Power Rankings: CIMB Classic

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2013, 6:58 pm

This week marks the third week of the PGA Tour's new 2013-14 wraparound season, as the Tour heads to Asia for the first time this season with the CIMB Classic. After three years at The Mines Resort, the event will be played this year at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club for the first time.

Be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including defending champion Charlie Rymer.

Nick Watney returns to defend the title he won last year by one shot over Robert Garrigus and Bo Van Pelt. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Malaysia:

1. Phil Mickelson: The highest-ranked player in this week's field, Mickelson is making his season debut in Malaysia, his first action since the Presidents Cup. Having led the PGA Tour in birdie average during the 2013 season, Mickelson should have plenty of success on a course that will yield low scores all week long.

2. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard played well across the world in the early part of 2013, then after a summer swoon experienced a resurgence during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Though he's making his first start since East Lake, expect Garcia to contend this week in Asia.

3. Keegan Bradley: After a successful Presidents Cup paired with Mickelson, Bradley makes his 2013-14 season debut in Malaysia this week. Bradley was 10th on Tour in scoring average last season and recorded top-20 finishes in six of his last seven stroke-play starts to end the season.

4. Nick Watney: A winner at The Mines a year ago, Watney now defends his title in Kuala Lumpur. A pair of 66s in Vegas were bookended by two 73s, but Watney also notched three top-15 finishes during the FedEx Cup Playoffs and last year showed that he can thrive in the heat of Malaysia.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese sensation notched a career-high finish at the Frys.com Open but was then forced to withdraw in Las Vegas due to illness. Now back in Asia, will look to continue the torrid stretch that has seen him crack the top 30 in the world ranking after turning pro in April.

6. Bill Haas: A win at the AT&T National in June highlighted another solid season for Haas, who once again made the Tour Championship field while ranking in the top 25 on Tour in scoring average (18th) and GIR percentage (21st). He's also had a moderate amount of success and experience in Malaysia, having tied for 16th in this event a year ago.

7. Kiradech Aphibarnrat: The Thai acquitted himself well in a series of starts in the U.S. in 2013 and now returns to a venue where he won the rain-shortened Maybank Malaysian Open last year. More recently, the 24-year-old tied for fourth two weeks ago at an Asian Tour event in South Korea.

8. Brendon de Jonge: The Zimbabwean missed the cut in Las Vegas after topping last week's rankings, but there's still reason to believe he'll succeed in Malaysia where the emphasis will be on creating birdie opportunities early and often. De Jonge was 10th on Tour last season in GIR percentage and 15th in the all-around ranking.

9. Bo Van Pelt: A winner of this event at The Mines in 2011, Van Pelt was also runner-up in this event a year ago. Though the venue has shifted, Van Pelt may get a boost from the friendly confines of Malaysia as he looks to rebound from a disappointing 2013 campaign.

10. Nicholas Thompson: If any player should have a good game plan for success at Kuala Lumpur GC this week, it's Thompson. Just two weeks ago, the course hosted the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, where Thompson's younger sister, Lexi, cruised to victory. Hopefully she's offered a tip or two to her brother, who missed the cut at the Frys.com Open earlier this month.

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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