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Presidents Cup needs a boost - badly

By Rex HoggardSeptember 27, 2017, 10:02 pm

JERSEY CITY, N.J.– The views will be breathtaking and the crowds, if even the most conservative estimates are reached, will be rowdy and ready when the Presidents Cup begins on Thursday at Liberty National.

If there’s one constant in this neck of the tri-state area, success depends on three elements – location, location, location.

It’s why the PGA Tour enthusiastically embraced the concept of a “City Cup.” Liberty National may not have been the most popular course among Tour types, but it is unquestionably prime real estate with sweeping views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline awaiting around every dogleg.

Unfortunately, idyllic views and raucous fans are only a single element of a successful competition, no matter the sport. The play on the field will ultimately dictate the success or failure of the 12th Presidents Cup. It’s why you play, and why Nick Price, the loquacious three-time International captain, talks like this is his side’s final stand.

“I’d like to think that Korea was a turning point. It was like a Wednesday, a hump day, in the Presidents Cup,” said Price, referencing, as he has regularly, the one-point loss his team endured two years ago in South Korea. “We’ve struggled, struggled, struggled, and now all of a sudden is it going to take off? That’s what we’re all hoping for. Is it going to be the competition we all want to play in and compete for?”

This is not a death notice. There will be a Presidents Cup in 2019 and ’21 and ’23. The Tour is far too invested in the biennial matches to let them go quietly, but it seems the matches have reached a tipping point and not just for Price and the International side.

On some level, the Presidents Cup suffers by comparison; always shoved into the shadow of the Ryder Cup, which itself was transformed from a one-sided affair by the American victory last year at Hazeltine National.

Presidents Cup: Articles, video and photos

The Ryder Cup is the benchmark for all other team competitions, with each edition bigger and more compelling than the last. The U.S. loss in 2012 at Medinah set record attendance records, which were summarily broken by the mass of humanity that ringed the course last year in Minnesota.

Players spend two years thinking about the Ryder Cup, answering questions about the Ryder Cup, fixating on the Ryder Cup. Just last week at the Tour Championship, England’s Paul Casey, who isn’t even eligible to play next year’s event, was asked about the 2018 matches in Paris.

Even those involved in this week’s matches concede, the Presidents Cup is a victim of association and the unrealistic expectations that the Ryder Cup creates.

 “This doesn't have the same sense of hostility as the Ryder Cup and I think some people think outside of Europe and America, that because of that, it's less important,” International assistant captain Tony Johnstone said. “You can't fast-track tradition and heritage and I think the Presidents Cup is getting there, and it's just going to grow and grow and grow.”

Perhaps this week’s event, energized by the venue, is bound for bigger and better finishes. But the only way that happens is if the Internationals can do what few outside the blue and gold team room think is possible – win.

International futility has now reached 1-9-1 in the matches and other than the ’15 bout, five of the last six U.S. victories have been by three or more points, which is a statistical blowout in these kinds of team events.

All one needs to see to get a feel for the International team’s road ahead are Thursday’s foursome matches. In the day’s second match, Adam Scott, who didn’t advance past the second playoff event this year, and Jhonattan Vegas, a rookie, will play Dustin Johnson, a four-time winner this year on Tour, and Matt Kuchar, who is playing his eighth U.S. team event this week.

Match 3 doesn’t look any better for the away team, with rookies Si Woo Kim and Emiliano Grillo set to play Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who proved unstoppable at last year’s Ryder Cup.

Every two years, the European Ryder Cup team receives an unexpected boost from a player most U.S. fans couldn’t pick out of a line up (see Pieters, Thomas 2016 Ryder Cup). It’s hard to look down Price’s scorecard and see a surprising savior this week.

On Tuesday, Phil Mickelson – who has played in every Presidents Cup – was asked if, for the good of the event, it may be better if the International team were to win this week’s matches. The competitive DNA of Lefty would never allow that kind of altruistic thinking, but there was a telling pause before he answered.

“I don't think so, no,” Mickelson said. “We're not there yet, no. We feel it. We know once the door opens how good the players are on the International team that could lead to more losses, so we've got to continue to be ready, play sharp, and play our best because if you look at the talent on the International team, it is strong and it is deep, and if we open the door and give them an opportunity, it will bite us.”

That would be the answer one would expect. Although technically an exhibition, players at this level have no interest in participation medals. But the question remains valid, if not now then when?

Price and his eclectic dozen need a win, the event needs a win, and not even the most picturesque panorama can change that competitive reality.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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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.