Newsmaker of the Year No. 3: Tiger Woods

By Jason SobelDecember 30, 2012, 1:15 pm

Let's face it: Even those poor prognosticating Mayans could have predicted that Tiger Woods would be amongst our top newsmakers of the year.

If he returned to prior glory and won a few major championships? Boom. He's a newsmaker. If he continued his post-scandal struggles and failed to win again? You got it. Newsmaker.

And if he showed us glimpses of his former dominant self while still coming up empty at the majors for a fourth straight year? Well, that's exactly what happened – and here he is at No. 3 on our list of golf's top newsmakers of 2012.

Such is life when you're Tiger. Everything induces headlines.

Newsmaker No. 10: Stacy Lewis | No. 9 PGA Tour | No. 8: Jim Furyk | No. 7: British Open | No. 6: Bubba Watson | No. 5: Anchored putters | No. 4: Augusta National

Unlike the past two years of his professional career, the theme of this season was no longer tumultuousness, but a return to stability. In 22 official worldwide starts, Woods claimed a dozen top-10 finishes, including three wins – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Memorial Tournament and AT&T National; events hosted by Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and himself. He tied Nicklaus’ mark for the second-most PGA Tour titles with his second one, then passed his boyhood idol with the third.

After starting the year in 23rd position on the Official World Golf Ranking, he moved up to third by year’s end, behind only Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald. If that sounds like a momentous climb, consider that it’s 49 places higher than where he was just 13 months earlier.

It was a season about more than just numbers, though.

It was about images, the ups and downs of a roller coaster campaign that never found a dull moment.

There was frustration. In his initial PGA Tour start of the year, Woods found himself in the penultimate Sunday pairing with Phil Mickelson, only to shoot a score 11 strokes worse than his rival and finish in a share of 15th place.

There was promise. Less than a month later, he posted a blistering 62 – the best final-round score of his career – to nearly catch McIlroy at the Honda.

There was fear. In his next start, Tiger was forced to withdraw at Doral after 11 holes in the final round because of a sore left Achilles tendon – the very same injury which hampered him throughout the 2011 season.

There was exhilaration. Just two weeks after being shuttled away from Doral, he prevailed at Bay Hill for his first official victory in two-and-a-half years, culminating the triumph with his legendary smile and a two-word explanation of his feelings: “Pure joy.”

There was mentoring. For the first 15 years of his professional career, Woods saw fellow competitors as hurdles toward his end goal of winning titles, but this year he buddied up with not only another player, but his main rival in McIlroy, the two of them often enjoying each other’s company during both practice rounds and competitive events.

There was disappointment. After a T-40 finish at the Masters, he was in serious contention at each of the final three majors, but posted weekend scores of 75-73 to finish T-21 at the U.S. Open; 70-73 to finish T-3 at the Open Championship; and 74-72 to finish T-11 at the PGA Championship.

And therein lies the most memorable part of Woods’ season. For a man who so often maintains that he wants his game to peak four times each year, his timing was off for such pinnacles, keeping the odometer stuck on 14 in his lifelong quest to unseat Nicklaus as the all-time leading major winner.

“Absolutely it's a good year, but I think winning a major championship puts it into a great-year category,” he explained. “I think that's the difference between the majors and the other events. They're just that much bigger.”

That’s also the difference between Woods and all other professional golfers.

For most elite-level competitors, a three-win season while finishing second on the PGA Tour money list would be a career year, but for someone who has so dramatically raised the bar for himself with past accomplishments, Woods is faced with greater expectations for bigger successes, both internally and from external sources.

While disappointed that he didn’t build on his major championship resume this year, Woods undoubtedly understands that 2012 was an important stepping stone toward reaching that goal.

He will enter 2013 without a major title in close to a half-decade, but with better control of his revamped swing and renewed confidence in his ability to win. It remains to be seen whether he will finally add to that total next year, but here’s one prediction that appears foolproof: Either way, he’ll find himself amongst golf’s top newsmakers once again.

Newsmaker of the Year schedule

No. 10: Stacy Lewis

No. 9: PGA Tour

No. 8: Jim Furyk

No. 7: British Open

No. 6: Bubba Watson

No. 5: Anchored putters

No. 4: Augusta admits women

No. 3: Tiger Woods

No. 2: Dec. 28

No. 1: Dec. 31

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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