Things I Cant Believe
Its the best sport you can cover for so many reasons. The most impressive is the class that some players exhibit in the midst of competition ' the self-policing of themselves as they compete for millions of dollars.
Along the way ' there are the things that make you go wow. And as we head toward Augusta and the Masters Tournament in just a couple weeks, Ive seen and heard some things I just cant believe this year.
So heres my list, beginning with the PGA TOURs most recent winner.
* How in the name of the World Golf Rankings is Vijay Singh ranked seventh? Are you telling me that Adam Scott (fourth) is better? Or what about Henrik Stenson and Ernie Els (fifth and sixth?) Els hasnt won on the PGA TOUR for years, not months. Itll even out eventually but this is ridiculous.
* Whens the last time Tiger Woods got to within one shot of the lead on a Sunday during the front nine and didnt end up winning the tournament? It happened at Bay Hill on Sunday. That double-bogey and triple-bogey down the stretch lead to an inward nine of 43 and 76. I still cant believe it. Now the question is is the meltdown a sign of things not going his way at Augusta? I cant believe it is.
* Can you believe players are second-guessing the potential of a shortened field at the newly created AT&T National? A.K.A. - The Tiger Woods Invitational. some are chapped at the possibility. I can believe theyre hurt, but I cant believe theyd make such a public fuss about any event Woods brings to the table. Last years 125th on the money list made almost $661,000. Add in endorsement money and its plenty more than that. These days you can lose your card and still pay off your mortgage with a check ' thanks to Tigers presence. Rocco Mediate said last week on GOLF CHANNEL that the rank and file need to shut up. That comment from Mediate, I can believe.
* Two weeks from the Masters and no honorary starter? I cant believe it. Arnold Palmer is reportedly giving it a second thought after being offered the role after his record 50th (and final) Masters appearance three years ago. Lets hope he takes it and brings Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus along with him in the coming years.
* John Rollins is currently fifth among Americans on the Presidents Cup standings. Hard to believe when I looked at it. But Rollins is for real. Hes seventh in scoring average and third in total birdies and the all-around ranking. Then again, I couldnt believe Brett Wetterich made the Ryder Cup team, so Ill need to warm on Rollins quickly.
* What happened to Ernie and Retief? I still cant believe theyre missing among PGA TOUR winners this year. Heck, I cant believe they didnt win last year. Five years ago if youd have told me Ernie Els was going to injure his knee, Id have said his talent was good enough to win on one leg. Now Im confused.
* I picked Justin Leonard to win again this year. So far, seven starts and just one cut made. He earned about $10,000 at Arnies Invite which doesnt exactly make me feel confident about things. I hope he does.
* Cant believe neither Annika nor Lorena didnt win in Mexico a few weeks back. I figured Annika would do it. I couldnt believe Ochoa didnt factor and I really cant believe Meaghan Francella ended up stealing the show.
* This is the first week for the Nationwide Tour in the states? Cmon. I cant believe we cant get a few events before late March. Given that Mark Wilson made it 200 former Nationwide Tour winners in the winners circle on the PGA TOUR, Im ready to see whos going to be next years Charley Hoffman or Boo Weekley. Lets go already!
* Can the 'Florida Swing' be any better? I cant believe how good things have gone over the last few weeks. The Honda Classics move to PGA National was a home run and the finish was a Grand Slam. The PODS Championship is another great test and the Calcavecchia story was terrific. The Arnold Palmer Invitational made it three great courses in three weeks. Suddenly the run to the Masters is like a marathon if you play them all. Every course feels like a major. Well see about Doral this week.
* What I cant believe is that Houston is now the week before Augusta. It felt strange when the schedule came out. Im guessing that by next week it will feel completely wrong. And thats no slight on the folks in Houston who know as much about hospitality as any group on the PGA TOUR.
* And I cant believe the Masters is almost here and I really cant pinpoint a favorite. Sure, Tigers the guy to beat. But do you feel safe in picking him? I cant believe he wont get it figured out, but I also cant believe youd feel safe in taking him against the field right now.
* Cant believe my vacation is over and its back to work this week. Sunburn after a ski trip to Colorado where the temps were near 60 degrees???? How does that make sense?
And finally, I cant believe the number of you who chime in with your comments each week. It's great and I appreciate it. See you on the Sprint Pre/Post Game this week.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
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
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
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.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
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."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “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. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
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.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
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