Power Rankings: 2016 Shell Houston Open

By Will GrayMarch 29, 2016, 12:51 pm

The 2016 fantasy golf season rolls right along, as the PGA Tour remains in Texas this week for the Shell Houston Open. A field of 144 players will tackle the Golf Club of Houston in the hopes of earning a win - and perhaps a ticket to the Masters.

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J.B. Holmes won this event last year in a playoff over Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner. Here are 10 players to watch in Houston:

1. Phil Mickelson: When it comes to Mickelson, what's not to like? He has largely exceeded expectations this year, loves playing this week and on this course and played well last week before running into a buzzsaw. The only thing missing is a win, and that could come here where he has five straight finishes of T-17 or better.

2. Jordan Spieth: Spieth used a strong performance here last year to catapault him to a Masters romp, and he'll be looking for more of the same. While his game isn't quite as sharp as it was 12 months ago, his plan has always been to peak leading into the Masters. An uptick this week would go a long way toward that end.

3. Henrik Stenson: Stenson should be refreshed after skipping the WGC-Dell Match Play, and in his last start he nearly won at Bay Hill. The Swede was a runner-up here in 2013 and possesses the type of power game that typically yields favorable results at GC of Houston.

4. Louis Oosthuizen: The South African is fresh off a runner-up performance in Austin, and now he makes the short trip to Houston where he finished T-3 in 2012 and T-10 in 2013. Oosthuizen now has finished T-14 or better in each of his last five worldwide starts, including a win, and appears poised to extend that streak this week.

5. Patrick Reed: Reed is a Houston resident and finished T-17 last year in his return to his de facto hometown event. Reed quietly notched a top-10 performance at Innisbrook and followed that by winning his group at Austin, putting him among the growing list of players building momentum for the season's first major.

6. J.B. Holmes: The defending champ also lost in a playoff here in 2009, finished T-8 in 2012 and T-12 in 2014. Holmes' strength off the tee is a valuable asset at this course, and he could use this chance to get back on track after cooling somewhat following a run of four straight top-11 finishes earlier this year.

7. Dustin Johnson: Johnson hasn't played here since withdrawing in 2014, but he did finish T-4 the year prior. He enters off a quarterfinal appearance in Austin and has now cracked the top 15 in each of his last three starts overall, and like Holmes he should find this week's venue conducive to his strategy and prowess off the tee.

8. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard is making his third straight start in Houston, where he finished T-3 in 2014. While he made an early exit at the match play, he strung together a pair of strong weeks in Florida to show that he remains a threat to contend - and win - against a world-class field on any given week.

9. Rickie Fowler: Fowler notched a top-10 in Houston in 2014, but that result is sandwiched around a trio of trips where he struggled mightily on the weekend. Fowler was upset during pool play last week to end what had been a run of five top-10 finishes in his last six worldwide starts.

10. Charl Schwartzel: Schwartzel has more experience at this event than you might expect, with five appearances in the last six years highlighted by his third-place showing in 2010. The South African is experiencing a resurgence this year, with a pair of worldwide wins including his triumph at Innisbrook in his most recent stroke-play start.

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.