What We Learned: WGC-Cadillac Championship

By Jay CoffinMarch 10, 2013, 10:49 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. This week, our writers weigh in on the big names on the leaderboard at Doral and the next wave of American golfers on the rise. 

The Masters can’t get here soon enough. Five days ago, I was pleased that the PGA Tour was in my home state of Florida. Now, I just want these next four weeks to get over with quickly so we can get to Augusta National. Tiger Woods is on top of the world again (will likely regain the No. 1 ranking after Bay Hill). Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and company all played well at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and current world No. 1 Rory McIlroy seems to have found something to rid him of his funk. Wish it was April. – Jay Coffin

The 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship may be the last vision of Doral’s famed Blue Monster that seems familiar. The golf course will be uprooted in a few weeks for a redesign led by architect Gil Hanse, and although the planned work seems modest enough when Donald Trump is involved you never really know what to expect when the PGA Tour returns to the south Florida staple next year. – Rex Hoggard

Remember when we wondered what was wrong with American golf? What we have now is an embarrassment of riches. And this isn’t just about the top of the world order – Tiger Woods is No. 2, for now, with Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler and Russell Henley all looming.

No, because what about Patrick Cantlay, 20? He won a week ago on the Web.com Tour. What about Peter Uihlein, 23? He showed glimpses of his awesome potential with a T-6 in Puerto Rico, following up a T-4 overseas. And now we welcome Jordan Spieth, 19, to the marquee. A two-time U.S. Junior champion, a former No. 1 amateur in the world, Spieth was tied for the lead down the stretch in Puerto Rico before finishing one shot out of a playoff. What about Luke Guthrie, and Ben Kohles, and Morgan Hoffmann? They're coming, too.

What’s wrong with American golf? Nothing – it's as strong as it has ever been. – Ryan Lavner

The series of World Golf Championship events will never be on level par with the majors – nor should they be. But as these tournaments continue to gain more exposure amongst the lofty second tier, the current record of Tiger Woods will become all the more impressive. Woods now owns 17 career WGC titles, which is two touchdowns and extra points clear of his next closest competitor. In fact, runner-up Geoff Ogilvy would have to win every WGC tourney between now and the end of the 2016 season simply to match Woods' mark. It will never be a mythical, mystical number in the realm of Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors, but his dominance at these events – against all of the world’s best players - can't be understated.Jason Sobel

Tiger Woods has some pretty valued friendships in the game right now. He has pal Steve Stricker helping his putting stroke, and he has pal Rory McIlroy keeping him young and fully engaged. If Stricker wanted, he could be golf’s most high-priced putting coach. His value this past week was essentially established at $620,000 per lesson. That’s the difference between the first-place money Woods won Sunday and the second-place money Stricker won.

Woods, of course, got an impromptu putting lesson from Stricker before the start of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Woods won the $1.5 million first-place check with Stricker taking home $880,000 for second place. Woods may be No. 2 in the world, but in McIlroy, he has a gifted young talent at No. 1 who keeps him fully engaged. Jack Nicklaus said this past winter that he believes McIlroy’s emergence could be good for Woods’ game. Even Jack, though, couldn’t have foreseen how good Tiger’s friendship with Stricker could be. – Randall Mell

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

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Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."