Power Rankings: 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Will GrayMarch 17, 2015, 3:49 pm

The PGA Tour concludes the Florida swing with the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the 18th event of the wraparound season. A field of 132 will tackle Bay Hill Club & Lodge this week, where the winner will receive a three-year Tour exemption.

Be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including defending champion Ryan Lavner. Click here for full fantasy assistance, including stats and picks.

Matt Every won this event a year ago by one shot over Keegan Bradley. Here are 10 players to watch in Orlando:

1. Henrik Stenson: The Swede has finished fourth in back-to-back weeks, first at Doral and again at Innisbrook. He has also cracked the top 15 each of the last three years at Bay Hill, highlighted by a T-5 finish last year, and could become the latest high-profile player to enter the winner's circle.

2. Bubba Watson: Watson had an early exit from Bay Hill last year, but he has been remarkably consistent this season: four top-10 finishes in five starts, including a WGC victory, and no finish worse than T-14. Prior to last year's withdrawal, Watson had put together three straight top-25 results at Bay Hill, including T-4 in 2012.

3. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy makes his API debut in what is expected to be his final pre-Masters start. While his club throw grabbed headlines at Doral, he still cobbled together a T-9 finish to rebuild some momentum after his surprising missed cut at PGA National. Another top-10 finish this week would surprise no one.

4. Adam Scott: Scott had one hand on the trophy here a year ago, turning an opening-round 62 into a seven-shot lead at the halfway point. He faltered badly on Sunday en route to a third-place finish, but has a chance for redemption this week. While his streak of made cuts ended at Innisbrook, he was T-4 at Doral just two weeks ago.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama has had a top-five finish in alternating starts this year, which means he's due to contend this week in Orlando. The Japanese phenom is third on Tour in total strokes gained and second in total driving, and his tee-to-green consistency should provide plenty of birdie opportunities at Bay Hill.

6. Jason Day: The Aussie already has a win under his belt this year, and his T-31 finish at Doral was his first result outside the top 20 all season. Day is making just his second start in Orlando since 2011, but he leads the Tour in birdie average and ranks second in GIR percentage.

7. J.B. Holmes: Holmes let a five-shot lead slip away at Doral, but he remains on a tear: T-2, T-10, T-22 and second in his last four starts dating back to a playoff loss at Torrey Pines. Holmes finished T-10 last year at Bay Hill and three of his last four starts in Orlando have gone for top-30 finishes.

8. Kevin Na: Na has quietly thrived at Bay Hill, with four top-15 finishes in his last five starts dating back to 2009. He is once again in the midst of another successful Florida swing, with a T-9 finish at Doral followed by a T-10 result in Tampa where he closed with a 66.

9. Brooks Koepka: A winner earlier this year in Phoenix, Koepka got back on track with a T-17 finish at Doral and now heads to a course where he finished T-26 last year in his debut, highlighted by a Sunday 69. Koepka is currently fourth on Tour in scoring average and will look to use this week as a springboard into his first Masters appearance next month.

10. Keegan Bradley: Bradley has yet to emerge from the middle of the pack this month, but that usually changes at this event, where he was T-3 in 2013 and second a year ago. Each of his last seven rounds at Bay Hill have gone for par or better, including 66s in the third round each of the last two years.

Getty Images

Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked 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.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

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 the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

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 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. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

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.

Getty Images

Phil 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.

Getty Images

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.