Power Rankings: 2016 Honda Classic

By Will GrayFebruary 22, 2016, 8:02 pm

The 2016 fantasy golf season rolls right along, as the PGA Tour heads to Florida this week for the Honda Classic. A field of 144 players will tackle the Champion Course at PGA National, home of the infamous "Bear Trap" finishing stretch.

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Padraig Harrington won this event last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger. Here are 10 players to watch in Palm Beach Gardens:

1. Rory McIlroy: According to the recent pattern, McIlroy is due for a big week. The Ulsterman won here in 2012 and lost in a playoff in 2014, but he withdrew abruptly in 2013 and missed the cut last year. After playing his way into contention at Riviera, McIlroy should return to his successful ways at Honda.

2. Rickie Fowler: Fowler is playing for the first time since letting the trophy slip away at TPC Scottsdale. A winner earlier this year in Abu Dhabi, he has four top-5 finishes among his last five worldwide starts and appears comfortable on nearly any sort of venue. His Honda credentials include three top-25 finishes over the last four years.

3. Patrick Reed: Reed has gotten progressively better at PGA National: T-58 in 2013, T-24 in 2014 and T-7 last year. He rallied for a T-6 finish two weeks ago at Pebble Beach and has been a near-constant fixture on leaderboards since his torrid stretch across Asia to close out last year.

4. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson returns to action two weeks after his runner-up performance at Pebble Beach, a result that closed out a strong West Coast Swing for the 45-year-old. Lefty appears to be having fun again, his results have improved dramatically and he finished T-17 at PGA National a year ago.

5. Russell Knox: The Scot makes his home in Jacksonville Beach and is quite familiar with the tests presented by Florida courses. One of the best ball-strikers on Tour, he has kept his ball in play the last two years on the Champion Course en route to a playoff loss (2014) and T-3 finish (2015). His confidence should be even higher this time around after he notched his maiden win earlier this season in China.

6. Adam Scott: The Aussie has shown in recent months that the anchoring ban may not be the death nell it once appeared to be. Scott's runner-up at Riviera was his third such result in his last seven starts, and while he remains somewhat balky on the greens he rolled in plenty of mid-range putts Sunday and finished T-12 at this event two years ago.

7. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom had no letdown following his dramatic win in Phoenix, as Matsuyama finished T-11 last week in Los Angeles. While his lone trip to PGA National ended with a withdrawal in 2014, Matsuyama is clearly playing well right now and his tee-to-green game should fit nicely with the Champion Course.

8. Branden Grace: Grace doesn't make many starts in the U.S., but he showed last year at Chambers Bay that he can tame a difficult layout. The South African successfully defended his title last month in Qatar, and his recent form actually includes six straight finishes of T-8 or better dating back to November.

9. Graeme McDowell: McDowell's accurate game is a strong match for the exacting Champion Course, and his track record includes three straight top-10 finishes from 2011-2013. While he missed the cut last year, the Ulsterman has been recharged by a strong fall campaign that included a win in Mexico and T-3 finish at Sea Island.

10. Luke Donald: The Englishman hasn't been on too many leaderboards in recent weeks, but that trend usually changes with this event. Donald has cracked the top 10 in each of his last four trips to Palm Beach Gardens, dating back to a runner-up in 2008 and including last year's T-7 finish.

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Watch that time Tiger throttled Ames, 9 and 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 4:54 pm

Nine and eight. Three words that live in golf lore. Just say them and any golf fan can tell you what they mean.

In the 2006 WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods faced Stephen Ames in the opening round. Ames, when asked prior to the event about his chance of winning, infamously said, "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."

What happened on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at La Coasta Resort & Spa, was the most lopsided result in tournament history: 9 and 8 Check out the highlights below:

After his win, Woods was asked if Ames' comment had motivated him. Woods replied, "9 and 8."

Woods eventually lost, 1 up, to Chad Campbell in the third round. He then won his next start at Doral and went on to finish the season with six consecutive Tour wins, including The Open and PGA. He also won his first start in 2007 to make it seven consecutive Tour titles.

