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Woods still the center of attention

By Will GraySeptember 27, 2017, 7:53 pm

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The gaggle of assistant captains filed into the interview room, first the International contingent and then the Americans. They checked the nameplates in front of each seat to ensure they were lined up correctly, and the microphones were turned on.

It took about 10 seconds for the table spanning the entire room to slant decidedly in the direction of a certain 14-time major champ.

Tiger Woods was the man of the hour during a Q&A session that was designed to be spread across the eight Presidents Cup assistants in the room. Instead, Woods fielded all but five questions from the assembled media – and one of those outliers was directed to Jim Furyk and Fred Couples to gauge the impact of Woods’ participation this week at Liberty National Golf Club.

While the length of his shadow should decrease once a meaningful shot is struck, the impact of Woods’ presence is unmistakable.

“Tiger has spent over the last few years, between the Ryder Cup and here, more time on all the guys on the team as far as his homework and research and what he’s doing, and looking into everything,” said Rickie Fowler. “He spent more time on that than he did homework at Stanford, there’s no question about that.”

It’s the second straight year Woods has hopped off his couch to ride in a cart, and he has spoken often about how his time inside the team room last year at Hazeltine helped fuel his (abbreviated) return to competition. Of course, this year has brought with it some unique adversity for Woods.

Nearly eight months removed from his last competitive golf shot, Woods’ comments Wednesday were his first since undergoing lumbar fusion surgery in April. It was also the first time he stood behind a microphone since his arrest in May for driving under the influence in Florida, which led to a stint in a “private intensive program” to address his use of prescription drugs.

A year that opened with great optimism quickly fell apart both on and off the course, leaving Woods to once again pick up the pieces.


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“I don’t even want to step inside that mind, or how hard it’s been his whole life,” said Charley Hoffman. “I wouldn’t have wanted to be him at the top, and I wouldn’t want to be him now. He’s had struggles all the way up, and I expect him to learn from everything and come out on top, bigger, better and stronger.”

This week offers Woods a coveted glimpse of normalcy. While he’s traded his clubs for an earpiece, he’s still able to walk the course, grind on potential pairings and hone his nickname game. It’s back to “Stricks” and “Pricey” and ping pong matches in the team room, even if only for a few days.

“I enjoy being out there with the guys. I always have,” Woods said. “Most of these guys have come over to the house or practiced at my place, and we’ve had a great time.”

Woods ended his comments with a sobering admission that his playing days may, in fact, be behind him. He remains limited to 60-yard shots and work around the greens, with many physical hurdles still left to cross before he can even assess his competitive options.

In the interim, his presence this week helps to peel back the onion on a figure who many on the American team view more as myth than mortal. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger all spent their formative years with Woods at the height of his power, winning majors seemingly at will. But their chances to compete against him have been scant, meaning opportunities like the one presented this week to bend his ear and receive insight are akin to a rare commodity.

“He was our dominant player, the face of the PGA Tour, and they grew up idolizing him,” said assistant captain Jim Furyk. “Having him here in the team room, and here with those guys, is invaluable.”

After fielding a flurry of questions, Woods sat next to captain Steve Stricker as the opening-day matches were set. He scribbled notes on the paper in front of him, talked in hushed tones with the other assistants and leaned over Stricker’s shoulder like a kid trying to get a peek at the answer key.

Woods won’t hit a shot this week, but he has managed to translate his laser-like focus from the fairways to the team room. In the process, he has seemingly drawn more attention than he did when he occupied the top spot on any 12-man roster.

But judging by the smile that often crept across his face, Woods has embraced his newfound role as advisor  - especially in the wake of a difficult summer and with his playing future still very much in doubt.

“There were times when … I didn’t know if I was going to be able to be here, because I couldn’t ride in a cart. The bouncing just hurt too much,” Woods said. “There were some intrepid times, not just for this golf tournament but for life going forward.” 

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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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.