Power Rankings: 2016 Valero Texas Open

By Will GrayApril 19, 2016, 12:14 pm

The 2016 fantasy golf season rolls right along, as the PGA Tour heads to Texas this week for the Valero Texas Open. A field of 156 players will tackle TPC San Antonio, which last season played as the second most difficult track players faced.

Be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including defending champion Ryan Lavner. Click here for full fantasy assistance, including stats and picks.

Jimmy Walker won this event last year by four shots over Jordan Spieth. Here are 10 players to watch in San Antonio:

1. Jimmy Walker: We start with the defending champ, who lives in nearby Boerne and is playing a de-facto home game this week. Walker also finished T-16 at this event in 2014 and has finished T-29 or better in each of his last three stroke-play starts. Walker also ranks 17th or better this season in scoring average, birdie average and strokes gained tee-to-green.

2. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar remains quietly consistent, as his T-9 finish at Harbour Town was his sixth finish of T-28 or better in his last seven starts. Kuchar's Valero record is equally solid, as the veteran has four straight top-25s here including a T-4 finish in 2014.

3. Charley Hoffman: The ultimate horse for course at TPC San Antonio. Hoffman has finished T-13 or better each of the last six years, including a runner-up in 2011 and a T-3 finish in 2013. Hoffman has contended in recent weeks in both Houston and Hilton Head, but his final-round scoring average (74.75) could prove to be an issue should he once again play his way into contention.

4. J.B. Holmes: Holmes has the power off the tee to handle a big ballpark like TPC San Antonio, and the shoulder injury that led him to withdraw in Houston appeared to be no issue at the Masters, where he finished T-4. Holmes has finished T-11 or better in five of his last seven starts and had top-20s here in 2010 and 2011.

5. Zach Johnson: Any venue that leans heavily on wedge play, as this week's does, plays into the hands of Johnson. He finished T-6 two years ago and followed with a T-20 finish last year, and the reigning Open champ has been predictably solid in recent weeks outside of a missed cut at the Masters where a self-assessed penalty led to an early exit.

6. Branden Grace: Last week's winner will look to build upon his momentum, and at No. 11 Grace is the top-ranked player in this week's field. It marks his third trip to San Antonio, where he finished T-30 last year, and his success at places like Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits proved that he can handle a stern test.

7. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker finished fourth in 2011 in his lone prior trip to TPC San Antonio, and his early season includes a win at Torrey Pines and a top-10 finish two weeks ago at the Masters. Snedeker is known for his prowess on the greens, but he also ranks ninth this season in par-4 scoring average.

8. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson will look to bounce back from his surprising missed cut at the Masters by teeing it up in San Antonio, where he finished T-30 last year. Despite his Masters disappointment, Mickelson is in the midst of a strong season that includes five top-15 finishes in his last nine starts.

9. Bryson DeChambeau: The kid proved last week that he is no joke. DeChambeau led the field at Harbour Town in strokes gained tee-to-green en route to a T-4 finish, and as a result he is a name to watch this week amid a more watered-down field. DeChambeau has finished top-30 finishes in each of his last three PGA Tour starts, and could factor again if his putter heats up.

10. Patrick Reed: Reed makes his home in Houston and has finished T-16 or better in three of his last four starts, including a T-10 finish at the Shell Houston Open. Reed hasn't played this event since 2013, but he has previously shown that he can tame a tough track (think Doral) and is currently sixth on Tour in scrambling.

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.

• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).