Power Rankings: Frys.com Open

By Will GrayOctober 8, 2013, 6:53 pm

This week marks the first week of the PGA Tour's new 2013-14 wraparound season, as a field of 132 players head to Northern California for the Frys.com Open. CordeValle Golf Club plays host to the event for the fourth consecutive year, though the tournament will move to Silverado Resort in 2014.

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

Jonas Blixt returns to defend the title he won last year by one shot over Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak. Here are 10 players to watch this week in San Martin:

1. Billy Horschel: After a breakthrough spring, Horschel struggled somewhat during the homestretch of the 2013 season but bounced back during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Horschel finished the season ranked eighth on Tour in both birdie average and the all-around ranking and has played well in two career starts at CordeValle, tying for seventh in 2011 and posting a T-29 finish last year.

2. John Peterson: After bursting onto the scene at last year's U.S. Open, Peterson tore through the Web.com Tour Finals last month, winning the four-event money list. As a result, the former LSU standout enters this week with serious momentum, having ended his 2013 campaign with five straight top-five finishes.

3. Hideki Matsuyama: Fresh off his appearance at the Presidents Cup, Matsuyama is the highest-ranked player in this weeks field according to the OWGR (30th). The Japanese sensation notched top-10 finishes at both the U.S. Open and British Open this summer, recording six top-25 finishes in seven starts overall last season on the PGA Tour. Now a full-time Tour member, the 21-year-old appears poised for a strong start to his season in California.

4. Gary Woodland: A winner two months ago in Reno, Woodland also tied for second at The Barclays and recorded a T-18 finish at the BMW Championship in his most recent start. Perenially one of the longer hitters on Tour, he appears to have put recent injury issues in the rear-view mirror and now returns to CordeValle, where he tied for ninth a year ago.

5. Jonas Blixt: The defending champ followed up his maiden win with another triumph at The Greenbrier Classic in July, then very nearly claimed the PGA Championship the following month. The Swede struggled somewhat during the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but returning to CordeValle should help Blixt rekindle his old form.

6. Rory Sabbatini: The South African quietly finished the year on a bit of a tear, recording seven top-20 finishes across his final nine starts to the PGA Tour season. Sabbatini finished the season ranked third on Tour in birdie average and fourth in par breakers, which should bode well for his return to a course where the winner has averaged 67 strokes per round across the last three years.

7. Charles Howell III: After narrowly missing out on a spot at the Tour Championship, Howell heads to a course where he tied for 11th in 2012. The Georgia native cooled off significantly after his hot start to the season, but still finished 2013 ranked 17th in strokes gained putting and should make his fair share of putts this week at CordeValle.

8. Marc Leishman: Like Matsuyama, Leishman heads to California after an unsuccessful bid to help the International Team claim the Presidents Cup. The Aussie, who had four top-10s and eight top-25s last season on the PGA Tour, tied for 36th in this event in 2011, his only appearance at CordeValle.

9. Bryce Molder: A winner here in 2011, Molder followed up that victory with a T-11 finish last year. Statistically one of the best putters on Tour, the former Georgia Tech product finished the 2013 season ranked 10th in strokes gained putting and has made the cut in eight of his last nine starts overall, with three top-25 finishes during that stretch.

10. Jimmy Walker: With a tie for 11th at Conway Farms, Walker capped another consistent campaign, one that included five top-10 finishes and 10 top-25 finishes in 24 starts. The Texan finished 22nd in the all-around and 27th in birdie average in 2013, cracking $2 million in earnings in the process, and now tees it up at CordeValle where he tied for fourth a year ago.

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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