Weekly 18: Lights, Camera, Matches!

By Jason SobelFebruary 20, 2012, 2:55 pm

Four weeks ago, Kyle Stanley carded a triple bogey on the final hole of regulation at Torrey Pines, then lost a playoff to Brandt Snedeker. The result could best be described as startling.

One week later, Stanley quickly made retribution for those foibles, lapping Spencer Levin in Phoenix to claim his first career title. It was thrilling.

That was followed by Phil Mickelson being paired in the penultimate twosome with Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach, posting a flawless 8-under 64 to win. The most proper adjective was scintillating.

And then this past week, Mickelson and Keegan Bradley drained unlikely birdie putts on the final hole of regulation, only to be outdone by a lengthy birdie by Bill Haas on the second extra hole to claim the title.

The overall performance can be characterized as entertaining, exciting, exhilarating and electrifying. It’s also exactly what the PGA Tour has needed.

If you’re scoring at home – and trust me, executives in Ponte Vedra Beach certainly are – that’s four consecutive weeks of fantastic finishes.

This edition of the W18 begins with an examination into why some players win big events and why others simply don’t.

1. Making the Difference

There is no magic number. No singular statistic that separates the wheat from the chaff. (The wheat is the good stuff, by the way.) Driving distance is always important, but then again so is keeping it in play. A strong greens in regulation percentage means a player is giving himself chances. And of course, everyone out there is putting for dough. The flat stick is a money-maker.

So what is the biggest variable between those who come through in the clutch and those who don’t?

That’s easy. It’s guts.

Maybe I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know, but that premise was on display once again this past week at the Northern Trust Open. A neophyte fan could have known nothing about the contenders, but still presumed based on their final-hole pressure-packed birdies that Mickelson and Bradley both had the stuff to be major champions – and they would have been right, of course.

Haas, who prevailed in last year’s FedEx Cup thanks to some heady play down the stretch, has the right stuff, too. Under high-tension circumstances, he hit his second shot into the second playoff hole – the short par-4 10th at Riviera – to the fat part of the green, then drained a 43-foot birdie putt to eventually clinch the win.

There is no measurement for a player’s nerves under such stressful situations, other than prior performance. For as much as we discuss physical attributes and technical soundness, mental fortitude is – and always has been – the most important aspect to winning golf tournaments.

Sunday’s final round was just the latest reminder.

2. What I Learned

I learned that sometimes life really does imitate art. For years, Sergio Garcia appeared surly, sulky and sullen on the course – and his putter wasn’t much fun to be around, either. Over the past few months, a happier Sergio has emerged and perhaps not coincidentally, he’s been holing putts like never before. Always one of the top tee-to-green ball-strikers in the world, he proved once again with an 8-under 64 in the final round of the Northern Trust Open on Sunday – which included two eagles and five birdies – that he’s finally figured out the flat stick. That just might result in a season of “major” proportions for Garcia this year. It also recalls something another pure ball-striker once said on the big screen: “Happy learned how to putt! Uh-oh!” And if you don’t think “Happy Gilmore” qualifies as art, well, maybe you’re a little too surly, sulky and sullen yourself.

For a more complete look at What We Learned, click here.

Three Up

Yani Tseng

3. Yani Tseng

I’m a big sports fan, though I don’t pretend to know everything about every sport out there. So maybe there’s a pole vaulter or a bobsledder or even one of those X Games athletes who reigns as the most dominant athlete in the world today.

Of those of whom I’m aware, though, of those well within the public consciousness, there is no current professional athlete who is more superior in their respective sport than Tseng, who notched her first worldwide win of the year on Sunday after claiming a dozen titles last year.

Through one round of the Honda LPGA Thailand, it appeared this year may be a little more difficult than last. Tseng posted a 1-over 73, leaving her six shots off the lead. No problem. She simply posted scores of 65-65-66 in the final three rounds to edge Ai Miyazato by a single shot.

The win will only extend her already sizable lead in the Rolex Rankings. All of which leads to the question: Why isn’t she a bigger superstar?

My theory is that it’s because we’ve already been there and done that. Prior to retiring, Annika Sorenstam was not only the LPGA’s most dominant golfer, but one of the world’s most dominant athletes. After her, Lorena Ochoa took that mantle. And now, Tseng is a conquering hero – the third on the women’s tour in the past half-decade.

It may not be rare for one player to be this superior over her peers on the LPGA, but that shouldn’t diminish Yani’s recent feats. There aren’t many athletes – or maybe even any athlete – as dominant in the world of sports today.

