Putting Changes Abound at Mercedes

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 11, 2003, 5:00 pm
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Frustrated with his putting for the last year, Sergio Garcia made a change Saturday.
Garcia used the belly putter in the third round of the Mercedes Championships, and had some positive results.
Garcia needed 30 putts in shooting a 7-under-par 66, his lowest round of the week. He took 33 putts in the first round and 32 in the second.
It was like Heaven and Hell, Garcia said of the difference between his putting Saturday and before. Today I can leave the course saying that I didnt hit any bad putts, and I havent been able to say that for over a year.
Garcia had to take his regular putter out of play in the second round (in accordance to PGA Tour rules) when the shaft bent after he tossed it to his bag. He tried using an 8-iron and 3-wood for putting before settling on a wedge.
Garcia said he planned on using the belly putter at some point this week regardless of Fridays incident. He brought the putter, which belongs to his father, with him to the tournament. It is a TaylorMade and measures at 42 and a quarter inches.
I was actually nervous on the first couple of holes, said Garcia, who stands at 9-under par, 16 shots off the lead. I didnt know how it was going to go. Im actually glad I tried it.
This was the first time the 23-year-old Spaniard has played a competitive round with anything other than a conventional putter. He said he got a little help from Vijay Singh, who also uses the belly putter, on the practice green Friday.
Garcia said he plans to use the new putter in Sundays final round, but the future is in doubt.
If it works like it did today, Ill stick with it. In three months I may go back, he said. Its a confidence thing, it comes and goes.
A Long-Term Commitment
Kevin Sutherland put a new putter in his bag this week as well. For just the third time in his career hes using a long putter.
'I've been using it for six years, more as a practice aid,' said Sutherland, who added he was so disappointed in his putting at the end of last season he decided to forego the conventional putter.
Like most players, Sutherland has tried a variety of ways to improve his putting. He went to the claw-grip the week before he won last years Accenture Match Play Championship.
He used a long putter in the final round at Milwaukee about five years ago and in two rounds at the Bob Hope.
This time, though, he says hes going to stay with it: Im using it. This is my putter.
Rocco Mediate went the other way. He traded long for short.
Mediate, who was the first player in PGA Tour history to win a tournament with a long putter when he captured the 1991 Doral Ryder Open, is using a standard Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter this week.
Hes gotten better round-by-round. He had 34 putts in Round 1, 31 in Round 2 and 28 on Saturday.
Its coming around. Im feeling more and more comfortable with it, said Mediate, who has shot rounds of 72-69-65 for a 13-under-par total.
Like Sutherland, he said he's committed to the new selection.
I was a bit out of sorts because I hadnt used it in 11 years, Mediate said. I came naked here. I didnt bring it (the long putter).
Hawaii Over South Africa
Ernie Els loves playing the Plantation Course, and it shows in his domination of this weeks Mercedes Championships.
But making the trip to Maui meant he and countryman Retief Goosen had to skip their national Open. The South African Open is also being contested this week.
It is sad we couldnt play it this year. Unfortunately, last year the Open was after this event, Goosen said.
Goosen and Els are spending two weeks in Hawaii as both are competing in next weeks Sony Open in Honolulu.
Last year I did the trip back (to South Africa), 36 hours or so to get back from here. Youre a little bit tired when you get there, Goosen said. This year I decided to make my traveling a little bit easier, try and stay a bit longer at one time.
Related Links:
  • Full-field scores from the Mercedes Championships
  • Full coverage of the Mercedes Championships
  • Getty Images

    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

    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.

    Getty Images

    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