McNulty Impressive in Champions Tour Debut

By Sports NetworkFebruary 21, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Outback Steakhouse Pro-AmLUTZ, Fla. -- Mark McNulty fired a 6-under 65 Saturday to move into the lead through two rounds of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am. McNulty, who is making his Champions Tour debut, completed 36 holes at 10-under-par 132.
 
D.A. Weibring matched McNulty's 65 to move into a tie for second place at 9-under-par 133. He is joined there by Larry Nelson, who posted a 2-under 69. Vicente Fernandez, Tom Jenkins and Tom Purtzer each carded 4-under rounds of 67 to share fourth place with Mike McCullough (70) at minus-8.
 
McNulty, who is looking for his first victory on United States soil, started the day four shots behind Tom Kite, the overnight leader. McNulty, though, came out firing. He rolled in a birdie at the 10th, his first, and came back with another birdie on No. 12 at TPC of Tampa Bay.
 
He continued to make up ground with his third birdie of the day at the par-5 14th. He dropped a sand-wedge within six feet to set up birdie at the 16th. The 50-year-old then drained another birdie on No. 18 to make the turn at 9 under with a share of the lead.
 
McNulty, the medalist at the 2003 Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament, stumbled to his lone bogey of the day at the first. However, he erased that mistake with a three-foot birdie putt at the fifth to regain a share of the lead.
 
The Zimbabwe native grabbed the overnight lead when he two-putted for birdie at the par-5 seventh to climb to minus-10.
 
'I'm excited. I've looked forward to playing the Champions Tour for about a year and a half,' said McNulty. 'I've always been a good wind player.'
 
McNulty owns 55 wins worldwide, but has never won in the United States. He is looking to become the 12th player in Champions Tour history to win in his first event on tour.
 
'Most guys on the Champions Tour are champions in the past,' McNulty said. 'Playing in Europe the last few years, I didn't have much in common with the young guys.
 
'Not many guys compete on the regular tour right up until they're 50. I've taken that experience over to the Champions Tour and I hope to be in position to win several times. You can't buy experience.'
 
Weibring opened with a birdie at the first and converted another at the par-5 seventh. Around the turn, he ran off three straight birdies from the 12th to climb to 8 under. He capped his day with a birdie on the 16th.
 
'I hit lots of good shots today,' said Weibring. 'Today I scored much better. I feel good about my game.'
 
Nelson picked up his first birdie at the par-5 12th. He later faltered to consecutive bogeys from the 17th to fall to minus-6. He then birdied the second and fifth. Nelson's birdie at the par-5 seventh gave him the lead at minus-9 before he was joined there by Weibring and passed by McNulty.
 
'It was a perfect morning,' Nelson said. 'No excuses for not playing as well. I was a little more cautious and didn't hit the ball as well as I did Friday.'
 
Dana Quigley and Gil Morgan posted matching rounds of 2-under 69. They share eighth place at 7-under-par 135. John Bland and Graham Marsh are one stroke further back at minus-6.
 
Kite was looking to halt a streak that has seen no first-round leader or co-leader go on to win the tournament since the event shifted to TPC of Tampa Bay. He stumbled to a 3-over 74 and is joined at 5-under-par 137 by Jim Thorpe (67) and David Eger (72).
 
Bruce Fleisher, the 2003 champion, struggled to a 3-over 74. He stands at 1-under-par 141.
 
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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