Spieth appears to have ironed out his iron play

By Will GrayMay 28, 2016, 12:32 am

FORT WORTH, Texas – There are plenty of similarities between the past two tournaments for Jordan Spieth.

Both weeks Spieth teed it up in front of partisan crowds in his home state of Texas. In both instances, he played his way into contention at the halfway point.

But the comparisons stop when it comes to how Spieth feels, and how he views the current state of his game. The picture, according to the world No. 2, is much rosier this week at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

After fighting his swing for much of last week across town in Dallas, Spieth has put together two straight rounds of ball-striking that more closely resemble his 2015 form. The drives are curving on command; the pesky irons are cooperating once more.

Spieth sits at 7 under after a second-round 66, having garnered some momentum that he hopes to build on this weekend.

“I feel really, really good over the ball right now,” Spieth said. “I got a little loose at the end of the round today. Fortunately still kept those on the green. My putting is coming around. Once I adjusted to the speed after a couple of kind of sloppy three-putts, really made the most of the round today.”

Spieth had to wait nearly six extra hours to begin his second round as thunderstorms battered the Fort Worth area overnight and into the morning. Once he finally reached the tee at Colonial Country Club, he found the opening fairway and green and never looked back.

In fact, after a self-described “stress-free” opening round, Spieth did even better Friday, affording himself a birdie putt on every single hole (16 greens in regulation plus a pair of fringes).

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Spieth’s lone bogeys came on No. 10, where he misjudged his first putt of the day, and No. 16, where he had to stand with his back to the hole on his first putt because of a huge swale.

“The greens were up, I think, 2 feet over yesterday, and it just took me a little while to adjust,” he said. “But once we made that adjustment, a little better on the greens and yeah, it was set up by the fairways hit.”

Spieth went out in even-par 35 on the back nine, but he made his move on the part of the course that often creates the most carnage. After birdies on Nos. 1 and 2, Spieth played the “Horrible Horseshoe” of Nos. 3-5 in 2 under par, briefly holding sole possession of the lead after rolling in a 15-footer for birdie on No. 5.

“It was a fantastic back nine that we played,” he said. “(Nos.) 1 through 5, if you play them 1 under, you’re going to be up there with the leaders because the rest of the course you can kind of really get around and have some chances. Playing 4 under today was awesome.”

Spieth’s total leaves him one shot off the clubhouse lead set by Webb Simpson, but he is four shots behind Bryce Molder, who will finish his second round in the morning because of the lengthy weather delay.

The results through 36 holes are promising, but the intangibles offer even more reason to believe that Spieth could be in for a big weekend – like the one Rory McIlroy enjoyed last week and Jason Day experienced the week prior.

After the AT&T Byron Nelson, where the word “frustrated” was never far from his lips, Spieth appears confident. He appears relaxed.

Perhaps it’s shifting the venue across town. Perhaps it’s playing a course that better suits his game. Or perhaps it’s just that, after two straight starts of squirrely ball-striking, Spieth has found a way to iron out the kinks with, well, his irons.

“I’d say (my comfort level) is up there close to where I want to have it, 100 percent trust by major time,” he said. “It’s creeping up. Big step up from last week. It’s getting close.”

“Close” is a word many golfers trot out when the results don’t quite match up with the internal assessments. It’s a word that Spieth has used at points this year, now nearly five months removed from his eight-shot rout in Maui.

But this week, on this course, in this neck of the woods, he just seems a little bit closer.

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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