Bernhard Langer hoping to continue making history at Chubb Classic
Bernhard Langer has already amazed the golfing world with an extended run of success unmatched on the PGA Tour Champions.
And he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
“I believe I have a few more wins in me,” Langer said.
With 44 career victories on the senior circuit, the 65-year-old needs just one to tie Hale Irwin’s mark. Considering Langer’s won at least two Champions tournaments in 10 consecutive seasons, it’s likely only a matter of time before the record changes hands.
It also wouldn’t be much of a stretch to circle next month’s Chubb Classic as a likely setting for Langer to make history. He’s won the Naples, Florida, event a record four times at three different courses, including last year’s wire-to-wire victory at Tiburon Golf Club’s Black Course, which also allowed Langer, then 64, to break his own mark for the oldest tour champion. He did so again in November after turning 65 when he captured the TimberTech Championship in Boca Raton.
While the prospect of unseating Irwin atop the all-time victory list is “very much on the radar screen now,” Langer said he doesn’t feel any additional pressure being on the precipice of achieving that goal.
“I just try to be the best I can be and play the best golf every day that I can,” he said. “…Deep down, I think I know I can still win tournaments, even though there’s a lot of younger guys.”
Langer said when he first joined the Champions tour, he regularly finished among the top 10 in driving distance; last year he was 63rd. Now he tries to make up for that shortcoming with accuracy, putting, and course strategy, strengths that give him an advantage at a venue like Tiburón’s Black Course, which Langer said is one of the tightest on the Champions Tour.
“Tiburon is not a golf course necessarily for the big bombers that spray it around because if you hit it offline you’re going to be in the jungle and you’re going to take a penalty drop,” Langer said.
Langer opened the 2023 Champions season at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii. Tied for fourth place entering the final round, he ran into trouble on the 5th hole after hitting a shot into the water and finished tied for 10th.
“Top 10 is not bad but I’m always hoping for better,” he said.
Langer will play next at the Trophy Hassan II, set for Feb. 9-11 in Morocco, giving him one opportunity to tie Irwin’s record before the Chubb Classic.
A longtime resident of Boca Raton, Langer said playing at the Chubb feels like a home game for him, one that he can drive to and have family and friends on hand to support him.
“There you usually play on wonderful golf courses at a good time of the year and the field is always strong as well,” he said. “When you win there, you know you’ve beaten the best.”
As for the future, Langer said as long as he’s healthy, has fun playing, and can remain competitive, he’ll remain a full-time participant on the Champions tour.
“As long as those three things are there, I’m going to probably continue,” he said. “If one or two of those have gone missing, then it’s probably time to pack it up.”
Best in the world? Jon Rahm makes argument with another win at 2023 American Express
Is Jon Rahm the best golfer in the world?
The computers at the Official World Golf Ranking may say no, but it’s difficult to argue for anyone other than Rahm at the moment. With four wins in his last six worldwide starts, including a one-shot victory at The American Express on Sunday, Rahm seems to be moving from a great player to a dominant one.
Chased all day by rookie Davis Thompson and a flock of other players, Rahm managed to steady a shaky back nine with a birdie on the 16th hole to regain sole possession of the lead on the Pete Dye Stadium Course at PGA West. Solid pars on the final two holes gave Rahm a 27-under winning score for his second win in The American Express in the last six years. It also was the Spanish star’s second victory on the PGA Tour in three weeks and his ninth overall PGA Tour title following his win at the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
“Body’s been feeling great. My swing’s been feeling really, really good. And it shows, right?” said Rahm, who is expected to move from fourth to third in the new world ranking on Monday. “Even when I’m saying I may not be as comfortable as I would like, I’m shooting 64s because everything is just firing when it needs to.”
Rahm, who started the day tied with Thompson, shot 68 on Sunday to earn the $1,440,000 first-prize check from the $8 million purse. Rahm also moved to No. 1 in the year-long FedEx Cup points race, the first time he has ever led that race at any time during a year.
Rahm was so happy and comfortable with the win that he could even take a jab at himself.
“I’m just going to say that I’m glad I came back and won the putting contest this year. That’s all I can say,” Rahm laughed, a reference to a viral comment he made at the 2022 American Express that the event was nothing but a putting contest.
As low as Rahm’s scoring was with rounds of 64, 64, 65 and 68, he still finished one shot off the tournament scoring record for a 72-hole event that Patrick Reed set in 2014.
