College Preview: Top 10 men's teams

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 9, 2014, 12:30 pm

1. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys lost a pair of seniors from the team that reached the 2014 NCAA finals, but they still have a 2013-14 Big 12 Player of the Year (Wyndham Clark), a 2013 U.S. Walker Cupper (Jordan Niebrugge) and a 2014 U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist (Zachary Olsen). No other team has that many proven performers at the top.

2. Texas: A young, talented roster doesn’t always lead to success, but it seems inevitable that the Longhorns are going to win in bunches this season, even with one of the nation’s toughest schedules. 

3. Illinois: Perennially underrated, Mike Small’s team won’t have that luxury this season. Brian Campbell is the best player you’ve never heard of, while the supporting cast is an appealing mix of experience (three upperclassmen) and promise (Nick Hardy). This group is very good.     

4. Alabama: The two-time defending champions look markedly different this year, but bet against the Tide at your own risk. Robby Shelton is a game-changing talent at the top, and now we can finally watch GB&I Walker Cupper Gavin Moynihan, who played sparingly a year ago. Though there might be some growing pains in the fall, there’s little doubt ’Bama will hit its stride when it matters most. 

5. South Carolina: Coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history, the Gamecocks return all five starters from last year’s team, a rarity in today’s college landscape. They may lack a bona fide star, but all five players are ranked inside the top 250. Kickingaway a chance to reach match play last spring will keep these boys plenty motivated. 

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6. Georgia: Two of their best players from 2013-14 are gone, but junior Lee McCoy seems more than capable of filling that void. With a victory already this young season, it’s clear the ’Dawgs will be highly competitive from September to June.  

7. Vanderbilt: Senior Hunter Stewart will be a top-10 player by year’s end (already won the Carmel Cup), while Carson Jacobs has established himself as a rock-solid No. 2. The Commodores’ title hopes likely depend on the health of sophomore Matthias Schwab, who missed the last five spring tournaments and may sit out the entire fall because of a back injury. 

8. Georgia Tech: After losing three starters to graduation, the Yellow Jackets will likely go as far as Player of the Year favorite Ollie Schniederjans can take them. Senior Anders Albertson must return to his All-American form, while freshmen Jacob Joiner and Chris Petefish will be asked to contribute right away.

9. UCLA: Jonathan Garrick has only one victory in two seasons with the Bruins, but that figures to change in what is shaping up to be a breakout year. Look for junior Lorens Chan to also take the next step, pacing a lineup that lost only one player and features three seniors.  

10. Texas A&M: Returning three top-150 players, the Aggies also welcome highly touted freshman Cameron Champ, who should make an immediate impact. A&M hasn’t cracked the top-5 since its 2009 title, but this is a team that should be in the mix for a match-play spot come spring.

ALSO KEEP AN EYE ON: Florida State, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."