Randall's Rant: Add Rahm to Tiger's list of issues

By Randall MellJanuary 30, 2017, 3:23 pm

SAN DIEGO - Tiger's work just got harder.

His road back just got longer, his climb steeper.

That's because the game got even younger Sunday with the ultra-talented 22-year-old Jon Rahm winning at Torrey Pines, the playground Woods once owned.

That's one more young stud in Tiger's way, one more formidable new challenger fueling up on confidence going to the Masters. That's one more emerging star sucking the precious oxygen required in the climb to the game's four mountaintops, the major championships Woods seeks to win again.

If you aren't moving forward in today's changing game, you're moving backwards. In other words, Tiger got a little older Sunday, just like he got a little older when Justin Thomas won back to back in Hawaii and when Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson won majors to join Rory McIlroy as obstacles in his way.



Woods, 41, does need time to work his way back, but time favors all these young guys. Tiger said he took some nice steps in December at the Hero World Challenge and this week in his missed cut at Torrey. And maybe he did, but he just got lapped by another young guy this weekend.

Tiger is in a tough spot. He needs more reps to rebuild skill and confidence. It's possible he makes a big breakthrough in Dubai this week, but there is a reckoning coming sooner than his loyal fans would like. At some point, he will have to square off against these young guys with a trophy on the line. The sooner the better, because the Masters is just 10 weeks away and there are a bunch more of these young guys looking to get in his way at Augusta. We saw it with Patrick Rodgers, Ollie Shniederjans and Cheng Tsung Pan getting in the mix at Torrey.

Yes, Tiger needs time, but time is becoming a more formidable opponent with the emergence of every young stud fueling up on confidence to get in his way.

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Success and failure more than wins and losses

By Rex HoggardApril 25, 2018, 7:04 pm

It was a vulnerable moment for James Hahn that was driven by emotion and unflinching self-examination.

Hahn had just dropped a tough decision to Patton Kizzire, losing on the sixth extra hole at January’s Sony Open, so the feelings were raw and his mind was still digesting the missed opportunity.

“I feel like losing sticks with me longer than winning,” he allowed.

Put another way, Hahn, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, acknowledged that he hates losing more than he likes winning, which is all at once understanding for an elite athlete and curious coming from a professional golfer.

Tiger Woods has played 334 Tour events in his career and won 79 times. That’s a 24-percent winning clip, which would get you sent to the minor leagues in professional baseball but is the benchmark for greatness in golf.

Perhaps Jack Nicklaus is an even more apropos example, considering that the Golden Bear played 164 majors in his career and won 18, more than any other player. Even if you edit that scorecard to only count Nicklaus’ Grand Slam starts during his prime, let’s say through the 1986 season when he won his last major, that’s a .166 batting average.

“When it comes to golf it’s tough to have that mentality, because you lose a lot more than you win. Even Tiger in his hay day was losing a lot more than he was winning,” Wesley Bryan said. “I definitely hate losing, but there’s a caveat: I hate losing to my brother more than I like winning.”

But the statistical reality of golf doesn’t discount Hahn’s take, it simply suggests there’s a more nuanced way of defining how the win/loss column impacts Tour types.



In the case of Nicklaus, it’s not just those 18 majors that assures his spot as one of the greatest; it’s also his 19 runner-up finishes in Grand Slam starts that pads his resume. Although Nicklaus is often reluctant to revisit those near misses, and there are a few of those also-rans for which he’d passionately embrace a cosmic mulligan, there’s something to be said for simply having the opportunity.

“I hate losing, losing stinks, but at least if you put yourself there it’s better than if you didn’t put yourself there,” explained Billy Horschel, a four-time winner on Tour. “We lose a lot, we lose more than any other professional athlete. Do you get accustomed to losing? Yeah maybe, but you hate not having the chance to at least win.”

Horschel isn’t making excuses or giving himself psychological cover, he’s simply being realistic. Even the best seasons, like Justin Thomas’ five-victory outing in 2017 that included a major triumph (PGA Championship) and Tour Player of the Year honors, features what in any other sport would be considered a losing record (he played 25 events).

Even Woods, who for much of his career adhered to a strict “second sucks” mindset, has found some solace in moral victories following multiple injuries and medical setbacks in recent years.

“We’re all so competitive out here and when you’re going head-to-head like that you’re wanting to win so bad,” Harris English said. “Losing sucks, but with golf you lose a whole lot more than you win. You’ve got to be a pretty good loser.”

Success in golf is relative and requires a subtle scale to measure progress. For many, a top-10 finish is all the validation they need to push forward, while for others, like Horschel, progress is measured by winning opportunities.

The joy of victory and pain of defeat is evident each Sunday on Tour, the emotions often etched into a player’s face with equal clarity. But for many, simply making or missing the cut can produce just as much emotion.

