Welcome to the Club for Now

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 1, 2010, 10:04 pm

Here are GolfChannel.com’s Power Rankings, a weekly barometer of the hottest players in the game:

RankPlayerComment
1
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker
Still shines with a win, third-place finish and a tie for 10th this season. Overlook his first-round exit at the Match Play and it’d be difficult to imagine that a man with such a great short game won’t deliver again as the Tour heads to Florida and more demanding golf courses.
2
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood
Unlike Phil Mickelson, Westwood has used momentum from a hot finish in 2009 and has been as steady as anything in 2010. Still only has one pedestrian U.S. victory on his resume, which should change this year.
3
Paul Casey
Paul Casey
The Englishman is rested after his near-miss at the WGC-Match Play and he’s also healthy, a potent combination for a player who climbed to No. 3 in the World Ranking for a short stint last year.
4
Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter
Rebounded after a long week at the WGC-Match Play with a tie for 24th place at the Waste Management Open and his confidence, never an area of concern for the Englishman, is at an all-time high.
5
Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson
DJ was running on fumes at the WGC-Match Play but will be rested and ready as the Tour swings south to more familiar surroundings. Still, easily makes this list via his third-place tie and victory in consecutive weeks.
6
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy
His back seemed healthy after his first U.S. start (T-17 at WGC-Match Play) and he was solid at PGA National last year with a 13th-place tie. He tied for sixth or better in five of his previous six starts before the Match Play.
7
Robert Allenby
Robert Allenby
New to the top 10, during the last three months the Aussie has two international victories, a runner-up at the Sony Open and two other top-10 finishes. He now heads to PGA National, which essentially is a home game for the man who lives in the area.
8
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson
No West Coast victories for Lefty for the first time since 2006, but his closing 67 at TPC Scottsdale was almost four shots better than the field average and record in Florida isn’t too shabby. He’s sliding quickly on this list though.
9
Hunter Mahan
Hunter Mahan 
Won his second Tour title with a combination of clutch putting and his signature ballstriking. But before we anoint him the next best twentysomething, consider his four other starts this year (T-27, MC, T-64, T-33).
10
Charl Swartzel
Charl Schwartzel
Probably hanging at the bottom of this list only because few others have jumped up to deserve the position. The young South African needs to continue to play well as his consecutive wins early in the year are fading in memory.


The 'Grey Goose 19th Hole' allows you a chance to offer up your own rankings by playing 'The Feud.' This week, rank your top 6 Biggest Bombers in Golf!
Getty Images

Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

Getty Images

McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

Getty Images

Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

Getty Images

Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.