Power Rankings: 2014 U.S. Open

By Will GrayJune 10, 2014, 6:46 pm

This week marks the 31st event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to Pinehurst No. 2 for the U.S. Open. A field of 156 players will tee it up this week in the "cradle of golf," where turtleback greens and sandy waste areas will test the game's best as only the USGA can envision.

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Justin Rose returns to defend the title he won here a year ago by two shots over Phil Mickelson and Jason Day. Here are 10 players to watch this week in North Carolina:

1. Rory McIlroy: Quite simply, his best is better than that of nearly anyone else in the field. A winner of this event three years ago, McIlroy won earlier this month at Wentworth and has an array of top-10 finishes to his credit this year. His high ball flight will help when trying to land approach shots on turtleback greens, and while his second-round struggles have been well-documented, everyone will make bogeys this week. McIlroy's ability to reel off birdies in bunches - he leads the Tour in birdie average - will separate him.

2. Matt Kuchar: His U.S. Open resume isn't stellar - just one top-10 finish in 11 starts - but he hasn't finished worse than T-28 in this event since 2010 and he has been incredibly consistent this year, with a win and nine top 10s in 15 starts. Kuchar missed the cut here in 2005, ballooning to a second-round 84, but he's a different player now and the result will be similarly different this week.

3. Bubba Watson: Watson's stellar year continues as we head into June, having nearly notched his third win of the season at the Memorial. Questions remain about whether Watson has the temperament to withstand the pressures of a U.S. Open, but he is clearly playing with confidence this year and if it comes down to which players can scramble the most successfully - or creatively - from the sandy areas, his name has to be near the top of the list.

4. Lee Westwood: His window to win a major may be closing, but Westwood has been surprisingly consistent in this event since 2008, with a pair of third-place finishes and no result worse than T-23. Back in 2005 he was in the mix after each of the first three rounds at Pinehurst before a Sunday 79 dropped him back into a tie for 33rd, but the Englishman played well this year at both the Masters and the Players, so there's reason to think he'll contend again.

5. Adam Scott: Surprisingly, Scott still does not have a top-10 finish in the U.S. Open, but that may change this week. The Aussie won last month at Colonial and nearly pulled off a repeat performance at Muirfield Village, showing no signs of pressure in his first weeks as the world No. 1. Scott has been inside the top 25 in all but one start this year on the PGA Tour, and if he can get that long putter to cooperate on the greens at No. 2, he'll add to that trend.

6. Jordan Spieth: Age continues to be just a number for Spieth, who defied all expectations with a runner-up finish at Augusta National and then did it again with a T-4 showing at TPC Sawgrass. Spieth has seven top-20 finishes in nine starts since March, and he is currently seventh on Tour in scoring average and 11th in scrambling. Underestimate him at your own peril.

7. Jim Furyk: Perhaps not the name that comes to mind when you conjure a short-game wizard, but Furyk leads the Tour in the scrambling stat for the 2013-14 season and has a pair of runner-up finishes to his credit, notably last month on the Stadium Course. Furyk is one of only five players in the field this week who made the cut at Pinehurst in both 1999 and 2005, and since winning the U.S. Open in 2003 he has finished inside the top five an additional three times (2006, 2007, 2012).

8. Webb Simpson: A winner of this event in 2012, Simpson will have the crowds behind him at Pinehurst, having played college golf at Wake Forest after growing up in nearby Raleigh. Simpson tied for third last week in Memphis after a Sunday 66, his sixth top-10 finish of the season. He is seventh on Tour in the all-around ranking and his two Open appearances outside of his win at Olympic were pretty solid: T-14 in 2011 at Congressional and T-32 last year at Merion.

9. Phil Mickelson: Without question the biggest storyline this week as he chases the career grand slam, but hardly the lead-up that he would have liked: still without a top-10 this season, he's currently outside the top 100 on Tour in fairways hit, strokes gained putting, total driving and final-round scoring average. When it comes to Phil and this event, sometimes the results defy expectation - but there are definitely some warning signs as he looks for major No. 6.

10. Chris Kirk: Perhaps the opposite of Mickelson, Kirk is a player that has gone under the radar while playing some really good golf this season. A winner at Sea Island in November, Kirk has yet to miss a cut in 18 starts this season and has played well at some tough courses: top-25 finishes at Augusta National, TPC Sawgrass, Colonial and Memorial in the last two months. Currently sixth on the FedEx Cup points list and 19th on Tour in scrambling.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.