4. American golfers

It was less than a year ago when so many experts were bemoaning the apparently decrepit state of American golf, what with international players claiming each of the year’s first three major championships and the top four on the Official World Golf Ranking each coming from elsewhere around the globe.

That was then, this is now.

Through the first seven events of the PGA Tour season, U.S.-born players are seven-for-seven, the longest such streak to start a campaign since taking the first eight back in 2001.

Sunday’s playoff included three players from the good ol’ U.S. of A., including Haas, who moved from 22nd in the Official World Golf Ranking to 12th – and became the fifth-highest American player on the list.

That should all serve as good news to Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, who unlike his predecessors should have a bevy of talented, accomplished players from which to choose for his wild-card picks come September, meaning several excellent candidates will be left off the roster.

5. Support for Peter Curran

Many of those in the field at the Northern Trust Open adorned their hats with the letters “PC” this week – and for very good reason.

Peter Curran, the father of mini-tour golfer and former Vanderbilt All-America selection Jon Curran, passed away on Wednesday after a lengthy bout with cancer.

His death especially hit home with Keegan Bradley, who is roommates with Curran. In fact, Bradley was the player who spearheaded the cause to get his fellow competitors to include the initials on their hats.

“A bunch of the guys put PC on their hats for Peter Curran,” Bradley said on Saturday after taking a share of the third-round lead. “I kind of feel like I've got some good luck on my side. I know they're all watching. I'd love to go out there and play well for him and the Curran family.”

He no doubt made them proud with his runner-up finish.

Three Down

Paul Casey

6. Paul Casey

After injuring his shoulder in the offseason, Casey was hopeful that he would be able to return at this week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Instead, doctor’s orders have him still on the shelf.

But let’s give credit where credit is due: As a resident of Scottsdale, Casey could have elected to show up in Tucson on Monday and Tuesday, tried to give it a go, then either withdrawn prior to the first round or – in a very sneaky move – after teeing off in the first round, essentially giving himself a T-33 paycheck and the world ranking points which come with it.

Instead, he bowed out of the tournament a week ahead of time, in part to give alternate George Coetzee a chance to set up travel arrangements and prepare himself for competing in his first U.S.-based event as a professional.

That’s a strong move by Casey. If karma has any say in results – and it often does – expect him to get a few good breaks his way once he returns to action.

7. Tim Clark

He shot 76-82 and finished dead last out of 141 players who completed two rounds at Riviera – and afterward, Clark was ecstatic.

No, the 2010 Players champion hasn’t lowered his standards. It’s just that in his first start since last year’s edition of that event, he played 36 holes without any pain in his right elbow.

“I was quite surprised with how my body actually felt,” said Clark, who had surgery last August to repair a torn labrum. “Quite happy with that. Obviously, there’s a lot of rust there. I wasn’t able to score at all, but in terms of the arm, how I felt, I was quite encouraged. I didn’t know what to expect. The fact that I could get through 18 holes without having any pain was quite nice.”

He told reporters that he plans to make his next scheduled start at the upcoming Transitions Championship.

8. Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth

In a move that rankled many fellow players and opened some eyes of many in the golf industry, two-time champion Mike Weir was passed over for a Northern Trust Open sponsor’s exemption, as collegians Cantlay and Spieth were among those given a place in the field instead. 

As the top two amateurs in the current world ranking, it’s not as if these exemptions were without merit. Cantlay, especially, has ties to the area, growing up in Southern California and attending UCLA. (Spieth attends the University of Texas.) The inclusion of each also undoubtedly helped drum up some interest for this year’s NCAA Championship, which will also be held at Riviera. 

It didn’t turn out to be the best of weeks for either one, though. 

Cantlay posted scores of 78-72 to miss the cut for the first time in seven career PGA Tour starts. Spieth birdied the 16th and 17th holes of his second round to get inside the number, only to double-bogey the last and miss the cut, as well.

Even so, it’s difficult to fault the thought process behind offering the exemptions. As other tournaments have found – I’m looking at you, Travelers Championship – when a young, up-and-comer is given a place in the field, he oftens rewards that event by showing up annually once he’s a full-fledged PGA Tour star.

9. Fact or Fiction

I’d rather have 40 career PGA Tour wins and no majors than four major wins and no others.

The hypothetical question of, “Which would you rather have?” surfaced this past week, with Phil Mickelson at each of those numbers right now.

It’s a matter of opinion and, really, there’s no right or wrong answer. But personally, I’d take the 40 career victories in a tight race because it shows a greater body of work over a lengthy period of time and it’s rarer than the other alternative.

While there are 26 players who have claimed at least four major championship titles in the history of the game, there are only 10 who have reached the 40-win milestone.

