Power Rankings: 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

By Will GrayFebruary 10, 2015, 5:43 pm

The PGA Tour heads up the California coast for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the 13th event of the wraparound season. A full field of 156 players will tackle three different courses this week, including the iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links.

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Jimmy Walker won this event a year ago by one shot over Dustin Johnson and Jim Renner. Here are 10 players to watch on the Monterey Peninsula:

1. Jimmy Walker: The defending champ won by nine shots last month in Hawaii and hasn't finished worse than T-9 at Pebble Beach over the last four years. Walker is 44 under across that span, highlighted by last year's one-shot win, and he brings plenty of confidence with him this week to the Monterey Peninsula.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie is up to No. 4 in the world after his playoff victory at Torrey Pines, and he has turned five Pebble appearances into three top-15 finishes, including a sixth-place showing in 2013. Outside a pair of mid-tournament withdrawals last season, Day hasn't finished outside the top 20 on the PGA Tour since the British Open in July.

3. Patrick Reed: Reed tied for seventh in his Pebble debut in 2013, then followed that up with a T-13 finish last year. A winner earlier this year in Maui, Reed's T-40 finish in Phoenix was his first result outside the top 30 since the BMW Championship in September.

4. Jordan Spieth: Spieth surprisingly missed the cut last week in San Diego, but this week's event should give him a boost in momentum. He tied for fourth at Pebble last year despite a third-round 78, and was T-22 in his 2013 debut. Spieth contended just two weeks ago in Phoenix and currently sits 11th on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green.

5. Dustin Johnson: Johnson missed the cut last week in his return from a six-month leave of absence, but no Tour stop has been more friendly to him than Pebble Beach. Johnson went back-to-back in 2009 and 2010 and nearly added a third trophy last year, not to mention the 2010 U.S. Open when he carried a lead into Sunday. Johnson was also T-5 here in 2012 and T-7 in 2008.

6. Jim Furyk: Furyk is making his first start since the Ryder Cup in September and has become a mainstay in the Pebble Beach field. While he hasn't cracked the top 10 since 2006, Furyk is coming off a season in which he made the cut in all 21 starts, amassing 11 top-10 finishes including four runner-ups.

7. Hunter Mahan: Mahan's wife gave birth to the couple's second child last week, and now he is back to work at an event where he was sixth last year and has finished 16th or better each of the last four years. Mahan is third on Tour in GIR percentage, 10th in ball-striking and coming off a T-30 finish two weeks ago in Phoenix.

8. Ryan Palmer: Palmer has yet to finish outside the top 25 in four starts this season, including a run of three straight top-20 results that was capped by his runner-up finish at TPC Scottsdale earlier this month. He was on the fringe of contention before a closing 76 last year, and he is currently third on Tour in total strokes gained.

9. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker won here in 2013 and is showing signs of life, with a T-10 in Phoenix followed by a T-19 in San Diego. While he has missed the cut in three of his last five Pebble appearances, Sneds knows what it takes to win here and at No. 63 in the OWGR has some work to do if he's going to crack the top 50 and qualify for the Masters.

10. Kevin Na: Na enters off a solid T-26 finish in Phoenix, and he has cracked the top 25 each of the least three years at Pebble Beach, including a T-5 finish in 2012 and a T-4 result last year. He got his season off to a strong start with a runner-up finish at the CIMB Classic in October, and he hasn't missed a cut since the Deutsche Bank Championship the month prior.

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Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

“I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

“I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.

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Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

“It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

“I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

Let it go.

Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

“I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

“It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

“I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

The only thing left to do?

Let it go.