Power Rankings: Waste Management Phoenix Open

By Will GrayFebruary 2, 2016, 6:00 pm

The 2016 fantasy golf season is off and running, as the PGA Tour heads to Arizona this week for the Waste Managemen Phoenix Open. A field of 132 players will tackle TPC Scottsdale, whose raucuous finishing stretch annually makes it one of the rowdiest Tour stops of the year.

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Brooks Koepka won this event last year by one shot over a quartet of players. Here are 10 players to watch in Phoenix:

1. Brandt Snedeker: The hottest player on Tour, Snedeker rolls into Phoenix right off his improbable win at Torrey Pines. Snedeker now has finished T-3 or better in each of his first three starts of the year, and his record at TPC Scottsdale includes three top-10 finishes in the last five years, highlighted by a runner-up showing in 2013.

2. Bubba Watson: Watson has finished second here each of the last two years, including a playoff loss in 2014. He was also T-5 in 2012 and his game appears ideally suited for TPC Scottsdale, a bomber's paradise where birdies are expected in bunches. Will be making his first start since a T-10 showing in Maui.

3. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom finished T-4 in his Phoenix debut in 2014, then followed that with a runner-up finish last year. Matsuyama typically hits plenty of greens, a strong trait to lean on this week, but he seems to get an often-balky putter to cooperate in the desert.

4. Kevin Na: He has to get a win at some point, right? Na finished T-3 in Palm Springs, his fourth top-3 finish in six starts this season, and now returns to Phoenix where he has been a regular contender in recent years. Na's record at this event includes four top-5 finishes and no result worse than T-36 since 2012.

5. Brooks Koepka: The defending champ had no trouble adjusting to his new Nike equipment in Hawaii, where he finished T-3 at Kapalua. Koepka won last year in his debut appearance, and displays all of the attributes - length off the tee, accurate approaches and strong putting - that make him a threat to repeat.

6. J.B. Holmes: Holmes earned his first win here in 2006, then hoisted the trophy again in 2008. While his record since has been somewhat spotty - a T-5 finish in 2011 is his only top-40 result since his second win - Holmes has transformed his game over the last two years and finished T-6 last week in San Diego.

7. Martin Laird: The Scottsdale resident lives only a few minutes from this week's venue and often practices on the TPC Scottsdale range. He finished T-5 last year after holding the 54-hole lead, and Laird now returns on the heels of a T-8 finish amid difficult conditions this past weekend at Torrey Pines.

8. Ryan Palmer: Palmer has a penchant for going low, and he came up one shot short behind Koepka here a year ago. He also finished T-5 in 2013, and Palmer typically does much of his damage on the west coast. That remains the case this season, as he followed a T-13 finish at Sony with a T-17 finish in Palm Springs.

9. Rickie Fowler: Fowler's early exit in San Diego was understandable given the jet lag after his win in Abu Dhabi, and he remains a name to watch this week. But his WMPO record outside of a runner-up in 2010 isn't exactly dazzling: T-26, T-46 and a pair of missed cuts over the last four years.

10. Charles Howell III: Still rolling right along. Howell's T-16 finish at Torrey Pines was his seventh top-20 finish in eight starts to begin the wraparound season. He'll look to remain hot in Phoenix, where his past results include a T-4 finish in 2010 and a T-6 finish in 2014.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.