last week in Las Vegas, has suddenly opened up the race for top newcomer. Huh has a victory and four top-10 finishes, while Blixt has a win and five top 10s and is scheduled to play this week’s McGladrey Classic. Huh is not scheduled to play Sea Island. Stay tuned. – Rex Hoggard

Golf could get confusing next year. So confusing, time will bend to accommodate money. If the European Tour’s move this week to attract Tiger Woods and other PGA Tour pros to become members works, we could see top players competing in both the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Race to Dubai’s reconfigured finale.

With the European Tour about to begin including the Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup against the 13 minimum events it requires for membership, Americans such as Woods will be tempted to consider dual membership. With a new schedule kicking in next year, a time warp awaits. Top players will be able to start the 2014 PGA Tour season before they end the 2013 European Tour season.

The PGA Tour’s 2013 season will end next year with the FedEx Cup playoffs in September. The Tour’s 2014 season will begin in October, before the European Tour’s 2013 Race to Dubai ends in late November. With the WGC-HSBC Champions expected to become an official PGA Tour event next year, it will be possible for top players to earn money in that event that will count on the 2013 European Tour money list and the 2014 PGA Tour money list. Randall Mell

I’d lost track of the 2005 U.S. Open champion from Pinehurst before he re-emerged this weekend on a leaderboard in Portugal. Who knew that Michael Campbell was still knocking it around?

The last time I saw Campbell swing a golf club, he was holding off Tiger Woods on the back nine of No. 2. Between holes, he’d sometimes duck into a port-o-john and do little eye exercises. He believed they helped him with his putting. Whether they did, Campbell did enough to beat Woods in a year when Tiger claimed two majors. Campbell, a New Zealander, had come out of nowhere.

After the final round, Steve Williams, Tiger’s caddie, stuck around to congratulate and hug his fellow Kiwi. Williams knew this would be big news back home. Campbell later bumped into Tiger in the Pinehurst men’s room, where two reporters overheard their conversation.

“How do you do this so often?” Campbell asked Woods of winning majors.

“Luck,” Woods replied.

Campbell wasn’t heard from much after 2005. His game went south, and his scores skyrocketed. On Sunday, the 43-year-old finished third in Portugal, with dark sunglasses and that powerful swing I remember. Who knows where this will take him? Damon Hack

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.