Power Rankings: 2015 Memorial Tournament

By Will GrayJune 2, 2015, 12:32 pm

The 30th event of the wraparound season is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Ohio for the Memorial Tournament. A field of 120 will tackle Muirfield Village Golf Club, which hosted the 2013 Presidents Cup.

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Hideki Matsuyama won this event a year ago in a playoff over Kevin Na. Here are 10 players to watch in Columbus:

1. Jim Furyk: Furyk played some inspired golf in April, and while he has cooled somewhat in recent weeks, his Memorial record is outstanding. He won this event in 2002 and has five top-25 finishes in the last six years, including a runner-up in 2009, and is 10th on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green.

2. Jordan Spieth: The reigning Masters champ failed to get it going last week in his hometown event, but he still has five top-2 finishes in 15 starts this season. Spieth finished T-19 a year ago, leads the Tour in scoring average and is second in birdie average.

3. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has not been much of a factor in his last three starts, but the 2013 champ knows his way around Muirfield Village. Kuchar has made seven starts at this event since 2007 and hasn't finished worse than T-15, with a win and a runner-up finish (2011) among that stretch.

4. Kevin Na: Last year's playoff runner-up, Na enters with some serious momentum. He has top-10 finishes in each of his last two starts, including a T-6 finish at TPC Sawgrass, and he has finished T-20 or better in each of his last seven stroke-play starts dating back to March.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: The defending champ enters with a streak of seven straight top-25 finishes that dates back to the Northern Trust Open. Matsuyama made the most of his tournament debut last year, and he ranks second on Tour this season in strokes gained tee-to-green.

6. Dustin Johnson: Johnson added to his successful season last week in Texas, with a T-8 finish was his sixth top-10 result in 11 starts. Johnson is fourth on Tour in scoring average this season and his record in this event includes three top-20 finishes since 2009.

7. Rickie Fowler: Fowler hasn't challenged at this event since a runner-up in his 2010 debut, but his play last week in Ireland showed that there will not be any post-victory lull following his breakthrough at TPC Sawgrass.

8. Ryan Moore: Moore usually circles this as one of his favorite events, and it shows in his record. He has six top-25 finishes in his last eight Memorial starts, including a runner-up in 2007, and several of Moore's seven top-25s this season have come on demanding layouts like Riviera, Innisbrook and Augusta National.

9. Justin Rose: The Englishman is the ultimate feast-or-famine fantasy choice at this event. He has missed three cuts over the last seven years, but the other four trips resulted in a win (2010), runner-up (2008) and top-10 finishes in both 2012 and 2013.

10. Bill Haas: Haas finished T-4 at this event in 2013, then followed with a T-8 finish last year. He has cracked the top 25 in seven of 13 starts this season, including a T-4 finish last month at TPC Sawgrass when he missed out on a playoff by one shot.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."