Woods, McIlroy disappoint in Memorial opener

By Rex HoggardMay 30, 2013, 11:57 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – In honor of this week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee we offer the following assessment of Round 1 at the Memorial – U-N-C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R-I-S-T-I-C.

Or how about U-N-F-U-L-F-I-L-L-E-D.

Perhaps even U-N-E-V-E-N-T-F-U-L.

All would sum up the world Nos. 1 and 2’s opening efforts at Muirfield Village, although for vastly different reasons.

For Tiger Woods, his opening 71 was a collection of missed opportunities. He bogeyed his last hole from the middle of the fairway, played the par 5s in even par and answered every birdie he made on the back nine (Nos. 11, 14 and 17) with a bogey (Nos. 12, 15 and 18).

Call it the reverse bounce back.

“It was probably the highest I could have shot,” Woods said. “I didn’t make anything today.”

Rory McIlroy probably felt the say way, although in retrospect his first-round 78 could have been worse given the way the Ulsterman hit the ball. The world No. 2 four-putted his third hole of the day (No. 12), turned in 40 and made just two birdies.

Memorial Tournament: Articles, videos and photos

Video: Highs and low of Tiger's opening 71

Video: McIlroy's 78 at Memorial worst career start

“I don’t really have many explanations for this,” said McIlroy of his highest score on the PGA Tour since a third-round 79 at the Masters. “I felt my game was good. I felt like I was coming in here and hitting the ball well.”

At least Woods knew what he needed to work on. McIlroy’s game seemed dysfunctional to the extreme.

Woods also has history on his side at Muirfield Village. He was four strokes back and tied for 11th after an opening 70 last year at Jack’s place and won by two strokes.

So forgive him if his 1-under card, which left him tied for 27th, didn’t cause a panic. Truth is, if Woods spent Thursday night searching for answers he likely only found a single fix – read the greens better.

“I thought I hit good putts, just misread a couple of putts badly like at (Nos.) 13 and 18,” said Woods, who is vying for his fifth title of 2013.

That simple fix, however, did little to help a bruised ego.

When he was reminded that he was outplayed by his 53-year-old playing partner Fred Couples (2-under 70) Woods playfully shot back, “He kicked my ass.” A moment later another scribe added that he was also clipped by 14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang (who was 2 under at the time, but bogeyed two of his final three holes), Woods deadpanned: “Great. Have a good one guys.”

And off he went, not to the practice tee or even the putting green which suggested that there was nothing wrong with Woods on Day 1 that dinner and a good night’s sleep couldn’t fix.

It was a different day at Muirfield Village, which normally plays soft and slow as a result of spring rains. But this week the sprawling ballpark is running fast, at least by Memorial standards, as evidenced by Woods’ decision to hit just a single driver on Thursday.

“We don’t play the course like this very often,” said Couples, who will captain the U.S. Presidents Cup team at Muirfield Village this fall. “It was very fast and there were a lot of 3-woods (off the tee).”

McIlroy had no such silver lining.

Just when it appeared the Northern Irishman had rediscover the form that delivered PGA Tour Player of the Year honors in 2012 and his second major title, he signs for a 78 and found himself clear of just six players in the Memorial field.

McIlroy’s putting was poor, his iron play was sloppy and his driving erratic, not a good combination with the U.S. Open and Merion looming a fortnight away.

“The game just isn’t all there at the minute,” said McIlroy, who needed 33 putts on Day 1.

In short, neither of the world’s top two players performed as expected, although Woods’ performance seemed downright serviceable compared to McIlroy’s repeated missteps.

“He didn’t play great, but he still hit good shots,” Couples said of Woods. “He could have easily been 3, 4 under.”

Statistics support Couples’ analysis. Considering the afternoon conditions, which featured wind gusts to 15 mph and greens that grew crusty in the afternoon sun, Woods was solid, hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation and 11 of 14 fairways.

Put another way, Woods’ quest for his sixth Memorial tilt remains undaunted. That’s U-N-D-A-U-N-T-E-D. While McIlroy’s chances of just playing the weekend appeared downright unrealistic. That’s U-N-R-E-A-L-I-S-T-I-C.

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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