Power Rankings: WGC-Cadillac Championship

By Will GrayMarch 4, 2014, 10:38 pm

This week marks the 16th (and 17th) events of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, with each of the top 50 players in the world teeing it up in the WGC-Cadillac Championship (our rankings for the Puerto Rico Open can be found here). A field of 69 players will tackle the Blue Monster at Trump Doral, where Gil Hanse has recently renovated one of the longest-tenured venues on Tour.

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World No. 1 Tiger Woods returns to defend the title he won last year by two shots over Steve Stricker. Here are 10 players to watch this week outside Miami:

1. Rory McIlroy: Despite his late collapse at the Honda Classic, McIlroy is inching ever closer to the form that won him two majors by the age of 23. The newly-renovated Blue Monster will reward his aggressive play off the tee, and McIlroy has finished inside the top 10 each of the last three years here, including a third-place showing in 2012. The Ulsterman has shown before that he has a short memory when needed, and he could put last week's disappointment behind him quickly with a high finish at Doral.

2. Adam Scott: The Aussie will play alongside Tiger Woods each of the first two rounds, and has his sights set on taking the top spot in the world ranking from him by week's end. Scott quietly notched a tie for 12th at PGA National, shooting par or better in each of his four rounds, and has finished T-6 or better twice in his last three starts at Doral. He continues to try to sharpen his form heading back to Augusta, and should take a significant step in that direction this week.

3. Dustin Johnson: Doral tends to favor those that are both long and aggressive off the tee, and that remains the case after the Hanse alterations. Johnson fits both of those categories and has been playing stellar golf of late, with back-to-back runner-up finishes last month at Pebble Beach and Riviera. He was also a runner-up here in 2011, and tied for 12th just a year ago.

4. Tiger Woods: Sluggish start. Bad back. Woods faces a multitude of questions entering this week, but should he opt to tee it up he remains a player to watch on a course where he has experienced great success in years past. Woods won here in relatively easy fashion last year and his final-round withdrawal in 2012 marks the only time he's finished outside the top 10 since the event moved to Doral.

5. Keegan Bradley: Bradley's T-12 at Honda continued his recent stretch of stellar, albeit unspectacular results. While he's not contending for trophies, he is cashing sizeable checks this year, which makes him a viable fantasy option. Bradley has only made two prior starts at Doral, but he's finished inside the top 10 in both instances - a tie for eighth in 2012, followed by a solo seventh last year. Currently fifth on Tour in total driving.

6. Jason Day: The Aussie enters off a confidence-building win at Dove Mountain, having survived the match-play bracket and risen to No. 4 in the latest rankings as a result. Day has long been a contender in top-tier events against some of the world's best, and tied for second in his 2014 debut at Torrey Pines in January. Dating back to his win at the World Cup in November, Day's results are beginning to catch up to his form - a scary prospect for the other 68 players in this week's field.

7. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard opened with 72 last week at PGA National, but broke par across each of the final three rounds to nab a tie for eighth. It marked his fourth straight top-11 finish to begin the 2013-14 season, a stat that does not take into account his win in Qatar in January. Garcia has never been higher in the world rankings, and now returns to Miami where he tied for third a year ago. Expect another similar result this time around.

8. Jordan Spieth: Spieth is the only player in this week's rankings who has never played in this event before, but that is a stat that has rarely held the 20-year-old back in the past. Spieth has only finished outside the top 20 once in seven starts this season (a missed cut at the Sony Open), a trend he's likely to continue this week at Doral. Aggressive play and frequent birdies have long been a recipe for success at Doral, and Spieth has been known for both during his tear through the world rankings over the past year.

9. Bubba Watson: Watson nearly caught Justin Rose here in 2012, a precursor to his Masters triumph. Now he returns to Doral just three weeks removed from his win at the Northern Trust Open, his first since donning the green jacket. Watson also nearly won last month in Phoenix, and his run through the match-play bracket was only halted by Victor Dubuisson, the eventual runner-up at Dove Mountain. He's now broken par in six of his last eight competitive rounds on the Blue Monster.

10. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar snapped a streak of three straight top-10 finishes in this event with his T-35 last year, but still clearly has an affinity for south Florida golf. A missed cut at Riviera remains the lone hiccup on his 2013-14 ledger to date, as each of Kuchar's other four starts this season have netted a top-10 finish. He remains one of the most solid players tee-to-green, and should he gain a feel for the greens at Trump Doral could certainly contend this weekend.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry