Woods not a lock to break Snead's record

By Will GrayJuly 1, 2015, 7:51 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – When walking around The Greenbrier, the imprint left by Sam Snead is unmistakable.

Heck, it starts even before arriving on property. The road leading to the resort’s white-brick perimeter? Sam Snead Boulevard.

Once inside the gates, resort guests are greeted by pictures of Snead after shooting a 59 on the Old White TPC in 1959. They can dine in “Sam Snead’s” restaurant near the course, or opt for lighter fare at “Slammin’ Sammy’s” sports bar.

Within these West Virginia mountains, Snead’s shadow still looms large. Which brings us to this week’s star attraction at The Greenbrier Classic, Tiger Woods.

Woods is teeing it up here for the second time in this event’s brief history. He returns to The Greenbrier at No. 220 in the world rankings, still searching for a spark to carry with him across the ocean to the Open Championship later this month.

There, of course, he will strive for major No. 15, a title that has eluded him for more than seven years. But after a career spent chasing Nicklaus’ mark of 18 majors, is Woods better-served to focus on Snead’s record of 82 career PGA Tour victories?

Such a notion seemed like an afterthought two years ago, with Woods in the midst of a five-win season that earned him Player of the Year honors. He captured the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational for win No. 79, and at that point it seemed like he would steamroll through Slammin’ Sammy’s record without much resistance.

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But 23 months have passed, and Woods’ win total is stuck on 79. He has more rounds in the 80s this season (three) than in the 60s (two), and after missing the cut at the U.S. Open, Woods’ best shot at finding the winner’s circle this week might be to ask Jim Justice for a guided tour.

Woods’ pre-tournament interview was filled with his typical affirmations and buzz words, but he also pointed out that Snead’s mark remains on his radar.

“I would love to break his record,” Woods said. “I mean, that’s one of the hallowed records in our sport. To be in a position to be able to do that is something I’m proud of so far. Hopefully I can get that done in the near future.”

With Woods assured of only a handful of starts through the rest of the season, it appears that “near future” will almost certainly extend into 2016 and beyond Woods’ 40th birthday. While Snead remained a prolific winner well into his 50s, winning 17 times after the age of 40, his longevity was more the exception than the rule.

Guys like Vijay Singh (22 wins), Kenny Perry (11) and Steve Stricker (nine) have all flourished after age 40, but after that the list very quickly cuts to names like Gene Littler and Dutch Harrison, each with seven.

Winning on the highest level is never easy, and it certainly gets more difficult as the years begin to pile up. It could get tougher still for Woods, an aging champion whose powerful swing has already left his body with more than its fair share of scars.

Snead was the first pro emeritus at The Greenbrier, serving from 1993 until his death in 2002, and that position now belongs to six-time major winner Lee Trevino. Trevino’s uncertainty over whether Woods can surpass Snead’s win total speaks to the merit of the debate, especially given the current state of Woods’ game.

“It’s not going to be an easy task for him,” Trevino said. “I can’t say one way or the other. I will say this, that if he doesn’t do something quickly, it’ll get worse on him, and certainly I don’t think he’ll reach Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.”

While Woods continues to speak of release patterns and baseline shifts, Trevino joined the chorus of voices proclaiming that the source of Woods’ struggle lies between his ears.

“I don’t think it’s a physical thing with his golf. I mean, he’s Tiger Woods. He’s won all these golf tournaments,” Trevino said. “I think right now it’s kind of mental. He has lost some confidence, and that’s the hardest thing in the world to get back, is confidence. Because once you start to lose it, there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on you because you haven’t won in so long, and you want to so bad.”

With ample fairways and manageable rough, the Old White TPC seems like the kind of course where Woods might be able to find solid footing before departing for St. Andrews. His return to form, according to Trevino, will be a quick one once victory No. 80 is in the books.

“As soon as he gets his next win, when he does, his confidence will come back and he’ll be a dangerous man again,” Trevino said. “No question in my mind.”

With a strong performance this week on a course synonymous with Snead, Woods can take a step toward a return to “dangerous.” But Slammin’ Sammy’s shadow will linger well after Woods leaves The Greenbrier, until that moment when – if? – he hoists his 83rd trophy.

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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