The Jersey sore

By Jason SobelAugust 24, 2011, 10:48 pm

EDISON, N.J. – The world’s greatest professional golfers are welcomed to tournaments each week in many resplendent ways. Luxurious gifts. Courtesy cars. Gourmet meals.

Not that each of those isn’t in abundance at this week’s Barclays event, but this is New Jersey – or “Joisey,” as the locals say – a place with more than a little attitude to go with its servitude.

John Rollins got a taste of it while driving to Plainfield Country Club on Wednesday morning with his wife and young daughter in advance of a practice round.

“It was where the two lanes merge into one lane,” he recalled shortly thereafter. “I saw that the lane was getting ready to merge in, so I slowed down and let the guy pass. I guess he thought I was driving recklessly or being crazy or something. You could see him just throw his arms in the air.

“When I merged right back in, within 100 feet he pulled his car off to the shoulder. His window is down and as I’m passing by, I’m barely even looking at him, but my wife looks over and he’s got his hand out of the window flipping us off. He stopped his car just to do that, then he just kept on going.”

Hey, this is Jersey. It’s where people don’t back down to anyone and don’t mind making their feelings known. Got a problem with that?

Actually, some players do. While many maintain the proximity to New York City and the delectable Italian food are their highest regarded parts of the Garden State, others aren’t so impressed by their surroundings. Asked his favorite thing about being in this state, Kris Blanks said, “I only have to be here for a week.”

That sounds tame compared with a player who went on an f-bomb tirade, but would not go on the record with his name. Gee, wonder why he asked to have his name withheld?

This is where Sinatra first crooned, Springsteen belted and Bon Jovi harmonized. It’s where Jimmy Hoffa may or may not be buried, where a fictional Tony Soprano had his enemies whacked. It’s where everything is within arm’s reach of a mall or 24-hour diner. And it’s where Snooki and The Situation became famous for, well, just for living here.

Of course, for one week each year, the acronym “GTL” instead stands for “Golf, Tan, Laundry,” as the PGA Tour’s top 125 players descend upon New Jersey for the annual tournament to kick off the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Not to bury the lead, but while the state is known for world-class musicians, TV mobsters and “Jersey Shore” reality show stars, it’s also a haven for some of the country’s best golf courses.

This state owns five courses on Golf Digest’s current Top-100 list, including Pine Valley (No. 2), Baltusrol (32), Galloway National (91), Somerset Hills (93) and this week’s venue, as Plainfield checks in at 73rd prior to hosting a PGA Tour event for the very first time.

“I couldn't think of a better spot to play,” Phil Mickelson said. “Plainfield to me is what I consider really a great golf course. It's playable for the average player while still creating challenge for the good players to score low. I think that the setup is terrific and we are going to have a great week.”

Lefty’s contention aside, opinions are already varying on whether Plainfield has what it takes to produce a big-time finish without taking any missteps. At just 6,964 yards, it ranks as one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour schedule and the word most players have used to describe it is “quirky.”

That’s an appropriate assessment considering the fourth, ninth and 18th holes are each reachable par-4s, depending on wind conditions.

“I think that's fun to have on a golf course and it's fun to have some drivable ones, but I think the drivable ones ought to have some risk/reward,” Matt Kuchar explained. “You want some risk and some guys to lay up, probably as many guys lay up as you want to go for it. So you have some course management there, it's not just 100 percent smash your driver and go for it. It's fun to see some different course management strategies being used.”

On a short course like Plainfield, accurate driving is of utmost importance. Without it, players could find the local New Jersey fans off to the side, offering plenty of attitude. Of course, it wouldn’t be the only time this week. John Rollins can attest to that.

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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