Gustafson Leads Webb Lurks

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 20, 2001, 5:00 pm
Sophie Gustafson separated from the field, threw it in reverse, and then pulled away once again in the third round of the Subaru Memorial of Naples.
On a cold and windy Florida day, Gustafson sandwiched a double bogey at the ninth in between four birdies for a round of 2-under-par 70. At 14-under for the tournament, the 27-year-old Swede has a four-shot advantage entering Sunday's final round.
That's the good news. The bad? Karrie Webb's in second place.
Webb birdied two of her final three holes Saturday en route to the low round of the day, a 4-under-par 68.
Juli Inkster (69) and Vicki Goetze-Ackerman (70) are tied for third at 8-under, six shots back of Gustafson. Inkster is in search of her 26th career LPGA victory, while Goetze-Ackerman is still stalking win No. 1.
Mi Hyun Kim began the day two shots off the lead, but bogeyed the par-5 11th and never recovered. The first-round leader played her final eight holes in four-over to fall to 7-under for the event.
Kim's third-round 73 has her in a six-way tie for fifth place with Beth Daniel (71), Heather Bowie (72), Pat Hurst (72), Meg Mallon (72) and Dottie Pepper (72).
Saturday's blustery conditions were ideal for Gustafson, who stated she enjoyed the windy weather following a career-best 64 in the second round. It showed on the front nine, as the tall, athletic Swede birdied the 7th and 8th holes to claim a four-shot cushion at 14-under.
But she gave both strokes back at the par-4 9th, when her approach from 162 yards found the water. Forced to take a drop, Gustafson flew her fourth shot over the greenand and eventually carded a double-bogey 6.
Her lead was back to two, but not for long. Gustafson nearly holed her second shot at the 10th, and then recorded a second successive birdie at the par-5 11th.
Kim also birdied the 10th to stay within two; however, the 11th proved to be her undoing. The diminutive South Korean lost two strokes to her playing companion when she bogeyed the par-five.
Visibly frustrated, the three-time LPGA victor then proceeded to double bogey the par-3 15th and bogey the par-3 17th.
Meanwhile, Gustafson parred her final seven holes to finish the day at 14-under, seven shots clear of Kim.
'I played good, and I think this wind was tougher yesterday,' said Gustafson, who won twice in 2000. 'I like bad weather. It makes it harder for others to catch me.'
Gustafson won't have to look over her shoulder to see if Webb is gaining ground on Sunday. They'll be paired together in the final group.
Webb carded five birdies to just one bogey in the difficult scoring conditions; capping her round with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes.
'I feel like I'm in a good position,' said Webb, who won seven times in 2000. 'The weather isn't supposed to be good tomorrow. If I have a round like today - anything can happen.'
Sunday's forecast calls for more wind and even colder temperatures. The final twosome is scheduled to tee off at 1:00 pmET.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Subaru Memorial of Naples!
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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, 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 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 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