You Oughta Know: WGC-HSBC Champions

By Will GrayNovember 2, 2013, 2:58 pm

The final WGC event of the calendar year comes to a conclusion Sunday in Shanghai, as Dustin Johnson looks to maintain his momentum at Sheshan International Golf Club. Here's what You Oughta Know heading into the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions, where Johnson has a three-shot lead:

• Johnson's third-round 66 came despite a pair of double bogeys, as the 29-year-old carded 10 birdies for the second consecutive day. It's a remarkable output considering that entering this week, Johnson had recorded 10 birdies in a round just once in his PGA Tour career, during an opening-round 64 en route to winning the 2010 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

• Should Johnson claim the trophy by day's end Sunday, it would be his eighth career PGA Tour win. That total would move him ahead of Retief Goosen and Geoff Ogilvy among active players and into a tie with Sergio Garcia, Mike Weir and K.J. Choi. Johnson, however, would have amassed his eight wins in far fewer PGA Tour starts (142) than Garcia (261), Weir (384) or Choi (353). In addition, three of Johnson's victories came in events that were shortened to 54 holes due to weather, the 2009 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the 2011 Barclays and most recently, the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

• This marks the fourth time that Johnson has taken a 54-hole lead into the final round in his career, with his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach in 2010 serving as the only time he converted such an advantage into a victory. The other two instances came at the 2010 U.S. Open, when he tied for eighth, and at the 2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship, when he finished second.

• Players looking to chase down Johnson can look back at the event's recent history for some inspiration. Last year, Ian Poulter began the final round four shots off the pace but rallied to win by two shots; the year prior, Martin Kaymer won by three shots at Sheshan despite starting Sunday five shots off the lead.

• Beginning the final round in second place, Poulter will look to win back-to-back HSBC titles across two different courses, having triumphed last year at nearby Mission Hills. Should he accomplish the feat, he would join Tiger Woods as the only player to successfully defend a WGC title. Woods has accomplished the feat several times, most recently winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational for the third consecutive year in 2007.

• Tied for fourth after 54 holes, Graham DeLaet is making the most of his first start in a WGC event. Should the Canadian come from six shots off the pace to win Sunday in Shanghai, he would become just the second player to win in his WGC debut. The only other player to do so was Jeff Maggert, who won the first-ever WGC event at the 1999 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

• Both entering the final round inside the top five, Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose have more than just Sunday's title in their sights. The duo currently sit second and third, respectively, in the season-long Race to Dubai, each trailing FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson by a sizeable margin. With the Swede currently tied for 58th, McDowell (currently third this week) and Rose (tied for fourth) both can put a dent in Stenson's season-long advantage with a high finish Sunday.

• Having led after the opening round, former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy put himself back into contention with a 5-under 67 Saturday. At 12 under, he's tied for fourth alongside Rose and DeLaet, six shots off the pace with one round to play. After notching five worldwide wins in 2012, McIlroy is still in search of his first victory of 2013 as he looks to claim what would also be his first career WGC title Sunday in China.

Getty Images

Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

Getty Images

Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







Getty Images

Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

Getty Images

Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."