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Schedule change, caddie change for Casey at Match Play

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 4:12 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Paul Casey originally planned to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, opting for two weeks off before the Masters.

Those plans changed when he removed the Arnold Palmer Invitational from his schedule and returned home to England last week to attend the funeral of a family friend. That adjustment also prompted a caddie change this week, with Scott Vail stepping in for the Englishman’s normal caddie, John McLaren.

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“We looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time,” Casey said on Tuesday at Austin Country Club. “For Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that.”

This isn’t the first time Casey, who won the Valspar Championship two weeks ago, has needed a replacement caddie. At last year’s Travelers Championship, McLaren took a similar break and was replaced on the bag by Shannon Wallace. Although it’s not uncommon for caddies to take a week off, McLaren does have one stipulation.

“The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddie,” said Casey, who is 20-12-1 in 12 starts at the Match Play and has advanced to the championship match twice.

Westchester Country Club hosted the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. (Getty) Getty Images

Westchester selected to host 2021 U.S. Women's Am

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 3:20 pm

The USGA announced Tuesday that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has been selected to host the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur. The tournament will be held Aug. 2-8, 2021.

The club's West Course first hosted the event in 1923, and it boasts a storied history of professional tournaments as well. The PGA Tour hosted the Westchester Classic, later known as the Buick Classic and eventually The Barclays, at Westchester from 1967-2007, including the first-ever FedExCup playoff event, won by Steve Stricker in 2007.

The course was also the site of the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, won by Fred Couples, and the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.

"The USGA is thrilled to bring the U.S. Women's Amateur to Westchester Country Club for the second time," Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman, said in a release. "One of the USGA's three oldest championships, the Women's Amateur consistently identifies the world's top female players, and we are confident Westchester will provide the ultimate test for the championship's 121st playing."

First held in 1895, the Women's Amateur is open to players with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 5.4. Sophia Schubert won last year's event at San Diego Country Club, while this year's tournament will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

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Stock Watch: Park rises again, under the radar

By Ryan LavnerMarch 20, 2018, 12:48 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Rory (+10%): The massive drives, the fist pumps, the unmistakable strut – McIlroy finally found the spark that he needed to play confident, aggressive golf. Bring on Augusta and his shot at history.

Tiger (+7%): It was another forgettable end to a final round, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Five events into his comeback, Woods has now carded 10 consecutive rounds of par or better – all on tough tracks – and can be viewed as a legitimate threat at the Masters. Remarkable, really.

Inbee Park (+5%): Fighting injuries and questioning whether she should retire, the Queen ‘Bee routed a top field in just her second start back. Stud.

Bryson (+3%): When The Machine operates properly, he’s one of the best ball-strikers in the world. Yes, he’s still painfully slow, but there’s no denying his talent – his runner-up against a star-studded field should help him tremendously.

Laura Davies (+2%): Fifty-four years old and nursing an Achilles injury, she turned back the clock with one of the coolest performances of the young season, on any tour. She’s still got tons of game.


Henrik Stenson (-1%): Maybe he’s just destined to go winless at Bay Hill. In the past four years, he’s had three excellent chances to win there and came away empty-handed each time.

Rickie (-2%): Hanging near the lead, Fowler closed his third round bogey-double, then shot 74 in the final round to drop out of the top 10. Sigh.  

P-Reed (-3%): His whiny protest to a rules official about a free drop – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth” – got even juicier when the Ryder Cup partners were drawn in the same group at the Match Play. Get your popcorn ready.

Ted Potter Jr. (-5%): His impressive victory at Pebble Beach over DJ, Phil and J-Day is looking more and more like a fluke each week. He’s now missed four consecutive cuts.

Fan behavior (-7%): Another week, another player complaining about increasingly hostile spectators. The Tour has (frustratingly) remained quiet on the issue, but the tipping point will come when one of these dopes affects the outcome on the 72nd hole.