In year full of great stories, Davies' may be best

By Randall MellNovember 8, 2014, 4:21 pm

Who is writing the scripts for the LPGA this year?

Mary Higgins Clark?

In a year of suspenseful twists and turns, of compelling protagonists and surprise endings, we’ve got another dramatic final chapter brewing in the women’s game.

Laura Davies is poised to make it awfully difficult to choose the best story of the year in women’s golf.

With a 5-under-par 67 Saturday at the Mizuno Classic, Davies moved into position to make history in the final round in Japan. At 51, she’s tied for the lead and looking to become the oldest winner of an LPGA event.

“It’s going to be tough, because there are so many good players who are playing well this week, so that would be a bonus,” Davies told reporters in Japan. “Obviously, it’s a bad thing, really, because it means I’m really old, but it would be a nice thing because it would mean I have a good record.”

The women’s game doesn’t get the attention the men’s game gets, but give the women credit, they’re delivering one compelling story after another in a bid to crack the mainstream sports feeds.

There was Lexi Thompson beating Michelle Wie in a final-round duel at the season-opening major, the Kraft Nabisco. There was Wie winning in her Hawaiian hometown, and Wie holding off then world No. 1 Stacy Lewis to win the U.S. Women’s Open. There was Mo Martin fashioning a Cinderella story to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open. There was Paula Creamer emotionally returning to the winner’s circle with a monster 75-foot eagle putt to prevail in a playoff in Singapore. There was teenager Lydia Ko and Hall of Famer Karrie Webb each winning twice. And then there was world No. 1 Inbee Park beating No. 2 Lewis in a duel in Taiwan just last week.

Davies, written off by so many, might trump them all as the tour’s best story this year.

Davies will be 51 years, 1 month and 5 days old on Sunday. Beth Daniel was 46 years, 8 months and 29 days old when she won the Canadian Women’s Open in 2003 to become the LPGA’s oldest winner.

Yes, there’s a lot of work to do Sunday in Shima-Shi, Mie, Japan, but Davies ratchets up the interest in Asia, where women’s golf is more celebrated than it is in the rest of the world. Davies has claimed 84 titles internationally, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 13 years, since the Wegmans Rochester International in June 2001. She hasn’t won anything outside a senior tour event in four years, but she remains one of the most colorful figures in the game, a towering personality who was once a bookmaker’s assistant and still relishes a good bet. She used to own a racehorse, likes fast cars and hates to practice. There isn't another protagonist quite like Davies in the women's game.

Davies will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next summer and just last month was officially christened Dame Laura Davies at Buckingham Palace in a ceremony appointing her as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

After making it through a qualifier to play in the U.S. Women’s Open this past June, Davies was asked at Pinehurst why she still plays.

“I still think I can win,” she said. “A lot of people don’t think I can win, but I’m here this week thinking I can win the U.S. Open. There’s probably not more than a half-dozen people around the world that think that’s possible. But as long as you think you can win it, then maybe you actually can.

“That’s my driving force, to win more trophies and keep going. I love competing. If you don’t win, then try to finish second, or 10th. Do the best you can do. That’s what keeps me going.”

While Davies is relishing her entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame, she remains outside the LPGA Hall of Fame, where a strict points requirement must be met. She has 25 points and needs 27 to be inducted. A major championship victory is worth two points, a regular LPGA title worth a point. Though Davies could someday gain entry to the LPGA Hall of Fame through the Veterans Committee, she wants desperately to make it on points. Her loyalty to the Ladies European Tour might have cost her chances at getting the points needed in her prime, but she isn’t giving up on the quest.

Win or lose come Sunday, Davies’ improbable march makes for another compelling chapter in the LPGA’s storybook season.

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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