Traffic jammed behind Quicken leaders

By Rex HoggardAugust 1, 2015, 11:37 pm

GAINESVILLE, Va. – When Troy Merritt completed his record-setting round of 61 he figured his 14-under-par total would leave him squarely back in the pack by the time dusk settled over Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.

“Decent chance,” he figured when he completed his round just as the day’s last group was heading out at the Quicken Loans National.

Little did he know a light breeze and intense humidity would combine with Saturday pressure to create a leaderboard as crowed as the Capital Beltway at rush hour.

All told, the final five groups and the top 10 players heading into Round 3 posted an average of 70, nine strokes worse than Merritt’s masterpiece that left the 29-year-old tied with Kevin Chappell and a stroke clear of Rickie Fowler.

It was not exactly the afternoon scoring many expected at a spongy layout that had yielded plenty of birdies, not to mention holes-in-one, for the first two and a half days. The result will be a busy landscape for Sunday’s final turn with a dozen players within four strokes of the lead.

“Somebody will do it early and post a number,” said Charles Howell III, who loomed just two back at 12 under after a 67. “You have to stay at it on this golf course and especially if it’s fairly calm tomorrow like it was today. You got to make birdies.”


Quicken Loans National: Articles, photos and videos


Welcome to the East Coast version of the Bob Hope Classic where one-way traffic (up the leaderboard) is the only requirement.

One of those early risers on Sunday who will need to claw his way back up the leaderboard is tournament host Tiger Woods, who failed to hit a fairway until the eighth hole on Saturday and scrambled his way to a 74 that didn’t look nearly that good.

After turning in 1 over par Woods made a mess of the par-3 12th for double bogey and added another bogey at the 14th before finally making his first birdie of the day at No. 16. For a player who appeared inspired by two sub-70 rounds to begin his week it was another setback in his journey back to competitiveness.

“I saw a lot of [Round 4 hole location] dots out there for tomorrow. They’re in pretty easy spots. Shoot one of those 61s out there,” said Woods, who needs a victory this week to qualify for next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, otherwise the PGA Championship may be his last start of the 2014-15 season.

Fowler won’t need to be nearly as perfect as he continues to establish himself as a regular contender. Despite three bogeys, The Players champion signed for a 68 and continues to make good on his promise to start winning more events.

Following last season, when he became the first player to finish inside the top 5 in all four major championships, Fowler committed to taking the next step this year with more trophies. His near-flawless finish at TPC Sawgrass in May was an impressive start and he added another “W” last month by winning the European Tour’s Scottish Open.

“It would have been nice to get a win in the majors last year. With making history and that top 5 in all four majors it's going to be special to look back on, but winning is a lot better than finishing top 5,” Fowler said earlier this week.

While Fowler will be the clear fan favorite on Sunday it will likely be Justin Rose who may have the competitive edge. Although this year’s Quicken Loans National is being held at a new venue, the Englishman has proven himself adept wherever this event is played.

In 2010, he won Tiger’s tournament at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia; last year he collected his second Quicken Loans title at Congressional. It’s worth pointing out he won last year after starting the final round three shots out of the lead, the same place where he will begin Sunday.

“I’ve won tournaments from four back before and it’s going to take something very low for me. It’s out there, probably 63 tomorrow,” said Rose, who moved into contention with a 65 after a late-afternoon putting session with his short-game coach on Friday. 

It was a common theme at an uncommonly low-scoring event. In the eight-year history of the Quicken Loans, just twice (2009 and 2011) has the winning score made it to 13 under. Thanks to Merritt’s early move on Saturday and Chappell’s workmanlike 67 that benchmark has already been eclipsed.

It all sets the stage for a very different final round from what players and fans have come to expect at the Washington, D.C. area stop.

“You’ve got to keep the pedal down tomorrow,” Howell said.

And you also have to remember this is not your normal Quicken Loans National.

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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