Power Rankings: 2017 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

By Will GrayFebruary 8, 2017, 2:11 pm

The 2017 fantasy golf season heads to California this week, as the PGA Tour travels to the coast for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. A field of 156 players will join with amateur partners to tackle Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula C.C. and Pebble Beach.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Vaughn Taylor won this event last year by one shot over Phil Mickelson. Here are 10 players to watch in NorCal:

1. Dustin Johnson: A winner here in 2009 and 2010, Johnson nearly won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble and clearly enjoys a format where he plays the first three rounds alongside his fiancee's father. Johnson has seven top-10 finishes in this event since 2007 including a T-4 finish two years ago.

2. Jordan Spieth: Spieth will play the first three rounds alongside Johnson as he pairs with country music star Jake Owen. In four appearances, he has finished no worse than T-22 with a pair of top-10s mixed in. Spieth will be at the forefront this week thanks to his AT&T sponsorship, but he also enters off three straight top-10s to start the year.

3. Brandt Snedeker: Few players love the quirky poa annua greens at Pebble more than Snedeker, who won this event in both 2013 and 2015. Known to run in streaks, Snedeker has opened the new year with top-15 finishes at both Kapalua and Torrey Pines, the latter of which he challenged for the title before fading on Sunday.

4. Justin Rose: The Englishman is already firing on all cylinders, chasing a runner-up at the Sony Open with a T-4 finish in San Diego. Rose might not be the most famous person in his foursome considering he's pairing this week with Justin Timberlake, but he finished T-6 last year at this event when he also played alongside the entertainer.

5. Phil MIckelson: Make no mistake, Lefty should have won this event last year. Instead he left with a runner-up finish, his third top-10 in his last five trips to Pebble Beach. Mickelson has won this event four times and has bounced back from sports hernia surgery quite well, with top-25 finishes in each of his last three starts.

6. Jimmy Walker: The reigning PGA champ has been a perennial contender at this tournament, with his 2014 win capping a run of four straight top-10 finishes. Walker also finished T-11 here a year ago, and while he has missed each of his last two cuts it's likely he'll be able to turn it around at one of his favorite venues.

7. Jason Day: The world No. 1 has yet to assert himself in the new year, having missed a chunk of time at the end of 2016 because of a back injury. Day's missed cut at Torrey Pines was a surprise, but his record at Pebble is no fluke: five top-15 finishes since 2008, including a T-4 result two years ago.

8. Jon Rahm: No reason to think he'll slow down now. Rahm followed up his breakthrough win at Torrey Pines with a solid T-16 finish amid partisan crowds in Scottsdale. While he's making his debut in this tournament, Rahm continues to play with unbridled confidence and has a game that can adapt to nearly any style of venue.

9. Sean O Hair: Few players have been more solid in this format than O'Hair, who has nine straight cuts at Pebble Beach including the U.S. Open. Eight of those appearances have gone for top-40 results, and the veteran already has a pair of top-12 finishes this year in Honolulu and Palm Springs.

10. Patrick Reed: Reed is another player with a strong track record here, with three top-15 finishes among four prior starts. While he struggled last week in the desert, Reed notched top-15s in both Maui and Palm Springs prior to that and tied for sixth at Pebble Beach just last year.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry