Leading up to the Farmers Insurance Open, headlines centered around the return of Tiger Woods and his early round all-star pairing with world number 1 Jason Day and world number 3 Dustin Johnson. All three of the stars struggled and missed the cut, opening the door for someone else to steal the show.

Sunday’s leaderboard was jammed with promising young players such as Tony Finau, C.T. Pan, Patrick Rodgers and Jon Rahm, as well as grizzled veterans like defending champion Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley Charles Howell III and Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose. 

The leaderboard stayed bunched late into the back nine until Jon Rahm made a charge, making an eagle on the 13th to surge into a share of the lead. He then closed like a boss, rolling in a birdie on the par-4 17th and hitting it onto the par-5 18th fringe in two. Saving his best for last, Rahm rolled in the 60’ putt for an eagle and a 3-shot lead, assuring the 22-year-old his first career win. Full scores

Credit: PGA Tour

Credit: PGA Tour

The Spanish star

One could hardly be surprised by Rahm notching his first win. Since turning professional, the young Spaniard has been a fixture on PGA Tour leaderboards, earning four top 25’s in his first eight starts. With the win, Rahm has earned himself a spot in the Masters. His combination of incredible distance and deft putting touch make him not only a player to watch at Augusta but also arguably one of the five best players under 25. Here is a detailed profile piece on Rahm from late last year that you can read here

Tiger struggles

After a disappointing opening round 76 on the tough South Course setup, Tiger did not fare well in round two, shooting an even par 72 on the North Course to miss the cut by 4 shots. All in all, poor driving and tee-to-green play stunted the star’s ability to score. I expect this to improve with more starts, but the swing is a little alarming, looking unnatural and forced as opposed to the old fluid and athletic swing of yesteryear. I guess this is 40. 

New year, same CBS

Last week’s Farmers Insurance Open signaled the first telecast of 2017 for longtime PGA Tour partner CBS. In recent years, the network’s coverage has come under fire for their propensity to manufacture storylines, force 30 minute pauses in the action and air tons of commercials while very few golf shots. Those that hoped for a change in 2017 were sorely disappointed as it appears that CBS has actually gotten worse. Saturday and Sunday’s telecasts didn’t start on time due to college basketball running over, and the commercials were completely out of hand. At one point in Sunday’s final round, the ratio of shots to commercial breaks neared 1 to 1. 

Taking flight

Last week, I was able to check out Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns’ renovation of Winter Park Golf Course, a 9-hole community course just north of Orlando. The pair did a fantastic job refreshing the 2,400-yard setup, using unique green complexes and great bunkering work to make this track a fun little place to play. After the round, my drone took flight to give you an eagle eye view.

A name to remember: Wang

Not Mr. Wang from Caddyshack but rather Jeunghun Wang, a 21-year-old budding superstar from South Korea. Playing at last week’s Qatar Masters, Wang found himself in a playoff with Swedish young gun Joakim Lagergren and South African veteran Jaco Van Zyl. On the first playoff hole, Wang closed the door on Lagergren and Van Zyl, making a birdie to notch his 3rd win in just 27 professional starts. Wang is the quickest to 3 wins since Tiger Woods won 3 times in his first 9 tournaments, and he moves inside the top 50 in the world rankings, earning himself a spot at Augusta. 

Talking golf with Michael Clayton

The latest podcast is up with former European Tour player and renowned golf course architect, Michael Clayton, as our guest. Michael and I talk about his career on the European Tour and what it was like playing with Seve, the technology problem in golf, and his thoughts on a bevy of golf course architecture topics. Listen in on the website or iTunes.

On TV this week

One thing worth DVRing: Chronicles of a Champion: Tiger Woods on Golf Channel Wednesday 2/1 at 9:30 pm EST

PGA Tour - Waste Management Phoenix Open

Thursday: Golf Channel 3 - 7 pm EST
Friday: Golf Channel 3 - 7 pm EST
Saturday: Golf Channel 1:30 - 2:30 pm EST & CBS 3 - 6 pm EST
Sunday: Golf Channel 1:30 - 2:30 pm EST & CBS 3 - 6 pm EST

European Tour - Dubai Desert Classic

Wednesday: Golf Channel 11 pm - 8:30 am EST
Thursday: Golf Channel 11 pm - 8:30 am EST
Saturday: Golf Channel 3:30 am - 8:00 am EST
Sunday: Golf Channel 3:30 am - 8:00 am EST

Quick hooks

Fan jumps in the lake and nearly escapes security at the Farmers.

Lincicome downs Lexi Thompson to win LPGA season kickoff.

Cool drone footage of North Berwick from Ru Macdonald. 

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