Power Rankings: 2015 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayFebruary 3, 2015, 4:23 pm

The PGA Tour heads to the California coast for the Farmers Insurance Open, the 12th event of the wraparound season. A full field of 156 players will tackle the North and South courses at Torrey Pines against one of the Tour's most scenic backdrops.

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Scott Stallings won this event a year ago by one shot over five players, including Graham DeLaet and Jason Day. Here are 10 players to watch in San Diego:

1. Jordan Spieth: Finished a respectable T-7 last week while topping the Phoenix power rankings, and he should have another strong week at Torrey Pines. Spieth played his way into the final group of the third round a year ago, but faded with 75-75 over the weekend to finish T-19. Coming off a strong finish at TPC Scottsdale, not to mention two wins to close 2014, he should improve on that result.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie was a runner-up last year and he also finished T-9 in 2013 when he closed with a 66 on the South Course. Day started the year strong with a T-3 at the winners-only event at Kapalua, and other than a pair of mid-tournament withdrawals he hasn't finished outside the top 20 on Tour since the Open Championship in July.

3. Justin Rose: Rose hasn't played in the U.S. since the Tour Championship, but he comes in off a solid showing in a pair of events during the European Tour's Desert Swing. Rose hasn't played at Torrey Pines since a run of three straight starts from 2010-2012, but he was predictably solid across that stretch: 11 of 12 rounds at par or better, two top 25s and no result worse than T-33.

4. Jimmy Walker: Walker tees it up for the first time since his nine-shot romp at the Sony Open. While he missed the cut unexpectedly last year after playing the first two rounds alongside Tiger Woods, Walker was T-4 at Torrey in 2013 and T-8 the year prior. Factoring in his playoff loss at Kapalua, no one has started 2015 with more momentum than the current FedEx Cup leader.

5. Brooks Koepka: He won last week in his debut at TPC Scottsdale, so there's no reason to think he can't contend in his first trip to Torrey Pines. Koepka has the length off the tee to tame the difficult South Course and create plenty of opportunities on the shorter North Course, and the 24-year-old is not lacking for confidence after his triumph on Sunday.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom has twice worked into contention already in 2015, but both times he has been derailed by a balky putter. Matsuyama tied for 16th last year in his Farmers debut with all four rounds of par or better, and he now has four top-10 finishes to hsi credit already this season, including a trio inside the top three.

7. Bill Haas: Haas won his last start at the Humana Challenge, and his track record at Torrey Pines is sneaky good: six top-20 finishes in 10 starts, including a run of three straight top 10s from 2011-2013 highlighted by a T-4 result in 2012. His tee-to-green consistency pays dividends across both courses at this event, and that trend should continue this week.

8. Justin Thomas: The rookie shows no signs of slowing down. Thomas tied for 17th last week in Phoenix for his fifth straight top-25 finish, a streak that dates back to the Sanderson Farms Championship in November. While the 21-year-old doesn't have much experience on Tour, he does know this event and venue after a surprise T-10 finish in his Farmers debut last year.

9. Brandt Snedeker: Coming off a disappointing end to his 2014 season, Snedeker has now finished T-10 three times already this season, including last week at TPC Scottsdale. While he missed the cut at Torrey Pines last year, he had reeled off four straight top-10 finishes before that, including a win in 2012 and runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2013.

10. Rickie Fowler: Fowler finished in the middle of the pack last week in Phoenix and missed the cut at Torrey Pines last year, but his record in San Diego prior to 2014 is worth note: four straight top-20 finishes, including a T-5 in 2010 and a T-6 in 2013.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.