Healthy Hurst on verge of LPGA return

By Randall MellOctober 13, 2015, 8:01 pm

Vicky Hurst is on the doorstep to a return to the LPGA.

With her ailing left wrist feeling stronger than it has in nearly three years, Hurst will tee it up Thursday at the season-ending Symetra Tour Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla., looking to secure LPGA membership for 2016.

Thanks to a summer resurgence, with two victories in her last six starts, Hurst has moved to sixth on the Symetra Tour money list. The top 10 on the developmental tour’s money list at week’s end will earn promotions to the LPGA next year.

“I missed the LPGA a lot, but I knew I had to come back out here,” Hurst said. “I had to stay focused on what I needed to do here to get back out there.”

Hurst, 25, won five times on the Symetra Tour as a 17-year-old after turning pro and topped the tour’s money list. A former junior phenom from Melbourne, Fla., she was a rising young LPGA talent when she made the U.S. Solheim Cup team in 2011. Her career, however, took a downward turn after she began experiencing pain in her wrist three seasons ago. She tried to play through it, but by last year the pain was intense and her game and confidence were slumping.

“The pain got pretty unbearable,” Hurst said. “Trying to play through it, my swing changed a lot, which wasn’t good. When you’re injured, your body quickly compensates. I started developing some bad habits.”

In the middle of last season, Hurst was diagnosed with a pair of cysts and a slight cartilage tear. She stepped away from the LPGA, putting away her clubs for three months to rest and rehabilitate the injury with physical therapy. She was granted an LPGA medical extension for 2015, which left her needing to make $129,000 in five starts this year to keep her card. Her game still wasn’t right enough to meet that challenge, and she missed the cut in all five of her starts this year. She returned to the Symetra Tour.

“It’s been a process getting my swing back in order, to where it needs to be,” Hurst said.

After that sluggish start this season, Hurst is back on an upward climb. She won the W.B. Mason Championship in Massachusetts in August and the Garden City Classic in Kansas last month.

“My wrist is a lot stronger, a lot better now,” Hurst said. “I’m still recovering. It will be awhile before it gets back to 100 percent, but right now it feels pretty good.”

A field of 108 players is scheduled to tee it up at the Symetra Tour Championship on the Jones Course at LPGA International. A $150,000 purse is in play with $22,500 going to the winner. The top 23 on this week’s money list still have mathematical chances to crack the top 10 and earn LPGA cards for next year.

Italy’s Giulia Molinaro leads the money list with $68,632 in earnings. Hurst is sixth with $57,814 in winnings. Rachel Rohanna is holding down the 10th spot at $52,314.

Hurst could have tried to keep playing the LPGA through Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions this year, but she believed the Symetra Tour was a better place to rebuild her game.

“I think it was a good decision,” Hurst said. “If you’re not playing well, the LPGA is just not an easy road. The competition here on the Symetra Tour is still really good. To be able to get out here and have the pressure of being in the final group, or coming down the stretch in the lead, or near the lead, I think it’s good for developing confidence.”

Hurst is hoping renewed confidence will help her in a return to the LPGA in 2016.

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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