Bjorn Again in Redemptive Position

By Mercer BaggsAugust 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 PGA ChampionshipSPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- The Great Dane again eyes a seat on the throne of golfing greatness. And one can only wonder if great tragedy will befall him one more time.
 
Thomas Bjorn tied a mens major championship record Saturday, shooting 7-under 63 in the 87th PGA Championship to reach 5 under for the tournament.
 
This was a bonus. You set out on a day like this and you think, wow, youve got to just try and shoot a good number and get yourself into a position where you can do well for the tournament, he said. But now all of a sudden you bring yourself in a position where were starting to talk about (winning) the golf tournament.
 
Thomas Bjorn
Thomas Bjorn hopes to atone for his heartbreaking 2003 Open Championship loss with a come-from-behind PGA Championship victory.
All of a sudden, its a completely different mindset.
 
Thats an appropriate choice of words.
 
After starting the day 10 strokes off the lead, Bjorn is just one back, just 18 holes from winning his first major championship. There are many reasons to be optimistic. And many reasons to be apprehensive.
 
It all looked so very good for Bjorn in the 2003 Open Championship. He was leading the tournament through 69 holes, before hitting his tee shot on the par-3 16th into the right greenside bunker.
 
Three swings later, the ball was finally extracted.
 
Bjorn made double bogey, and then bogeyed the next. He ultimately finished one stroke behind winner Ben Curtis.
 
In the death of his dream to become a major champion, demons were born.
 
Those mental gremlins got the better of him the following year at the European Tours Smurfit European Open, when he walked off the course after playing his first six holes of the tournament in 4 over.
 
The demons have taken over, he muttered.
 
They appeared to have relinquished control after he won this years Dunlop Masters. It was his first victory in over three seasons, his first triumph since burying his confidence in the sands of Royal St. Georges.
 
But they soon resurfaced, grabbing his internal steering wheel with both hands, trying to drive him over the edge.
 
A year after he walked away prematurely, disheartened and confused, Bjorn returned to the European Open and managed a four-stroke lead through 54 holes. He then shot 14-over 86 on Sunday, making an 11 on the par-4 17th.
 
I got out there on a Sunday on a very, very difficult golf course and it just got away from me. I didnt believe in anything. I didnt have a shot that I could go to when I was under pressure, he said.
 
Bjorn went on to miss the cut in his next start at the Open Championship. Needing a bogey to make it to the weekend, he hit his drive on the expansive 18th out of bounds and made double.
 
Thats when he decided to take a professional break, and make a change in his swing.
 
With the help of new coach Simon Holmes, Bjorn worked on, among other things, completing his turn during the backswing.
 
I went on holiday with my family for just about two weeks, and then I went to London and worked with my coach and made some big decisions, he said. We took the camera out and we said, Alright, is this the way I want to swing it? I looked at some old stuff myself where I know I had been playing well and hitting it well, so just made those decisions.
 
The changes, just two weeks old, are still in a pubescent stage. Bjorn is happily surprised at how quickly things have come together. Sunday, which may be his most important round of golf ever, will be about trying to keep it all from falling apart.
 
I have to have a lot of belief in my golf swing, and sometimes I dont. I dont believe enough in my golf swing and I take all of my mental strength from there. And I have that certainly going in the right direction right now, he said.
 
I came here with no expectations, and thats what Im going to keep doing tomorrow. Try and stay in the moment and hit those golf shots and focus on the things that Ive focused on, because its obviously working. Well see how tomorrow pans out.
 
At this years Masters, Bjorn entered the final round trailing leaders Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco by five strokes. He then closed in 81.
 
Heading into the final round at Baltusrol, Bjorn is clearly better positioned on the leaderboard, and seemingly better prepared physically and mentally.
 
Theres a lot of golfers out here that go through up-and-downs and you deal with it. If you want to be out here and you want to compete, you deal with your downs, he said.
 
You deal with it and you go from there, and thats what Im trying to do.
 
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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