Park laps field for gold medal at Rio Olympics

By Rex HoggardAugust 20, 2016, 7:28 pm

RIO DE JANEIRO – This may not be an apple-to-apples fit, but in Olympic terms Inbee Park’s romp on Saturday at Olympic Golf Course was Katie Ledecky-like.

Ledecky – American’s sweetheart swimming champion who cleaned up in Rio with five medals, including four gold – may have set the standard for dominance in these Games, but Park’s five-stroke romp over the very best the women’s game has to offer was akin to Ledecky’s 11-second victory in the 800-meter freestyle.

Much like Ledecky last week, Park’s victory was never in doubt. Not after beginning her day with three consecutive birdies starting at the third hole. Not after making the turn a half dozen clear in her race to a gold medal. And certainly not when she birdied two of her last three to leave all drama to those vying for the silver and bronze.

The cold figures added up to a closing 66 for a 16-under 268 total.

On most weeks, Park would do well to stay with those detached numbers. The South Korean is fondly described as methodical, some have even described the 28-year-old as detached and virtually void of emotion on the golf course.

Final-round highlights from Rio Olympics

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There were no fist pumps, no triumphant pounding on her shirt after victory like that shown by Justin Rose in last week’s opening Olympic act.

That’s not Park’s style.

She hits fairways. She hits greens in regulation. She converts more putts than Jordan Spieth on a good day. And then she marches to the next tee with the look of a teenager taking an exam.

“I don't think people understand at all,” said Stacy Lewis, who came within a fraction of an inch of a chance to playoff for the bronze medal. “If you watch her, or even Lydia [Ko], watch both of them play golf, you're not going to be wowed. You're not going to be amazed. But if you watch it over a period of time, you'll be amazed.”

Be amazed, be entertained, because Park’s performance for four days in Rio goes well beyond those cold numbers, whether she’s comfortable diving into the nuances or not.

This is, after all, the same player who has just two top-10 finishes this season and hadn’t played an event on the world stage in more than two months because of a thumb injury.

A player who didn’t make the decision to even participate in golf’s grand return to the Games (it’s been 116 years since a woman golfer stepped to an Olympic podium) until about a month ago and even that decision was met with mixed reviews back home in South Korea.

There were those who figured Park was unfit for duty in Rio and should have made room for another South Korean in the competition. It was a school of thought that was hard for Park to ignore.

“Oh my god, that’s probably the biggest pressure she’s ever had,” said Se Ri Pak, the LPGA legend who served as South Korea’s team leader for the Games. “She got injured and had a really rough year, and then she decided almost not to come. The fans were half and half, good and bad, and the pressure, tons and tons.”

She may come across as aloof on the golf course, but the second-guessing cut deep.

Park took two months off to heal mind and body, played a tune-up event on the Korean LPGA two weeks ago, where she missed the cut, to identify which parts of her game needed work – which was pretty much everything.

She brought in a second swing coach to modify her action in order to accommodate her ailing left thumb and arrived in Brazil with a singular purpose.

Whether Olympic golf will ever rival, or even surpass, a major championship in terms of importance is the kind of esoteric debate that normally only leads to distractions, but for Park there is no doubt. She knew that back in South Korea a gold medal would mean so much more than any of her seven major championship victories.

“A lot of people were saying that maybe it is better to have another player in the field, a fellow South Korean player, which is very understandable,” Park said. “But I really wanted to do well this week to show a lot of people that I can still play.”

For those at home checking the transcript, that’s as close as Park ever got to an I-told-you-so moment. Instead, she let that machine-like game make her statements.

Whatever doubt may have clouded Park’s decision to play in Rio was quickly put to rest when she opened her week with back-to-back rounds of 66. Even Friday’s 70 in wind-whipped conditions held a measure of accountability considering how difficult the golf course played.

By the time she completed her round on Saturday there was no doubt she deserved her spot in the South Korean team house, nor – as is normally the case – any emotion.

The same couldn’t be said for the other members of the Olympic field.

After entering the day in solo third place, Gerina Piller appeared to be America’s best hope for a medal. But she began her round with back-to-back bogeys, made the turn in a three-way tie for the bronze and finished her week with a 2-over 38 on the inward loop to tie for 11th place.

After racing through the media “mix zone,” a visibly shaken Piller relented to be interviewed.

“I didn't even think I had a chance to be here, so to come and to be in contention is all I can really ask for,” Piller said. “I’m just going to learn from it and move on.”

Lewis was America’s final chance to earn a spot on the podium when she began the final hole tied with Ko and Japan’s Harukyo Nomura for third place, but her birdie putt came up short and she finished a stroke behind bronze medal winner Shanshan Feng of China and in a tie for fourth place.

Ko birdied two of her last three holes, including an 8 footer at the last, to claim the silver medal and become New Zealand’s youngest medalist ever.

But unlike last week when Rose was pushed to the 72nd hole by Henrik Stenson and the intensity of the competition was the headline, Park’s performance dominated the broader podium.

“She’s really good. She’s not pretty good, she’s really good,” Ko corrected a media type during the post-round interviews.

Injury or not, slump or otherwise, Park proved that point in Rio in a performance that could only be described as Ledecky-like.

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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.