Power Rankings: 2015 Humana Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 20, 2015, 6:28 pm

The PGA Tour heads to the mainland for the Humana Challenge, the 10th event of the wraparound season. A full field of 156 players will take on three courses in the Coachella Valley.

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Patrick Reed won this event a year ago by two shots over Ryan Palmer. Here are 10 players to watch in Palm Springs:

1. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar enters off a T-3 at the Sony Open where he challenged eventual winner Jimmy Walker before fading on Sunday. Kuchar's time in Palm Springs has been well-spent: five straight top-25 finishes, including a runner-up showing in 2010.

2. Patrick Reed: The defending champ cruised to victory a year ago, and now he returns after a playoff victory at Kapalua. Momentum is clearly on his side, and another high finish should edge Reed closer to that top-five standing he told us about a year ago.

3. Bill Haas: Haas got his first win at the Humana back in 2010, and since then he has added a runner-up (2011) and a T-6 (2014). He was one of the most consistent players on Tour last season, making 27 cuts in 28 starts and running through the FedEx Cup Playoffs with four straight top-16 finishes.

4. Keegan Bradley: As Webb Simpson showed at Sony, there is life after anchoring. Bradley switched to a counterbalanced putter at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished T-3, and now will embark on his first full season without the belly putter. In two starts in Palm Springs, he's finished T-7 (2011) and T-18 (2014).

5. Zach Johnson: Johnson finished T-3 here a year ago, and in three Humana appearances he has yet to finish outside the top 25. While he let a successful title defense slip away over the weekend at Kapalua, he remains one of the game's best in creating - and converting - birdie chances.

6. Chris Kirk: Kirk was derailed by a third-round 74 at Waialae, but his T-26 finish was still respectable - even moreso considering that it's his worst result since the BMW Championship in September. Kirk was T-7 in his Humana debut in 2011 and has closed the first two events of 2015 in style: a final-round 62 in Maui followed by a 64 Sunday in Honolulu.

7. Ryan Palmer: Last year's runner-up has three top-six finishes in the last four years. He opened his new year with a T-17 finish at Sony, highlighted by a second-round 63, and Palmer finished last season in the top 10 on Tour in both total strokes gained and birdie average.

8. Brendon Todd: Todd was one of the Tour's breakout stars last season, and he has had some success in Palm Springs, where he finished T-6 a year ago. He opened 2015 with eight straight sub-par rounds, a streak that should continue this week in the desert.

9. Webb Simpson: Simpson seems rather comfortable with his new short putter, and now he heads to a tournament where he has cracked the top 25 in three of five previous appearances, including last year when he closed with a 64. Currently eighth on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green.

10. Justin Thomas: Confidence breeds success. Thomas notched his second top-10 finish of the season at the Sony, where his second-round 61 earned him a share of the lead at the halfway point. In a tournament where the winning score usually exceeds 20 under, Thomas could be a threat after leading the Web.com Tour in birdie average in 2014.

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Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

• “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

• "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

• "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

• “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

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Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.

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Bogey-free Moore shares Valero lead

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Amid the swirling winds on a difficult track at the Valero Texas Open, Ryan Moore has yet to blink.

Moore was one of only two players among the 156-man field to go bogey-free during the opening round at TPC San Antonio, and he's now the only player still boasting a clean scorecard after a second-round 67 that included five birdies and the rest pars. At 9 under, the veteran shares the lead with Zach Johnson and was three shots clear of any other player at the end of the morning wave.

"Really, around this golf course what matters is the right distance," Moore told reporters. "You can get in some pretty tough spots if you're long and short. So I kind of hit it the right distance all day, gave myself plenty of good birdie opportunities and didn't stress myself out too much with too many up-and-downs."

While many players struggle to find a true offseason, Moore took nearly three months off between starts at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Waste Management Phoenix Open. During that time he shed nearly 20 pounds thanks to changes to his diet and teamed up with a new swing coach, Drew Steckel, in December.

The results have been solid if not spectacular, as Moore tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished T-16 last week at the RBC Heritage.

"It's been solid golf, especially the last few weeks. I haven't got a ton out of it," Moore said. "The putter just wasn't there. So this week, just got a little more comfortable with the putter and knocked a few putts in that kind of matter early in my rounds, and it's going in. That's kind of what's been missing lately."

Moore had a breakthrough season in 2016 that included his victory at the John Deere Classic and spot on the Ryder Cup team, but he hasn't sniffed career win No. 6 since a T-3 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions 16 months ago. Should he keep a clean card this weekend in San Antonio, his chances to end that victory drought appear bright.

"I played some really nice golf yesterday, I just controlled the ball nicely all the way around and was bogey-free yesterday, so thought, 'Let's go try and do that again,'" Moore said. "So to play in tough, windy conditions, to go bogey-free (again), it was some good solid golf."

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Former champ Z. Johnson surges at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 7:31 pm

Midway through his opening round at the Valero Texas Open, Zach Johnson appeared far closer to a missed cut than a spot on the leaderboard.

Johnson initially struggled in the winds at TPC San Antonio, playing his first 13 holes in 3 over. But he eagled No. 14 and closed with three more birdies to post a 2-under 70, then went unconscious during a second-round 65 where he made six birdies over his first 10 holes.

It added up to a 9-under total at the halfway point, and instead of packing his bags the two-time major champ now shares the lead with Ryan Moore.

"You just never know. That's the beauty of this game," Johnson told reporters. "I didn't have anything going putting-wise. I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. Shoot, I made some good pars all while being 3 over. You just never know."

Johnson won this event in both 2008 and 2009, but that was when it was held across town at La Cantera Golf Club. Since the switch to TPC San Antonio in 2010, he has only one top-10 finish and two missed cuts, including last year's early exit with consecutive rounds of 74.

But Friday he played like a man unaware of the venue shift, with four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and a hole-out eagle from the greenside bunker on the par-4 fifth hole. His closing bogey on No. 9 was his first dropped shot in the last 25 holes.

"The confidence is there, and when you can step on the tee with this kind of wind, you trust your clubs and trust your ball, that's pretty important," Johnson said. "I felt good. It was hard, I'm not going to deny that. That was one of the better 27-hole stretches that I've had in a long time."

Johnson's 65 was his first sub-70 score since an opening-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a span of 12 stroke-play rounds. The veteran has made every cut in 11 starts this season, but his T-8 finish at the RSM Classic in November remains his only top-10 finish.

"I felt really good coming into the week," Johnson said. "Confidence was there, it just wasn't showing up on the scorecard."