Hooks and Cuts: Stars and Athletes

By Rich LernerJanuary 22, 2011, 10:59 pm
  • Bob Hope ClassicLA QUINTA, Calif. – As Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey was gushing about Jhonattan Vegas, “he bombs it, hits it by me 40 yards,” Vegas’ caddie Luis Sira leans into the conversation and, with his Latin accent, says with a huge smile, “We got a new name in golf boys and it’s Jhonny Vegas!”
  • Here are some other 'Hooks and Cuts' from the California desert at the Bob Hope Classic:
  • – Gary Woodland really moves it as well, with a ball speed of better than 200 miles per hour. Woodland played college hoops at Washburn in Kansas, now refining his obvious athletic gifts with instructor Randy Smith. He has Jack Nicklaus thighs and, by the way, Jack averaged 18 per game in Ohio high school basketball.
  • – Mr. 59, Al Geiberger, is teaching in the California desert with his sons and he stopped by our Golf Channel booth for a visit. When he broke the barrier in 1977 at Colonial CC in Tennessee, the next best score that day was 65. Paul Goydos, whose 59 at the John Deere Classic was nearly matched that day by Steve Stricker’s 60, says without hesitation, “There may be five of us in the 59 club, but Al’s the President.”
  • – Tim Petrovic, looking every bit like a seasoned rocker with his hair grown long, jumped on stage Friday at the Hope Jam Session to sing with The Doors’ legendary Robby Krieger. Petrovic came off flushed, in a zone, as if he’d just fired a 59. “That was incredible,” he said. “I met him six years ago at Riviera, where he’s a member. I’ve always been a huge fan.”
  • – Thoughtful and articulate, Vegas talks openly about the decline of golf in his native Venezuela under leftist president, Hugo Chavez. “It’s sad,” he said. “Everything he does is for political purposes.” Chavez branded golf a bourgeois sport, seizing courses to build housing for the poor. There are just 17 courses remaining. “Ten years ago there were like 3,000 juniors playing in Venezuela,” Vegas said. “Now probably 90 percent have given it up.”
  • – As if anyone needs a reminder that golf’s a humbling game, Geiberger offers this: “Fourteen days after I shot 59, I shot 80 at Butler National. So within a two week span I shot in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.”
  • – Sprinter and former Chicago Bears wide receiver Willie Gault is 50 but looks 35 and runs like he is 25. Gault owns the over-40 world record in the 100-yard dash and, at age 48, ran a 10.80, just seven-tenths of a second off his personal best 30 years ago. That’s a mind blower.
  • – David Duval now believes the magic number is not 59 or 58 but 14 under. “No one’s ever done it,” he said.
  • – George Gervin, a.k.a. the Ice Man, chipped in Friday while playing alongside his old ABA Virginia Squires teammate, Dr. J, Julius Erving. The Ice Man scored 63 on the final day of the ’78 NBA regular season to win the scoring title by a thread over David Thompson, who’d gone off for 73 that day. And Gervin even sat out the fourth quarter. That’s a mind blower as well.
  • – Tony Dovolani from “Dancing With the Stars” is playing in his first Bob Hope. From the guys he hears, “My wife loves you.” From the ladies, it’s, “I just want to do one dance step with you.” Tony, who is already an 8 handicap despite playing only three years, thinks about dance principles of rhythm and timing when he “swings,” and said long-legged beauty Stacy Keibler was his favorite partner.
  • – One of our all time favorites, Jim Thorpe, walks out of an Alabama prison this Wednesday at 4 a.m. His old friend and caddie, Jelly Hansberry, spoke to Jim’s wife Carol, who reports that his “spirits are very high.” Let’s hope Jim, at 61, can turn back the clock like Willie Gault.
  • – Matt Kuchar’s caddie Lance Bennett on his boss, echoing what we’ve all been witnessing: “He’s as consistent and solid as it gets.”
  • – Former Hope winner Donnie Hammond and Kuchar ran into each other on the practice tee. “I miss our little matches,” said Kuchar, referring to their battles when Kuchar lived and played out of Heathrow in Orlando. “Yeah I remember (Chris) DiMarco, every time he needed a 30-footer he’d drop it like it was a tap-in,” said Hammond of longtime Heathrow member DiMarco. “Hey Kuch, I don’t know how you ever made it listening to Fulty and me,” cracked Hammond. “Fulty” is former PGA Tour player, Fulton Allem, and Hammond said he’s struggling with his health. DiMarco’s struggling with his game. Their other running mate was Thorpe. Hammond, unable to gain status on the Champions Tour, is considering the head pro job at Heathrow. “I gotta do something,” he said.
  • – Colleague and former Pebble Beach winner Matt Gogel reports this from a tour rep: 20 years ago the average shoe size on the PGA Tour was nine-and-a-half and now it’s 11-and-a-half. Athletes like Dustin Johnson, Vegas and Woodland have arrived.
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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