Spieth has Open revenge on his mind at Bridgestone

By Will GrayAugust 5, 2015, 9:16 pm

AKRON, Ohio – As he made his way through the crowds surrounding the ninth green Wednesday at Firestone Country Club, Jordan Spieth was enveloped by calls for his signature, his attention or both.

Cries of “Jordan! Jordan!” interspersed with pleas for a selfie, along with the occasional “Mike, can you get this signed?” directed at Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller, who walked closely behind him.

Make no mistake, with defending champion Rory McIlroy out with an injury and eight-time WGC-Bridgestone Invitational champion Tiger Woods nowhere in sight, Spieth is the main draw this week.

Great news for fans, sure. But here’s some bad news for the other 76 players in the field: Spieth is in Northeast Ohio with a chip on his shoulder.

While his season has surpassed every expectation and included more top-three finishes (eight) than results outside the top 10 (seven), Spieth’s most recent start ended in bitter disappointment. A 71st- hole bogey cost him a share of the lead at the Open Championship, and he finished just outside of a playoff that friend Zach Johnson ultimately won.

After months of seemingly every bounce and putt going his way, Spieth is using a rare dose of adversity as a big motivator heading into a pair of high-stakes events.

“I’m hoping to kind of prove, coming off of this last major, that I’ve got like kind of a little bit of revenge that I need to get out from having control of the Open Championship with two holes to go and not closing it out,” Spieth said. “That leaves kind of a bad taste in my mouth.”

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Spieth has had other close calls this year, and he has demonstrated the ability to bounce back in quick fashion. A pair of second-place finishes preceded his runaway win at the Masters, and Spieth finished T-3 at the Memorial before capturing the U.S. Open two weeks later.

“The one thing I’ve always said Jordan does great is that he puts the past behind him immediately, whether he’s winning a major or whether we miss out on a playoff by one,” Greller said. “He’s not somebody that’s going to beat himself up over what happened at St. Andrews.”

But the history at stake last month on the Old Course was not lost on Spieth at the time, and after coming so close to a third straight major, he realizes the magnitude of the chance that slipped through his fingers.

“You don’t get many opportunities to contend in a major, in an Open Championship at St. Andrews, in your life,” he said. “So to have that chance and to feel like I was the one in control and to not finish it is a tough feeling on that flight home, especially with Zach and the jug there. I wish that it was in my possession there and not his.”

Spieth reiterated that the emotional toll of his T-4 finish in Scotland was not on the same level as the 2014 Masters, when he forfeited a final-round lead to Bubba Watson. Flying home to a pair of major trophies surely helps to soften that type of blow.

But its impact was still significant, especially considering it led him to change his post-major practice routine. While he took a full week off without touching a club following his win at Chambers Bay, Spieth only took two days off after the Open before returning to work with coach Cameron McCormick.

“It was different. I didn’t like the extra time it took for me to feel really comfortable controlling the golf ball by the time the British Open started,” he said. “Coming back this time, I knew coming to this golf course, what this was like.”

While Spieth will look to capture his first WGC title this week at Firestone, another potential carrot looms next week at the PGA Championship, where he could join Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only men to win three professional majors within a year.

It will be a long stretch of golf across a pair of taxing courses, but Spieth plans to fuel the upcoming fortnight with the still-lingering pain from the one that got away. 

“It just stings because the history element was there of winning an Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “Our team did everything to, again, put ourselves in position in yet another major, and then it was just my execution that wasn’t there.

“We had all the tools, but you just can’t close everything out. It just proves that it’s that hard.”

Spieth has already stamped his name as the best in the game for this year, beating back the world’s best with regularity across any number of venues. Now he tees off this week equipped with not only talent and confidence, but also apparently an axe to grind.

It’s scary to ponder, but should be exciting to watch.

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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