Power Rankings: Humana Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2013, 4:07 pm

The PGA Tour heads to the continental U.S. for the first time in 2013 this week with the Humana Challenge. The Palmer Course at PGA West will host the final round, but players will also tackle the Nicklaus Private Course and La Quinta Country Club for one round each.

Be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including former champion Win McMurry.

Mark Wilson is in the field to defend the title he won last year over a trio of players in the event's second year under a 72-hole format. Here are 10 names to keep an eye on this week in California:

1. Matt Kuchar: The ideal mix of recent form and past performance. Kuchar began his year with a pair of top-10 finishes in Hawaii after nine such finishes in 2012, and he has been inside the top 25 at Humana each of the last four years, including a runner-up finish in 2010.

2. Bill Haas: Few in this week's field have more experience in this event than Haas, who has played each year since 2005. Though he struggled last year, he won here in 2010 and followed that result with a T-2 showing the following year, and overall Haas has five top-25 finishes in eight Humana starts.

3. Webb Simpson: Somewhat fitting his personality, Simpson has gotten off to a solid - if unspectacular - start to 2013 with a pair of top-20 finishes. He has finished inside the top 15 twice in three Humana starts, including a T-5 showing in 2009, and his consistent ball-striking should yield plenty of birdies this week.

4. Brandt Snedeker: Started strongly in Kapalua with a third-place finish, and the reigning FedEx Cup champion has a pair of top 10s here since 2010. Arguably the best putter in an event that will put a high priority on making putts early and often.

5. Bo Van Pelt: This week will be about making birdies, and few players did that better in 2012 than BVP. Making his 2013 debut, Van Pelt will hope to pick up where he left off in closing the 2012 season with four straight top-10 finishes.

6. Tim Clark: Did everything but win last week at Waialae, closing with a 63 Sunday to show that when healthy, he is a threat on courses that emphasize shot-making. Expect more of the same this week on a rotation that will not push the South African past his comfort zone in terms of length.

7. Robert Garrigus: A runner-up here last year - one of five such finishes last year on Tour - Garrigus will look for a repeat performance this week. While known for his length off the tee, he was also 11th on Tour last year in birdie average and tops in par-3 birdies.

8. Phil Mickelson: Twice a winner here (2002 & 2004), Mickelson will be making only his second start at La Quinta since 2007. With the game's top two players beginning their years in Abu Dhabi this week, Lefty will be motivated to steal the headlines - or at least some of them.

9. Ben Crane: Co-led after 36 holes last year along with eventual winner Mark Wilson before fading to T-8 over the weekend. Crane clearly has a feel for the greens in the California desert, finishing in the top 16 in the field in putts per round in five of his last eight Humana appearances.

10. John Senden: Another player with significant experience in this event, Senden is making his 12th appearance here, having recorded four top-10 finishes since 2005. Last year he led the field in fairways hit and was second in greens in regulation en route to a T-6 showing.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.