PGA Tour 2018: Tiger is back, DJ is from another planet and other news this year on the Tour

Tiger Woods is back, and all is right with te golf world.

Here we are folks! The 2018 PGA TOUR season has officially begun. Now before you go off and tell me that “technically it already started,” I know. But let’s be honest with each other, those events between the Tour Championship and the Tournament of Champions (sans the WGC event in Shanghai) are borderline meaningless. At any rate, the 2018 season is under way with both new and old excitement. Let’s take a look at some of the news we’ve had and news to look forward to in 2018:

Tiger is back

It would be silly not to start with the most exciting/interesting news that’s been permeating the golf landscape in 2018. That’s right, one Eldrick Tont Woods, a.k.a. Tiger, has officially committed to play in two official tournaments so far. The first (Farmers Insurance Open) is coming up at the end of January (officially, Jan 25-28). This tournament takes place at Torrey Pines where he has won an incredible eight times. Those eight wins include his 14th (and most recent) major, the 2008 U.S. Open. If anyone knows how to get around Torrey Pines, it’s Tiger Woods. The other tournament he has committed to is the Genesis Open (Feb 15-18) at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, CA. Now remember, it’s 2018, not 2000. Tiger is not the player he was back then, and his name no longer carries the weight/intimidation that it once did. However, everyone benefits from Tiger playing in tour events. More people watch, more people attend, and golf is all around better (and richer) when they can bank on Tiger. It’s highly doubtful that Tiger will be near the top of the leaderboard at either tournament, but the oddsmakers feel a bit differently. Tiger hosted and played in the Hero World Challenge back at the end of November. This was a limited field event (only 18 players) and the course was rather tame by PGA standards. However, before the tournament started Tiger was a 66-1 longshot to win at Augusta in 2018. After his opening round 69 at the Hero, that dropped to a ridiculous 33-1, and after Friday it was even lower at 15-1. Some books still have him at that number, while others have come to their senses and brought the number back up. While I won’t put any money on Tiger to win a major this year (or ever again for that matter), it would not surprise me if he did. Bottom line is that Tiger is back playing in meaningful tournaments, and we are all the better because of it.

DJ is from another planet

In other news, Dustin Johnson is not human. If you haven’t seen his near ace on the 433 yard par 4 in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, then you are severely missing out. Check it out here even if you have seen it, because it is that good. Johnson went on to win that tournament by an incredible 8 shots, with a total score of 24-under par. With the ability to drive it that far, and stay that accurate, it’s hard to imagine he would ever lose a golf tournament. He finally broke his major drought in 2016 at the U.S. Open, and ascended to No. 1 in the world at the beginning of 2017. He still sits atop the OWGR and looks poised to make a statement in 2018. It’s my opinion that DJ will win the Player of the Year award for 2018, and will take home multiple tournaments including a couple majors. Quite a bit of my betting dollars will be used on DJ this year (barring any more tumbles down a short set of stairs).

Spieth is still pretty good, too

Jordan Spieth is still good at golf, and even added a Claret Jug to his trophy case in 2017. It took a some incredible putting, and a ridiculous drop that lasted more than 20 minutes; but the Open Championship was his in the end. This makes the PGA Championship in 2018 quite a bit more interesting to watch. He will be competing for the Grand Slam, which only five other players have done (one of them being Mr. Woods an amazing three times.) Jordan also got engaged at the end of 2017, which I assume will be a good thing, but who knows. Congratulations Jordan, but remember where the money comes from: GOLF!

Plenty of other interesting names

Other players to watch out for are the norms: Rory McIlroy is out of the Nike equipment, and looks to be fully recovered from his rib/back injury that occurred last year. He’s been through somewhat of a lull in the past years, but he still has four majors and will be gunning for the Grand Slam at the Masters this year. The reigning Player of the Year, Justin Thomas, has 10-3 odds to win a major this year. He won the 2017 Tournament of Champions, and then shot a 59 in the Sony the very next week. He seemed to be a bit out of form at the Sentry last week, but it’s still very early in the year. The unfortunate part of 2018 is that there is no reason to root for Sergio anymore. After finally capturing that elusive first major at the Masters, it’s not likely that he’ll be getting the same acquiescence from the crowds. However, he did just leave long time sponsor Taylormade, and signed with Callaway. That may not make him any more popular with the fans, but I do think he will play better with the new equipment. There are a few low key names to be on the look out for this year. Tony Finau is a name that few outside the golfing world will know, but he is young and coming into form. He is tall (6’3”) and can mash it like Dustin. Combine that with his improved greenside ability and scrambling strength, and he is a dark horse to win big this year. Another young up-and-comer is Xander Schauffele. He won the Tour Championship at the end of 2017 and just signed a big deal with Callaway. (Callaway seems to be rounding everyone up lately). Without the pressure of needing to win to make money, The X-Man can relax and play his style of golf.

All in all, it looks to be an exciting season of PGA TOUR golf. Perhaps somewhat heightened by the long-awaited return of Tiger, and bolstered by it being a Ryder Cup year. I’m looking forward to each week on the TOUR, and plan on attending the final major (The PGA Championship) this year. Here’s hoping the bets pay off, and the beer continues to flow all year.


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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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