Woods (66) fist-pumping, smiling, in the WGC mix

By Jason SobelMarch 8, 2014, 10:50 pm

DORAL, Fla. - Forget the mammoth drives and the dialed-in iron shots and a few long putts that looked magnetized to the hole. Tiger Woods showed us something else on Saturday that had been missing so far this year.

He smiled. A lot.

Pumped his fist a bunch of times, too.

These weren’t sarcastic woe-is-me smiles or bombastic shakes of his fist in disgust, either. This was vintage Tiger, the stuff of highlight reels, the images our temporal lobes have stored away for so many years.

Technically, Woods posted a 6-under 66 to move into serious contention at the WGC-Cadillac Championship – the low round of the week amongst an elite field of players.

In reality, he accomplished much more than that, though. He once again reminded us – for maybe the 10th or 100th or 1,000th time in his career – that we shouldn’t be so quick to portend future results based on past performance.

You can say this much about the guy: He sure knows how to change a narrative.

In a matter of days, Woods went from having us fretting over his latest back injury to proving he can play through the pain. He went from enduring a two-way miss to pummeling drives into orbit. He went from meekly flailing at short putts to rolling in lengthy ones without any problem.

WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, videos and photos

That’s not to say he’s going to win. It’s not to say he’s “back” – whatever that means – and won’t post another over-par round for months. It’s not to say he won’t reverse the trend and appear lost again in the final round.

But it’s a reminder that for all of his achievements, for all of his dominance and consistency, for all of the records he’s compiled, one of Woods’ most overlooked, underrated attributes is his ability to turn things around quicker than anyone else in the game.

There are a lot of examples of this throughout his career. The latest might not rank near the top of the list, but it does prove his determination to prove people wrong.

Earlier this week, Woods sat in the interview room at Trump National Doral and, not for the first time, slyly prodded media members whom he believes said during his two-year slump of 2010-11 that he wouldn’t win again.

“A lot of you in here have wrote me off, that I would never come back,” he needled with a smile. “But here I am.”

And here he is again, just days after we’d questioned his Masters preparation and whether he’d deserve to be the favorite at next month’s major and whether he’d be able to get his game in shape in order to contend for his fifth green jacket.

None of this, not the eight birdies or the 14 greens in regulation or the mere 25 putts, should totally erase any doubt, but they should serve as the necessary reminder that he loves proving people wrong – and he’s able to do it pretty quickly.

“It was nice to get back in the tournament again,” he said. “I figured, hey, I'm only six back, that's definitely doable, especially with the conditions and how difficult this golf course is playing. If I just get back to even par for the tournament, I'll be right there and I did one better.”

He probably wouldn’t admit it, but Woods would likely be just fine if everyone continued to write him off. If we collectively considered the 6-under 66 an anomaly, contending even still that he isn’t ready for the Masters and maybe isn’t even ready to win at Doral.

That was the takeaway after his first two days, when he posted scores of 76-73 to languish well down the leaderboard. Now he’s back near the top, certainly in contention with only a few names ahead of him.

Woods isn’t far removed from a handful of afflictions – from his driving to his putting to his balky back. He isn’t any more “in the clear” than any other player, as they all understand tomorrow is another day.

As we learned once again about Woods on Saturday – for the 10th or 100th or 1,000th time – it’s that we shouldn’t use his past performance to predict future success. He simply provided another reminder.

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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, GolfChannel.com 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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