Jon Rahm retains rolling, Davis Thompson impresses within the highlight, LIV finds a brand new house and extra on this week’s version of the Monday Scramble:
There’s been quite a bit of handwringing lately concerning the high of the Official World Golf Rating.
That the stronger, limited-field occasions do not obtain sufficient factors.
That it is going to take too lengthy to flush out outcomes from the outdated system.
That it is ludicrous how Jon Rahm, world No. 4, could not transfer into the highest spot with a win final week on the American Categorical, however Patrick Cantlay, world No. 5, might just do that.
Frankly, we do not want a rating system for what’s plainly apparent to anybody who has watched over the previous few months: Jon Rahm is taking part in the most effective golf on the planet proper now.
Someway, he has accessed one other degree.
In full command of his sport, Rahm endured just a few livid rallies (and a tough-minded rookie) Sunday at PGA West to go 2-for-2 to begin the brand new 12 months. He’s 54 below par in his two event victories this 12 months, and he’ll tee it up once more in 48 hours at Torrey Pines, certainly one of his favourite spots on the planet, the place he additionally gained the 2021 US Open.
It is wanting an increasing number of like one other certainly one of his patented Rahmpages.
The sturdy Spaniard gained 3 times worldwide in 2022 however disenchanted within the majors, the place he did not publish a single top-10 end. All 12 months he harassed that he was doing the suitable issues, it simply hadn’t paid off but.
“They’re coming in a bunch proper now,” he stated.
With 4 wins in his final six worldwide begins, Rahm is swinging in addition to he ever has. Already the sport’s greatest driver, he is pounding it longer and straighter. His wedge sport from him is tighter, extra exact. He is operating in putts from throughout. His physique feels recent, highly effective, explosive.
“Each time I’ve felt like this up to now, I’ve ended up occurring to win,” he stated, “simply because it takes plenty of strain off plenty of components of my sport understanding that mainly I’ll hit the shot that I am envisioning. And that is a extremely distinctive zone to place your self in.”
However this is not only a zone, a part, a sizzling streak. This sustained degree of excellence is Rahm’s new regular.
Kind ebbs and flows all through an extended season, after all, however Rahm – now with 9 wins and a 50% top-10 price in his Tour profession – has confirmed that he is constructed to final.
He could be No. 3 on the planet rating, formally, however the eye take a look at suggests in any other case. There’s no person higher proper now.
A couple of different notes from the primary leg of the West Coast swing…
• Davis Thompson ought to acquire loads of confidence after taking over the most popular participant within the sport, capturing 26 below par and dropping by a single shot. The hotshot rookie (extra on his path later) had lingered on the sting of rivalry in his first few months on Tour, however by no means like this. He made 5 eagles within the first 54 holes and performed his approach into the ultimate group with Rahm.
On the final day, Thompson was damage by two tee pictures on par 5s that he’d beforehand dominated: He tugged his tee shot into the water on 5, resulting in a bogey, after which toe-hooked one other drive on 16 into the cavernous bunker, necessitating a layup (and an eventual par). These drives, Rahm later figured, value Thompson a shot and a half – the eventual margin of victory. Thompson performed the par 5s in 14 below throughout the primary three rounds. On Sunday, he was simply even par.
Nonetheless, it seemed like Thompson would possibly regain a share of the lead when his 50-footer on the seventeenth inexperienced started monitoring towards the opening. Thompson all the time retains the flagstick within the cup on long-distance putts to assist along with his pace, however this one was carrying a contact an excessive amount of warmth. It clanked off the flagstick:
On conserving the stick in, Thompson stated, “I am going to in all probability play the ‘what-if’ sport in my head for a very long time, sadly.” But when the 23-year-old continues to play like at this degree, he will not have to go away it as much as the golf gods or physics.
• On final week’s Golf Channel Podcast with Rex & Lav, we expressed some concern that Xander Schauffele was teeing it up on the American Categorical after A) present process an MRI the week prior on his flying again; B) reporting some continued soreness; and C) making ready to embark on an formidable schedule with 4 begins in 5 weeks (and 6 of eight general).
Effectively, a lot for that.
Schauffele did not simply make it via the AmEx injury-free, however he burst into the body with a closing 62 that was highlighted by an albatross on the fifth gap:
Extra promisingly, Schauffele reported “no complaints” aside from a bit early-week soreness. “However I performed extra golf than I’ve shortly, and in consecutive days, and I felt higher just about every day,” he stated. In order that’s a optimistic.” Certainly.
• Strain manifests itself in mysterious methods. Here is Taylor Montgomery, one shot again, vying for his first Tour title and taking part in the treacherous seventeenth gap, discovering nothing however the hosel:
The double bogey doomed his bid for a breakthrough victory, however Montgomery got here again with a birdie on the final to earn his eighth top-15 in 9 begins this season. It seems to be nothing greater than a rookie mistake he’ll study from.
• A lot of the main target Sunday was on Rahm, however Scottie Scheffler had an opportunity to return to world No. 1 with a solo ninth or higher at PGA West. Because it turned out, Scheffler sat joint eleventh as he lined up his 21-foot, 6-inch putt for birdie on the ultimate inexperienced Sunday. If it dropped, he’d climb right into a share of sixth place and re-ascend to the highest spot. Someway, his putt stayed on the suitable lip.
After months of blustering, LIV Golf lastly landed a home TV deal.
All 14 of the upstart league’s international tournaments this 12 months will seem on the CW Community, which is obtainable in 120 million properties. The opening rounds will stream completely on the CW app.
LIV CEO Greg Norman described the deal as a “momentous day” for the breakaway tour, and there is no doubt that touchdown a TV deal was a key precedence coming into 12 months 2 if it needed to enchantment to company sponsors and advertisers.
However there are some things to notice right here:
• The deal has been described as a “revenue-sharing settlement,” with the CW not paying a rights price to point out LIV tournaments on TV. When LIV was reportedly near a cope with Fox Sports activities final fall, it was negotiating a deal to buy air time. That is primarily making a gift of the product at no cost, regardless of LIV claiming in a launch that it was a “aggressive bidding course of.”
• The CW is just not Nielsen-rated outdoors of weekdays in primetime, and so there is no solution to know the way many individuals are consuming the LIV telecasts. (That is a hassle spot for potential advertisers, after all.) LIV posted meager streaming numbers on YouTube, when it was obtainable at no cost on the preferred app on the planet.
Following the announcement, LIV promised extra information within the coming days, however as of this writing, nonetheless nothing. LIV hasn’t formally introduced its 48-man roster or full schedule for this season, which begins Feb. 24 in Mexico.
THIS WEEK’S AWARD WINNERS…
Meals for Thought: Change the primary month of the season. Match officers correctly altered the schedule for the Farmers Insurance coverage Open to a Wednesday begin via Saturday end, clearing the best way for the NFL to fully dominate Sunday with its convention championship video games (as if it weren’t going to dominate regardless). Which bought us pondering: With huge modifications on deck for the 2024 season, lay out the primary 4 weeks of the brand new season with the identical Wednesday-Saturday schedule. Sure, one other weekday competitors spherical would damage ticket and hospitality gross sales, however having lined/watched these occasions, let’s be actual – these aren’t big on-site attracts for spectators. They’re largely ghost cities. The NFL’s wild-card and divisional rounds are nonetheless performed on Saturdays, too, however the league slots probably the most high-profile video games on Sunday, and the Tour can be clever to keep away from them in any respect prices. So, our suggestion: Yield to the almighty soccer god and maintain all the pieces on schedule by taking part in Wednesday-Saturday for the primary month of the 12 months, then stage the Tour’s largest occasion of the 12 months (the Phoenix Open, now a chosen occasion) through the Bye week earlier than the Tremendous Bowl. All people wins – particularly golf followers.
