Every retools game, takes back API title

By Ryan LavnerMarch 23, 2015, 12:41 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Matt Every was so confident that he’d win the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday, he shaved for his close-up and opted for a pair of red-and-blue plaid pants.

He thought they’d nicely match the winner’s blue blazer.

Keep in mind this is the same player who four months ago was playing so poorly that he was embarrassed to be on the golf course. Looking around at the star-studded field at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, he wondered what his fellow playing competitors must have been thinking.

“Probably like, ‘This guy sucks! How is here?’” he said.

Things didn’t get any smoother once Every returned to the mainland, either; in five full-field starts this year, he had collected about $40,000.

Every’s ongoing work with swing coach Sean Foley may not have offered instant gratification, but that only made another success story that much sweeter.

In contention for the first time since early June, Every buried a 17-foot birdie putt on 18 to cap a 6-under 66 that lifted him to a one-shot title defense.

An upside-down year became even more so Sunday at Bay Hill.

The last nine 54-hole leaders on the PGA Tour have coughed up the lead on the final day. Leave it to the guy without a top-45 finish this season to close out the tournament.

No, even that stat isn’t sufficient.

Consider: This was a player who had a scoring average north of 72, who had one top 25 since May, who entered this week ranked outside the top 200 in ball-striking. He is the 19th winner in 19 events this season.


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When Every won this tournament a year ago, even his caddie, Derek Mason, described his boss as a “flash in the pan,” a player who relied on a swing based too much on timing and his comfort level at that particular venue.

The next few months proved that.

Playing in his first Masters just three weeks after his first win, Every got exposed. He shot rounds of 77-78 and, worse, didn’t feel like he belonged.

“I got my butt kicked,” he said. “I said I’ve got to get better because I don’t want to be a guy who can’t compete there.”

The missed cuts mounted, six in all, by the time he reached the FedEx Cup playoffs. He was tired, worn down, frustrated.

The first step was his decision to transform his body, to shed some weight, to ensure that his 30s were the prime of his career like so many of his peers.

Revamping his swing was next. Every has been friends with Sean Foley for years, and the renowned swing coach had an opening in his stable last fall when a certain former No. 1 decided that Foley’s services were no longer needed. Every jumped at the opportunity.

They made a rather drastic adjustment in Every’s swing – moving his eye line over the ball – but more than the technical aspects, Every says that the uber-positive Foley has provided him clarity, or a better understanding of how and why the swing works.

“It was like he had a Ferrari but the wheels weren’t aligned,” says Mason, the caddie. “Now, he’s got the alignment and the GPS units on it, so he’s not taking wrong turns.”

Oh, but there were several in the last few months. Several until this past week, really.

“It’s easy to get down on yourself out here,” Every said. “It’s the biggest waste of time, because nobody really cares.”

He was striping it on the range, for two hours at a time under the watchful eye of Foley. He sensed a turnaround was imminent. And besides, why couldn’t he win again at Arnie’s Place, a tournament he’s been attending since he was a boy, when his dad would let a 12-year-old Matt follow Mark Calcavecchia, walk the entire course and meet up four hours later?

Last year Every chased down a soon-to-be-No. 1 in Adam Scott. This time, he needed seven final-round birdies to hold off world No. 3 Stenson.

The Swedish ball-striking savant had a one-shot lead midway through the back nine, but his group was put on the clock for a second time on 15. Worried about the stopwatch-wielding official, Stenson rushed through his routine on the green and three-putted from 45 feet, including a 5-foot miss. The next hole, he three-jacked from the same distance.

“That’s really what cost me the tournament,” Stenson said, adding that he made a gesture toward the rules official after the second three-putt on 16. Let's just say it wasn’t a thumbs up.

Up ahead, Every delivered the finishing blow.

As Every approached his final birdie putt at the back of the 18th green, a fan in the grandstand purposely coughed and blurted, “Straight putt! ... Ahem. ... Straight putt!”

“I was like, this guy is a real d--- if he’s lying to me, because it’s a pretty important moment,” Every said.

But sure enough, Every surveyed the downhill putt and couldn’t find much break. The fan was right. Every’s putt snuck in the side door.

That final birdie lifted Every to 19-under 269, one shot clear of Stenson, who missed a hard-swinging 20-footer on the last.

Every, who erased a three-shot deficit, joined Loren Roberts (1994-95) and Tiger Woods (five times) as the only back-to-back winners at Bay Hill. At the trophy presentation, Every leaned into the microphone and cracked, “I told Tiger I’d hold it down for him until he gets back.”

An embarrassment no longer.

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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