Weekly Recap: New Year, New Record

Weekly Recap: New Year, New Record

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

Matt Jones, we have good news and bad news for you. The good? You shot 32-under-par at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, better than any previous 72-hole stroke-play score in PGA Tour history. The bad news? You didn't win. In fact, you didn't even finish second.

Jon Rahm, we have good news and bad news for you, too. The good? You shot even lower than Jones, an astounding 33-under-par, and tied the all-time tournament mark with 32 birdies. The bad news? You didn't win either.

In the biggest birdie-fest in golf history, three golfers blew past the magical 30-under-par mark on Sunday at Kapalua, with Cameron Smith going the lowest of the low, at 34-under, to edge Rahm by one stroke.

The previous record for a 72-hole stroke-play event was 31-under set by Ernie Els right here at the Plantation Course back in 2003. 

The 28-year-old Smith moved into the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time, right at No. 10. His previous best was 20th and he began the week at No. 21. He also, obviously, became the first golfer to qualify for the 2023 TOC.

This is already the eighth season on Tour for mullet-sporting Aussie, and he really seems to have entered his prime. This was his fourth win on Tour, and he has now won in three straight years. He also just missed another win last summer when he dropped a playoff to Tony Finau at The Northern Trust . It's

Matt Jones, we have good news and bad news for you. The good? You shot 32-under-par at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, better than any previous 72-hole stroke-play score in PGA Tour history. The bad news? You didn't win. In fact, you didn't even finish second.

Jon Rahm, we have good news and bad news for you, too. The good? You shot even lower than Jones, an astounding 33-under-par, and tied the all-time tournament mark with 32 birdies. The bad news? You didn't win either.

In the biggest birdie-fest in golf history, three golfers blew past the magical 30-under-par mark on Sunday at Kapalua, with Cameron Smith going the lowest of the low, at 34-under, to edge Rahm by one stroke.

The previous record for a 72-hole stroke-play event was 31-under set by Ernie Els right here at the Plantation Course back in 2003. 

The 28-year-old Smith moved into the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time, right at No. 10. His previous best was 20th and he began the week at No. 21. He also, obviously, became the first golfer to qualify for the 2023 TOC.

This is already the eighth season on Tour for mullet-sporting Aussie, and he really seems to have entered his prime. This was his fourth win on Tour, and he has now won in three straight years. He also just missed another win last summer when he dropped a playoff to Tony Finau at The Northern Trust . It's important to note that two of Smith's four wins came at the Zurich Classic team event. The other was at the 2020 Sony Open in Hawaii, so Smith is showing an affinity for the Aloha State. He will look to sweep the Hawaii Swing later this week, and with the way he's playing – top-10s in six of his past nine starts dating back to the Olympics – why not?

Smith really is known for his dynamic short game – last year, he ranked 10th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting and 25th in SG: Around-the-Green – but people have been underestimating the rest of his game for years now. To wit, he led this field of the world's longest and best golfers in SG: Off-the-Tee. He also ranked first in SG: Putting on the week, meaning if you didn't know Rahm's score you'd have thought Smith won in a runaway. In fact, Smith is only the second golfer to lead a tournament in both of those stats in the past decade, according to golf writer Justin Ray. 

So where does Smith go from here? Well, he obviously has the best chance of anyone to win a second time in 2022. A good place to look is Augusta, where he has finished top-10 three of the past four years, including co-runner-up to Dustin Johnson in 2020. In fact, Smith was/still is our pick to win the Masters, as noted in last week's 2021 wrap-up/2022 preview article.

We're in the second week of January – just three months until the second week in April.

MONDAY BACKSPIN

Jon Rahm
There's not much to say here. Rahm is still Rahm. Sure, it's crazy to lose when shooting 33-under, but it shows that the world No. 1 is in form coming out of the long winter break. There was a chance he could have lost the top ranking to Collin Morikawa (T5), but Rahm made sure to hold on. Neither guy will be in this week's Sony Open.

Matt Jones
Jones has nothing to hang his head about, especially after his record-breaking weekend. He shot 62-61 – that's 62-61! – to set the all-time record for a weekend at 23-under-par. The 41-year-old Aussie has played some of his best golf since turning 40, winning The Honda Classic to get into the TOC. To win at one of the stingiest tracks in PGA National, then shoot 32-under at a birdie-fest, that's a golfer who can play any type of course. Jones moved from 104th in the OWGR to 66th. His best was 41st in 2014, a position not out of reach for Jones, who now heads to Waialae for the Sony Open.
   
Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas
All three guys entered the week in the top-seven in the world rankings, and all got off to predictably good starts in 2022. Cantlay was solo fourth and Morikawa and Thomas tied for fifth. None of them will be in the Sony Open.

Cam Davis
Davis made it three Aussies in the top-10, tying for 10th in his first visit to Kapalua. This was a good sign since Davis had shown next to nothing in the second half of 2021 after winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic on July Fourth. He didn't have so much as a top-25 in his final 10 starts of last year. Davis is back up to 74th in the OWGR, a little shy of his personal best of 63rd.

Marc Leishman
One more Aussie in the top-10. Leishman picked up where he left off in a good fall swing in which he had a pair of top-5s. Now up to 33rd in the OWGR, he will be at Waialae this week.

Seamus Power
Power had spent the final months of 2021 climbing the world rankings, notably by winning the Barbasol to qualify here. He then added three more top-12s in the fall swing, all in fields far superior to the Barbasol. Power finished 15th at Kapalua – not bad – and now stands at a career-high 63rd in the OWGR. He'll also be in the Sony Open.

Jordan Spieth
Spieth finished in a tie for 21st in the 38-golfer field. Returning to Kapalua for the first time in four years, he had played well here through the years, so this could be viewed as a disappointment. He ranked 10th in the field in SG: Putting, also disappointing for him. This was Spieth's second event since becoming a first-time father – the first was the Hero World Challenge – and he was a non-factor in both. Coincidence? Maybe.
 
Bryson DeChambeau
In the land of the 400-yard drives, DeChambeau could do no better than shoot 67 in any round and wound up tied for 25th. He's one of the few big names continuing on to Waialae this week. It wasn't a great tournament for DeChambeau at Kapalua, but at least he beat the next guy on this list.

Brooks Koepka
Koepka finished in a tie for 28th, yet another lackluster performance in a non-marquee event. He slipped one more spot to 17th in the OWGR.
 
Viktor Hovland
Interestingly, Hovland tied for 30th but moved up a spot in the world rankings to sixth, leapfrogging Xander Schauffele. After he noted on social media that his clubs were missing and eventually late arrivals in Hawaii – a backup club was broken – Hovland is trusting them to the airlines again as he heads home, bypassing the Sony Open.

Phil Mickelson
It wasn't a great week for Mickelson, who tied for 30th. About the only stat of any consequence for him was greens in regulation – he ranked eighth in the field. When you are that high in GIR, but that low on the leaderboard, you probably didn't putt well and Mickelson didn't, ranking 21st in SG: Putting. It very well could be his final time playing at Kapalua – after all, he'll need to win another tournament for a return invite.

Harris English
We'll highlight English only because he was the defending champion – he tied for 30th. But don't let the poor performance weigh too heavily and don't dismiss English this week at the Sony Open.

Jason Kokrak
Kokrak finished 38th – last in the field. Incredibly, while 61s and 62s were being shot all tournament long, he couldn't break 70 all week. Not one thing went right for Kokrak. He was second-to-last in the field in putting. Remember, that was the key to Kokrak's resurgence last year. It's something to monitor this week at Waialae.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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