Power Rankings: 2014 Shriners Open

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2014, 5:48 pm

The PGA Tour continues to kick off the 2014-15 season with the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. A field of 144 players will tee it up at TPC Summerlin, where the winning score often exceeds 20 under par.

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Webb Simpson won this event a year ago by six shots over Ryo Ishikawa and Jason Bohn. Here are 10 players to watch in Las Vegas:

1. Brooks Koepka: His T-8 finish at Silverado was his fourth consecutive top-11 finish overall, and signaled that the 24-year-old is prepared to contend in his first full season as a PGA Tour member. His length off the tee should come in handy at TPC Summerlin, and a shootout could be his best chance to notch that maiden win.

2. Billy Horschel: The FedEx Cup champ makes his season debut, but after a short offseason there's reason to expect that the form - and momentum - that carried him to two playoff wins will carry over. Horschel was T-16 in 2011 in his lone start in this event.

3. Jimmy Walker: His Ryder Cup fatigue was evident in his title defense in Napa, but TPC Summerlin has suited him well in years past. Walker was T-10 in 2011 and T-12 a year ago in Sin City, and he finished last season third on Tour in birdie average.

4. Martin Laird: While some high finishes yield nothing but positives, Laird admitted Sunday he was disappointed with his T-3 finish at Silverado after holding the 36-hole lead. He'll have a chance to make up for that disappointment on a course where he won in 2009 and lost in a playoff in 2010.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama began his season with a T-3 finish at the Frys.com Open, where he found 56/72 greens in regulation. Matsuyama is making his first start in Las Vegas, but with many of the game's top players still on the sidelines he remains a player to watch.

6. Webb Simpson: The defending champ torched the field last year en route to a six-shot victory, and now will tee it up for the first time since a disappointing appearance at the Ryder Cup. Simpson also tied for fourth at TPC Summerlin in 2009, so it appears the desert air might suit him.

7. Ryan Moore: The UNLV grad will have plenty of support from the galleries this week, and he'll play a course where he won in 2011 and was T-9 a year ago. Moore is making his first start since the BMW Championship, but finished last season in the top 25 in both birdie average and GIR percentage.

8. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker was slow getting out of the gates in wine country, where he tied for 57th last week, and now heads to Vegas for the first time since 2008 (T-24). Should his putter heat up, though, Sneds will be one to watch this weekend.

9. Nick Watney: Watney is coming off a disappointing season, but he did begin to show signs of life in July and August. TPC Summerlin is one of his preferred venues, having cracked the top 10 three straight years from 2009-2011, including a runner-up showing in 2010.

10. Kevin Na: Na claimed his lone PGA Tour win in Las Vegas in 2011, and a quietly solid season led to a Tour Championship berth last month after Na recorded 14 top-25 finishes in 27 starts. He finished last season 16th in scoring average and 18th in the all-around ranking.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.