“If you miss a cut you don’t have a chance to win, that’s the worst feeling in the world,” Horschel said. “I could lose in a playoff, like to Jason Day [at the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson, which Horschel won], that would’ve sucked, but I don’t think it would have sucked as much as me missing the cut. I hate not having a chance.”

The fine line between victory and defeat can also be defined on a much more personal level for some. In other sports, you are what your record says you are, but in golf you can be what the opportunity provided. Although it’s a fine line with infinite shades of success and failure, there is a notion in golf that sometimes you lose an event and sometimes you’re beaten.

It was a distinction that Hahn at the Sony Open had little interest in, but with time can allow a player to make an à la carte assessment that’s emotionally detached from what the box score may say.

“It’s all about you giving it your all,” English said. “If you did everything you could, if you hit the shots you wanted to, if you hit the putts you wanted to, under that situation that’s all you can do. If someone outplays you, so be it.”

Hahn’s point is no less valid, even the game’s greatest contend you learn more from defeat than you do victory, and it’s competitive nature to, as he explained, hate losing more than you like winning. But in professional golf defining what’s a win and what’s a loss, is very much a sliding scale.

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Listen up: All the walk-up songs for Zurich Classic teams

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 6:28 pm

Teams that make it to the weekend at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans will be accompanied by walk-up music to the first tee. The top 35 teams will qualify for weekend play. Here's a look at what the two-man teams have chosen:

Team                                         Song                                      Artist                                       
William McGirt/Sam Burns Callin’ Baton Rouge Garth Brooks
Kevin Na/Byeong Hun An Make ’em say Uhh Master P
Chris Kirk/J.T. Poston Crazy Train Ozzy Osbourne
Chez Reavie/Lucas Glover For Whom the Bell Tolls Metallica
Martin Piller/Joel Dahmen Lovumba Daddy Yankee
K.J. Choi/Charlie Wi Gangnam Style PSY
Ryan Armour/Johnson Wagner Enter Sandman Metallica
C.T. Pan/Zac Blair Half Time Ying Yang Twins
Tyrone Van Aswegen/Retief Goosen Africa Toto
Tom Hoge/J.J. Henry Right Now Van Halen
Shawn Stefani/John Rollins Thunderstruck AC/DC
Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing) Zapp & Roger
Keith Mitchell/Stephan Jaeger Pizza Guy Touch Sensitive
Ben Silverman/Matt Atkins Enter Sandman Metallica
Zach Johnson/Jonathan Byrd Thunderstruck AC/DC
Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay Eye of the Tiger Survivor
Greg Chalmers/Cameron Percy Down Under Men at Work
Keegan Bradley/Jon Curran Shipping up to Boston Dropkick Murphys
Brendan Steele/Jamie Lovemark California Love Tupac
Charley Hoffman/Nick Watney California Love Tupac
Billy Horschel/Scott Piercy Young Forever Jay Z ft. Mrs. Hudson
Cody Gribble/John Peterson Careless Whisper George Michael
Steve Stricker/Jerry Kelly As Good As I Once Was Toby Keith
Chris Stroud/Brian Stuard Enter Sandman Metallica
Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello The Best Tina Turner
Kevin Tway/Kelly Kraft Gucci Gang Lil Pump
D.A. Points/Kyle Thompson Working for the Weekend Loverboy
Mac Hughes/Corey Conners Big League Tom Cochrane & Red Rider
Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley Circle of Life Carmen Twillie
Shane Lowry/Padraig Harrington Beautiful Day U2
Russell Knox/Martin Laird Flower of Scotland  
Gary Woodland/Daniel Berger Forever Drake
Brandon Harkins/Lanto Griffin Started From the Bottom Drake
Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown Slippery Migos
Andrew Landry/Talor Gooch Big Poppa Notorious BIG
Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels Down Under Men at Work
Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson Gold Spandau Ballet
Matt Every/Sam Saunders Running With the Devil Van Halen
Jon Rahm/Wesley Bryan DNA Kendrick Lamar
Emiliano Grillo/Peter Uihlein Mi Gente (Remix) J Balvin, Willy William, Busta K.
Jamie Donaldson/Ross Fisher Sweet Disposition The Temper Trap
Harold Varner III/Robert Garrigus Ebony and Ivory Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Alex Cejka/Ben Crane Here I Go Again Whitesnake
Abraham Ancer/Roberto Diaz Mexico Lindo y Querido Vicente Fernandez
Xinjun Zhang/Zecheng Dou Believe in Myself Zero Point Band
Lilia Vu, Collin Morikawa, Andrea Lee Getty Images

College season one for the record books

By Nicole RaeApril 25, 2018, 4:50 pm

March Madness may be over, but in the college golf world, the madness is just beginning.

With NCAA Division I Regionals the next two weeks, championship season is officially underway, which means it’s time for college golf to again swing into the spotlight. And rightfully so. This is turning out to be a record-breaking season, and the excitement around this year’s NCAA Championships is brewing.

