Power Rankings: Shell Houston Open

By Will GrayMarch 26, 2013, 4:04 pm

With the Florida swing now in the rear-view mirror, the PGA Tour heads to Texas for a pair of events before the season's first major. This week, the spotlight shines upon Houston, where Redstone Golf Club plays host to the Shell Houston Open.

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

Hunter Mahan returns to defend the title he won last year by a stroke over Carl Pettersson. Here are 10 players to watch this week in the Lone Star State:

1. Steve Stricker: Each of his first three starts this season have resulted in top-five finishes, and there's reason to think that streak will continue this week. Stricker has four top-11 finishes in his last six Houston starts, including a tie for fourth in 2011.

2. Keegan Bradley: Bradley enters off a tie for third at Bay Hill, his third straight top-10 finish. He's currently seventh on Tour in total driving and eighth in scrambling, and just a year ago finished tied for fourth in his second appearance at Redstone.

3. Phil Mickelson: A champion here in 2011, Mickelson also finished T-4 here last year. Despite the missed cut at Bay Hill, Lefty won in Phoenix and was T-3 at Doral, and tends to thrive on courses like Redstone that demand deft touch on and around the greens.

4. Hunter Mahan: Mahan has not won since leaving Redstone with the trophy a year ago, but his play this year has been strong, with seven straight top-25 finishes. In addition to his win last year, Mahan has four other top-11 finishes in Houston dating back to 2006.

5. Louis Oosthuizen: A year ago, the South African used a T-3 finish here as a springboard to his playoff appearance at Augusta. He was also T-16 here in 2011, and despite recent struggles he has the ball-striking prowess to contend this week at Redstone.

6. Jimmy Walker: One of the hottest players still under the radar, Walker notched his third top-10 finish of the year at Bay Hill and has been inside the top 30 in seven of eight starts this season. The Texas resident has made 17 straight cuts and is currently seventh on Tour in scoring average.

7. Rory McIlroy: Freshly stripped of his top ranking, McIlroy is making his final start before the Masters. Though his struggles this year are well-documented, his last competitive round - a Sunday 65 at Doral - gives reason to think a return to form is near.

8. Lee Westwood: Though he only has one top-10 finish in six starts this season, Westwood has played well in Houston recently. The Englishman has finished inside the top 30 each of the last four years, including a T-8 finish in 2010.

9. Bryce Molder: Molder has been strikingly consistent this season, with six top-30 finishes in seven starts. Though he's still in search of his first top-10 this year, he was T-18 in Houston last year and T-8 in 2010. Molder currently ranks fifth on Tour in strokes gained putting and ninth in birdie average.

10. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker had a rough return to action last week, missing the cut at Bay Hill in his first start in over a month. Any course that requires players to lean heavily upon their short game, though, puts the reigning FedEx Cup champ among the short list of players expected to contend.

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Watch: Tiger's drive startles strolling duck

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 7:21 pm

Tiger Woods split the eighth fairway with a 287-yard, 3-wood on Sunday and startled a duck (goose?) who was merely out and about for a stroll at PGA National.

The duck (goose?) walked away under its own power, and Woods followed up with a wedge to inside 9 feet and his third birdie of the front nine.

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Watch: Tiger's Sunday birdies at the Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 6:40 pm

One day after he left a barrage of birdie opportunities out on the golf course, Tiger Woods worked his way into red figures early on Sunday.

Seven off the pace to start the day, Woods found the first fairway, hit the first green and rolled in a 20-footer for his firist birdie of the day.

After narrowly missing a 10-footer for what would have been another circle at the par-5 third, Woods came right back at the fourth, flying an approach from 148 yards to 9 feet and finishing the job.

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New-look Korda wins after serious jaw surgery

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 6:31 pm

If the pictures of Jessica Korda from the Honda LPGA Thailand cause you to do a double-take, you're not alone.

Korda's world-class talent was on full display this week in Asia, where she won by four shots, but so too was her new-look face. The 24-year-old underwent serious jaw surgery in December, a final attempt to address a significant overbite that led to ailments ranging from facial cramping to headaches to sleep apnea.

The procedure was intense. Doctors first broke her nose, then broke her jaw in five different places - three on the top, and two on the bottom. She now has 27 screws in her face, and the physical result still requires some adjustment for a woman who now has five career LPGA wins.

"I look at pictures of myself and I don't feel like I look like that person," Korda told Golfweek. "I don't know who that is. And then I look at pictures of my old self and that doesn't look like me either."

Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

The Dec. 7 surgery left Korda unable to eat, with her mother reportedly feeding her through a syringe for "weeks." Korda's facial structure before the surgery was such that she was only using 20 percent of her teeth when chewing food.

But despite returning to practice only six weeks ago and still dealing with lingering numbness in her face, Korda promptly dusted a world-class field in her first start back. She shot 25 under for the week, highlighted by a second-round 62, leaving the likes of Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn in her wake.

After a difficult winter, Korda's look may have changed but her game clearly remains unaffected.

"Coming in after surgery, I didn't know what to expect," Korda told reporters. "Obviously when I look at myself, I still don't feel like I look like myself yet. That will come. I'm just very, very happy. All the hard work I was putting in in the off-season when I could has paid off rather quickly."

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.