Mother Nature, Father Time taking their toll in 2013

By John HawkinsJanuary 9, 2013, 1:30 pm

NOTHING FREAKS ME OUT quite like the giant pile of mail collected by our neighbor while we’re away for Christmas. All those unpaid bills and holiday cards featuring photos of kids growing up way too fast – it doesn’t seem right that a man can feel old and broke at the same time.

This year’s stack featured a package from a friend in the golf industry. I tore it open to find two pairs of performance socks, one in gray, the other in white, and though neither came with an instruction manual, I was amused to see each sock conspicuously marked as “LEFT” or “RIGHT.”

Like most mortals, I put on my socks one leg at a time, but I certainly don’t need them giving me orders. Anyway, I went along with the program and found some sneakers, then headed downstairs to the exercise bike, where it was never a contest. I believe the Christmas calories closed out the new footies on the 14th green.

Honestly? I don’t want my socks to perform. Sammy Davis, Jr. was a performer. The Flying Wallendas? Performers. All I ask of my socks is that they hang out together in one place – and not disappear somewhere between the hamper and the bedroom dresser.

THERE WAS A lengthy period last Sunday when I thought the year’s first golf tournament would also vanish. As much as I disapprove of the PGA Tour season beginning while the confetti is still being swept up in Times Square, I’m certainly satisfied with how Camp Ponte Vedra handled a difficult situation, insisting on 54 holes and adding an extra day of play, travel schedules be damned.

The two false starts (Friday and Sunday) don’t bother me in the slightest – not when they occur with an ultra-small field in the first round. Last year’s West Coast swing was played without a single weather delay, which is rare, as is any suspension of play at Kapalua. On my four or five trips to the northwest tip of Maui, however, I do recall a hearty breeze and more than an occasional shower. Paradise with a mean streak.

Honolulu is full of cement, commotion and lousy take-out, but Waialae CC, home of the Sony Open, is the flattest course the Tour plays all year, and thus, a more accommodating, competitive-friendly environment. If Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson no longer show up at Kapalua for myriad reasons – too far, too early, too hilly, too windy – Mother Nature’s antics last weekend surely did nothing to persuade them otherwise.

OF COURSE, THERE’S no Tiger at the Sony, either, but it did rain cats and dogs at Waialae a couple years back. Looking at all weather-related stoppages on the West Coast over the previous six seasons, you might be surprised to learn that just one of the eight events has a spotless record over that stretch: 

• Hyundai (2): rain in 2009; rain in 2007.
• Sony (1): rain in 2011.
• Humana (5): rain in 2010; frost twice in 2008, and twice in 2007.
• Farmers Insurance: None.
• Waste Management (7): Multiple frost delays in 2011, 2008 and ’07.
• Pebble Beach (1): shortened to 54 holes by rain in 2009.
• Northern Trust (1): rain in 2011.
• WGC-Match Play (4): frost/snow/hale caused two suspensions in 2011; rain 2010; frost in 2007.

For all that data and whatever conclusions might be drawn, Torrey Pines probably earns the prize for the sloppiest overall conditions of the bunch, with Riviera ranking a reasonably close second. An Englishman named Albert Hammond had a top-five hit in 1972 with the song, “It Never Rains in Southern California.” I’m thinking the dude was missing the first two months on his calendar.

AS IF ANYONE needs to be reminded, there are very few guarantees in pro golf when it comes to career success and longevity. Things can change pretty fast, then not change for months on end when a player wants them to. The following five guys are big-name types squarely at the crossroads, their careers in some form of flux, most of them in need of a big 2013 to retain their competitive hierarchy.

Jim Furyk: Let’s recap the last three years: FedEx Cup overall champion in 2010; then his worst season as a pro while struggling through equipment changes; then a winless 2012 with late blown leads at the U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Furyk turns 43 in May, so his window is shrinking by the hour, but after ranking 150th in putting in 2011, he climbed all the way to 18th last year. Were last summer’s meltdowns an aberration? Conflicting evidence at this point.

Rickie Fowler: If the mustache didn’t fly, neither did his attempt to make the Ryder Cup team. It was easy to expect big things after Fowler beat Rory McIlroy (and D.A. Points) in a playoff at Quail Hollow last May, but his season was derailed by a final-round 84 while (playing with Woods) at the Memorial a few weeks later. Li’l Rickie drives it a long way and is as good an iron player as anyone in the game, so why doesn’t he win more? Is he really a superstar on the verge – or another Charles Howell III?

Brandt Snedeker: Of the two semi-veterans who made their first U.S. Ryder Cup team last fall, I like Snedeker over Jason Dufner for a couple of reasons. One, he’s a better hard-course player, and that’s what most majors are contested on. Two, he led the Tour in putting last year while continuing to increase his length off the tee. Sneds has the perfect disposition for handling success; I would not be surprised at all if he continued his ascension – another multi-win season and his first major title.

Lee Westwood: His 40th birthday arrives two weeks after The Masters, and if the significance of that number lies in the fact that just six of the last 70 majors have been won by guys in their 40s, it’s also worth noting that it has happened in each of the last two years. It’s interesting that Westwood and Colin Montgomerie, two of Great Britain’s most decorated golfers, have been unable to claim one of the game’s grand prizes. Hey, Andy Murray ended one English drought. Is Westwood ready to escape Montyville? Hmmm….

Jason Day: Perhaps the game’s hottest young star after consecutive runner-up finishes at the 2011 Masters and U.S. Open, Day vanished from the competitive radar altogether in 2012. His highest regular-season finish was a T-8. He barely made the FedEx Cup playoffs, for crying out loud, ranked 183rd in driving accuracy and 167th in GIR. I’m not quite sure what happened here, but for Day’s sake, it best not happen again.

Getty Images

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
Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.