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Power Rankings: 2018 Valspar Championship

By Will GrayMarch 5, 2018, 8:23 pm

The PGA Tour returns to Florida this week for the Valspar Championship. A field of 144 players will tackle the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, home of the famed "Snake Pit" stretch from Nos. 15-17.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Adam Hadwin won this event last year by one shot over Patrick Cantlay. Here are 10 names to watch near Tampa:

1. Jordan Spieth: Spieth won this event in a thrilling playoff over Patrick Reed three years ago, the highlight of a four-year run where he has never finished worse than 20th. With many other big names racking up early-season victories, Spieth has quietly continued to improve with three straight top-20s including a T-14 finish in Mexico.

2. Sergio Garcia: Garcia may be making his final start before his first child, due later this month, is born. But there's reason to think he'll make it a good one considering his T-7 finish last week in Mexico and his sterling record around the Copperhead Course, which includes finishes of T-16 or better in each of his last three trips (2011-13).

3. Henrik Stenson: This is a ball-striker's course and Stenson is the consummate iron specialist, so it's not surprising to see that he has finished T-11 or better each of the last three years. The Swede skipped last week's WGC event and hasn't played since a T-60 finish last month in Malaysia. Otherwise, he might be topping this list.

4. Adam Hadwin: The defending champ faded from the spotlight down the stretch last season, but he's once again playing some of his best golf. Hadwin has racked up three top-10 finishes in his last five starts, including a T-9 finish last week in Mexico, and seems poised to make a strong title defense.

5. Justin Rose: Rose has played sparingly this year, and his T-37 finish in Mexico was a bit lower than expected. But the Englishman did close with a final-round 67 and now returns to a course where he has played sparingly, but well. Rose has made six starts at Innisbrook since 2008, compiling four top-15 finishes in that time.

6. Tony Finau: Finau is known for his prodigious length off the tee, but he has also demonstrated an ability to play small ball. That includes last year, where he surged to a T-5 finish on the Copperhead Course, and as he closes in on his maiden Masters appearance Finau has a T-6 (Torrey Pines) and T-2 (Riviera) finish among his last four results.

7. Rory McIlroy: The Ulsterman was considered the main attraction until Spieth and Tiger Woods committed at the last minute, but he'll still draw plenty of crowds as he makes his tournament debut. Unfortunately for McIlroy, his early-season weakness (iron play) could be accentuated by the tight fairways and rolling hills at Innisbrook.

8. Jason Dufner: Like Stenson, Dufner is a ball-striker who traditionally plays some of his best golf on this demanding layout. Dufner has finished inside the top 25 each of the last six years at Innisbrook, including last year's T-11 result, and he hasn't been outside the top 30 since 2008. He also finished T-17 just two weeks ago at PGA National.

9. Kevin Na: Na enters this week at No. 65 in the world, firmly on the bubble for the 64-man WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play with one week until the cutoff. He nearly won this event back in 2014, finishing second to John Senden amid a run of three straight top-25s, and will be teeing it up for the first time since his runner-up finish last month at Riviera.

10. Paul Casey: The Englishman doesn't win often, but he remains a reliable paycheck for fantasy purposes. Casey finished T-12 in Mexico, his seventh straight finish of T-16 or better in a WGC event. He'd be higher on this list were it not for his mediocre course form that includes missed cuts in his last two trips (2012, 2014).

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Watch: Hahn slam-dunks ace on 11th hole

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:20 pm

There are aces, and there are slam-dunk aces. No question which one this one by James Hahn on the 154-yard 11th hole was.

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Els' nephew Rebula wins Amateur Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 7:05 pm

Ernie Els is one proud uncle.

His nephew, Jovan Rebula, won the Amateur Championship on Saturday at Royal Aberdeen to become the first South African to capture the title since Bobby Cole in 1966.

Rebula, a junior at Auburn, will join his famous uncle in Carnoustie next month for The Open. He also will get invites to the 2019 Masters and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Rebula defeated Ireland's Robin Dawson, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final.

"It’s unreal," Rebula said. "It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but it’s an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different."

Rebula received plenty of texts from Els throughout the week, and the encouragement paid off. Rebula opened a 1-up lead after 18 holes, and he extended his advantage by winning the 26th and 27th holes. He was 5 up with six to play before finally closing out Dawson on the 16th hole with an up-and-down from the bunker.

"It’s been a long week and especially today," Rebula said. "I should have finished maybe a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. A very tiring week. I’m standing here right now and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through me."

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Squirrel gets Rory's round off to a rocky start

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 6:42 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy’s third round at the Travelers Championship got off to a peculiar start before he even hit a shot.

McIlroy had just been introduced on the first tee at TPC River Highlands and was ready to unload on his opening drive of the day when a squirrel ran across the tee box a few feet in front of him.

McIlroy stopped his swing and laughed it off, but the squirrel continued to linger for several seconds, criss-crossing from one side of the packed tee box to the other. And while this was no black cat, the pump-fake to start his round didn’t exactly help the Ulsterman.

McIlroy ultimately blocked his drive into the right rough after enduring his brief rodent delay en route to an opening bogey, and amid soft conditions at TPC River Highlands he played his first five holes in 2 over. McIlroy started the day at 7 under, three shots behind leader Brian Harman.

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Kaymer in six-way tie for BMW International lead

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 5:29 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - Danish golfer Lucas Bjerregaard shot a 5-under 67 to equal the week's lowest round for a six-way share of the lead after the third round of the BMW International Open on Saturday.

Bjerregaard had eight birdies, a double bogey and a bogey to finish on 5-under 211 - jumping 23 places and joining local favorites Martin Kaymer and Maximilian Kieffer, England's Chris Paisley and Aaron Rai, and Australia's Scott Hend at the top of the leaderboard.

Bjerregaard was fortunate to play before the wind picked up again later in the afternoon.

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Kaymer, the 2008 champion, delighted the home supporters with two birdies in his last three holes for a 71.

Finland's Mikko Korhonen and Chile's Nico Geyger were one shot off the lead after rounds of 69 and 73, respectively.

Defending champion Andres Romero equaled the week's best round (67) to be among a large group two shots off the lead going into Sunday, including three-time European Tour winner Andy Sullivan.

Romero is bidding to be the first player to retain the title.