Irwin Finally Back in Winners Circle

By Sports NetworkJanuary 21, 2007, 5:00 pm
MasterCard ChampionshipKA'UPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii -- Hale Irwin did not win a single event in 2006, a first in a season since he made his Champions Tour debut way back in 1995.
 
It took exactly one tournament in 2007 to restart the streak.
 
Irwin fired a 7-under 65 on Sunday to cruise to a five-shot victory at the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai. He finished at 23-under-par 193 for his 45th victory on the Champions Tour.
 
'It's great to be back,' acknowledged Irwin, who pocketed $290,000 for the win. 'Just to get back into the winner's column again and be a noticeable factor at this stage of my career is very satisfying. I'm very proud of what I accomplished this week.'
 
Jim Thorpe shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to join Tom Kite, who posted a 5- under 67 in the final round, in second place at 18-under-par 198 at Hualalai Golf Club.
 
Loren Roberts, who fired a 61 in the final round last year to come from behind and win, had no such magic in him this year. He did manage a 5-under 67 on Sunday and took fourth place at minus-17.
 
Despite some light pressure on Sunday, this day belonged to Irwin.
 
He began the final round with a three-shot lead and extended quickly when he sank a 7-foot birdie putt at the first. Irwin birdied the third from 18 feet, then made it two in a row with a tap-in at the par-5 fourth.
 
Irwin's lead fell back to three as Roberts closed the gap. Irwin rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at seven, but his 4-footer for birdie at the 10th once again gave him a three-shot cushion.
 
When Roberts birdied the 11th, the lead was two, but when Roberts missed an 8-footer for par at 13, Irwin reclaimed his overnight margin. That would be the closest anyone got to Irwin.
 
At the par-5 14th, Irwin came up short of the green with his second shot, but pitched to 10 feet. He converted that birdie putt and drained an 8-footer for birdie at the 15th to move five clear.
 
Irwin did not force anything and came up 25 feet short with his approach at 16. He lagged his putt close to the hole and tapped in for a routine par.
 
Irwin had the same idea at the par-3 17th when his tee ball landed 22 feet from the stick. This time, Irwin ran home the birdie putt to walk to the closing hole with an insurmountable, six-shot lead.
 
He drove into the left rough at the last, but knocked his approach to 24 feet. A birdie at the last would have matched Roberts' tournament record of 191, but Irwin ran his birdie putt about two feet past the cup. Irwin's par putt lipped out of the hole, but all that meant was Irwin's huge victory would be five, not six.
 
'I didn't look at the board all day,' admitted Irwin. 'I don't pay any attention to it. It's an aberration here. I just had a great putting week and that's what you have to do around Hualalai.'
 
Jay Haas (66) and first-round leader Brad Bryant (70) tied for fifth place at 15-under-par 201. D.A. Weibring and Tom Jenkins both shot rounds of 5-under 67 and shared seventh place at minus-14.
 
Eduardo Romero (68), Tom Watson (68), Jerry Pate (70) and Allen Doyle (70) tied for ninth place at 13-under-par 203.
 
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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