Of course, one doesn’t often come without the other. Of those 10, only Billy Casper and Cary Middlecoff don’t have four majors; they each own three. 

Still, it remains good fodder over a cold beverage at the local 19th hole. I say the above statement is FACT – but if you buy the next round, you might be able to change my mind.

10. Quote of the Week

'Phil Mickelson's got to carry his gonads around in a wheelbarrow.” – Butch Harmon on Jim Rome’s radio show.

Interesting mental imagery there. But one question: Isn’t that Bones’ job? Click for more Quotes of the Week.

11. Video Mailbag

Win McMurry and I answer your questions from Twitter on this Grey Goose Internet Extra.

Three Wishes

Keegan Bradley in the Northern Trust Open final round

12. I wish there weren’t so many complaints about the current state of the professional game.

On Sunday, while in the midst of witnessing yet another dramatic final round, my Twitter feed was flooded with criticisms of slow play, spitting and anchored putters. Sure, there was the odd tweet about the excitement permeating TV screens around the country, but the positive ones were outweighed by the negative.

The slow play mantra is old and tired. Yes, you play quicker at your local muni than guys do on the PGA Tour – as well you should. Here’s guessing, though, that you’d also spend more time on your work if you had a million bucks riding on your cubicle performance.

If you’re a fan, isn’t watching golf an enjoyable experience? All of the usual complaints feel like they’re coming from the same people who tell their spouse to hurry up each night so they can fall asleep quicker. I’m just not buying the correlation that amateur golfers see a player take his time to hit the ball, then decide to impart such deliberations within their own game. If anything, criticisms should be leveled less at the players and more at television producers who may cut to them well before they are ready to hit the ball.

As for spitting – which appeared to be a crucial aspect to Keegan Bradley’s pre-shot routine throughout the day – I get that it may be a bit uncouth, but is it really worth getting so enraged over?

Baseball players spit approximately every 3.4 seconds on the diamond. Yes, I understand that as a “gentleman’s game” golf should be held to a higher standard, but it’s not exactly like Bradley was hawking loogies at fans and protruding saliva on the clubhouse floor. There are enough issues in this game already. Let’s not create one that doesn’t need to exist.

Lastly, I get the uproar over anchored putters. I really do. They may not provide an “advantage” for certain players, but they’re certainly against the spirit of the intended rules.

That said, they’re legal right now. Get over it. Employing an anchored putter is no more cheating than using a hybrid club. Until that rule is changed – if it’s changed – players are well within their right to use these putters. And if they continue to use ‘em after such a rule is enacted, don’t worry – you’ll be able to phone in the “cheaters” from a mile away.

As I wrote in the beginning of this column, the past four weeks on the PGA Tour have provided plenty of thrills and entertainment. I fully expect both the comments section at the bottom of this piece and my email inbox to be filled with irate responses to what I’ve just written, but think about it: If you’re still finding things to complain about, well, that’s probably a “you” problem more than anything else.

13. I wish President Clinton will continue to use golf as a vehicle to promote various causes.

Last month, the 42nd president served as host of the Humana Challenge for the first time, using his role to advocate health and wellness.

This past week, he attended the Nationwide Tour season-opening Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship in an effort to promote economic and social development projects within that country and other neighboring nations.

'When I became president, Colombia was our best ally in South America and is the oldest democracy in South America,” he said during a Tuesday night dinner. “Thirty-five percent of the land was in the hands of narco-traffickers. During my time as president, we passed Plan Colombia to help this country. This country still has some problems, but the country belongs to the people of Colombia again. That's a great tribute to the people of Colombia.'

Almost every former president turns his attention to humanitarianism upon leaving office, however few – if any – have chosen to employ golf as a vehicle for touting their causes. Clinton’s involvement with the game can only be viewed as a quid pro quo positive for both his efforts and the game.

14. I wish the player who finished T-61 in the 70-player Honda LPGA Thailand event this past week wasn’t receiving more headlines than those who actually contended.

Call me a prude if you’d like, but it isn’t true. The fact is, I have absolutely no problem with Natalie Gulbis or any other athlete showing off their body in revealing photographs. That is a person’s individual choice and we should all respect it.

What I do have a problem with is Gulbis posing for Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue in nothing but body paint and garnering more attention than any of her peers have received for playing golf fully clothed.

Yes, I know. Sex sells and we shouldn’t expect birdies to come before, um, booties.

While Gulbis isn’t struggling to make headlines, she is struggling with her game. In addition to that low finish in Thailand, she was 51st on last year’s money list, thanks to being outside the top-30 in driving, ball-striking and putting.

