Power Rankings: 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

By Will GrayFebruary 8, 2016, 6:48 pm

The 2016 fantasy golf season rolls right along, as the PGA Tour returns to California this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. A field of 156 players will tackle a rotation of three different courses, culminating with Sunday's final round on the scenic shores of the Monterey Peninsula.

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Brandt Snedeker won this event last year by three shots over Nick Watney. Here are 10 players to watch in Pebble Beach:

1. Dustin Johnson: Since 2008, DJ has basically been the unofficial King of Pebble. He has teed it up at Pebble Beach nine times, including the 2010 U.S. Open, and has finished T-8 or better seven times. That includes wins at this event in both 2009 and 2010, and Johnson enters off a solid T-18 finish two weeks ago at Torrey Pines.

2. Jordan Spieth: The world No. 1 has taken a week off to rest after a globetrotting stretch, and now he returns to an event where he finished T-7 last year and T-4 the year prior. Spieth is a threat to contend anytime he steps to the tee, but he appears to have developed a comfort zone at this event and hasn't lost much steam since lapping the field in Maui.

3. Jimmy Walker: Walker is another player who has turned the Monterey Peninsula into his personal ATM, as his T-21 finish last year snapped a run of four straight top-10s at this event. That includes a convincing win in 2014 and Walker has opened the new year with three straight top-15s despite letting the trophy slip away in San Diego.

4. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker was the beneficiary of Walker's backpedal two weeks ago, and he now looks to win at Pebble Beach for the third time in the last four years. While he cooled off somewhat last week in Phoenix, Snedeker is still riding high from a trio of top-3 finishes to start the year as equipment tweaks continue to pay dividends.

5. Jason Day: The Aussie missed the cut at Torrey while battling the flu, but if he is again healthy he will likely contend. Day has finished T-6 or better three times at Pebble Beach, including two of the last three years. With Spieth and Rory McIlroy both getting off to strong starts in the new year, Day could be motivated to re-assert his spot among the game's top tier.

6. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson continues to show signs of promise under new swing coach Andrew Getson, highlighted by his T-11 finish in Phoenix. While he still has a few loose shots each round, he seems headed in the right direction and his Pebble record includes three wins from 2005-2012.

7. J.B. Holmes: Holmes followed a T-6 finish in San Diego by replicating the result at TPC Scottsdale, giving him plenty of momentum heading into his third straight start. The bomber finished T-10 last year at Pebble and was also a runner-up back in 2010, with four top-20 results in nine starts at this event.

8. Patrick Reed: Reed hasn't played since withdrawing from Farmers because of a foot injury, but he should be back to full speed this week at Pebble Beach where he has cracked the top 30 each of the last three years. That form includes a T-7 finish in 2013, and Reed showed with a runner-up finish at Kapalua that he could be poised for a big year.

9. Bubba Watson: After creating plenty of drama with his comments in Phoenix, Watson now heads to Pebble where he hasn't played since a T-44 finish in 2007. He has top-15 finishes in each of his two starts since a win in the Bahamas in December, but it remains to be seen how well the long-hitting southpaw can adjust to the trio of courses in rotation this week.

10. Shane Lowry: The Irishman toughed out some dismal weather in San Diego (T-13), then turned around and finished T-6 in Scottsdale. He is becoming more and more comfortable playing in the U.S., as evidenced by his win last year in Akron, and Lowry finished T-21 last year in his Pebble Beach debut.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.