Getty Images

Power Rankings: Waste Management Phoenix Open

By Will GrayJanuary 29, 2018, 8:21 pm

The PGA Tour remains heads to Arizona this week for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. A field of 132 players will tackle the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale, including the raucous par-3 16th hole.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Hideki Matsuyama won this event last year in a playoff over Webb Simpson. Here are 10 names to watch in Scottsdale:

1. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom has been the undisputed top name at this event recently, having won each of the last two years in four-hole playoffs. He was also a runner-up in 2015, finished T-4 in 2014 and enters off a T-12 finish at Torrey Pines that included a final-round 69. Expect more of the same.

2. Jordan Spieth: Spieth is playing for the first tim since the Sony Open, and he's teeing it up in an event where he cracked the top 10 in both 2015 (T-7) and last year (T-9). You have to go all the way back to the PGA Championship to find an instance where Spieth finished outside the top 20, a span of eight worldwide starts.

3. Jon Rahm: Rahm's weekend melt in San Diego qualified as surprising, but it shouldn't deter fantasy players from slotting the Spaniard. Rahm will have plenty of support this week having gone to school at nearby Arizona State, and his record here includes a T-5 finish as an amateur in 2015 along with last year's T-16 result.

4. Rickie Fowler: Fowler missed the cut for the third straight year at Torrey Pines, but each of the last two years he has followed that result by contending at TPC Scottsdale. The veteran was T-4 last year, and back in 2016 he let a late lead slip away before losing to Matsuyama in a playoff. He was T-4 in Maui earlier this month.

5. Justin Thomas: Thomas was in the mix through 36 holes at this event in his 2015 debut before falling back into a T-17 finish, but he has missed the cut each of the last two years. Expect that mini-slump to end this week, as Thomas tees it up for the first time since a T-14 finish at the Sony Open as one of the headliners of a stacked field.

6. Webb Simpson: Last year's runner-up has been a regular contender at this event, with top-15 finishes in each of his four prior trips to the desert. Simpson has long been viewed as a balky putter, but he ranks 18th on Tour this season in strokes gained putting and 13th in total strokes gained. Simpson finished T-4 at the Sony earlier this month.

7. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar finished T-9 at this event last year, his second top-10 finish in five appearances since 2009. Kuchar hasn't finished outside the top 45 at TPC Scottsdale in that span, and to find his last missed cut you have to go back nearly a year to the Shell Houston Open.

8. Daniel Berger: Berger has had some early success at this event, with top-10 finishes in two of his first three appearances. That includes a T-7 finish last year, and his recent form includes top-15 finishes on both legs of the Hawaiian swing earlier this month. In fact, he's on a run of four straight top-25 finishes dating back to the fall.

9. Zach Johnson: The two-time major champ has begun to turn things around of late, with top-10 finishes in each of his two tournament starts this year. His WMPO record includes four top-15 finishes in his last five trips, highlighted by a T-10 finish in 2015. Johnson is 15th on Tour this season in total strokes gained.

10. Brendan Steele: Steele is already a winner this season on Tour, and he's heading back to a venue where he has had considerable success. Steele finished T-6 or better three straight years here from 2012-14, and he has four top-20 finishes over the last five years. In addition to his Napa victory in October, he has notched top-30 results in each of his first three starts in 2018.

Getty Images

Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 8:07 pm

Tiger Woods looks in complete control of his iron play at PGA National.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first Saturday birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

Getty Images

O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 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.

Getty Images

Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”