Power Rankings: 2015 U.S. Open

By Will GrayJune 16, 2015, 5:01 pm

The 32nd event of the wraparound season is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Washington for the U.S. Open. A field of 156 will tackle Chambers Bay, which is hosting a professional event for the first time.

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Martin Kaymer won this event a year ago by eight shots over Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton. Here are 10 players to watch outside Seattle:

1. Jordan Spieth: The rankings begin with the reigning Masters champ, who has shown this year that he can contend on seemingly any type of layout. Spieth appears to be in control of all facets of his game and has an extra boost of confidence that comes with winning a green jacket.

2. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama checks off all the boxes: length off the tee, iron precision, strong short game and overall consistency. He hasn't finished outside the top 25 since Torrey Pines, finished T-10 two years ago at Merion and will win again sooner rather than later.

3. Jason Day: The Aussie has hit a rough patch in recent weeks, but his overall game and U.S. Open track record can't be ignored. Three top-five finishes in the past four years, including a pair of runner-up finishes, and Day leads the Tour this season in birdie average.

4. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy is back in action after a rough fortnight in Europe, and he should rebound on a course that more resembles an Open Championship layout. McIlroy won twice just last month and has a pair of top-25 finishes in this event to go along with his runaway victory in 2011.

5. Justin Rose: Rose won this event two years ago, and he probably should have won the Memorial two weeks ago. The Englishman has turned a corner since a slow start to the season, with a win and a pair of runner-up finishes among his last five PGA Tour starts.

6. Rickie Fowler: Fowler has shown this year that his contender status last year in the majors was no fluke. After a breakthrough win at TPC Sawgrass, he played well in Ireland and should feel quite comfortable on the links-style layout in play this week.

7. Bubba Watson: If a course calls for imagination, Watson has to be among the pre-tournament favorites. Few can get more creative with shot shapes than the two-time Masters champ, and he certainly has the length off the tee to take on the course with an aggressive approach.

8. Phil Mickelson: Still in search of the last leg of the career Grand Slam, Mickelson enters with momentum from a T-3 finish in Memphis and will have plenty of options at his disposal around the greens. His game has been inconsistent for a year and a half, but he has finished second in each of the last two majors.

9. Dustin Johnson: Johnson was a surprise withdrawal last week in Memphis, but the bomber will still be a threat this week in Washington. Johnson won earlier this year at Doral, a layout that rewards length off the tee, and has cracked the top 25 three times in the last five years at this event.

10. Brooks Koepka: Koepka appeared on the verge of another win last week at TPC Southwind, but he faded over the weekend. After a T-4 finish last year at Pinehurst, he has the length off the tee and high ball flight to contend once again this time around.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.