clear
Friday November 24th, 2017 9:40AM

Fortunes can change quickly in the world of golf

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SHANGHAI (AP) — The final World Golf Championship of the year is a case study in how quickly the landscape can change.

Jon Rahm had never played in one of these elite events and it wasn't his highest priority a year ago because he had played only one PGA Tour event as a full member. Now he's at the HSBC Champions as No. 5 in the world, making him the highest ranked European.

Hideki Matsuyama was coming off a victory in the Japan Open and a runner-up finish in Malaysia, worthy of celebration because the Japanese star had moved into the top 10 in the world for the first time in his career. He won by seven shots at the HSBC Champions, part of an amazing stretch in which he won five times in nine starts.

Patrick Cantlay had gone two years without even playing because of a back surgery he feared might end his career. He made it back to golf in February, to the Tour Championship in September and to his first World Golf Championship this week at Sheshan International.

Pat Perez?

Not even he can believe he's No. 18 in the world.

Perez was No. 333 at this time a year ago after returning to golf following surgery on his shoulder. The last time he even qualified for a World Golf Championship was at the HSBC Champions in 2009, the week he said he realized he was "globally unknown."

"I pulled up the schedule and saw my name on it twice as the defending champion," said Perez, who went from one to three career victories by winning the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the OHL Classic in Mexico.

"That was so cool," he said. "I can't even believe it's going on. I'm living it, but it hasn't sunk in. I don't see myself with Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson. Those are super athletes. I'm not even in consideration with them. But it's nice to be where they are. It's nice to be on the big schedule. No. 18 in the world. Who in the hell would have thought that?"

Getting into the top class of golf is hard enough. Staying there isn't that easy.

Just ask Jason Day, Adam Scott and Patrick Reed, all of whom were in the top 10 in January and failed to win this year. Bubba Watson isn't at the HSBC Champions because at No. 60, he isn't eligible.

Johnson, Matsuyama and Rahm lead the field when the HSBC Champions begins Thursday in some of the best weather this tournament has ever seen.

It's the end of a three-week Asian swing for Perez and about a dozen other PGA Tour players. It's the stretch drive for a group of Europeans that include Tommy Fleetwood, who is leading the Race to Dubai, and Rahm, who still harbors hopes of catching him.

It won't be long before a new year begins, and based on the way this year has gone, the possibilities are endless.

"I think I've said many times what I think of my year. You know, unbelievable," Rahm said. "Not many players get to say this, but I accomplished a lot more than I set my mind to at the beginning of the year. It's very special. I accomplished a lot of goals that weren't in my mind at the beginning of the year, such as top 10 in the world, winning on the European Tour. There are many things that I set my mind to that I ended up doing."

Johnson had an idea where he was going at this time a year ago, just not the detour in his path to the top.

He won his first major at the U.S. Open. He won twice more over the next few months and was one round away from winning the FedEx Cup. He was No. 3 in the world, though his game was pointed in a strong direction and he fulfilled that through the spring with three straight victories against the strongest fields to reach No. 1.

And then he slipped down the stairs on the eve of the Masters, wrenched his back and didn't win again until August.

Matsuyama cooled off in the spring when he went three months without a top 10, but then he was runner-up in the U.S. Open, won another World Golf Championship and contended at the PGA Championship. His game has looked tired since then.

Getting his game in top form was one thing. Keeping it there was even tougher.

"I'm still learning how to do that," Matsuyama said. "That's one of my goals, one of things I'm working on now, is to be able to stay on top of my game."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Golf, AP Sports - PGA
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Fortunes can change quickly in the world of golf
Johnson, Matsuyama, Rahm lead the field at HSBC Champions in final World Golf Championship of the year
9:57AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Metallica, Dave Matthews to headline wildfire relief concert
Metallica and Dave Matthews are set to headline a wildfire relief concert in San Francisco next month
9:44AM ( 27 minutes ago )
2 killed on Grambling State campus; shooter at large
Authorities say a student and his friend were fatally shot on the campus at Grambling State University in Louisiana by a suspect who remained at large
9:35AM ( 36 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
10 Things to Know for Today
Among 10 Things to Know: Traditional Republicans questioning future after Sen. Flake's retirement announcement; New Chinese leadership facing global challenges; After independence vote, Kurdish leaders feel under siege
6:49AM ( 3 hours ago )
Declaration of independents: Hill rises, makes Series start
Rich Hill never believed he was out of chances, even when he wound up pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks in the summer of 2015
4:07AM ( 6 hours ago )
PGA Tour China to resume with full schedule in 2018
PGA Tour, China Golf Association agree to resume Chinese tour with hopes of developing elite players
2:38AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Sports
Women finally get their day at Pebble Beach for US Open
Pebble Beach finally to host US Women's Open in 2023, and men return in 2027 for 7th time
6:48PM ( 15 hours ago )
Pebble Beach to host first Women's US Open in 2023
Prestigious Pebble Beach will host its first U.S. Women's Open in 2023 and the 2027 U.S. Open
12:42PM ( 21 hours ago )
List fires 67 to take 1-stroke lead halfway through CJ Cup
Luke List has fired a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead after the second round of the CJ Cup in Jeju, South Korea
5:04AM ( 5 days ago )
AP Online Golf
Brendan Steele successfully defends Safeway Open title
Brendan Steele rallied to successfully defend his Safeway Open title, closing with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over Tony Finau in the season opener
9:27PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Tyler Duncan maintains Safeway Open lead at Silverado
PGA Tour rookie Tyler Duncan parred the 18th hole for a scrambling 1-under 71 to maintain a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Safeway Open
10:11PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Tyler Duncan eagles 18th to take Safeway Open lead
Tyler Duncan chipped in from the fringe for eagle on the par-5 18th hole to take the second-round lead in the season-opening Safeway Open
10:16PM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP Sports - PGA
Metallica, Dave Matthews to headline wildfire relief concert
Metallica and Dave Matthews are set to headline a wildfire relief concert in San Francisco next month
9:44AM ( 28 minutes ago )
2 killed on Grambling State campus; shooter at large
Authorities say a student and his friend were fatally shot on the campus at Grambling State University in Louisiana by a suspect who remained at large
9:35AM ( 36 minutes ago )
US poker star Phil Ivey loses UK case, won't get millions
US poker star Phil Ivey loses British court case; won't get millions in winnings
9:12AM ( 59 minutes ago )
Boeing tops Street 3Q forecasts
Boeing beats 3Q earnings and revenue expectations
9:12AM ( 1 hour ago )
Officials: Taliban attack Afghan army posts, kill 11 troops
Afghan officials say Taliban attacks on military posts in western provinces have killed 11 soldiers
8:56AM ( 1 hour ago )