If she had played well this past week, the headlines would have been even more plentiful. Instead, she continued receiving attention for reasons much different than her golf game.

15. Stat of the Week

Fred Couples made his 30th career appearance at the Northern Trust Open this week. That means he’s been playing the tournament longer than 39 of his fellow competitors in the field have been alive.

16. Photo of the Week

Top Photos

Two birds, one with a fish in its beak, are seen on the 13th tee box during the first round of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship. View all Photos of the Week.

17. From the Inbox

This week’s Twitter question is newsworthy, as the NBA descends upon Orlando this coming week for its annual All-Star Game.

@Tizzle0303: I’m sure it's been thought of already but how would an 'All Star Game' work in golf? @JasonSobelGC Skills comp? Match play?

I’m in favor of it, but the format and date would have to make sense from a number of perspectives. Actually addressed this question in a column a few years ago. Still believe what I wrote then, so here it is with just a few changes to keep up with the times.

Anything that brings the game's best players together in a televised, informal setting that would show off their personalities is certainly worth consideration. There need to be a few caveats, though:

1. The top players have to buy into it. The NFL’s Pro Bowl is less genuine when the elite players skip the festivities. If the likes of Tiger, Phil, Luke and Rory decide not to partake, consider the idea dead before it ever lived.

2. It has to be conducted during the season. Skills competitions and other fun-filled events have long been part of the Silly Season schedule. Not many fans watch those and no one will watch this, either, if it takes place in November and airs on tape delay. 

3. It can't disrupt the flow of a tournament. If the PGA Tour were to ever decide to play three rounds of an event, then have a day of skills competitions and an 'all-star game' prior to the final round, the only question is whether the outrage would be louder from the fans or the players.

So when and how would such an idea work best? I'm just spitballing here, but maybe the Tour could either hold this on Wednesday of The Barclays, its opening FedEx Cup playoff event, or conclude the tournament on a Saturday, then have something like this on Sunday of that week, with the game's top players involved in everything from a driving distance challenge to a putting contest, followed by a Ryder Cup-style match.

18. And the Winner Is…

Sergio Garcia

The No. 1 rule for picking winners at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship is to forget about matchups. Don’t worry about which player is the higher seed – all of which is negligible anyway – and don’t consider previous occurrences of head-to-head play.

Instead, go with players who are in form, have shown a propensity for playing well in the match play format and – most importantly – can roll their rock.

Based on that last one, the following pick may sound way off-base, but stick with me here.

I’m taking Sergio Garcia to win. 

For too long, Garcia has been known as a world-class ball-striker who couldn’t putt his ball into a bucket. Not any longer. As he proved once again during the final round of the Northern Trust Open, Sergio has figured out some things with the flatstick.

It all goes back to a long-standing theory within golf’s inner circles. Happy players make putts. Garcia appears much happier and more comfortable in his own skin right now than he did even just a year ago – and it’s carried over to the greens.

To steal from another guy who struggled with the putter: “Happy learned how to putt! Uh-oh!”

It should portend success at the Match Play this week. And it very well could mean a “major” breakthrough for Garcia this season.

Getty Images

Monday Scramble: Just getting started

By Will GrayJanuary 22, 2018, 4:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood dazzles, Jon Rahm outlasts, Phil Mickelson falters, Rory McIlroy starts the year on the right foot and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

He didn't hit a single shot on Sunday, but the biggest winner of the weekend may have been Thomas Bjorn.

That's because the burly Dane watched one potential European Ryder Cup stud after another either lift a trophy or show significant signs of promise.

First it was Sergio Garcia cruising to victory in Singapore, then Tommy Fleetwood's stirring rally in Abu Dhabi. By the time Jon Rahm finished off the CareerBuilder Challenge in the waning daylight, the European skipper likely had a grin plastered from ear to ear.

There will be countless ebbs and flows of momentum before the first shot is struck at Le Golf National, but this week proved once again that the Americans won't be the only ones sporting some serious depth at the biennial matches.

1. The most dazzling display Sunday came from Fleetwood, who successfully defended his title in Abu Dhabi thanks to an absolutely unconscious back nine.

The Englishman was five shots back when he made the turn, but six birdies over his final nine holes turned that deficit into a two-shot win.

It was in Abu Dhabi last year that he sparked a career turnaround, winning the event en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. He turned up once again this year with ample confidence and a new wedding ring, and the results were much the same.

He doesn't have the star power of some of his contemporaries, but it's becoming increasingly clear that Fleetwood can more than hold his own against even the best in the game.

