Power Rankings: Waste Management Phoenix Open

By Will GrayJanuary 27, 2015, 1:32 am

The PGA Tour heads to the Arizona desert for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the 11th event of the wraparound season. A full field of 132 players will tackle TPC Scottsdale in what is typically the most boisterous event of the year.

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Kevin Stadler won this event a year ago by one shot over Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet, but he won't defend his title because of injury. Here are 10 players to watch in Scottsdale:

1. Jordan Spieth: When we last saw him, Spieth was lapping many of the game's best last month at Isleworth. While he is making his maiden trip to TPC Scottsdale, Spieth certainly has the game - and the confidence - to beat another world-class field this time around.

2. Bubba Watson: Watson led after each of the first three rounds last year before finishing T-2, his fourth top-10 finish in eight trips to TPC Scottsdale. The southpaw certainly embraces the party atmosphere at this week's stop, and he hasn't finished outside the top 25 since the Deutsche Bank Championship in September.

3. Patrick Reed: Reed is playing with plenty of confidence following a win in Maui, and he contended into the final round in defense of his Humana title. He tied for 19th last year in his Phoenix debut after opening with rounds of 67-67.

4. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar finished T-3 at the Sony Open, then chased it with a T-2 finish last week in Palm Springs. He remains one of the game's most consistent players and while he's making just his second trip to Phoenix since 2010, he did finish T-6 in 2009 at TPC Scottsdale.

5. Rickie Fowler: Fowler was one of the Tour's biggest success stories in 2014, and now he looks to validate the praise with another victory. It could come in Phoenix, where he was a surprise runner-up in 2010, but Fowler has missed the cut here each of the last two years.

6. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson won at TPC Scottsdale in 2013 after nearly shooting a 59, and he remains the tournament's all-time money winner. While he didn't contend last week at the Humana Challenge, he did lead the field in birdies - certainly a positive sign.

7. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama's T-3 at Kapalua was his third top-10 finish of the wraparound season, and the Japanese phenom appears poised for another successful year. He tied for fourth in his TPC Scottsdale debut last year, breaking 70 in each round.

8. Brooks Koepka: Another of the game's rising stars returns to action this week in Phoenix. Koepka capped off a successful year with a win in Turkey in November, and he finished T-4 and T-8 in his first two starts of the wraparound season. His length off the tee and aggressive approach should suit him well at TPC Scottsdale.

9. Brendan Steele: Steele rallied for a runner-up finish last week in Palm Springs, and he carries that momentum to a course where he has had great success in the past. He has finished T-6 or better each of the last three years at TPC Scottsdale with four rounds of 65 or better during that span, including a third-round 62 last year.

10. Hunter Mahan: Mahan won this event in 2010, the highlight in a strong run of recent results at TPC Scottsdale. The veteran also finished T-4 last year and has cracked the top 35 in each of his last five trips to the desert, compiling a 68.1 stroke average in that time.

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Lewis says she's expecting first child in November

By Randall MellApril 27, 2018, 2:18 am

Stacy Lewis is pregnant.

The 12-time LPGA winner confirmed after Thursday’s first round of the Mediheal Championship that she and her husband, University of Houston women’s golf coach Gerrod Chadwell, are expecting their first child on Nov. 3.

Lewis learned she was pregnant after returning home to Houston in late February following her withdrawal from the HSBC Women’s World Championship with a strained oblique muscle.

“We're obviously really excited,” Lewis said. “It wasn't nice I was hurt, but it was nice that I was home when I found out with [Gerrod]. We're just really excited to start a family.”

Lewis is the third big-name LPGA player preparing this year to become a mother for the first time. Suzann Pettersen announced last month that she’s pregnant, due in the fall. Gerina Piller is due any day.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship

Piller’s husband, PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, withdrew from the Zurich Classic on Thursday to be with her. Piller and Lewis have been U.S. Solheim Cup partners the last two times the event has been played.

“It's going to be fun raising kids together,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, they're best friends and they hang out. But just excited about the next few months and what it's going to bring.”

Lewis, a former Rolex world No. 1 and two-time major championship winner, plans to play through the middle of July, with the Marathon Classic her last event of the year. She will be looking to return for the start of the 2019 season. The LPGA’s maternity leave policy allows her to come back next year with her status intact.

“This year, the golf might not be great, but I've got better things coming in my life than a golf score.” Lewis said. “I plan on coming back and traveling on the road with the baby, and we'll figure it out as we go.”

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Coach scores in NFL Draft and on golf course

By Grill Room TeamApril 27, 2018, 1:47 am

To say that Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had a good day Thursday would be an understatement. Not only did his team snag one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft - Georgia outside linebacker Roquan Smith, who the Bears took with the eighth pick of the first round - but earlier in the day Fangio, 59, made a hole-in-one, sinking a 9-iron shot from 125 yards at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis.

Perhaps the ace isn't so surprising, though. In late May 2017, Fangio made another hole-in-one, according to a tweet from the Bears. The only information supplied on that one was the distance - 116 yards.

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Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

“It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.

Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

“I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

“I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

“It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

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Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

“It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”

Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”