Jon Rahm checks in at No. 18 in Prize money in the 2021-22 PGA Tour season with $ 1,699,630. He’s yet to find the winner’s Circle, but he’s 5-for-6 in cuts made and has two top-5 finishes. Hideki Matsuyama leads the Tour in cash through the season’s first 18 events with $ 3,897,233.
Rahm, who announced last week that he and wife Kelley are expecting their second boy, still has a firm grip on the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking as well as the Golfweek / Sagarin rankings.
Rahm is also No. 1 in one of the most important Tour stat: strokes gained off the tee.
With the Fall Series and the West Coast Swing now in the Rearview mirror and the Florida Swing having started, there have been enough events played this season to start to get a good statistical feel for the game. Most players have competed in at least four events, so their stats have meaning and are less likely to see this wild change based on one week’s performance.
Strokes gained off the tee measures the advantage (or disadvantage) a player has exclusively from his performance on par 4s and par 5s off the tee. A positive number means a player is better than the average golfer on Tour, while a negative number means the player is Worse than average. Golfers who excel in this statistic tend to make a lot of money, find themselves in contention on the weekends and become household names. The best season-ending strokes gained off the tee average ever was turned in by Bubba Watson in 2012 (1,485).
Rahm is at 1,227, the only golfer earning more than a stroke off the tee. Tour Rookie Cameron Young is second at 0.837, while Keith Mitchell is third at 0.793, Sungjae Im is fourth at 0.711 and Patrick Cantlay is fifth at 0.692.
LPGA Legend to be honored
Marilynn Smith, one of 13 women who founded the LPGA, will be Remembered in May with the Inaugural Marilynn Smith Arizona Women’s Open and Scholarship Pro-Am.
The tournament, announced by the Arizona Golf Foundation on Tuesday, will be May 1-5 at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa. The field will consist of 144 pros, amateurs and legends. There will be a minimum purse of $ 50,000.
“With the departure of the LPGA from Arizona, we feel it’s important to heighten the visibility for elite women’s competitions,” said Ed Gowan, executive director of the Arizona Golf Association. “This first Marilynn Smith AZ Women’s Open will raise the bar.”
For a second year in a row, there is no Arizona tournament on the LPGA schedule for 2022.
“Marilynn Smith lived her life as a trailblazer, uplifting, befriending and making a difference for others,” said Debbie Waitkus, chair of the Marilynn Smith & Founders’ Legacy Foundation. “She would be incredibly pleased to know that her annual Scholarship Pro-Am is part of a new opportunity in Arizona for women to compete at a high level.”
Smith passed away at age 89 in April 2019. She was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.
Chance to compete
The PGA Tour is staging two events this week. The headliner is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando. It’s an “elevated” event on the Tour schedule, not to the level of a major but on a plane with the Genesis Invitational (Hosted by Tiger Woods) and the Memorial, Jack Nicklaus’ long-standing event. First place this week is good for $ 2,160,000, up from the $ 1,674,000 Bryson DeChambeau won a year ago (he will not defend as he is out with an injury). Rahm is in the field, as is WM Phoenix Open champ Scottie Scheffler.
The other Tour stop this week is the Puerto Rico Open. Sponsor exemptions include Kevin Yu from Arizona State and Trevor Werbylo from Arizona. Opposite-field events such as this are a great chance for rising players to compete, earn some money and FedEx Cup points and gain valuable Tour experience.
The Grand Reserve Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, measures 7,506 yards this week and features two par 5s longer than 600 yards on the back nine.
Celebrity win for Sorenstam
Ex-Wildcat All-American Annika Sorenstam teamed up with former Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald to win the Celebrity Challenge on Saturday at the PGA Tour Champions Cologuard Classic in Tucson.
In the best-ball format at Omni Tucson National, Sorenstam made a birdie putt on 18 to get her and Fitzgerald to 4 under to defeat the team of country music star Jake Owen and former NFL running back Eric Dickerson by two shots.
Sorenstam, who has committed to the US Women’s Open in June, was a runner-up in the Celebrity Division at the LPGA’s season-opening Tournament of Champions in January.
Celebrating 100 years
Dr. Edgar Updegraff, the USGA’s oldest living Champion who won the 1981 US Senior Amateur, celebrated his 100th birthday Tuesday. Updegraff – born March 1, 1922 in Boone, Iowa – competed in 35 USGA Championships, including 18 US Amateurs. He also played the Masters six times.
The Arizona Golf Association’s president in 1981 and 1982, Updegraff won the Tucson Country Club title 27 times, the last in 1989, after which the club named the Trophy “The Updegraff Cup.” He also won 12 Tucson city and four Arizona Amateur titles.
Updegraff was on three Walker Cup teams (1963, 1965, 1969).
“I really don’t know how many tournaments I’ve won,” he told the Des Moines Register. “It’s quite a few, because of so many weekend events. I just paid attention to the larger events. I have a half-dose mementos in my den from the Walker Cup and other majors. I didn’t keep all the rest.”
In 1999, they won the Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest Honor.
Golfweek’s David Dusek contributed to this article.
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