Dying to Get Back on Tour
Hey Everyone. Double P checking in here. Im still in Scottsdale and definitely getting antsy. Looking forward to hitting the road in a few days. Im planning on heading out of here tomorrow and swinging through Arkansas on my way to the Wachovia Championship. John Daly turns 40 this Friday and it should be a good party. Ive been to a few of his birthday bashes and he always combines good times, charity stuff and his favorite bands. Looking forward to hitting on the road and JDs bash is a nice pit stop en route to Charlotte, NC.
Last week I wrote that Elbow Rehab Aint All Bad since things were laid back, I was hanging with friends and getting to enjoy the downtime. Unfortunately, Im not bouncing back as quickly as I hoped. Im seeing the physical therapist three times a week and each trip is more painful than the next. Just when I start feeling better, the therapist starts digging his finger into the sorest point of my elbow to work out the pain and I leave there feeling worse off than when the day started.
Im not sure if I am going to have a second opinion yet. I really expected to bounce back quicker here and hope that a little more laying low does the trick. Im headed to Dalys party and then the Wachovia regardless of where the pain is. I feel like I have to get back out there and give it a shot. Not sure how itll all play out, but its just not in my nature to sit around any longer.
These past few weeks since the Verizon have been extremely boring. Im not a good patient. Rest and rehab arent really in my vocabulary. Id much rather gut it out, push myself next week and test the elbow. If it goes out on me again, so be it. Ill trek back home, get that second opinion and attempt to lay low a little longer. Right now I cant even imagine that being the case. If Im home much more, I swear Im going to get a part time job. For all the money Ive been spending at Best Buy the past few weeks, I might as well get a job there and take advantage of the employee discount.
I want to take a minute to thank everyone who has written www.PatPerezGolf.com ' as well as my personal page on MySpace.com the past few weeks. I really appreciate everyone taking the time to write. I had no idea this Golf Channel column was reaching so many folks and that itd garner such a reaction ' especially with me down and out since the first week of the column. I promise that when I hit the road again, things will pick up regarding life on the road, what us PGA guys do in our down time as well as discussing certain aspects of my game.
In the interim, I wanted to take this weeks column to answer some questions that have been emailed to PatPerezGolf.com recently.
A few people wrote and asked what I consider my coolest PGA TOUR memory to date ' be it golf related or just a something that resulted from being on Tour.
As far as golf ' bar none the Masters and the British Open. You grow up playing and practicing your whole life, seeing the events on TV and then one day youre in the field competing against the best. I still recall getting that Masters invite in the mail around Christmas 2002 and just staring at it. That really hit home with me.
As far as non-PGA TOUR related stuff, its events like the VH1 Fairway to Heaven tourney, Dalys charity stuff and the Hootie tourney. Those are events Id pay to be a part of and instead I invited to be a participant. That will never get old.
Another question Ive gotten a lot lately is about my favorite band, The Cult and my love for music. Ive been a fan of The Cult forever. Whether Im driving around town, working out or gearing up for a round during tournament week, my iPod is always pumping. Songs like Rain, Rise and She Sells Sanctuary have meant a lot to me for a while ' so we incorporated them into the look and feel of www.PatPerezGolf.com. Ive said it for years now ' when I win my first PGA TOUR tournament I am going to throw a bash and will do whatever it takes to get The Cult to play it.
Outside of The Cult, I am also a big fan of stuff like Metallica, System of a Down and Iron Maiden ' anything that grooves and gets me fired up. I even bought a 1959 Gibson Les Paul last summer. Even though I cant play it, I love staring at the thing.
I promise well have a full blown Q&A on my website in the coming weeks, so please email your questions in and well get them answered.
Until then, another few days of laying low and then its off to Arkansas. Hopefully next time Im writing Ill have great stories from Dalys 40th and will have just played my practice round at Wachovia.
See you on the road. ' Double P
Email your question for a future column to email@example.com
Pat Perez is in the midst of his fifth season on the PGA Tour. 'Double P' earned his PGA Tour card as the Q-School Medalist in 2001 and was part of the 1996 NCAA National Championship golf team at Arizona State University. Visit Pat at his website www.patperezgolf.com
With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey
SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.
The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.
Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.
It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.
“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”
Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.
According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.
“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”
Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.
And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.
As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.
He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.
“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”
If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.
Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.
“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”
Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.
Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.
“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.
Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.
Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1
SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.
After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.
With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.
“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.
“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”
Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'
SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.
“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”
On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”
Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”
Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.
“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.”
Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines
SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.
The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.
Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.
Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.
Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:
• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10
• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1
• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1