Punch Shot: Buying and selling for 2015

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 6, 2015, 12:10 pm

As the start of the 2015 season approaches, it's time for the GolfChannel.com writers to adjust their portfolios. Here's who and what they're buying and selling for 2015.


Buying: Graham DeLaet. On the heels of his strong 2013 campaign, I was uncontrollably bullish on DeLaet entering last year. So much that it almost seemed to be too easy to pick him to win his first PGA Tour title; instead, I picked him to win two.

It didn’t happen, but I’m not jumping off that bandwagon yet. In fact, like any good stockbroker will insist, if you think a company is about to take off, keep loading up until it does. And so I’m still buying up as much DeLaet stock as I can, knowing his ball-striking skills will equate to a win soon enough. On second thought, maybe two of 'em.

Selling: Phil Mickelson. Those same stockbrokers would probably advise that it isn’t smart to sell a stock when it’s at an all-time low, but I can’t help it. For the sake of this exercise, I’m selling Mickelson.

This is despite his continued insistence that the next five years will be the best of his career; that he’ll not just win one U.S. Open, but multiple titles; that he finished T-2 in the most recent major championship.

And yet, I can’t help but think that as he continues on the back nine of his illustrious career, it will become more and more difficult for Mickelson to continue contending on a regular basis. I don’t think he’s done winning; I don’t think we’ll never hear from him again. But if I’ve got to sell a player’s stock, in the year he’ll turn 45 he’s the guy.


Buying: Jordan Spieth. Perhaps it’s because his late-season surge is so fresh in our minds, but 2015 seems like a massive year for the 21-year-old. With three pro titles under his belt and at No. 9 in the world rankings, he has already established himself as one of the elite players. Now seems like the time that he’ll take his game to the next level, to contend for another big-time title after his close calls at the Masters and Players. Statistically speaking, he doesn’t do anything on the course exceptionally well, but the kid is a gamer who knows how to get the ball in the hole. If he can steal a major, he’ll be one of the brightest stars in American sports, not just golf.

Selling: Jim Furyk. Any way you look at it, 2014 was one of the best years of Furyk’s career. He had four runner-up finishes, 11 top 10s and 18 top 25s in 21 events, amassing nearly $6 million in earnings. A great year by any measure, but he remained winless since 2010 and he’s accumulating scar tissue at a troubling rate. You can’t help but sense that a market correction is coming. He hasn’t been able to convert any of his last eight 54-hole leads, and those events won’t get easier to win as he approaches his age-45 season.


Buying: Jordan Spieth. A bandwagon pick by any definition, Spieth is easily the game’s must-buy stock. At 21 years old, the potential reward is virtually unlimited while the risk is minimal.

Largely injury-free in his young career, Spieth has already won on the PGA Tour (2013 John Deere Classic) and closed last year with walk-off victories at the Australian Open and Hero World Challenge by a combined 16 strokes.

Perhaps more important, however, is Spieth’s play at the biggest events, most notably his runner-up showing last year at Augusta National and his inspired pairing with Patrick Reed at the Ryder Cup.

Selling: Ian Poulter. Conversely, if every week were a team match-play event, Poulter would enjoy “blue chip” status just behind Spieth, but professional golf is largely decided by 72 holes of stroke play and that doesn’t seem to be the Englishman’s forte.

Poulter, who turns 39 this week, has just a single stroke-play victory on the Tour (2012 WGC-HSBC Champions) after a decade in the United States and he’s been trending down for some time.

After a career-high 31st-place finish on the FedEx Cup points list in 2009, Poulter has consistently moved in the wrong direction (he finished 81st last year in the season-long race) and has just a single top-10 finish at a major over the last two years.


Buying: Fred Couples.

This is like investing in Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson. Couples is becoming a human pharmaceutical in international team golf, the magic pill that just might cure what ails the American Ryder Cup team. Couples is looking like a frontrunner to be named the next American Ryder Cup captain.

Contacting Couples appeared to be atop the new Ryder Cup task force’s order of business after it first met in December. He is 3-0 as the American Presidents Cup captain and will imbue prospective American Ryder Cup team members with hope and excitement as the anti-Tom Watson, if Couples is actually named. Everybody wants to play for Freddie, it seems.

Selling: West Coast swing. With the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship moving to San Francisco in May, you can’t really call it a part of the “swing” anymore. The strength of the West Coast swing near the start of the PGA Tour schedule has been weakening for some time now, and now it’s even weaker.

Even if Tiger Woods adds the Waste Management Phoenix Open or the Northern Trust Open to his schedule, that’s still likely to be just two West Coast swing appearances in January/February for Woods, which is pretty much what he’s been playing the last nine years. He hasn’t played three times on the West Coast swing since 2006, when he played Torrey Pines, Riviera and the Match Play at La Costa.

Of course, he if were to play three again this year, he would singlehandedly revive the swing.


Buying: Brandt Snedeker. It’s hard to believe that the former FedEx Cup champ will begin 2015 without a Masters invite, but such is the case for Snedeker, now 58th in the world and coming off a disappointing 2014 season that saw him miss out on a Ryder Cup spot. This is the time to buy low, though, because Snedeker remains one of the game’s best on the greens and now has had several months to adjust to a new swing coach in Butch Harmon. Expect a bounce-back in 2015.

Selling: Billy Horschel. As Henrik Stenson showed in 2014, sometimes defending a FedEx Cup title isn’t easy. Horschel peaked at the right time last season, winning back-to-back events to capture the season-long crown and now begins the new year 13th in the OWGR. But we’ve seen bursts like that before from him, and Horschel has had some difficulty maintaining consistency thus far in his career. As he adjusts to a new spot among the game’s elite, there could be some growing pains in 2015 for the PGA Tour’s latest $10 million man.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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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 Web.com 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.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

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.