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

By Will GrayFebruary 4, 2014, 6:28 pm

This week marks the 12th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as players head back to the California coastline for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. A field of 156 players (and several notable amateurs) will tackle a rotation of three courses, with Sunday's final round contested at Pebble Beach Golf Links..

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Brandt Snedeker returns to defend the title he won last year by two shots over Chris Kirk. Here are 10 players to watch this week along the coast:

1. Jason Day: Not exactly a clear-cut favorite this week, but Day enters off a T-2 at Farmers in his first start of 2014. The Aussie won in his homeland late last year and his track record at Pebble includes a pair of sixth-place finishes (2008, 2013). Day only has one PGA Tour win to his credit, but that stat is likely to change in 2014.



2. Hunter Mahan: Mahan notched a T-4 finish last week in his first start of the new year, shooting 65-68 over the weekend in Phoenix. Though he hasn't won in nearly two years, the veteran produced another solid 2013 season and has cracked the top 20 each of the last three starts at Pebble, including a runner-up showing in 2011.

3. Dustin Johnson: It's arguable that no one in the field enjoys Pebble more than Johnson, who has won twice and recorded two other top-10 finishes in six career starts - not to mention his T-8 here during the 2010 U.S. Open. Johnson should be well-rested this week, with his most recent start coming at Kapalua where he tied for sixth.

4. Jimmy Walker: Walker is coming off a rare missed cut at Torrey Pines but a return to Pebble will likely help him regain the form that netted a pair of wins already this season. Walker has recorded a top-10 finish in each of his last three trips to the Monterey Peninsula, including a tie for third last year, and this season is playing some of the best golf of his career.

5. Jordan Spieth: While the health of his right ankle remains to be seen, Spieth is now almost always a name to watch regardless of venue. The Texan tied for 22nd here a year ago and, despite a disappointing finish two weeks ago in San Diego, has already shown that his Rookie of the Year season in 2013 was no fluke.

6. Graeme McDowell: The Ulsterman is making his first start of 2014 this week, and also returning to Pebble Beach for the first time since hoisting the U.S. Open trophy four years ago. McDowell ended his 2013 campaign with a string of high finishes and has previously navigated this week's rotation of courses with some success, as evidenced by his eighth-place showing in 2005.

7. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson has won this event four times since 1998, but fatigue and injury remain a concern. The left-hander is playing in his fourth straight event this week and still has questions surrounding the health of his back. Before entering a four-week break, though, he may find a way to contend once more along the coast.

8. Patrick Reed: After skipping San Diego with a rib injury, Reed appeared no worse for wear last week in Phoenix, where he tied for 19th. Just three weeks removed from his victory at the Humana Challenge, the 23-year-old now returns to an event where he tied for seventh last year in his first start at Pebble.

9. Spencer Levin: After an injury-plagued 2013, Levin appears to be on the comeback trail, with eight starts this season resulting in seven made cuts and three top-30 finishes, including a T-29 in Phoenix. He's another player in this week's field with a strong record at Pebble Beach, having finished T-4 in 2010 and T-9 in 2011, his most recent appearance.

10. Matt Jones: The Aussie stumbled down the stretch in Phoenix after holding a share of the 36-hole lead, but he remains a player to watch this season. Jones now has a pair of top-15 finishes in his last three starts and has had some success in this event, finishing T-10 in 2010 and T-15 in 2011.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”