Thompson, the first- and second-round leader, fought his driver much of the day but was tied with Rahm on the back nine. A critical missed birdie putt on the 14th hole and an 8-foot Rahm par putt stopped Thompson from taking the lead outright. When Thompson parred the 16th after a poor drive into a bunker and Rahm birdied the hole, Thompson fell one shot behind.
“I had a great week. Competing against the best in the world is my dream, and I did that today and proved that I can hang with them. It was a lot of fun,” the 23-year-old Thompson said. “A lot of nerves and I hit a lot of quality golf shots under pressure, which was really cool.”
Rahm was impressed with the rookie who played college golf at the University of Georgia.
“First time in this situation, teeing off with the lead on Sunday in a PGA Tour event, I think he did a great job,” Rahm said. “He played good golf. It was just, I would say, two bad swings at the wrong time. And that was 5 and 16.
“One could say it was two holes where he was maybe trying to hit it a little bit hard, trying to get some extra distance,” he said. “One cost him at least one shot and the one on 16 cost him half a shot. And that was the difference at the end.”
Rahm and Thompson added some drama in the closing holes. Thompson’s 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole hit the pin and bounced a few inches away.
“I usually always leave the stick in from a long distance. I feel like it helps me with my speed,” Thompson said. “I’ll probably play the “what if” game in my head for a long time, unfortunately.”
Rahm then hit his drive into a fairway bunker on the par-4 18th, but when his next shot found the middle of the green, with Thompson already over the green, Rahm pumped his fist in victory.
Xander Schauffele had the round of the day among the leaders, a 10-under 62 that included a rare albatross on the par-5 fifth hole. Schauffele finished tied for third at 25-under with Chris Kirk, who like other chasers on the day made his move early but couldn’t seem to make a critical putt down the stretch in a round of 64.
A final-hole birdie for a 66 allowed Taylor Montgomery to finish alone in fifth at 24-under.
Rahm jumped to a quick lead Sunday with kick-in birdies on the first and second holes, but then made six straight pars, showcasing a wedge game he said was as good as he’s had in a tournament.
“The amount of tap-ins that I’ve had these four days is unlike anything I’ve ever had,” Rahm said. “If I had to put a MVP to something, it’s that 56 and that 52 degree wedges were key.”
Thompson made a birdie on the fourth hole but then started a day-long battle with his driver by hitting a lake on the par-5 fifth hole on the way to a bogey.
“I had a few tee shots off line. I mean, didn’t really give myself a chance to go for it on 5 and 16 due to poor tee shots. As well as I played the par-5s all week, I kind of didn’t really do that well today,” said Thompson, who had five eagles on par-5s in the first two rounds combined.
Rahm then started making par after par despite hitting good putts.
“I can tell you there’s a few, I mean, on 5, 7, 8, 10, 15, 17 and 18, all of those putts were good,” Rahm said. “All of them looked like they were dead center with two feet to go and just at the end they just missed.”
The par for Thompson on the 16th after a drive into a bunker hurt more because Rahm was short of the green in two, chipped up to 8 feet and then made the birdie putt that gave him the lead for good. The birdie on the 16th came moments after another big 8-foot putt, this one for par on the 14th hole. Rahm missed the green long and chipped onto the green, then watched Thompson miss a 10-foot birdie putt for the lead before making his own clutch putt for par.
For Schauffele, the third-place finish was important coming off a withdrawal from the Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago with back pain.
“It’s a good week back. I’ve never had to withdraw from a tournament,” Schauffele said. “Bit scary for me and my team. Fortunately, I have a really good team that put me back into playing shape pretty quickly. So a lot to build on this week. Definitely looking forward to the next few events.”
Schauffele’s albatross on the fifth came on a 4-iron from 226 yards and sparked his rise up the leaderboard.
For Rahm, the win was the continuation of a great stretch of golf. But it isn’t where he hopes he can take his golf in the coming months or coming years.
“In my mind I feel like I can get a lot better,” Rahm said. “I feel like that’s the mentality I should have. Again, I work very hard to do what I do. I could find mistakes in every single round I’ve played. Very few times I would say I’ve played a flawless round.”
ORLANDO, Florida – There’s no locker room for players here at the LPGA’s season-opener, an event designed to celebrate those who have hoisted trophies over the past two years. Don’t be surprised to see players at the Hilton Grand Vacation Tournament of Champions changing their shoes in the parking lot.
Lake Nona Golf and Country Club has a men’s locker room that would’ve been more than suitable for the 29 players in the field. LPGA players can use the bathrooms and showers in the women’s facility, but there’s no place for them to store anything while they’re on the course. That area is also not private.
