Special Olympics Event Has First Ace
'All that is good about the game was clearly demonstrated at this year's Special Olympics tournament,' said PGA of America president M.G. Orender, who was on hand for the final round and the award ceremonies. 'Special Olympics golfers are passionate in their competitive spirit, yet encourage each other with each shot. The game has brought such joy to these golfers and their families that we are proud to be a partner in developing this sport for Special Olympics programs across the country.'
In Level 5, 18-Hole Individual Stroke Play, Kevin Erickson of Green Bay, Wis., shot 79 the final day for a total of 239 to win the gold medal in his division. Erickson's closest pursuer was David Bueche of Concord, Calif., who made a charge on the front nine with a score of 36, but finished with a total of 81 for a silver medal total of 255.
Erickson made Special Olympics history when he shot a Special Olympics record low round of 76 and a hole in one on the sixth hole of the South Course. 'I played pretty good today and this event has been great. Golf lets me get out in the fresh air and have fun,' said Erickson.
Keith Peabody of Wilmington, Mass., shot a 53 for an 8-stroke win and a gold medal total of 153 in the Level 4, 9-Hole Individual Stroke Play competition. 'Golf is important and exciting for me. I played great today and made some new friends this week. It was a fun tournament,' said Peabody.
The father/son team of Mike Higgs and John Richard Higgs (father) of Caledonia, Mich., shot a final round 87 for a gold medal total of 265 in Level 3, Alternate Shot Team Play. In Level 3, golfers compete in an 18-hole format that teams a Special Olympics player with a non-Special Olympics player of similar ability.
In Level 2, Alternate Shot Team Play, golfers compete in a nine-hole alternate shot format that teams a Special Olympics player with a non-Special Olympics player of more advanced skill and knowledge. The father/son team of John and Buzz (father) Vanderwerff of Greensboro, N.C., who led their division since their opening round, shot a 51 to win by one stroke with a gold medal total of 144.
In Level 1, Individual Skills, golfers are tested in six skills that simulate play including: full swing tests with a wood and iron, short game tests with pitch and chip shots, and putting a long putt and short putt. Brian Drexler of Plantsville, Conn., led after the first round and finished today with a 68 for a three-day total of 191 for the gold medal in his division.
The PGA of America and USGA are presenting sponsors of the Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament for the fourth year. Special Olympics USA national partners Cingular Wireless and M&M's brand chocolate candy also add their support as corporate sponsors.
Since The PGA first introduced golf to the Special Olympics in 1988, the Association has donated more than $200,000 and countless hours by PGA Professionals for the training of Special Olympics golfers and their coaches. During the past decade, thousands of Special Olympics athletes have participated in golf clinics, training programs and competitions in the United States and in more than 20 countries around the world.
The United States Golf Association has supported Special Olympics by donating over $1 million to the movement's golf initiatives since 1992. In addition, the USGA also acts in an advisory capacity for the golf program.
Special Olympics is an international year-round program of sports training and competition for individuals with mental retardation. More than one million athletes in more than 150 countries train and compete in 26 summer and winter sports. According to Special Olympics, more than 8,000 Special Olympics golfers from 17 countries competed in 2002.
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