2. Hours before Fleetwood caught fire, it was Garcia rolling to a five-shot win in Singapore to complete the transition from tournament headliner to tournament champion.

Garcia was just days removed from his 38th birthday and making his first start with a full bag of Callaway clubs. But he showed no signs of offseason rust or equipment adjustment while capturing his second worldwide win since slipping into his green jacket.

The Spaniard has certainly enjoyed the fruits of his Masters victory nine months ago, but it's apparent that he has no plans to rest on the laurels of last spring.

3. He didn't leave Abu Dhabi with the trophy, but McIlroy may have found something more lasting: confidence.

It was in his first start last year that McIlroy injured his rib and plummeted into a vicious cycle of attempted rehabs and ill-fated comebacks. This time around, he came out of the gates with a relaxed swagger en route to a tie for third.

As Ryan Lavner wrote, it was an ideal beginning to a big year for McIlroy, who has already offered up the notion that 2018 could be the busiest season of his career as he chases the final leg of the career Grand Slam and a return to golf's upper echelon.

After the first leg of a two-week stay in the Middle East, that plan is off to a promising start.

4. Let's take a moment to marvel at McIlroy's record in Abu Dhabi, where he has done everything but win the tournament.

In his last nine appearances, McIlroy has finished fifth or better eight times. That stretch includes four runner-up results and now two straight T-3 finishes.

There remain two equally remarkable factors to McIlroy's run: the fact that he somehow hasn't managed to lift the trophy (yet), and the lone outlier: a missed cut in 2013 after his celebrated switch to Nike.

5. With darkness rapidly encircling the Coachella Valley, Rahm managed to shake off Andrew Landry and capture his second career PGA Tour victory.

Rahm's 20-foot birdie on the fourth playoff hole proved the difference in Palm Springs, where he entered as the highest-ranked player in the field and supported that status with his stout play.

Rahm barely took his foot off the gas, both across the difficult closing stretch at PGA West and during the playoff when he sent one approach after the next hurtling toward the pin. It's the fourth worldwide win in less than a year for Rahm, who continues to outpace even the rosiest of projections for his burgeoning career.

6. The win moves Rahm past Jordan Spieth to world No. 2, making him the fourth-youngest player to ever reach such heights.

One year ago, the Spaniard was ranked 137th in the world. His win at the Farmers Insurance Open the following week altered his trajectory, and he now finds himself only one rung away from the top of the ladder.

While so much focus has been (deservedly) heaped upon players like Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, perhaps it's Rahm who has the best chance to eventually unseat world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. He'll have a chance to chip into that deficit this week as he defends his title at Torrey Pines.

7. Speaking of Torrey Pines, it's officially Farmers Insurance Open week which means that Tiger Woods watch is about to kick off in earnest.

It's something of a tradition to see Woods strolling the fairways of the South Course, where he has won eight times including the 2008 U.S. Open. But this week will bring heightened expectation following Woods' better-than-anticipated return from injury last month at the Hero World Challenge.

Granted, Torrey Pines is a far cry from the forgiving fairways of Albany. But if Woods is able to put together two solid rounds and make the cut, it should be seen as a step in the right direction.

Of course, for all of Woods' success in San Diego, it's also the place where he struggled with chipping yips prior to a withdrawal in 2015 and missed the cut last year in his final official PGA Tour start of the year. So his results this time around might be anyone's guess.

Ken Duke is one of the bona fide nice guys on Tour, and he proved it this weekend in Palm Springs.

Duke is playing off past champion status this season, and he unsuccessfully petitioned tournament officials at the CareerBuilder Challenge for a sponsor invite. With 156 players in the field, Duke was the odd man out at No. 157 and relegated to first alternate status.

He didn't get into the tournament proper, but Duke was willing to step in when Corey Pavin's first Tour start since 2015 ended with a withdrawal after just 17 holes. Because of the tournament's pro-am format, Pavin's amateur partner was left without a pro for the next two rounds.

So in came Duke to play what amounted to a 36-hole pro-am, an effort of good faith to help an event that couldn't find room for him at the start of the week:

It's not often you see a pro compete where his score only counts for his amateur partner. But such was Duke's situation this week, and kudos to him for handling it with class.

This week's award winners ...

Unusually Short Stay: Phil Mickelson. Lefty has become a regular in Palm Springs, but three shaky rounds left him with his first missed cut in this event since 1994 - a few months before Rahm was born.

Nice Job, Kid: Sungjae Im. The 19-year-old Korean joined Jason Day as the only two teenagers to win on the Web.com Tour, as Im shot a final-round 65 to win the season opener in the Bahamas.

