Power Rankings: 2015 Hyundai TOC

By Will GrayJanuary 5, 2015, 6:41 pm

The PGA Tour kicks off the new year with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the first event of 2015 but the eighth event of the 2014-15 wraparound season. A limited field of 34 winners from the previous year will tee it up at Kapalua.

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Zach Johnson won this event a year ago by one shot over Jordan Spieth. Here are 10 players to watch in Maui:

1. Matt Kuchar: Start a new year off with Mr. Consistency atop the rankings. Kuchar was a check-cashing machine in 2014, and he certainly feels comfortable at Kapalua, with four top-10 finishes in the last five years. Last year he finished T-6 despite a third-round 75, and this time around should fare even better.

2. Bubba Watson: A long course with an extra par 5? Sounds like a recipe for Bubba Golf. Watson finished T-4 during a wind-shortened event in 2013, and while his prior two appearances in Maui didn't go as expected, he returns to Hawaii off a three-win year in 2014 and with renewed confidence. If the driver cooperates, Watson could have his way with the par-73 Plantation Course.

3. Jason Day: The Aussie hasn't teed it up in Maui since 2011, but after some time off to heal from various ailments he should be in position to begin 2015 on the right foot. Day will make his first official start since the Tour Championship, where he capped a successful playoff run with a T-4 finish, and finished last season among the Tour leaders in strokes gained.

4. Geoff Ogilvy: There might not be a better matchup of golfer and course than Ogilvy and Kapalua. The Aussie went back-to-back in Maui in 2009 and 2010, shooting 46 under across eight rounds on the Plantation Course. This marks his first return to the event since those titles, and Ogilvy will likely pick back up right where he left off.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese sensation is the highest-ranked of the 12 players making their Kapalua debuts this week, and he'll likely turn his maiden trip into a high finish. Matsuyama opened the new wraparound season with a pair of top-10 finishes and he finished the prior season ranked sixth on Tour in strokes gained.

6. Patrick Reed: Reed had a productive fall slate, including a T-3 finish at Isleworth, and heads to Maui with some momentum as a result. He tied for 16th last year in his first appearance, but now equipped with some course knowledge he should improve on that result significantly.

7. Zach Johnson: Johnson out-dueled Jordan Spieth for the title a year ago, but that serves as a rare highlight for him in Maui, where he had only one other top-15 finish in six prior appearances. He'll have to lean on his short game for scoring opportunities, though that's hardly an unusual burden for the 11-time winner.

8. Jimmy Walker: Walker won twice in 2014 to earn a return trip to Maui, where last year he tied for 21st. Like Reed, he played through the fall slate, including a T-4 finish in Las Vegas, and has the length off the tee to provide ample opportunities for himself on the sprawling Plantation Course.

9. Robert Streb: Streb was one of the surprise stars of the early portion of the season, which he capped with a playoff win at the McGladrey Classic among three top-10 finishes. He begins the new year as the Tour's leader in both the all-around ranking and the FedEx Cup standings, and could build upon both of those leads this week.

10. Billy Horschel: The reigning FedEx Cup champ has gotten out of the gates slowly in the new season, but he tied for sixth in his Kapalua debut after closing with rounds of 68 and 66. After finishing last season fourth on Tour in GIR percentage, he should create plenty of birdie chances this week.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Bernhard Langer on Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and season points leader, birdied the final hole for a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star closed the front nine with consecutive birdies, but had several birdie putts slide on the back.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie on the par-4 15th and also birdied the par-5 closing hole.

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”