Power Rankings: 2015 Open Championship

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2015, 1:19 am

The 36th event of the wraparound season is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Scotland for the Open Championship. A field of 156 will tackle the Old Course at St. Andrews, where the winner will leave with the coveted claret jug.

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.

Rory McIlroy won this event a year ago over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler, but he won't defend his title. Here are 10 players to watch in Scotland:

1. Jordan SpiethWith no Rory in the field, Spieth is a clear favorite as he looks to pick up the third leg of the single-season Grand Slam. Spieth may be a newcomer to the nuances of the Old Course, but he enters with plenty of momentum after his John Deere win and has shown at Augusta National that he is often ahead of the consensus learning curve.

2. Dustin Johnson: Johnson will look to avenge his 72nd-hole meltdown at Chambers Bay, and he'll play the first two rounds alongside Spieth, the man who instead left with the U.S. Open trophy. Johnson has four top-15 finishes in his last five Opens, including a T-2 finish in 2011, and also finished T-6 this year at the Masters.

3. Rickie Fowler: Phil Mickelson showed two years ago that it is possible to snag the Scottish Open and Open Championship in consecutive weeks, a feat his friend Fowler will look to emulate after his win Sunday at Gullane. Fowler has continued to build on the momentum of his Players victory and appears on the cusp of a major breakthrough.

4. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard continues to put himself into contention at the Open, and he now has five top-10 finishes in the last 10 years at this event. That includes a runner-up last year and a T-5 finish at St. Andrews in 2005, where he also finished T-14 in 2010. 

5. Adam Scott: While the putter has not cooperated this year, Scott's record in this event cannot be ignored. The Aussie has cracked the top 5 each of the last three years, highlighted by his runner-up in 2012, and with Steve Williams back on the bag he finished T-4 at the U.S. Open last month.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama has put together an incredibly consistent season, with nine straight top-25 finishes dating back to the Northern Trust Open in February. He has made the cut in each of his two Open appearances, including a T-6 finish at Muirfield two years ago.

7. Louis Oosthuizen: The defending (venue) champ routed the field on the Old Course last time around, winning by seven shots in 2010. Oosthuizen rallied for a runner-up finish at Chambers Bay, one of five top-10 finishes this season.

8. Henrik Stenson: The Swede was a runner-up two years ago at Muirfield, one of three top-3 finishes he has had in the Open since 2008. Stenson has cooled somewhat since a blistering start to the season, but he did open with a 65 at Chambers Bay and still tops the PGA Tour in GIR percentage. 

9. Paul Casey: The Englishman challenged five years ago on the Old Course, and he returns to St. Andrews with plenty of momentum. Casey has lost two playoffs already this season on the PGA Tour in addition to a near-miss at the Honda Classic, and he would put a stamp on his renaissance with a win this week.

10. Justin Rose: Rose already won this year in New Orleans and nearly took the title at the Memorial. He started strong at Gullane before fading over the weekend, and the Englishman has the skillset to challenge at the Open even if his best result as a pro came back in 2007 when he finished T-12. 

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.''

Getty Images

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. 

Getty Images

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.