Power Rankings: Puerto Rico Open

By Will GrayMarch 4, 2014, 10:46 pm

This week marks the 16th (and 17th) events of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. While many of the game's best tee it up at Trump Doral (our Power Rankings for that event can be viewed here), a full field will tackle another Trump product on the Isle of Enchantment. Trump International Golf Club - Puerto Rico will host the Puerto Rico Open this week, where many players will look to give their season a spark with a high finish.

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Scott Brown returns to defend the title he won last year by one shot over Jordan Spieth. Here are 10 players to watch this week in the Caribbean:

1. Matt Jones: The Aussie has been viewed as a rising star for several months, and this may prove to be his opportunity for a breakthrough win. Jones already has top-15 finishes in Palm Springs and Phoenix this year, two places where low scores were the name of the game. He's comfortable in Puerto Rico, having cracked the top 15 in each of his prior two starts, and was near the lead through two rounds at TPC Scottsdale. Might be able to stay near the top a little longer this week.

2. Chris Stroud: Stroud lost in a playoff last year at the Travelers Championship but has been solid to begin his 2013-14 campaign, notching five top-20 finishes in eight starts this season. That streak includes three top 20s in four starts this year, capped by a T-12 last week at the Honda Classic in which he broke par three times. Tied for 18th in Puerto Rico a year ago.

3. Brooks Koepka: While he's not a PGA Tour member, Koepka is the highest-ranked player in this week's field at No. 70. After climbing the ranks in Europe, Koepka nearly won the Frys.com Open in October and narrowly missed out on a spot in the WGC-Accenture Match Play field last month. This event offers him an opportunity to gain valuable world ranking points - as Spieth did with his runner-up showing a year ago - and potentially earn full-fledged membership with a victory.

4. George McNeill: The 2012 champ was fifth in Puerto Rico the year prior, and now returns to a familiar venue off a pair of top-15 finishes at the Northern Trust Open and Honda Classic. McNeill shot par or better in each round last week at PGA National and now has eight straight rounds of 71 or better.

5. Scott Brown: The defending champ, like McNeill, preceded his win with a fifth-place showing. Brown got off to a strong start this season, with top-five finishes at both the Frys.com Open and McGladrey Classic, but has cooled considerably since then. A return to Puerto Rico might be just what he needs to get his game back on track, though, as he has shot 70 or better in seven of eight competitive rounds at Trump International.

6. Brian Stuard: Stuard notched three straight top-six finishes earlier this season, including a runner-up showing at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba the last time the PGA Tour ventured outside the 50 states. He enters this week off a T-24 at Honda, where he played himself back into the mix with a Saturday 65, and Stuard tied for fourth in this event a year ago.

7. Nicolas Colsaerts: The Belgian Bomber is likely one of the more recognizable names in this week's field, and Colsaerts tied for 19th at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. This will be his first start in Puerto Rico, but Colsaerts possesses the length off the tee to take advantage of Trump International. Should his putter heat up, Colsaerts will likely factor over the weekend.

8. Seung-Yul Noh: The South Korean has been solid so far in 2013-14, making eight straight cuts and cracking the top 30 on three occasions, including a T-10 at Torrey Pines. He tied for 25th at this event in his lone start here in 2012, and last year showed that he can make the most of an opportunity against a somewhat lesser field when he won the third event of the Web.com Tour Finals.

9. David Hearn: The Canadian played well last week, closing with a 3-under 67 to earn a tie for sixth, his best finish on Tour since he lost a playoff at the John Deere Classic in July. Hearn has played in this event twice and finished inside the top 15 both times, with a tie for 14th in 2011 followed by a T-8 result last year. 

10. Emiliano Grillo: The Argentine may not be well-known among American golf circles, but he made headlines earlier this year when he finished second at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic among a field that included Tiger Woods. Grillo also finished fifth at the Joburg Open last month in South Africa, going 63-62 across the second and third rounds. He has the game to go low, and clearly the confidence is brimming of late.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.