Monday Qualifier Prevails Sunday at NFL Classic

By Sports NetworkJune 2, 2002, 4:00 pm
CLIFTON, N.J. -- James Mason posted a 3-under 69 Sunday to earn a breakthrough victory at the NFL Classic. Mason finished at 9-under-par 207 for the tournament and became the eighth Monday qualifier to win a Senior Tour event.
Morris Hatalsky, Bruce Fleisher and Dave Eichelberger shared second at 7-under-par 209.
After he fired a 7-under 65 to take the opening-round lead on Friday, Mason cooled down with a 1-over 73 to fall two shots off the lead Saturday. The spark returned during the final round as Mason played well at Upper Montclair Country Club on his way to victory.
'I knew if I shot somewhere in the 60s today I'd have a chance,' said Mason. 'Everything came together this week.'
At the par-4 second, Mason knocked a wedge onto the green from 105 yards and watched as the ball spun back towards the cup and fell in for an eagle. He followed that shot with a birdie at the third to reach 9-under.
'Lady Luck was smiling on me on the front nine,' said Mason.
Mason bogeyed the fifth but responded at the very next hole. He found a greenside bunker with his approach but blasted out of the sand for a birdie.
He dropped a shot at the 10th but picked it back up with a 20-foot birdie at the 11th. At the 12th, Mason hit his second shot within three feet of the cup and grabbed a two-shot lead over second-round co-leader Jay Sigel.
The lead increased to three as Sigel bogeyed the 12th and Mason solidly held on to the margin.
Mason fell back to 9-under with a bogey at the 16th as Eichelberger moved within one shot of the lead. However, Eichelberger's bid was soon silenced as the 58-year-old bogeyed the 17th.
'I played with Mason yesterday,' said Eichelberger. 'He was nervous starting out but managed to hold it together. I guarantee you his heart was pumping out there today.'
Mason hit an errant drive at the par-5 last but recovered from the rough with a shot that landed in the middle of the fairway.
He sent his third shot over the fountain in front of the green and landed the ball within 12 feet of the hole. The 51-year-old teaching pro from Georgia hit his first putt short but tapped in for par and the win.
With the victory, Mason earned a one-year exemption on the Senior Tour.
'I don't need to go to Monday qualifying anymore,' said Mason. 'To do this is phenomenal. It really hasn't sunk in yet.'
Sigel, who was attempting to win for the second straight week, struggled to a 2-over 74 to finish three shots off the lead. He was joined by Walter Hall, the last first-time winner on tour, at 6-under-par 210.
Former quarterback Steve Bartkowski shot a 6-over 78 to win the NFL players' portion of the event. San Diego tight end David Binn was second at 81, followed by former Denver star John Elway at 82.
Bartkowski donated his $34,000 top prize to the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children.
Final results from the NFL Golf Classic
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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, 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 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 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