Fuzzys First Win a Major Triumph
'There's no greater feeling in the world,' said Zoeller, who pocketed a career-best $360,000 for the win. 'I know these guys are a little older but victory lane is just something special.'
Zoeller had not won anywhere since the 1986 Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic. He won 10 times on tour, including the 1979 Masters and the 1984 U.S. Open, but never won a PGA Championship. Zoeller finished second to fellow Senior Tour member Larry Nelson in the 1981 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.
'I wasn't sure I'd ever win again,' he said. 'Every time I got close, somebody seemed to play a little better.'
Hale Irwin, a three-time Senior PGA Champion, shared second place with overnight leader Bobby Wadkins. Irwin posted a 68 Sunday while Wadkins carded a 1-over 71 to join Irwin at even-par 280.
Jim Thorpe, the winner of the tour's first major, The Tradition, tied for fourth with Roy Vucinich at plus 1.
Japan's Seiji Ebihara put his name in Senior Tour record books Sunday. He opened the round with seven consecutive birdies and added another at No. 9 to fire an 8-under 27 on the front-nine holes, matching the tour record set by Jay Sigel in the 1998 Bell Atlantic Classic.
'For the past three days, I have gone over par - 3-over, 3-over, 5-over,' Ebihara said through a translator. 'I was thinking I wanted to get under par. That's how it started.'
Ebihara stumbled home with three back-nine bogeys for a 5-under 65, the lowest round of the championship. He tied for 18th at 8-over-par 288 alongside the previous two champions of this event, Tom Watson (2001) and Doug Tewell (2000).
Zoeller made up the one-stroke difference between himself and Wadkins early with a 10-foot birdie at the first. Zoeller held the lead throughout Sunday's round and reached 2-under-par after a five-foot birdie putt on No. 11.
Wadkins, who played with Zoeller Sunday, ran home a birdie from three feet a hole later to get within one shot of Zoeller's lead.
At the 13th, Zoeller pulled his tee shot badly, landing in the left rough. He was unable to advance the ball only 50 yards but he wedged his approach to 10 feet. Zoeller stepped up and holed the putt to keep his one-shot lead over Wadkins.
'It seemed like every time I was out today, my putter saved me,' said Zoeller. 'That putt at 13 was very crucial. Those are the things that happen when you win tournaments.'
'I was seeing somebody doing his job,' Wadkins said. 'He hit a bad tee shot and then a bad second shot. He caught a good break when it hit the tree and came straight down into the lighter rough. Then he got up and down for par.
'Not having won for a while, if he makes double bogey there, it's a different ballgame.'
Both players parred 14 but the advantage clearly landed with Zoeller at the par-3 15th. Wadkins landed in a bunker and could not get up and down to save par. Zoeller roped a 3-iron seven feet from the hole where he two-putted for par and a one-shot lead.
Zoeller was erratic with the driver again on 17 when he pushed his tee ball into thick rough on the right side. He had no shot at the pin with trees in his way so he played long and left of the green where he chipped to eight feet. Zoeller once again holed a big par save and played 18 with a two-shot lead.
Zoeller found the fairway at 18 and knocked his approach to 10 feet. At that point, Zoeller raised his arms and the large gallery voiced their approval, a sign that Senior Tour officials like to see.
When Zoeller joined the elder circuit earlier this year, it was thought that he could provide some star power to an organization sorely lacking in that department. Television ratings and attendance are down but Zoeller downplayed what impact he can have on that.
'I'm just one person. We're doing a lot of positives for the game of golf on the senior tour,' Zoeller said. 'We don't want people to think we're clones. We want to show them we're human. I know I am.'
Final results from the Senior PGA Championship
CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:
|T20||Charles Howell III||-14||$57,754|
|T36||Tyrone Van Aswegen||-12||$27,189|
|T69||Billy Hurley III||-6||$11,623|
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
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
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
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.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
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."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “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. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
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.