Power Rankings: Honda Classic

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2014, 2:26 pm

This week marks the 15th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as players move east to start the Florida swing at the Honda Classic. A field of 144 players will tackle PGA National, where the Bear Trap serves as one of the more difficult finishing stretches on Tour.

Be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including defending champion Charlie Rymer. Click here for full fantasy assistance, including stats and picks.

Michael Thompson returns to defend the title he won last year by two shots over Geoff Ogilvy. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Palm Beach Gardens:

1. Graeme McDowell: The Ulsterman appeared to have nine lives while staving off elimination last week in Tucson, but his game seems very much in order. McDowell has now begun 2014 with a pair of top-10 finishes and has cracked the top 10 in each of his last three trips to PGA National, including a T-6 result in 2011 behind a closing 64.

2. Rory McIlroy: A winner here in 2012, McIlroy only made it 27 holes last year before his tooth gave out. This time around, the Ulsterman appears to be returning to form, having translated a late-season win in Australia into a successful desert swing last month. While he got bounced early at Dove Mountain, McIlroy has the length to take advantage of PGA National and is likely motivated to make up for last year's early exit.

3. Charl Schwartzel: Like McIlroy, Schwartzel failed to make it past the second round last week in Arizona, but the week prior the South African was T-5 at Riviera after four straight rounds in the 60s. Schwartzel has only made three prior trips to this event, but each has resulted in a top-15 finish, including T-5 in 2012. He's only had one competitive round here higher than 71.

4. Adam Scott: In Scott's only prior start on the Champion Course, he shot 77-82 to miss the cut in 2011. Suffice it to say, things have changed since then. Scott hasn't played since notching back-to-back top-10s in Hawaii, so the Aussie should be well-rested for this week's date with PGA National. While low scores will be hard to come by, an emphasis will be placed this week on consistent ball-striking and the ability to limit mistakes - two factors that should play to his strengths.

5. Keegan Bradley: Despite an early exit last week, Bradley has been one of the more consistent players during the 2013-14 season, with five top-20 finishes in seven starts since October. Bradley is one of many players in this week's field with local ties, living in nearby Jupiter, and has cracked the top 15 each of the past two years at PGA National, including a tie for fourth in 2013. He's broken par on the Champion Course in five of his last eight competitive rounds.

6. Zach Johnson: A first-round exit at Dove Mountain broke Johnson's streak of three straight top-10 finishes, but he remains a name to watch on seemingly any venue. Fresh off his 38th birthday on Monday, Johnson is third in GIR percentage this season and eighth in par-5 scoring average - two keys to the Champion Course. This will be his first start at PGA National since 2008, when he tied for 30th.

7. Tiger Woods: Arguably the greatest enigma in this week's field. Woods is off to his worst start to a season as a pro, but just two years ago nearly caught McIlroy with a Sunday 62. Now a month removed from a disappointing MDF at Torrey Pines, the current world No. 1 will look to get his season on track while staying at home in nearby Jupiter Island. Failed to break par in any of his four rounds last year en route to a T-37 finish.

8. Rickie Fowler: Fowler is hardly the Tour's most consistent player, but will look to capitalize on his third-place finish at Dove Mountain while returning to an event where he has cracked the top 15 each of the last two years. Fowler has missed the cut in his last three stroke-play starts, but showed signs in the desert that his recent swing changes have begun to yield results.

9. Sergio Garcia: Garcia may still have to explain away his puzzling concession to Fowler during his third-round match, but a solid effort at PGA National will go a long way toward putting the controversy behind him. The Spaniard hasn't played here since 2008 but did tie for 13th in 2007, and his strong play across the past five months included a win last month in Qatar.

10. Lee Westwood: Westwood is struggling to find the form that took him to No. 1 in 2010, having lost last week in the first round after announcing a coaching change. Still, PGA National may be just the venue to get him back on track, as the Englishman lives nearby and has finished inside the top 10 in three of the past four years, including a fourth-place showing in 2012.

Getty Images

Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

Getty Images

Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

Getty Images

Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

Getty Images

Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.