Power Rankings: 2015 Hyundai TOC

By Will GrayJanuary 5, 2015, 6:41 pm

The PGA Tour kicks off the new year with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the first event of 2015 but the eighth event of the 2014-15 wraparound season. A limited field of 34 winners from the previous year will tee it up at Kapalua.

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Zach Johnson won this event a year ago by one shot over Jordan Spieth. Here are 10 players to watch in Maui:

1. Matt Kuchar: Start a new year off with Mr. Consistency atop the rankings. Kuchar was a check-cashing machine in 2014, and he certainly feels comfortable at Kapalua, with four top-10 finishes in the last five years. Last year he finished T-6 despite a third-round 75, and this time around should fare even better.

2. Bubba Watson: A long course with an extra par 5? Sounds like a recipe for Bubba Golf. Watson finished T-4 during a wind-shortened event in 2013, and while his prior two appearances in Maui didn't go as expected, he returns to Hawaii off a three-win year in 2014 and with renewed confidence. If the driver cooperates, Watson could have his way with the par-73 Plantation Course.

3. Jason Day: The Aussie hasn't teed it up in Maui since 2011, but after some time off to heal from various ailments he should be in position to begin 2015 on the right foot. Day will make his first official start since the Tour Championship, where he capped a successful playoff run with a T-4 finish, and finished last season among the Tour leaders in strokes gained.

4. Geoff Ogilvy: There might not be a better matchup of golfer and course than Ogilvy and Kapalua. The Aussie went back-to-back in Maui in 2009 and 2010, shooting 46 under across eight rounds on the Plantation Course. This marks his first return to the event since those titles, and Ogilvy will likely pick back up right where he left off.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese sensation is the highest-ranked of the 12 players making their Kapalua debuts this week, and he'll likely turn his maiden trip into a high finish. Matsuyama opened the new wraparound season with a pair of top-10 finishes and he finished the prior season ranked sixth on Tour in strokes gained.

6. Patrick Reed: Reed had a productive fall slate, including a T-3 finish at Isleworth, and heads to Maui with some momentum as a result. He tied for 16th last year in his first appearance, but now equipped with some course knowledge he should improve on that result significantly.

7. Zach Johnson: Johnson out-dueled Jordan Spieth for the title a year ago, but that serves as a rare highlight for him in Maui, where he had only one other top-15 finish in six prior appearances. He'll have to lean on his short game for scoring opportunities, though that's hardly an unusual burden for the 11-time winner.

8. Jimmy Walker: Walker won twice in 2014 to earn a return trip to Maui, where last year he tied for 21st. Like Reed, he played through the fall slate, including a T-4 finish in Las Vegas, and has the length off the tee to provide ample opportunities for himself on the sprawling Plantation Course.

9. Robert Streb: Streb was one of the surprise stars of the early portion of the season, which he capped with a playoff win at the McGladrey Classic among three top-10 finishes. He begins the new year as the Tour's leader in both the all-around ranking and the FedEx Cup standings, and could build upon both of those leads this week.

10. Billy Horschel: The reigning FedEx Cup champ has gotten out of the gates slowly in the new season, but he tied for sixth in his Kapalua debut after closing with rounds of 68 and 66. After finishing last season fourth on Tour in GIR percentage, he should create plenty of birdie chances this week.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry