Jobe, others robbed of chance to win award

By Jason SobelNovember 9, 2011, 7:27 pm

The paint is still drying on the 2011 PGA Tour season, but it's never too early to look ahead to next year. Though I’ll be spending the next few months working on my prognostication skills at the local range, I've already uncovered a secret in the dirt, digging out my nominee for one postseason award: 2012 Comeback Player of the Year.

The true spirit of this award is to honor those who have sunk to the depths of obscurity, only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and prove relevant once again. Well, this candidate is coming off a truly awful campaign. Dismissed and forgotten, my pick never even showed up, conspicuous only in absence.

With all of that in mind, when you think about it, there's only one logical choice to claim next season's edition of this award.

And so my pick to win the 2012 PGA Tour Comeback of the Year award is ... the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Hey, the hardware fits the criteria. For the second time in three years, the Tour announced this week that the award wouldn’t be handed out – which, of course, sets up a big comeback for the upcoming season.

Still unanswered, though, is one simple question: Why?

Of the more than 200 PGA Tour members this year, nobody was deemed worthy of being crowned with this achievement? Really?

Apparently that’s what commissioner Tim Finchem and the four members of the policy board are telling us. They are the brain trust responsible for submitting names to the ballot.

'We just thought it originally was an award that focused on a player who had an unusual injury,” Finchem told The Associated Press recently. “An injury that was career-threatening, and he comes back from it.”

Hmmm … seems to me that very description is a perfect summation of Brandt Jobe’s comeback.

Five years ago, Jobe was sweeping his garage when the broom inexplicably shattered, severing parts of his left thumb and index finger. Believing his career was over, he attempted to play again, but went through a lengthy period where changing both his swing and his grip led to disastrous results.

“I was in the midst of really just about saying I can’t do this anymore,” Jobe explained. “Standing up on a teebox and trying to hit a shot and it goes in the dead opposite direction for 2½ years was pretty brutal.”

He continued grinding anyway. Last year, Jobe played the Nationwide Tour and enjoyed a solid season, but needed a T-6 finish at Q-School to regain his PGA Tour membership.

This season, the man who once sliced off parts of his fingers gave the proverbial finger to surrendering his career, making the cut in 21 of 28 starts, with four top-10s that included a runner-up finish at the Memorial Tournament.

Let’s see, commish: Unusual injury? Check. Career-threatening? Check. Comes back from it? Check.

Of course, this isn’t communist Russia – Cue Ty Webb: ”Is this Russia? This isn’t Russia.” and so a ballot needs more than one name. Could that have been why the CPOY award wasn’t issued this year? Not exactly.

Jobe had plenty of company in the comeback department.

There was Harrison Frazar, who was playing on a medical extension after hip and shoulder surgeries last year. The longtime veteran was so pessimistic about his golf career that he had another job lined up at the end of the year – until he defeated Robert Karlsson in a playoff at the FedEx St. Jude Classic to win his first career title.

There was Chez Reavie, also playing on a medical extension after reconstructive surgery for a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee. In danger of losing status up to the last start of his extension, he not only retained membership, but claimed five top-10s and finished 10th on the final FedEx Cup points list.

There was David Toms, who has struggled with injuries in recent years and whose comeback even included a comeback. After losing in a playoff at The Players Championship, he came back the next week to win at Colonial, which led to earning a spot on the Presidents Cup roster.

With so many viable candidates, it feels like if Tour officials couldn’t find anyone worthy of being nominated for this year’s CPOY award, they should have simply opened their eyes.

Word among golf’s inner circle is that those in Ponte Vedra Beach didn’t want a repeat scenario from a few years back, when Steve Stricker came back from winning Comeback Player of the Year to once again win Comeback Player of the Year the very next year.

Sure, that can be embarrassing, but there’s an easy solution: Don’t put an unworthy candidate on the ballot.

This year, there were plenty of players who could have staked a claim to this award. Instead, they’ll spend the offseason knowing they couldn’t rock the vote.

“Maybe there is no award, but with all of the people in golf saying well done and recognizing that, maybe that’s my award this year,” Jobe said. “You’ve got to take what you can get. Awards are awards and they’re great things to have, but all of us know we’ve done some special things for ourselves and that’s pretty good, too.”

There’s always next year for guys like Jobe, though he maintains he’d rather not slice off any more fingers in an attempt to finally win the award. As for me, I’m sticking with my pick for next season. The big winner of the upcoming Comeback Player of the Year award will be the award itself. Let’s hope so, at least.

Getty Images

Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

Getty Images

Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

Getty Images

Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

Getty Images

Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."