A for Effort: Andrew Landry. Landry put up a stellar fight in Palm Springs, holing a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff and going shot-for-shot with Rahm for nearly an hour. He came up short in his effort to win for the first time, but Landry certainly has plenty of positive takeaways from his week in the desert.

On the Disabled List: Brooks Koepka. The reigning U.S. Open champ is out for the next couple months because of a torn ligament in his wrist, with hopes of returning before the Masters. The diagnosis comes after Koepka finished last at both the Hero World Challenge and Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Still the Bridesmaid: Ross Fisher. The Englishman now has 14 runner-up finishes on the European Tour after he coughed up a late lead to Fleetwood. It's been a resurgent year for Fisher, including nine top-10s and three runner-ups in his last six starts. But he's still looking for his first win in nearly four years.

More Euro Momentum: Not to be outshone by Fleetwood and McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick (T-3) and Thomas Pieters (T-5) both started the year on the right foot in Abu Dhabi. Both men were at Hazeltine two years ago, and expect one (or both) to factor on the team in Paris this fall.

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Bill Haas. A two-time winner and the all-time leading money-winner in Palm Springs, Haas never factored and eventually missed the cut. Honorable mention here goes to 2014 champ Patrick Reed who also stayed home on Sunday.

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Rosaforte Report: Landry's grit born in a Pea Patch

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 22, 2018, 3:40 pm

In this week's Rosaforte Report: The birthplace of Andrew Landry's grit, Tiger's former coach invites instruction debate, downtime may be good for Brooks Koepka, Stacy Lewis is amped for 2018, and a "very boring" birthday gift for Jack Nicklaus.

The beauty and drama of tournament golf played out in the California desert on Sunday when Andrew Landry, a journeyman who learned the game on a shabby nine-hole course called the Pea Patch in Port Groves, Texas, took the hottest young player in the game, Jon Rahm, to four holes of a sudden death playoff before finally succumbing. It was riveting drama in a yard-for-yard, stride-for-stride and putt-for-putt contrast that ended with the sun setting over the Santa Rosa Mountains.

With it, the 23-year-old Rahm went to No. 2 in the world and the 30-year-old Landry, a grinder finally off the Web.com Tour, moved from 184th to a career high 102nd in the world ranking.

The 5-foot-7 Landry, who had his “Tin Cup” moment in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he held the first-round lead and hung with the big boys until a T-15 finish, never backed off in the shadow of the 6-foot-2 Rahm, just as he never backed away from bets in the Tuesday and Saturday games at the Pea Patch. That’s where he would write his name on the chalkboard for the “Dog Fights” that were the club’s version of the SWAT competition that is an Oakmont tradition.

“Those money games are what made us,” Andrew’s brother, Adam, told me the day his sibling became the proverbial no-name leader after shooting the lowest opening round (66) in U.S. Open-Oakmont history.

Andrew Landry lost his money game to Rahm, but his second-place finish still paid out $637,200, putting him over the $1 million mark for the season, and sending him off to the Farmers Insurance Open with a message that this isn’t the last time we’ll hear from him.

“We’ll take it and move on to Torrey Pines,” Landry said before exiting Palm Springs. “It’s obviously a great course for me. I’m driving the ball really well and I’m doing everything really good, so we’ll try again next week.”

GREAT(S) DEBATES: Chris Como may not be Tiger Woods’ teacher anymore, but he was recently appointed director of instruction at Dallas National, one of the plush practice environments in golf. He is also architect of an interesting forum on the mental game and the philosophy of instruction Tuesday at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., which features Claude Harmon III, David Leadbetter, Jim McLean, Mike Adams, Fran Pirozzolo, Hal Sutton, Brad Faxon and Brandel Chamblee.

“It’s an event that invited open dialog and debate about all the topics of golf instruction,” Como said in a text message. “The goal is to put a bunch of smart people in the same room together to move our industry forward in a positive direction.”

This should be entertaining dialog, especially coming two days before Tiger makes his comeback at the Farmers.

Stacy Lewis at the 2017 LPGA Cambia Portland Classic

STACY'S SPARK: On the week when she was named winner of the Ben Hogan Award for overcoming scoliosis, Stacy Lewis did what Hogan epitomized – she doggedly continued to work on her game.

Heading into her 10th season on the LPGA tour and facing her 33rd birthday on Feb. 16, Lewis flew from Houston to Florida, on her way to the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, for checkups with instructor Joe Hallett and performance coach Dave Donatucci.

