Power Rankings: 2015 Valspar Championship

By Will GrayMarch 9, 2015, 8:46 pm

The PGA Tour continues the Florida swing with the Valspar Championship, the 17th event of the wraparound season. A full field will tackle the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook this week, where the winner will need to successfully navigate the "Snake Pit."

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John Senden won this event a year ago by one shot over Kevin Na. Here are 10 players to watch in Tampa:

1. Adam Scott: The Aussie showed little to no rust last week in Miami, notching a T-4 finish in his first start of the year. Now equipped with a short putter, Scott returns to Innisbrook where he appeared in command two years ago before stumbling to a T-30 finish. On a course that rewards strong ball-striking, expect that result to improve this time around.

2. Jim Furyk: Furyk has cracked the top 15 in each of his three starts this season, including a T-12 showing last week at Trump National Doral. A winner here in 2010, Furyk lost in a playoff at Innisbrook in 2012 and has finished inside the top 20 each of the last five years at this event.

3. Jordan Spieth: Spieth has been quietly lurking on the fringe of leaderboards for more than a month now: T-7, MC, T-7, T-4 and a T-17 finish last week. He notched a top-10 finish at this event in his 2013 debut and chased it with a T-20 finish last year. Each of his eight rounds have gone for 72 or better on the tricky Copperhead Course.

4. Luke Donald: Donald is seemingly automatic at a few PGA Tour venues, and Innisbrook is certainly one of them. The Englishman won a playoff here in 2012, has tied for fourth each of the last two years and hasn't finished worse than T-6 in four career starts. While he finished in the middle of the pack at Doral, he did tie for seventh the week prior at PGA National.

5. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has been his typically solid self this season: six top-25 finishes in seven starts, with back-to-back near-misses at Sony and Humana. He ranks fifth on Tour in the all-around ranking and now returns to Tampa, where three of his last four appearances have netted top-15 finishes.

6. Patrick Reed: Reed missed the cut in his lone Valspar appearance back in 2013, but much has changed in the two years since. Reed has won four times on the PGA Tour, including earlier this year in Hawaii, and he nearly won two weeks ago at PGA National. Reed only has one finish outside the top 30 this season and is 16th on Tour in total strokes gained.

7. Henrik Stenson: The Swede is making his first trip to the Copperhead Course, but he brings with him plenty of momentum after a T-4 finish at Doral. Stenson has thrived on prior ball-striking venues like Firestone Country Club, so if his tee-to-green game carries over from Miami the world No. 3 could contend again.

8. Jason Dufner: Dufner slimmed down in the offseason, but his game has yet to return to the form that won him the 2013 PGA Championship. That could change this week in Tampa, where Dufner has six straight top-30 finishes and was T-10 back in 2012. He was T-17 at Honda and bounced back after an opening-round 79 at Doral.

9. Sangmoon Bae: Bae lost in a playoff at Innisbrook in 2012 and he finished T-14 last year after a final-round 67. A winner in the season-opening event in California, Bae just missed a playoff at the Northern Trust Open and eight of his 12 rounds on the par-71 Copperhead Course have been at or below par. 

10. Joost Luiten: Like Dufner, the Dutchman opened with 79 at Doral but he played his next 54 holes in 1 under. Luiten plans to try to earn enough money in the next few weeks to have a PGA Tour card for next season, and he took a big step toward that goal with a T-11 finish earlier this month at PGA National after closing with rounds of 67 and 69 on the Champion Course.

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1

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Perez (T-3) looks to remedy 'terrible' major record

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 7:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez’s major record is infinitely forgettable. In 24 Grand Slam starts he has exactly one top-10 finish, more than a decade ago at the PGA Championship.

“Terrible,” Perez said when asked to sum up his major career. “I won sixth [place]. Didn't even break top 5.”

It’s strange, however, that his status atop The Open leaderboard through two rounds doesn’t seem out of character. The 42-year-old admits he doesn’t hit it long enough to contend at most major stops and also concedes he doesn’t exactly have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game’s biggest events, but something about The Open works for him.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't like it the first time I came over. When I went to St. Andrews in '05, I didn't like it because it was cold and terrible and this and that,” he said. “Over the years, I've really learned to like to come over here. Plus the fans are so awesome here. They know a good shot. They don't laugh at you if you hit a bad shot.”

Perez gave the fans plenty to cheer on Friday at Carnoustie, playing 17 flawless holes to move into a share of the lead before a closing bogey dropped him into a tie for third place after a second-round 68.

For Perez, links golf is the great equalizer that mitigates the advantages some of the younger, more powerful players have and it brings out the best in him.

“It's hard enough that I don't feel like I have to hit perfect shots. That's the best,” he said. “Greens, you can kind of miss a shot, and it won't run off and go off the green 40 yards. You're still kind of on the green. You can have a 60-footer and actually think about making it because of the speed.”