Lets Get to the Masters

By Kraig KannFebruary 11, 2005, 5:00 pm
Were heading into the weekend at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and while we dont know whos going to win, we do have quite a collection of winners so far on the PGA Tour.
In order, Stuart Appleby, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson. Gee whiz, thats strong! And Ernie Els has been within a whisker of winning not once but twice thus far. So check out the World Golf Rankings. Three of the top four players have a victory already.
Im as big a fan of the PGA Tour as youll find, but given the way the season started, Im ready for the Masters. No more tournaments necessary.
Im a bit sorry to say that because I absolutely love the Players Championship. But unless you can guarantee me another Sunday 64 by the likes of a champion like Davis Love III, Ill gladly sacrifice, pass, and start thinking azaleas and dogwoods pronto.
OK, we all know that wont happen. So lets be realists about things and given that the schedule gives us another month and a half of tournaments before Phil Mickelson begins Round 1 of his title defense, here are some things that could give us a few other good stories leading up to the drive to Magnolia Lane:
  • How about Colin Montgomerie finds his way into the World Golf Rankings Top 50 the week prior to the Masters? Hes 71st right now. Monty is always capable of a good storyline and contention. Id like to see him in the field.
  • Id like to see Joey Sindelar in the field. Joey just missed out on the Top 40 on the PGA Tour money list last year. Hed need to be among the Top 50 in the world, be among the PGA Tours Top 10 in money or have won the 2005 Players Championship by the time we are a week away from Augusta.
  • Lets get Mike Weir going. Hes been too good over the last few years not to arrive at the Masters without some gusto. The year after his Masters win was a honeymoon. This year it would be nice to see him arrive as a serious contender. Come to think of it, a Weir-Mickelson Sunday left-handed duel at Augusta would be rather entertaining in my book.
  • Could we get a rookie on the PGA Tour to make some noise? How about a guy like D.A. Points? Im not expecting a blast into the Top 50 in the world. But a surprise win would sure bring up the talk of should the Masters field include winners again. Im all for it.
  • I might not tell you which players are my rooting favorites very often. At least thats the goal unless you read well between the lines. But Id really like to see Darren Clarke get hot. A win at the WGC Accenture Match Play would be just fine. Clarke is as good for the fans as he is for the media. His wife has been battling cancer which has really thrown the Northern Irishman for a loop. Lets send him some magic, get him a win or two and bring him to the Masters looking to win a major for himself and for his family.
  • Call me crazy, but I still think Bernhard Langer has a chance at another Green Jacket. The European Ryder Cup captain pulled his name from contention to lead the team the next time around because he really believes he can play his way onto the team. Check his record of late ' I believe him. Watch him in the weeks leading up to Augusta. If Crenshaw could find a way in 1995 then so too can Bernhard.
  • Go crazy Ernie! Go crazy! At the beginning of the year I picked Els to win the Masters. I also picked him to win PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. Els walked away from last years Masters a bit of a broken man. Hell get a Green Jacket before hes done. If he gets back to the States and picks up a few wins - or at least one - hell be just where he needs to be to get the job done.
  • Wheres Davis been? Davis Love III opened at the AT&T with a low round. A two-time winner of the event at Pebble Beach, if IIIrd can get a third, hell gain some confidence and make us wonder about his chances once again.
  • Apparently Phil Mickelson is serious about a successful defense. Period. Enough said.
  • The single best thing that could happen in the coming weeks is for the big names to keep on winning. But if Tiger, Vijay, Mickelson and company keep it up, were in for the biggest media circus youve seen heading into the Masters in years.
    By the way, as it currently stands 96 players have qualified for the Masters in April. Id like to see a few more names added to that list. Go ahead, find me some who arent already qualified ' Ill listen. Tell me what the best story might be heading into Mondays practice round on April 4th ' Im all ears.
    And FYI the gates open at 8 A.M.
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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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