After workouts and an evaluation at his gym, Donatucci noted the veteran’s vertical leap was 2 inches higher than she’s ever jumped before. “Physically, she’s in a great place,” Donatucci said. Mentally, she is in a great place as well, breaking a 39-month winless streak in September with a victory in the Cambia Portland Classic. After playing lessons at Old Palm and The Floridian, Hallet told me, “There’s an energy there that she’s always had.”

Other than Cristie Kerr, who is 40, the top 10 players in the Race to the CME Globe were all in their 20s. Lewis, who was 13th, told the Houston Chronicle she played some of her best golf the last six to seven tournaments of 2017. “Honestly it doesn’t feel like that start to a new year,” she said. “It just feels like a little bit of a break and I’m starting up again.”

KOEPKA'S HEALING TIME: Claude Harmon III had an interesting take on the torn wrist tendon that will sidelineU.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka until the Masters. “To be honest, the time off for the injury part of it doesn’t worry me,” Harmon said, using last year as his point of reference.

Looking back to the start of 2017, Koepka missed cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open, was T-42 as defending champion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, missed cuts at the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic, finished T-48 in the no-cut WGC Mexico Championship, and didn’t play on the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Three months later, Koepka overpowered Erin Hills and tied Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open scoring record of 16 under par. Harmon used McIlroy’s third-place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in his return “as something to look at and emulate.”

The hard part is that Koepka closed out the 2017 season with a second-place finish in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China and a nine-stroke win over Xander Schauffele in the Dunlop Phoenix, rising to a career high seventh in the world. But between cardio at Joey D’s gym and putting practice (once he gets doctor’s clearance), Harmon doesn’t think Koepka will look at the next three months as down time.

BIG-TIME PERFORMER: Thomas Pieters was back in the top-five of a premier tournament again, finishing T-5 in Abu Dhabi after a run of nine events at the end of 2017 that did not match the first eight months of his rookie year.

Coming off a Ryder Cup performance in 2016 that set European records for most points (4) and wins (4) by a rookie, Pieters was T-2 at the Genesis Open, T-5 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, T-4 at the Masters and solo fourth at the Bridgestone Invitational.

In a news conference after his opening-round 67, Pieters admitted it was nice having fun again and attributed the lack of enjoyment to some struggles he was having off the golf course.

“With a lot of players these days, it’s more off the course than on the course; life in general sometimes causes problems,” swing instructor Pete Cowen told me Monday morning from Dubai, without getting into specifics. “Pieters is looking a lot better. I think he’s now in a great frame of mind.”

After winning the NCAA Championship as a sophomore for Illinois in 2012, the now 25-year-old Belgian is 34th in the world, 33 spots behind his goal.

“Tom Pieters doesn’t want to be a superstar, he just wants to be the best player,” Cowen said. “That’s what drives him … what I like about him. He wants to be the best, and will do whatever it takes to be the best.”

GIFT OF LOVE: What do you give a man that has everything for his 78th birthday? For Barbara Nicklaus it was classified in a text message with a smiley face emoji as a “Very boring!!!!!” gift of two pairs of pants and a shirt.

As you can see from the above photo, just being together with his family and bride of 57 years at The Bears Club was enough.

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Golf Channel to Deliver Worldwide Coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, "The Major of Golf Business," Tueday-Friday, Jan. 23-26

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 22, 2018, 2:45 pm

Morning Drive, Golf Central to Give Viewers Insider Access to the PGA Show with Nearly 20 Hours of Live Coverage; Golf Channel’s School of Golf Instruction Program to Originate From On-Site

Golf Channel’s Portfolio of Lifestyle Brands – GolfNow, Golf Channel Academy, Revolution Golf and World Long Drive On-Site at the PGA Show Contributing to the Network’s Comprehensive Coverage


ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2018) – Golf Channel announced plans for its comprehensive coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show – the largest golf convention and business gathering in the world – with nearly 20 hours of news and instruction coverage Tuesday, Jan. 23 – Friday, Jan. 26. Golf Channel’s coverage will span across the four days, beginning Tuesday with the “PGA Show Demo Day” from the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge driving range in Winter Garden, Fla., and continuing Wednesday-Friday at the PGA Merchandise Show from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

With an insider look at the PGA Merchandise Show – a golf industry event that is not open to the public – Golf Channel’s coverage via Morning Drive and Golf Central will be delivered to a worldwide audience in more than 36 countries. Coverage will provide viewers live interviews with industry leaders, professional golfers from the world’s major tours, PGA of America members and a comprehensive overview of the latest products and trends for 2018 from some of the nearly 1,100 golf brands exhibiting on-site.

