Smith Leading in Memphis

By Sports NetworkMay 25, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 FedEx St. Jude ClassicMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Chris Smith fired a 6-under-par 64 on Thursday to take the lead after the opening round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at the TPC at Southwind.
D.A. Points is alone in second place after a 4-under-par 66 on Thursday.
Paul Azinger, the 1993 PGA champion, carded a 3-under-par 67 in the opening round and is tied for third place with Tom Pernice, Jr.
Smith, whose only win on the PGA TOUR came at the 2002 Buick Classic, collected his first birdie of the round at the par-5 third. He elected to lay up with his second shot, but hit his third to 3 feet. Smith converted the short birdie putt, then parred his next three holes.
At the par-4 seventh, Smith missed the fairway with his drive, then landed his approach on the back fringe. He used a 5-wood to putt and drained the 50-footer to reach 2 under par.
Smith hit an 8-iron 25 feet short of the stick at the eighth, but he ran home the birdie putt. He capped off three birdies in a row when he holed another 25-footer at the ninth.
'Today I actually made some putts, which is always fun for me,' said Smith. 'It doesn't happen on a real regular basis, and my putter felt great. I made some long ones and everything just kind of happened.'
Smith parred his first six holes on the back nine, but broke back into red figures at the par-5 16th. He went for the green in two, but fell into a greenside bunker. Smith blasted out to 7 feet and drained the birdie putt to reach 5 under par for the championship.
At the par-4 17th, Smith was between clubs and pulled the 7-iron for his approach. His second went over the flagstick, but he sank the long birdie try to polish off his 64.
'The golf course is playing tough,' admitted Smith. 'I'm not sure what happened. Everything started clicking together and working. I was playing well and I kind of felt like that all year.'
The numbers don't reflect Smith's contention that he has been 'playing well all year.' He has made three cuts in eight starts this season on the PGA TOUR and his best finish was a tie for 42nd at the BellSouth Classic.
'It's hard to tell by how much money I've made this year, but I really played pretty well,' said Smith, who has only pocketed $39,020 this season for 207th on the money list.
Points did all of his damage on his opening nine, the back side at Southwind. He ran in a 4-foot birdie putt at the 10th, but lost the stroke at 12 when he could not get up and down from short of the green.
He birdied three holes in a row from the 13th and all were from 15-18 feet. Points holed a long birdie putt at the 17th, then parred his final 10 holes to reach minus-4.
'It's going to take a lot of patience and some real creativity to work the ball into the hole, landing it either well short of the pin or trying to float it into the wind and hope it lands pretty soft,' said Points.
Fred Funk, Mark Calcavecchia, Daisuke Maruyama, Paul Stankowski, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and three-time major champion Nick Price are knotted in fifth place at minus-2.
David Toms, the winner of this event in 2003 and 2004 and the runner-up last year, posted a 1-under-par 69 on Thursday and is part of a group tied for 12th place.
Defending champion Justin Leonard struggled to a 2-over-par 72 and is tied for 46th place.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - FedEx St. Jude Classic
  • Full Coverage - FedEx St. Jude Classic
  • Getty Images

    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

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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