Lewis needs to win final events for shot at POY

By Randall MellNovember 5, 2013, 8:31 pm

The LPGA’s back in action this week with the conclusion of the tour’s fall Asian swing.

American Stacy Lewis leads the field at the Mizuno Classic in Japan in the third to last event of the 2013 season. The tour heads to Mexico for the Lorena Ochoa Invitational next week and then to Naples, Fla., for the season-finale CME Group Titleholders the week after that.

Lewis is the defending champion this week. She was the first American in almost 20 years to win the Mizuno Classic, a tournament co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the LPGA of Japan Tour. Betsy King was the last American before Lewis to win this event in 1993.

At No. 3 in the Rolex women’s world rankings, Lewis is the only player among the LPGA’s “Big Three” scheduled to play when the 54-hole event begins Friday in Japan. No. 1 Inbee Park and No. 2 Suzann Pettersen are scheduled to return to action next week at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Lewis is committed to all three of the year’s remaining events. She’s one of five players among the top 10 in the world scheduled to play at Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club this week with No. 4 So Yeon Ryu, No. 7 Shanshan Feng, No. 8 Karrie Webb and No. 10 Catriona Matthew also playing.

Lewis is seeking her fourth LPGA title of 2013, which would equal her win total from a year ago, when she became the first American in 18 years to win the Rolex Player of the Year award. After making top-10 finishes in the first two events of this fall’s Asian swing, Lewis is coming off a three-week break.

“You just try to be fresh,” Lewis said. “I’m not playing all the Asia tournaments just because I want to be fresh when I am playing, and I want to play good and have a chance to win. So it’s about managing your energy level at the end of the season because everyone is tired, everybody is ready for the off season.”

Park, Pettersen and Lewis have teamed to dominate LPGA events this year. They’ve won 13 of the 25 events played. They’ve won all the majors. They’re 1-2-3 in the world rankings.

They’re 1-2-3 in Player of the Year points, money winnings and scoring average.

A year ago, Lewis wrapped up the Rolex Player of the Year award winning in Japan. She came from seven shots down in the final round to win. She’s a long shot to win the Rolex POY award this year. She would have to win the final three events just to have a chance. Park leads the Rolex POY race with 290 points. Pettersen is next with 252. Lewis is third with 200. There are 30 points available to this week’s winner, 30 at the Lorena Invitational next week and 30 at the CME Group Titleholders.

Lewis, though, is very much alive in trying to become the first American in 19 years to win the Vare Trophy, the award for the LPGA’s low scoring average. Lewis leads the tour in scoring this season with a 69.53 average. Suzann Pettersen is next with a 69.59 average and Inbee Park is third at 69.93.

The LPGA will present all its season-ending prizes at its Rolex Awards Celebration on Nov. 22 at the Ritz Carlton Resort during the CME Group Titleholders.

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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, 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

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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 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