Power Rankings: 2014 Quicken Loans National

By Will GrayJune 25, 2014, 5:27 am

This week marks the 33rd event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to the nation's capital for the Quicken Loans National. A field of 120 players will tee it up this week at Congressional Country Club, site of the U.S. Open just three years ago.

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Bill Haas returns to defend the title he won here a year ago by three shots over Roberto Castro. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Washington, D.C.:

1. Jason Day: He didn't exactly contend at the U.S. Open, but the Aussie still left Pinehurst with a T-4 finish, then tied for 18th at Travelers with his score improving each day. Now he returns to Congressional, where he was a runner-up at the 2011 U.S. Open and where he tied for eighth in this event in 2012.

2. Justin Rose: The Englishman put up an admirable defense of his U.S. Open title, tying for 12th at Pinehurst. While his win in this event came at Aronimink in 2010, he did tie for 16th in his last start at Congressional in this event (2009). Outside of a missed cut at Memorial, Rose has been inside the top 15 in his five other most recent starts, dating back to the Masters.

3. Keegan Bradley: Bradley tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, his best finish in a major since the 2012 PGA, then followed that with a solid T-31 showing at Travelers. Bradley's lone start in this event resulted in a missed cut in 2011, but he's a far different player now, with top-25 finishes in half of his 18 starts this season. Ranks 10th in birdie average and 13th in total driving.

4. Brandt Snedeker: The putter is starting to heat up, and the results have begun to follow for Snedeker. After his T-9 finish at Pinehurst, Sneds tied for 11th at Travelers to post his best back-to-back results of the season. He tied for eighth last year at Congressional.

5. Jordan Spieth: Spieth contended well into the weekend last year before finishing sixth, and his stellar 2013-14 campaign continues. His tie for 17th at the U.S. Open was his third straight top-20 result, and his eighth in 10 starts dating back to March. Spieth is among the Tour leaders in both scrambling (eighth) and scoring average (ninth).

6. Hunter Mahan: While he missed the cut here last year, Mahan's record in this event at Congressional has been otherwise excellent, with a runner-up in 2009 highlighting a stretch of four top-15 finishes from 2007-2012. Mahan has missed each of his last two cuts, but he ranks 10th on Tour in total driving and should contend this weekend.

7. Brendon Todd: Gained significant attention by playing in the final pairing Saturday at Pinehurst en route to a T-17 finish, but that was his fourth straight top-20 result, a streak that was sparked by his breakthrough win in Dallas. Todd is now fifth on Tour in scrambling and seventh in strokes gained putting, and he tied for 13th at Congressional last year.

8. Tiger Woods: The host is back in action, but the state of his game remains largely unknown. When Tiger is playing well, he can tame Congressional - see wins in 2009 and 2012 - but even he has admitted that this week's event is largely a tune-up for the Open Championship as he returns to competitive golf for the first time since March.

9. K.J. Choi: Choi's game perhaps received a bump when he was named an assistant captain for the 2015 Presidents Cup a few weeks ago. The winner of the inaugural event back in 2007, Choi was a runner-up last week in Connecticut and now has five top-35 finishes in his last six starts going back to the Masters. 

10. Billy Horschel: He rebounded from an opening 75 to finish T-23 at the U.S. Open, his fourth straight result of T-26 or better overall. Horschel has been one of the better ball-strikers all season long - he ranks sixth in GIR percentage and 14th in driving accuracy - but the putts are finally starting to fall.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.