Scott still chasing No. 1, but system is flawed

By Rex HoggardMay 9, 2014, 11:35 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Adam Scott took a deep breath and glanced over to a nearby leaderboard, his fate now dependent on others and the winds that buffeted TPC Sawgrass.

After an opening 77 on Thursday, the would-be alpha male of the golf universe found himself perched on the wrong side of the 36-hole ax at The Players Championship at even par.

He still had a chance to play the weekend, but found himself in the unenviable position of needing some help from the field as well as Mother Nature.

“I’m going to need the wind to stay up this afternoon,” said Scott, who rallied on Friday with a 10-stroke improvement to shoot a 67 that included birdies at three of his last four holes. “That’s the only defense out there at the moment.”

The same could not be said of the Official World Golf Ranking.

As this latest episode has proven, there is no defense for the ranking, just tacit indifference to a formula most observers don’t understand and even fewer agree with.

This would be no ordinary missed cut. Scott – along with Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar – have a chance to overtake Tiger Woods atop the ranking with a solid week at the PGA Tour’s crown jewel.

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The rub, at least as Scott stood in the scorching midday sun pondering his weekend options, is that the Australian would have passed Woods had he not hit a shot this week.

In the complicated computed world of world golf ranking divisors, Scott would have slipped passed Woods, who has been sidelined following back surgery last month, had he not participated in The Players. Of course, that didn’t assure him the top ranking since Stenson (who needs a two-way tie for sixth or better to claim the top ranking), Watson (who needs a solo second-place finish or better) and Kuchar (who needs to win) could have assumed the No. 1 ranking regardless of Scott’s competitive status.

But then hindsight can be a ruthless opponent when one considers that Stenson and Watson are currently tied for 36th and Kuchar is in a group tied for 40th place.

It is the mathematical middle ground that is becoming a common theme in professional golf. Because of how the rankings are calculated, it is often a better option for players, particularly those trying to qualify for certain events like the majors or World Golf Championships, to watch tournaments from the couch than actually play in them.

Just this week Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked about the phenomenon, let’s call it the ranking flu.

“The rankings are an imperfect science that have a reasonably good result, and relative comparative competitive assessment. They do a reasonably good job,” Finchem said.

Aw, stop it.

If that didn’t sound like a ringing endorsement it’s because it wasn’t. But when it comes to the world golf ranking, the best of what seem to be numerous bad options is the winner. It’s an enemy-of-my-enemy sort of thing.

“This is one of those variables in the rankings that we wrestle with from time to time. I don't think we have any new ideas,” Finchem said.

And if the Tour is stumped, imagine how Scott – who moved to No. 2 in the world with his victory at last year’s Barclays – and the rest of his Tour frat brothers must feel, not that he has been paying much attention to the math or the ranking’s misgivings.

“I haven’t been watching any of that kind of stuff,” said Scott, who revealed on Friday that he married his longtime girlfriend in April in the Bahamas. “I would have thought there were other guys with the possibility (to overtake Woods) this week, so sitting at home wasn’t going to do me any good.”

Turns out he won’t be sitting at home on the weekend, either. Thanks to those afternoon winds and a Stadium Course that grew tougher with each gust he finished just inside the cut and will continue his pursuit of the world’s top ranking.

Even in the unyielding sun at TPC Sawgrass, it wasn’t the ridiculousness of the rankings that was haunting Scott. It was his finish on Thursday when he rinsed consecutive tee shots at Nos. 17 and 18 to finish off his 5-over card.

“Quite costly, really,” he sighed.

Not playing was never an option, regardless of the impact on divisors and destiny (he would be the first Australian since Greg Norman in 1997 to claim the top ranking). But not having to play to reach that goal seemed quite ridiculous.

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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