Power Rankings: Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2014, 1:52 pm

This week marks the 10th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as players take on Torrey Pines at the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South courses, with three of four competitive rounds played on the South, which hosted the U.S. Open in 2008.

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World No. 1 Tiger Woods makes his 2014 debut as he defends the title he won last year by four shots over Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater. Here are 10 players to watch this week in San Diego:

1. Tiger Woods: A heavy favorite this week, and for good reason. Woods has won this event seven times - including last year's romp - in addition to his U.S. Open title on the South Course seven years ago. He tends to thrive amid friendly confines, and Torrey Pines certainly qualifies.

2. Brandt Snedeker: Tiger may own Torrey, but Snedeker has had a pretty successful run in San Diego himself, notching four straight top-10 finishes. The former FedEx champ followed his 2012 win here with a runner-up showing last year, and also tied for second in 2010 to go along with a third-place finish in 2007.

3. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson displayed some classic signs of "Phil" golf en route to a T-2 last week in Abu Dhabi: often brilliant, sometimes puzzling, but at the end of the week still better than most. Now he returns States-side to an event where he has recorded 10 top-10 finishes in 24 career starts, including three wins (1993, 2000, 2001).

4. Rickie Fowler: Fowler tied for sixth here last year and has yet to finish outside the top 20 in four career Farmers appearances. After a sluggish start, he bounced back to post 67-66 over the weekend in Palm Springs and now will look to carry that momentum into an event where he has had plenty of past success.

5. Hunter Mahan: Mahan hasn't logged a start yet during the 2013-14 season, but Torrey Pines should prove to be a friendly venue on which to make his debut. Mahan has cracked the top 15 here four of the last five years, including back-to-back T-6 finishes in 2011 and 2012.

6. Bill Haas: Haas shot 67 or better in each of his four rounds last week en route to a T-6 at Humana, and now heads to a course where he has finished inside the top 10 each of the last three years. The former FedEx Cup champ tied for fourth at Torrey in 2012 and has shot par or better in 18 of his last 20 rounds in San Diego.

7. Jason Day: The Aussie is making his first start of the 2013-14 season and still carries the momentum from an emotional win at the World Cup in November in front of the home crowds. A mainstay on leaderboards throughout 2013, Day tied for ninth at Torrey a year ago on the strength of a final-round 66.

8. Jordan Spieth: Spieth showed he was human in Honolulu, where he missed the Sony Open cut, but is likely to bounce back this week in California. He also missed the cut here last year in his season debut, but over the interim 12 months has been one of the hottest golfers around. A runner-up earlier this month in Kapalua, the 20-year-old should find more success this time around.

9. Jimmy Walker: Known for years as one of the more consistent players on Tour, Walker is now a proven winner and hoisted the trophy in his most recent start in Hawaii. The Texan has notched back-to-back top-10 finishes at Torrey Pines, including a T-4 last year.

10. Charles Howell III: Time is quickly running out for Howell to make an early-season move in the OWGR, but the veteran has had prior success in San Diego. Howell already has four top-10 finishes to his credit this season, including a T-8 two weeks ago in Hawaii, and his T-9 last year was his fifth top-10 finish at Torrey Pines in 11 career starts.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x