PGA Merchandise Show Week Programming Schedule: Jan. 23-26 (All Times Eastern)


Morning Drive

7-11 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)



School of Golf

8-9 p.m.



Morning Drive

7-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)



Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)



Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)



Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)




Golf Channel’s expansive coverage of the PGA Merchandise Show will utilize several on-air personalities from the network’s news division, beginning with Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson offering coverage of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day on Tuesday. In addition to Rymer and Thompson, Wednesday-Friday coverage from the PGA Show Floor will include Matt Adams, Cara Banks, Lisa Cornwell, Matt Ginella, Damon Hack, Bailey Mosier and Gary Williams.


Golf Channel’s PGA Merchandise Show on-air coverage will be available to stream via Golf Channel Digital Tuesday-Friday. Comprehensive online editorial coverage also will be available throughout the week, with contributions from writers Jay Coffin and Will Gray. Golf Channel’s social media platforms will keep viewers engaged in the conversation about what’s generating buzz at the #PGASHOW throughout the week via the network’s social media channels – @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Twitter, @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Instagram and GolfChannel and GCMorningDrive on Facebook. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will host Golf Channel’s digital and social media coverage throughout the week.


Golf Channel’s coverage of “Demo Day” will begin Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m. ET with Morning Drive airing live and on-site to highlight the latest in golf equipment from the expansive driving range at Orange County National. Rymer and Thompson will host Morning Drive on-site, featuring interviews and product demonstrations.


Coverage of the PGA Show will transition indoors to the Orange County Convention Center, Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 24-26 to give viewers an all-access tour of the PGA Show. Morning Drive and Golf Central will provide on-site reports throughout the week, with featured interviews and segments originating from the PGA Show Floor. Coverage from the Convention Center will originate from a large, multi-purpose space elevated above the PGA Show Floor, with three set configurations for interviews, along with a putting green and a golf simulator for product demonstrations. Golf Channel also will feature a “Fly Cam,” a unique camera technology made popular in televising football and other sports. Suspended above the PGA Show Floor, the Fly Cam will span more than 700 feet, giving viewers an aerial viewpoint of the vast floor and the exhibitors. New for 2018 will be a “Jib Cart,” a mobile cart with a camera jib affixed allowing high shots of the booths throughout the Show Floor.


School of Golf, Golf Channel’s signature instruction program that airs on Tuesday nights, will kick off its eighth season with a one-hour special at Demo Day on Tuesday, Jan. 23, airing in primetime from 8-9 p.m. ET. Originating from the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO booth on the Orange County National driving range and hosted by Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal, the show will include special guests and interactions with a live audience.


In addition to Golf Channel’s on-air and digital coverage, the network’s lifestyle brands – GolfNow, World Long Drive, Golf Channel Academy and Revolution Golf will showcase their services at the PGA Show with special clinics, product demonstrations and on-site activations.


GolfNow, the industry’s leader in golf-related technology and services, will be exhibiting Wednesday-Friday from Booth #2173. In addition to showcasing advanced technologies that have created the largest tee-time marketplace in golf, GolfNow also will be educating course owners and operators about innovations and services designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently and successfully. GolfNow Business experts will be on hand at GolfNow’s 2,400-square-foot booth, offering its course partners technology demonstrations, as well as consultation on any of the GolfNow Services: Plus, a top-line focused consultative performance system for golf courses, including marketing, sales and automated pricing; Answers, a call center for golf courses, answering customer calls day and night; and Ride, a no-cost purchasing program that saves course operators from 6-35 percent on items they buy day-to-day, such as food, office supplies and agricultural products.


Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, World Long Drive competitors will be at the PGA Show to compete in a World Long Drive Bracket Challenge. Hosted by Golf Channel’s social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin and airing live via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live, the competition will take place at Golf Channel’s simulator on the Show Floor featuring eight men and four women, including World No. 2 Ryan Reisbeck, No. 3 Maurice Allen, No. 5 Trent Scruggs and 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Women’s Champion Sandra Carlborg.


Wednesday-Friday, Golf Channel Academy coaches will provide on-site instruction clinics at Golf Channel’s simulator set on the Show Floor. Wednesday’s clinics will feature driving, full swing, wedge play and putting clinics. Thursday’s clinic will include the full swing and Friday’s clinic will feature the short game, all streamed live via Golf Channel Academy’s Facebook page.


Revolution Golf, the industry’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform delivering high-quality video-based instruction, travel content and integrated e-commerce will have a significant presence at the PGA Show. Golf Channel’s newest digital acquisition, Revolution Golf will be shooting digital segments at Demo Day and throughout the PGA Show Floor, including segments with its team of instructors.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974