Ah, That is How It Works: PGA Tour College. With the LIV menace looming, there’s been a renewed push inside Tour HQ to develop entry for the sport’s brightest up-and-comers. Davis Thompson was exactly a type of guys. He was a part of the Tour’s inaugural PGA Tour College class, ending inside the highest 5 within the standings as a graduating senior at Georgia (#GoDawgs) and incomes a Korn Ferry Tour card. After a 12 months apprenticing within the minors, he proved himself worthy by factoring virtually instantly in a Tour occasion, on the ripe age of 23. That is the prime instance, proper there, of how the system ought to work.
Spotlight Manufacturing unit: Victor Perez. The Frenchman began sizzling on the ultimate day in Abu Dhabi, ripping off six birdies in his first 11 holes, nevertheless it was his heroics of him on the 71st gap that nabbed him his first Rolex Sequence title. Perez holed out for birdie from the greenside bunker, touching off a lusty celebration that gave him a two-shot cushion as he headed down the final. The win gave Perez’s Ryder Cup prospects a significant enhance and pushed him again inside the highest 65 on the planet.
A lot Ado About Nothing: LIV gamers’ Ryder Cup hopes. The UK listening to that may decide whether or not the LIV rebels can proceed to play on the DP World Tour begins Feb. 6, however it might all be for naught. Growing older warriors Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter could not end inside the highest 50 in Abu Dhabi, whereas Henrik Stenson positioned twentieth after a closing 66 in his first tour occasion since he was stripped of the 2023 captaincy. At this level the arbitration listening to is simply to find out the bottom guidelines – the European aspect ought to have already moved on with grooming the subsequent wave of cup wannabes. However then again…
Oldie However Goodie: Padraig Harrington. Whereas his senior rival, Steve Stricker, 55, was routing the sector for a season-opening Champions victory in Hawaii, the 51-year-old Harrington completed fourth in opposition to the younger bucks in Abu Dhabi on the energy of a 64-67 weekend. Regardless of supposedly being final previous their aggressive primes, each look like taking part in in addition to ever.
Welcome Again: Rory McIlroy. The world No. 1 is again in motion this week on the Dubai Desert Traditional, his first aggressive look wherever for the reason that season-ending DP World Tour Championship in November. Earlier this month McIlroy opted to as soon as once more skip the Match of Champions – his one allowed miss, except he chooses to forfeit 25% of his PIP bonus – however will probably be again within the States subsequent week in Phoenix.
Nonetheless Ballin’: Brooke Henderson. After an eventful offseason that included extra rehab on her again de ella, wisdom-teeth removing and a bedding-in course of with new tools, the Canadian star roared into the brand new 12 months with a wire-to-wire victory on the LPGA’s Match of Champions occasion in Orlando. Identical to that, she’s midway to her purpose of a minimum of two victories per 12 months. Seems like she might be in retailer for a complete lot extra…
Lacking the Level: LPGA locker rooms. Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols, the sport’s preeminent ladies’s golf author, wrote a damning piece on the dearth of locker-room entry on the LPGA season opener. It was an embarrassing search for the tour (momentary lockers arrived the subsequent day), and gamers ought to have been livid… however as a substitute, someway, just a few complained on social media that the main target wanted to be on the pro-am occasion and never that story. Um, what?! Do you NOT wish to shine a light-weight on this subject, in order that working situations can maybe enhance sooner or later?
Blown Fantasy Choose of the Week: Patrick Cantley. Behold, one of many few weeks a 12 months through which Cantlay wasn’t an element! Regardless of posting top-10s in his final three journeys to the California desert, he did not even sniff rivalry this time, making the low lower with a shot to spare and finally putting twenty sixth throughout every week when he had an opportunity to ascend to world No. 1 for the primary time. This was simply the second time since final Might that Cantlay did not publish a top-20. Sigh.