Power Rankings: 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitational

By Will GrayMay 20, 2014, 7:10 pm

This week marks the 28th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour stays in the Lone Star State for the Crowne Plaza Invitational. A field of 123 players will tee it up this week at Colonial Country Club, where the "Horrible Horseshoe" will test even the game's best.

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Boo Weekley returns to defend the title he won here a year ago by one shot over Matt Kuchar. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Fort Worth:

1. Matt Kuchar: Last year's runner-up continues to roll right along in 2014, with his T-7 finish last week in Dallas marking his ninth top-10 finish in only 13 starts this season. Kuchar was also ninth here in 2008 and T-16 in 2011, and his 69.4 stroke average continues to lead the Tour this season. With a win, he could move to No. 1 in the world.

2. Zach Johnson: Few players have dominated a venue like Johnson has at Colonial since 2009: two wins - including the tournament scoring record - two more top-five finishes and no result worse than T-9. Johnson clearly feels comfortable at Colonial, and his tee-to-green game has paid dividends in recent years. Expect another strong week from a player who has won three times since September.

3. Jim Furyk: Furyk is teeing it up for the first time since back-to-back runner-up finishes at Quail Hollow and TPC Sawgrass, and rides a streak of six straight top-20 finishes overall. Furyk has twice been a runner-up at Colonial (1998, 2007) and finished fourth as recently as 2012. He currently ranks 10th on Tour in driving accuracy and 12th in scoring average.

4. Graham DeLaet: He has to win at some point...right? DeLaet's T-7 result in Dallas was his sixth top-10 finish this season and 19th since 2010. The Canadian currently leads the Tour in both ball-striking and GIR percentage and sits eighth in total driving, cementing his spot as one of the best tee-to-green players around. He tied for 22nd last year, opening with a 64 but closing with a disappointing 74.

5. Jordan Spieth: Spieth had an off week while playing in front of hometown fans in Dallas, but this week should get back on track just down the road in Ft. Worth. He tied for seventh last year in his Colonial debut, including a 65-67 start, and this season has surpassed nearly every expectation with six top-10 finishes, highlighted by his runner-up at the Masters.

6. Adam Scott: The new world No. 1 wastes no time in putting his ranking to use this week, and the course should favor his consistent game. But this is just the third career appearance at Colonial for the Aussie, and he failed to crack the top 60 in either of his two previous attempts. After moving to No. 1 while on the couch, though, he'll be eager to back up his new (mathematical) standing atop the game of golf.

7. Kevin Na: Na continues to have a strong year in his return from injury, with eight top-25 finishes this season. He has been quietly consistent at Colonial, with four top-25 finishes from 2007-2012, and currently ranks 10th on Tour in scoring average and 14th in strokes gained putting. With almost $2 million already in the bank this season, he's in position to make a good year a great one with a big week in Texas.

8. Paul Casey: Don't look now, but the Englishman is rounding back into form after injuries forced him out of the spotlight in recent years. Casey garnered headlines with a back-nine 27 during the second round last week at TPC Four Seasons, and his T-16 finish was his third straight top-20 result overall. Casey hasn't played Colonial in four years, but his two prior trips netted a fifth (2009) and T-13 (2010).

9. Chris Kirk: A winner earlier this season at Sea Island, Kirk has been quietly consistent in 2014, making the cut in each of his 16 starts, and he tied for 13th at the Players Championship in his most recent start after a Sunday 67. Kirk tied for fifth here in 2012 and was T-16 the year prior, so he knows his way around Colonial.

10. Ryan Palmer: Palmer tied for 22nd last week in Dallas despite playing the weekend over par, and as a Texas native should have some home crowds behind him this week in Ft. Worth. He is 11th on Tour in birdie average and has cracked the top 15 each of the last two years at Colonial, finishing T-5 in 2012 and T-14 in 2013.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''