Power Rankings: U.S. Open

By June 12, 2012, 5:00 pm

This year's second major for the men is here with the U.S. Open this week at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. With the bulk of the game's top names having won at least once already this season, a top-heavy ranking might be expected. Given the history of underdog victories at the Lake Course, however, at least a few lesser-known names deserve consideration.

Take a look at our fantasy rankings for this week, then tweet out your picks using the hashtag #GCFantasy and send them to me @RyanBallengeeGC. Also be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including defending champion Win McMurry.

1. Tiger Woods: A winner twice this season including two weeks ago at the Memorial Tournament, Woods is tied for the most PGA Tour wins in 2012. He finished T-18 at this venue 14 years ago and his improved confidence off the tee will be critical to his success this week.

2. Lee Westwood: Players do not win the week before the U.S. open, then do it again the next week. Lee Westwood, however, is poised to do just that after winning last week's Nordea Masters on the European Tour. Among the top three in the world from tee to green, Westwood will find lots of greens and hover around par better than most.

3. Rory McIlroy: The reigning U.S. Open champion may have found a watery grave at the 72nd hole in Memphis, but McIlroy proved he can bounce back from a minor rut. His high ball flight should help this week on firm greens.

4. Luke Donald: The world No. 1 will come in with a world of confidence, having beaten a world-class field at the BMW PGA Championship last month for his second worldwide win of 2012. His short-game prowess is a big asset this week, which can help him partially overcome occasionally lackluster driving accuracy.

5. Matt Kuchar: The Players winner was an amateur at Olympic in 1998, but finished T-14. He has been in the top 15 in each of the last two U.S. Opens, and his happy-go-lucky demeanor will help him as he grinds through the tough stretches.

6. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson is a five-time runner-up at the U.S. Open. He always seems to contend int he year's first two majors more frequently than anyone. Without cell phones in the gallery to bother him, Phil can make a statement with his play - not the lack of it.

7. Jim Furyk: With the scaling back of the graduated rough at the U.S. Open, Furyk's driving accuracy - ranked second on the PGA Tour - will be important this week. His lone major title came in this championship in 2003 at the similarly named Olympia Fields, albeit under different scoring conditions.

8. Jason Dufner: Dufner has won twice and finished second in his last four PGA Tour starts. That's reason enough to earn a spot in the ranking. The fact that he has seriously contended in the last two majors played is another.

9. Peter Hanson: The Swede had a chance at the Masters, finishing T-3. He has just a pair of finishes outside the top 15 this season in seven PGA Tour starts.

10. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but has not built upon his Spanish double-dip to end 2011. He finished T-3 last week, however, at the Nordea Masters. He was in contention at the U.S. Open last year before finishing T-7 at Congressional.

**Remember to join GC Fantasy expert Rob Bolton for a live chat 12:00p ET Wednesday at www.rotoworld.com**

Tune in to Golf Channel all week long for Live From: U.S. Open coverage.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.