Power Rankings: 2017 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2017, 12:39 pm

The 2017 fantasy golf season remains in California this week, as the PGA Tour travels to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the South Course at Torrey Pines in addition to the newly-renovated North Course.

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.

Brandt Snedeker won this event last year by one shot over K.J. Choi. Here are 10 players to watch in La Jolla:

1. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama cooled somewhat at the Sony, but his recent run of form can't be ignored. The Japanese sensation has won four of his last seven worldwide starts, and his elite ball-striking should separate him from the field on a demanding layout like the South Course at Torrey Pines.

2. Brandt Snedeker: Last year's champ tends to feast on these two courses, as he leads the Tour in birdies and scoring average at this event since 2010. Snedeker missed the cut at Waialae but thrives on poa annua greens like those offered at Torrey Pines.

3. Dustin Johnson: The globetrotting major champ comes in hot after a runner-up in Abu Dhabi, so jet lag is a bit of a concern. But Johnson's form is not, as he has gone T-3, T-6, T-2 in his last three worldwide starts. Length off the tee will be an advantage with three rounds on the South Course, a former U.S. Open venue that should favor, well, a U.S. Open champion.

4. Jason Day: The world No. 1 sparked a flurry of worldwide victories with his win at this event back in 2015, so he clearly knows his way around. But Day is still making just his second start since the Tour Championship in September and still may be shaking off some rust heading into a more robust part of his schedule.

5. Jimmy Walker: Walker hasn't made much noise since his major breakthrough at Baltusrol, but that could change this week on a course where he has some history. Walker has finished T-8 or better in four of his last five trips to San Diego, including a T-4 finish last year despite a closing 77 in blustery conditions.

6. Rickie Fowler: Fowler thrived at this event early in his career, with top-20 finishes in each of his four appearances, but he has missed the cut in two of three trips since. Like Johnson, Fowler made the trip from Abu Dhabi to San Diego, but his game should still be relatively sharp after a shorter offseason than many of his peers.

7. Charles Howell III: Few players are hotter right now than Howell, who has finished T-15 or better in each of his last five PGA Tour starts. That includes a T-8 at Sony and a T-12 in Palm Springs in each of the last two weeks, and he has four top-20 finishes at Torrey Pines since 2011.

8. Justin Rose: The gold medalist deserves a spot on this list, especially coming off a runner-up finish at Waialae, but course history is a concern. Rose has never cracked the top 20 at this event, and he has missed the cut in each of his last two appearances. Still, Rose's tee-to-green game should give him a strong chance to contend on a tough layout.

9. Shane Lowry: For the Irishman, the tougher the course, the better. Lowry earned his lone PGA Tour win at Firestone, nearly won last summer at Oakmont and has also contended at Torrey Pines, where he chased a T-7 finish in 2015 with a T-13 finish last year. Lowry hasn't played an individual event since November, but don't be surprised if he's on the leaderboard.

10. Martin Laird: Laird finished T-9 in Palm Springs and over the years he has learned how to tame Torrey Pines. The Scot has two straight top-10 finishes at this event, and he has broken par in his opening round on the South Course each of the last three years - a big key to contending over the weekend.

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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