Power Rankings: 2015 Valspar Championship

By Will GrayMarch 9, 2015, 8:46 pm

The PGA Tour continues the Florida swing with the Valspar Championship, the 17th event of the wraparound season. A full field will tackle the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook this week, where the winner will need to successfully navigate the "Snake Pit."

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John Senden won this event a year ago by one shot over Kevin Na. Here are 10 players to watch in Tampa:

1. Adam Scott: The Aussie showed little to no rust last week in Miami, notching a T-4 finish in his first start of the year. Now equipped with a short putter, Scott returns to Innisbrook where he appeared in command two years ago before stumbling to a T-30 finish. On a course that rewards strong ball-striking, expect that result to improve this time around.

2. Jim Furyk: Furyk has cracked the top 15 in each of his three starts this season, including a T-12 showing last week at Trump National Doral. A winner here in 2010, Furyk lost in a playoff at Innisbrook in 2012 and has finished inside the top 20 each of the last five years at this event.

3. Jordan Spieth: Spieth has been quietly lurking on the fringe of leaderboards for more than a month now: T-7, MC, T-7, T-4 and a T-17 finish last week. He notched a top-10 finish at this event in his 2013 debut and chased it with a T-20 finish last year. Each of his eight rounds have gone for 72 or better on the tricky Copperhead Course.

4. Luke Donald: Donald is seemingly automatic at a few PGA Tour venues, and Innisbrook is certainly one of them. The Englishman won a playoff here in 2012, has tied for fourth each of the last two years and hasn't finished worse than T-6 in four career starts. While he finished in the middle of the pack at Doral, he did tie for seventh the week prior at PGA National.

5. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has been his typically solid self this season: six top-25 finishes in seven starts, with back-to-back near-misses at Sony and Humana. He ranks fifth on Tour in the all-around ranking and now returns to Tampa, where three of his last four appearances have netted top-15 finishes.

6. Patrick Reed: Reed missed the cut in his lone Valspar appearance back in 2013, but much has changed in the two years since. Reed has won four times on the PGA Tour, including earlier this year in Hawaii, and he nearly won two weeks ago at PGA National. Reed only has one finish outside the top 30 this season and is 16th on Tour in total strokes gained.

7. Henrik Stenson: The Swede is making his first trip to the Copperhead Course, but he brings with him plenty of momentum after a T-4 finish at Doral. Stenson has thrived on prior ball-striking venues like Firestone Country Club, so if his tee-to-green game carries over from Miami the world No. 3 could contend again.

8. Jason Dufner: Dufner slimmed down in the offseason, but his game has yet to return to the form that won him the 2013 PGA Championship. That could change this week in Tampa, where Dufner has six straight top-30 finishes and was T-10 back in 2012. He was T-17 at Honda and bounced back after an opening-round 79 at Doral.

9. Sangmoon Bae: Bae lost in a playoff at Innisbrook in 2012 and he finished T-14 last year after a final-round 67. A winner in the season-opening event in California, Bae just missed a playoff at the Northern Trust Open and eight of his 12 rounds on the par-71 Copperhead Course have been at or below par. 

10. Joost Luiten: Like Dufner, the Dutchman opened with 79 at Doral but he played his next 54 holes in 1 under. Luiten plans to try to earn enough money in the next few weeks to have a PGA Tour card for next season, and he took a big step toward that goal with a T-11 finish earlier this month at PGA National after closing with rounds of 67 and 69 on the Champion Course.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.