Matilda Castren can’t imagine something like this playing out on the PGA Tour. Grant Waite, a former winner on the PGA Tour, was on the range at Lake Nona on Tuesday working with his student, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and confirmed that he never played in a PGA Tour event that didn’t have access to a locker room.
Castren was as shocked about the locker room situation as she was about the player fact sheet that came out on Jan. 14, laying out restrictions for when players had access to practice facilities at Nona. In the memo, players were informed that they “may not use the practice facilities more than one hour prior to their practice tee times. Use of the practice facilities is not available unless playing a practice round.”
Castren inquired with an LPGA rules official about the situation on Monday and was told that it was non-negotiable with the tournament, but that the LPGA wouldn’t be strictly policing it.
“The guys would never agree to an hour of practice each day,” Castren said.
Published By: Golf Week USA
Date Published: 1/17/2023
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Like a raging bull, Jon Rahm charged from behind to steal the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Rahm made nine birdies and an eagle on Sunday to shoot 10-under 63 at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course and rally from as many as nine strokes behind during the final round to edge 54-hole leader Collin Morikawa by two strokes.
A year ago, Rahm shot 33-under but was pipped by a stroke by Cameron Smith, his second runner-up finish at the TOC, and this time his birdie count was almost as plentiful as the pineapples that used to grow on the hillside layout. He signed for a 72-hole aggregate of 27-under 265.
“To come back this year and shoot a very low score again, I mean, I’m what, 60-under par in these last two tournaments?” he said. “It would have been tough to shoot that low twice and not win it. So I’m glad I had the chance and I’m glad I did it.”
The 28-year-old Spaniard took advantage of Morikawa’s series of back-nine blunders to earn his eighth PGA Tour win. Morikawa, a two-time major winner who was bidding for his first win since the 2021 British Open, tied the largest 54-hole collapse in PGA Tour history after he entered the final round with a six-shot advantage. It was a shocking turn of events as Morikawa played the first 67 holes bogey-free and tacked on three front-nine birdies on Sunday to extend his lead to as many as nine. But he bladed a bunker shot over the green at 14 that led to his first bogey of the tournament, chunked a pitch at 15 and added a third straight bogey at 16.
“The game felt so easy for so long and now no matter what he does it seem like it doesn’t work out,” said PGA Tour Radio’s Mark Wilson.
Morikawa joined a dubious list of nine players who have squandered a 54-hole six-shot lead in Tour history: the first to do so was Bobby Cruickshank at the 1928 Florida Open, while the most-recent was Scottie Scheffler at last year’s Tour Championship.
“Sadness,” Morikawa said of how felt after shooting a final-round 72. “I don’t know. It sucks. You work so hard and you give yourself these opportunities and just bad timing on bad shots and kind of added up really quickly.”
Rahm held a share of the first-round lead with Morikawa after carding a 64 but shot himself in the foot on Friday, shooting 71 and was mad enough with his putting performance that he kicked a trash can on his way to scoring. He was being left in the dust on Saturday, making just one birdie on the front nine when his caddie Adam Hayes stepped in and gave him a pep talk.
“He had hit a real poor shot for him on nine,” Hayes said. “I could tell he wasn’t that focused. I said to him whatever you do on the next 27 holes be uber committed and really clear on picking your start lines, picking your finish lines and be really committed to a number and that’s what he did. He hardly missed a shot after that.”
Rahm reeled off five birdies to shoot 67, but trailed by seven and figured, “we’re going to need a small miracle.”
Then he made a bogey at the first hole on Sunday. “I was going to need somewhat of a larger miracle,” he said.
The epic comeback began with a birdie at the second as Rahm’s putter heated up — he ranked first in Strokes Gained: putting for the week — and made five birdies in all on the front. Still, he trailed by six at the turn before what looked to be a walk in the park for Morikawa turned into a Stephen King horror movie. Rahm’s rally was aided by a 5-under stretch thanks to three consecutive birdies starting at No. 12 and an eagle at 15.
“You need a combination of both. Me having a really good day, which I did, and Collin not having his best,” Rahm said.
Counting his success on the DP World Tour, Rahm has registered three wins in his last four official starts, and the victory in Maui could be the launching pad to a big year.
“I feel like since August I’ve been the best player in the world,” Rahm said. “Earlier in the year clearly Scottie was that player, then Rory was that player, and I feel like right now it’s been me.”178
Article By: Golf Week
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