Power Rankings: 2017 Shell Houston Open

By Will GrayMarch 27, 2017, 8:06 pm

The 2017 fantasy golf season stays in Texas this week, as the PGA Tour heads to Houston for the Shell Houston Open. A field of 144 players will tackle the Golf Club of Houston in the final event before the Masters.

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.

Jim Herman won this event last year by one shot over Henrik Stenson. Here are 10 players to watch in the Lone Star State:

1. Jordan Spieth: He'll be the crowd favorite this week, and deservedly so. Spieth lost here in a playoff in 2015 and followed with a T-13 showing where he made a late charge into contention on Sunday. While he hasn't cracked the top 10 since winning at Pebble Beach, Spieth enjoys playing in front of the partisan crowds and has the game that suits this layout which in many ways is designed to mirror Augusta National.

2. Henrik Stenson: The Swede has finished twice here, both last year and in 2013, on a course where his iron game thrives. Stenson surprisingly missed the cut at Bay Hill, but he played well in Tampa the week prior and is likely to get things back on track in a big way this week before heading down Magnolia Lane.

3. Rickie Fowler: Fowler hasn't slowed down since winning at PGA National, adding a pair of top-20 finishes. He now heads to Houston where he has contended twice in the last three years, highlighted a sixth-place showing back in 2014. Overall, he hasn't been outside the top 20 since a missed cut at Torrey Pines.

4. Jon Rahm: With Dustin Johnson bowing out on Monday, Rahm might be the hottest player teeing it up this week in Houston. He has continued to ascend since his breakthrough at the Farmers Insurance Open, nearly toppling DJ both in Mexico and in Austin. A second PGA Tour trophy isn't far away.

5. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson was using this event as his final Masters prep before it was cool. Lefty is a regular at the Golf Club of Houston, having played every year since 2008. That includes a win in 2011 and five straight top-20 finishes since then. There are many courses that can be considered Mickelson favorites, but this one is high on the list.

6. Justin Rose: Rose isn't receiving much attention heading into the Masters, but he probably should be. The Englishman started the year with a runner-up in Hawaii, added a pair of T-4 finishes on the West Coast and tied for 13th at Bay Hill in his most recent start. Sooner rather than later, his form will reach a crescendo.

7. Adam Scott: Scott won this event in 2007 but is returning for the first time since a T-14 finish in 2010. Like Rose, he skipped last week's WGC event in nearby Austin and arrives fresh and ready for one last prep event heading to Augusta. Scott is another strong iron player who should create plenty of birdie opportunities on a course that lacks penal rough.

8. J.B. Holmes: Holmes toppled Spieth and Johnson Wagner to win a playoff here two years ago, one of four top-12 finishes among a sporadic run of five starts that dates back to 2009. Holmes is able to unleash his driver over this par-72 layout with considerable success, and he finished T-12 in Mexico in his last stroke-play start.

9. Russell Henley: Henley may not be top of mind from a fantasy perspective, but he should be this week. The Georgia product has been known to get streaky from time to time, especially on the greens, and has finished T-7 or better each of the last three years in Houston. Also tied for ninth just three weeks ago at Innisbrook.

10. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has only played this event four times since 2010, but three of those trips ended with top-10 finishes including a playoff loss to Matt Jones in 2014. Kuchar has been his reliable self of late, with top-25 finishes in four of his last five stroke-play starts.

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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.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.