Power Rankings: 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

By Will GrayAugust 5, 2015, 1:11 am

The 40th event of the wraparound season is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Ohio for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. A field of 77 will tackle Firestone Country Club, where players will get in final preparations before the season's fourth major.

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Rory McIlroy won this event a year ago but is unable to defend because of injury. Here are 10 players to watch in Akron:

1. Jordan Spieth: With McIlroy unable to defend, Spieth is a clear favorite. While he failed to break 70 in his tournament debut last year, Spieth has cracked the top five in five of his last six starts, including a pair of wins and a near-miss at St. Andrews.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has top-10 finishes in half of his 14 starts, including a stretch of three in a row that he culminated with a win in Canada. Day finished T-4 at Firestone in 2011, leads the Tour in birdie average and ranks second in driving distance.

3. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard led for much of the way last year after firing a course-record 61 in the second round. He enters off a streak of four straight top-25 finishes that dates back to his playoff loss at TPC Sawgrass and includes a T-6 finish at St. Andrews.

4. Rickie Fowler: Fowler was a runner-up last week in Virginia, continuing a torrid summer stretch that began at the Players. He tied for second at Firestone in 2011 and finished T-8 last year after three rounds of 67.

5. Justin Rose: Rose finished T-4 in defense of his Quicken Loans title, his third top-10 finish in his last four starts. The Englishman has cracked the top five twice in the last three years, including last year's T-4 result, and he also was a runner-up in 2007.

6. Zach Johnson: The Open champ's win on the Old Course was his third straight top-10 finish and his seventh top-20 result over his last eight starts. Johnson is clearly brimming with confidence and now heads to a course where he finished T-4 in 2013 and T-6 in 2011.

7. Keegan Bradley: Bradley hasn't been heard from much this season, but he has shown signs of life this summer and has a stellar record at Firestone. He has top-30 finishes in four of his last six starts and followed his 2012 Bridgestone win with a runner-up in 2013 and a T-4 finish last year.

8. Adam Scott: Scott continues to thrive in his renewed partnership with caddie Steve Williams, with top-10 finishes at each of the past two majors. The Aussie won at Firestone in 2011 and finished inside the top 15 each of the past two years.

9. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama continues to impress with his consistency, now with a streak of 10 straight top-25 finishes that dates back to early February. He finished T-21 in his Firestone debut in 2013, then improved to a T-12 finish a year ago.

10. Jim Furyk: Furyk let one slip away at Firestone in 2012, but his overall record here includes three top-10 finishes among five straight top-25 results. After some mediocre results this summer, the veteran contended in Canada en route to a fourth-place finish in his last start. 

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry