Power Rankings: 2014 Memorial Tournament

By Will GrayMay 27, 2014, 9:55 pm

This week marks the 29th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to Jack's Place for the Memorial Tournament. A field of 120 players will tee it up this week at Muirfield Village Golf Club, where several of the game's best will look to pick up some momentum with the U.S. Open on the horizon.

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Matt Kuchar returns to defend the title he won here a year ago by two shots over Kevin Chappell. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Columbus:

1. Matt Kuchar: Don't sweat the missed cut at Colonial. Kuchar returns as the defending champ and has five straight top-10 finishes at Muirfield Village, a streak that dates back to 2008. He's been a top-10 machine this season, with nine top-10s in 14 starts and his 69.4 scoring average is currently tops on Tour for 2013-14.

2. Rory McIlroy: Single life appears to suit him. McIlroy has shown this year that he can contend without his A-game, but last week he erased a seven-shot deficit en route to victory at Wentworth. McIlroy is riding a string of four straight top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour dating back to the Shell Houston Open, and he currently leads the Tour with a 4.75 birdie average.



3. Adam Scott: Scott appears eager to remain atop the world rankings, especially after last week's comeback win at Colonial. The Aussie went 66-66 over the weekend to grab the trophy in Fort Worth, and seems to have worked through whatever issues plagued him at TPC Sawgrass. Scott tied for 13th here last year and had back-to-back top-5 finishes at Muirfield Village in 2006 and 2007.

4. Justin Rose: A winner here in 2010, Rose quietly notched a top-25 finish last week in Wentworth, and in the U.S. the Englishman has cracked the top 15 in each of his last four events dating back to the Masters. Rose is clearly comfortable in Columbus, having finished second here in 2008 and eighth each of the last two years. Expect another top finish as he prepares to defend his U.S. Open title next month at Pinehurst.

5. Luke Donald: Donald challenged last week in England before finding the water on the 72nd hole at Wentworth, but he continues to show signs of progress. In addition to last week's T-3 result, the Englishman was also a runner-up last month at Harbour Town and tied for fourth in Tampa. Each of Donald's last five trips to Columbus have netted top-25 results, including a tie for seventh in 2011.

6. Dustin Johnson: Johnson had bookend rounds of 65 and 66 last week at Colonial and would have contended if not for a third-round 74. He has three top-20 finishes in his last five starts at Muirfield Village, including a fourth-place showing in 2011. Johnson has six top-10 finishes in 11 starts this season, including a win in China in October, and carries with him some serious momentum from his two-week run in Texas.

7. Jim Furyk: Furyk saw his top-20 streak end last week at Colonial, but he has still been playing some great golf in recent weeks and certainly knows his way around Colonial. Furyk leads the Tour in scrambling this season and ranks 14th in scoring average, and he boasts four top-25 results in his last five Memorial appearances, highlighted by his runner-up finish in 2009.

8. Bubba Watson: Watson has two wins and two runner-up finishes in his last seven overall starts - a pretty decent run. Watson hasn't had a ton of success at Muirfield Village - his best result in eight career appearances is T-23 - but he leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, ranks seventh in GIR percentage and eighth in birdie average. A rather potent combination, regardless of venue.

9. Brendon Todd: Followed up his first career PGA Tour win in Dallas with a T-5 showing at Colonial. While Todd has never played in this event before, he has eight straight sub-70 rounds - the third time this season that he has eight or more consecutive rounds in the 60s - and currently sits seventh on Tour this season in strokes gained putting. Having just punched his ticket to the U.S. Open via the OWGR, he's playing with house money right now.

10. Stewart Cink: The veteran has shown signs of life this year, notably with a T-14 showing at Augusta National, and he tends to bring his best to Columbus. The former Open champion has cracked the top 30 each of the last eight years at the Memorial, with three top-10 finishes across that stretch. Cink has made 12 of 15 cuts this season and remained in contention at TPC Sawgrass in his most recent start before a Sunday 76.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”