Power Rankings: 2015 RBC Canadian Open

By Will GrayJuly 21, 2015, 7:46 pm

The 38th event of the wraparound season is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Ontario for the RBC Canadian Open. A field of 156 will tackle the Glen Abbey Golf Club, which last hosted the event in 2013.

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Tim Clark won this event a year ago at Royal Montreal by one shot over Jim Furyk. Here are 10 players to watch in Canada:

1. Jim Furyk: The veteran has a sensational record at this event, with wins in 2006 and 2007 coupled with last year's runner-up and a T-9 finish at Glen Abbey in 2013. Furyk snapped out of his winless drought earlier this year at Harbour Town and ranks among the top 15 on Tour this season in fairways hit, GIR percentage and total strokes gained.

2. Brooks Koepka: Koepka announced his presence to the Tour with his win in Phoenix, and after battling through a rib injury he is again showing great form. He played his final 36 holes at St. Andrews without a bogey en route to a T-10 finish, his fourth top-20 finish in his last five PGA Tour strats. Koepka is ninth this season in both driving distance and strokes gained putting, a potent combination.

3. Bubba Watson: Watson is making just his second appearance in Canada since 2009, but he did finish T-21 at Glen Abbey two years ago and already has two wins under his belt this season. Watson has missed the cut in each of the last two majors, but those are his only missed cuts this season to go with eight top-25 finishes.

4. Jason Day: The Aussie has a quick turnaround after coming up one shot short at St. Andrews. Day hasn't played this event since 2009, and his prior two trips to Canada failed to yield top-40 finishes. He has the game to contend on any course, but questions persist about an emotional hangover following another near-miss on a major stage.

5. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has been close each of the last two years in Canada, finishing T-2 in 2013 and T-4 last year. Kuchar is traditionally one of the Tour's most consistent players and finished second to Rickie Fowler at the Scottish Open two weeks ago. He'll look to get back on track this week after just one top-25 finish in his last six PGA Tour starts.

6. Luke Donald: The Englishman appears to be on the comeback trail. He had to earn spots the hard way in each of the past two majors, but Donald did just that and now has strung together three straight top-15 finishes after his T-12 result at St. Andrews. Donald had three straight top-25s in Canada from 2009-11, including a T-24 finish at Glen Abbey in 2009.

7. Scott Piercy: Piercy won this event at Hamilton in 2012 and he returns to Canada after another victory, this time at the inaugural Barbasol Championship. Piercy also finished second at the Sony Open and contended at the Shell Houston Open amid a successful season that has seen him return from an elbow injury.

8. J.B. Holmes: Holmes has cooled somewhat since his torrid spring, but he still remains a pre-tournament favorite at nearly any venue. Holmes has seven top-25 finishes in 18 starts this season, highlighted by his playoff win in Houston, and he ranks eighth this season in birdie average. Each of his two tournament appearances netted top-20 finishes, including a T-16 finish in 2009 at Glen Abbey.

9. Tony Finau: The rookie has been impressive this season, with a missed cut at the Deere ending a run of seven straight top-25 finishes. Finau will look to get back on track this week in his tournament debut, and he ranks 15th this season in birdie average and 22nd in scoring average. 

10. William McGirt: Regardless of venue, Canada seems to bring the best out of McGirt. He was a runner-up at Hamilton in 2012, matched that result the following year at Glen Abbey and finished T-25 last year at Royal Montreal. McGirt has been lurking in the middle of the pack for much of the summer, with five of his past seven starts netting finishes between T-25 and T-41.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.