Hot Seat: Wie bit spicy

By Randall MellFebruary 14, 2012, 3:14 pm

You might want to loosen your collars, folks, it gets steamy in this space.

It’s time again to see who is taking their places on golf’s Hot Seat.

Here’s our special heat index with the PGA Tour moving to the Northern Trust Open at Riviera and the LPGA heading to the Honda LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club:

Spicy Thai curry delight – Michelle Wie

Wie makes her 2012 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand in Chonburri.

A year ago, Wie finished second in this event to Yani Tseng, equaling her best finish of the year in her first winless LPGA season since her rookie campaign.

No matter what happens on the golf course, this is a big year for Wie. She will get her degree with a major in communications, graduating from Stanford this spring. Getting the college education was an important goal for the 22-year-old star.

Wie fans are hoping the freedom to focus solely on golf later this season will inspire a big year on the course.

A two-time LPGA winner, Wie has slipped to No. 17 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, making her the sixth highest-ranked American behind Cristie Kerr (No. 4), Paula Creamer (No. 5), Brittany Lincicome (No. 8), Stacy Lewis (No. 9) and Morgan Pressel (No. 16). Wie will be looking to become a factor in the majors again this year. She recorded seven top-10 finishes in her first 11 major championship appearances. She has logged just one in her last 16. A key factor in that is how she’s getting along with her putter. Wie went to a belly putter last summer, experimenting with a variety of grips.

Spencer Levin

China Syndrome – Whoever holds the 54-hole lead for the Northern Trust Open’s final round.

So whose turn is it to melt down next?

Who will be sentenced to sleeping on the third-round lead come Saturday night at Riviera?

If a recent trend of collapses continues, the PGA Tour might want to consider assigning a priest or rabbi to the locker room to meet with the condemned . . . ah, sorry, the 54-hole leader. The Tour also might want to consider showing some mercy on the poor fellow and drape a hood over his head when he steps to the first tee.

The leaders going off last on Sundays at PGA Tour events have the look of the doomed lately.

Brandt Snedeker came from seven shots back to beat Kyle Stanley in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open three weeks ago.

Stanley came from eight shots back to win two weekends ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Phil Mickelson came from six back to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this past weekend.

Luke Donald

Baja fever – Luke Donald

The world No. 1 makes his 2012 PGA Tour debut at the Northern Trust Open looking to get off to a better start than he did in Europe.

Donald, who last year became the first player to win the money titles in the same season as a member of both the PGA Tour and European Tour, made a lackluster start on the European Tour two weeks ago. He tied for 48th at Abu Dhabi, finishing 12 shots behind the winner, Robert Rock.

While Donald has some good showings at Riviera, he missed the cut there last year. Before that, though, he finished second, T-6 and T-3.

Aaron Baddeley

Santa Ana wind – Aaron Baddeley

The defending champ always faces some pressure trying to make sure he shakes all the right hands and appears in all the right places in his return.

Baddeley will be looking to become the eighth back-to-back winner in Northern Trust Open history. The others? Phil Mickelson (2008-09), Mike Weir (2003-04), Corey Pavin (1994-95), Arnold Palmer (1966-67), Paul Harney (1964-65), Ben Hogan (1947-48) and MacDonald Smith (1928-29).

Baddeley arrives in good form this week. He was solo fourth last week at Pebble Beach.

Jason Gore

Twitter fever – Jason Gore

With so many folks rooting on the big guy, there’s likely some pressure on Gore in wanting to perform well for all the fans who got him into the Northern Trust Open.

Gore is playing on a sponsor’s exemption, an honor he won with the help of Twitter followers, who mounted a Tweet campaign to get him to Riviera this week.

Back on Jan. 8, Gore tweeted this: “Just signed up for the @ntrustopen qualifier, but you have NO IDEA how stoked I'd be to get a sponsors invitation! #myhometown #mymajor.”

Four days later, the Northern Trust Open offered Gore a spot in the field. Tournament officials then tweeted that news.

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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