In this wrap-around college campaign, five different NCAA Division I men’s teams have won four or more events. Oklahoma State leads the way with eight wins, seven of which came in consecutive starts to tie the school’s single-season winning streak, set in 1986-87. The most wins in one season for the Cowboys is 10, and with a home-course advantage at this year’s NCAA Championships, they’re setting themselves up for a good shot at another record – and a national title.

On the women’s side, three teams have notched half-a-dozen wins each. Arkansas won the SEC Championship for the first time in program history to earn their sixth victory of the year, while Southern California has won six times with four freshmen in their starting lineup. Top-ranked UCLA captured its sixth win at the Pac-12 Championship by a 12-shot margin, leaving the last three national champions coughing in the dust.


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Much of UCLA’s success this season can be credited to powerhouse junior Lilia Vu. She captured four individual titles in as many starts earlier this season, a repeat of the feat she also accomplished last year. Along with being the top-ranked amateur in the world, her most recent victory etched her name in the record books, setting a Bruins women’s golf record for most career wins (8) and 54-hole scoring record (14 under par).

Stanford’s Andrea Lee has also been on the record-breaking trend. The 2017 Freshman of the Year set a new Cardinal freshman scoring average last season, and is currently on track to break the sophomore scoring record this season. Lee is just one win shy of tying the Stanford women’s career victories record of eight, and she hasn’t even finished her second full season.

College golfers are getting better and better, and they’ve got the scoring averages to prove it.

The Golfstat Cup is an annual award given at the end of the season to the men’s and women’s collegiate golfers with the lowest adjusted scoring average who played a minimum of 20 stroke-play rounds.

It’s no surprise that Vu leads the women’s side, with a scoring average of 69.95. What is surprising, however, is how much scoring averages are improving. Ten years ago, Duke’s Amanda Blumenherst won the award with a scoring average of 71.00. Another decade before that, in 1998, fellow Blue Devil Jenny Chuasiriporn led the standings with a 72.94 scoring average – nearly three strokes higher than Vu. In the 2017-18 season, the entire top 10 in scoring average fall below a 71.00.

The men are faring well, themselves. California junior Collin Morikawa leads the Golfstat Cup standings with a 68.67 scoring average. PGA Tour superstar Rickie Fowler took the top spot in 2008 with a 71.11 average at Oklahoma State, a number that would rank 70th in the standings today. Other notable winners of the Golfstat Cup include Tiger Woods (70.61 average in 1995-96), Luke Donald (70.45 average in 1998-99), and Jordan Spieth (70.92 average in 2012-13). Morikawa’s average is nearly two shots better than all three.

To put it in perspective, the PGA Tour average score this season is 71.46 and the LPGA tour’s average is 72.17. While courses and set up on the pro ranks are vastly different than at collegiate events, it’s no wonder we’ve seen an influx of young players leaving school early to pursue a professional career after proving they can score low – and win – amongst their peers. Sam Burns (LSU), Cameron Champ (Texas A&M), John Oda (UNLV), and Joaquin Niemann are just a few notable names who chose to forego their degree for a shot at a Tour card this past year. Collectively, they’ve already earned over $887,000.

As the regular college season comes to a close in the coming weeks, our attention inevitably will turn towards which standout amateurs could be The Next Big Thing and make their mark in the professional world. For the players slashing NCAA records this season, though, long-term success is secondary, at the moment. What’s primary in their minds? Stillwater, Oklahoma, and a national championship trophy.

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Spieth reflects on Masters run: 'I could have shot 59'

By Ryan LavnerApril 25, 2018, 4:21 pm

AVONDALE, La. – After he nearly staged a historic comeback at the Masters, Jordan Spieth rewatched the final-round coverage to see what he could learn.

His biggest takeaway?

“I look back on it and I actually thought that I truly could have shot 59 without doing much more other than making a few more putts,” he said Wednesday at the Zurich Classic, where he’ll team up with Ryan Palmer for the second consecutive year. “I put myself in opportunities on each hole to shoot 59 that day, which is really, really cool.”

Spieth roared from nine shots back Sunday to eventually tie Patrick Reed’s lead. He went out in 31 and added four more birdies, but his tee shot on 18 clipped a tree, leading to a long second shot and a bogey. He settled for a 64 and solo third.


Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“I felt like Houston, but really at Augusta was the best my swing has ever held up under the gun, especially my driving,” he said. “I wanted to see what that looked like compared to other times.”

Spieth said he developed a good feeling with the last six or seven balls he hit on the range before the final round, and that he noticed on the coverage that he was more stable and patience during his swing.

“In all honestly, I made a couple putts, but it wasn’t really a hot day with the putter,” he said. “I just put myself in position to birdie just about every hole.”

Big picture, Spieth said that after his Masters week he “got on the right path.”

“I was working on things throughout the year, thinking I was doing the right things, and I feel like I got the short game back on track in Houston and Augusta," he said. 

“And to hit some of those putts under pressure and see some go in, I think that will be very beneficial going forward this year. It very well could be a spark for a really solid year.”