Power Rankings: U.S. Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 11, 2013, 8:40 pm

Historic Merion Golf Club hosts the U.S. Open this week for the fourth time, but the first since 1981. Long seen as too short to accommodate today's bombers, the USGA feels Merion is up to the test, although the rain-soaked course has certainly lost some of its bite.

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Webb Simpson defends the title he captured last year at The Olympic Club. Here are 10 players to watch this week:

1. Tiger Woods: We'll chalk up Woods' T-65 finish at the Memorial as proof that he is human, and this can be a maddening game even for him. Aside from that, he's clearly been the best player in the world this year. He's No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he leads the PGA Tour money list and he's won four times on Tour in only eight events. Playing on a shorter course might actually help Woods, in that he can leave his sometimes wayward driver in the bag.

2. Matt Kuchar: No one, including Woods, comes into this week looking more impressive than Kuchar. Fresh off his second victory of the year at the Memorial, he has ascended to second on the Tour money list and fourth in the world. The 2012 Players champion is poised to win a major, and his record this season shows he's ready. He's registered six top-10 finishes and hasn't missed a cut.

3. Adam Scott: The newly-minted Masters champion has played a light schedule this year, teeing it up in just seven events on Tour and rarely finishing outside the top 20. He comes to Merion fresh, having played just twice since the Masters. With the pressure off, expect Scott to be a fixture on major leaderboards from now on. Just don't mention that ticking clock to the anchoring ban.

4. Graeme McDowell: McDowell may be a surprise ranked this high, but not when you look at his U.S. Open record. The champion in 2010 finished T-14 in '11 and one shot back of Simpson last year. His game obviously suits Open courses, and he's won twice this season, at Harbour Town and at the Volvo World Match Play Championship.

5. Phil Mickelson: He's been up and down this season. So what's new? A third-place finish in Charlotte, a missed cut at Sawgrass and then a tie for second last week in Memphis. That's Mickelson's career in a nutshell. He could miss the cut this week or win, but we'll go with the glass half full, based on his strong Open record.

6. Lee Westwood: A quality ball-striker like Westwood has to be considered a threat, especially with his long list of near-misses in majors. He's put together a nice run lately, stringing together five straight top-10s, before he withdrew from the Memorial after the first round.

7. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy blitzed the field by eight shots in the 2011 Open at Congressional to claim his first major. Last year at Olympic, however, he missed the cut and continues to search for his game this year. He seems to have found something, finishing inside the top 25 in four consecutive events until his disappointing play at the Memorial.

8. Brandt Snedeker: He has struggled recently, but Merion sets up well for Snedeker who is one of the most accurate drivers on Tour and one of the best putters. While his best play was clearly at the start of the year when he won at Pebble Beach, he did finish in the top 10 at both the Masters and The Players. If it weren't for the fact that he's missed his last two cuts, he would be ranked higher.

9. Webb Simpson: The defending champion has made no secret of his affection for Merion, and last year at Olympic, he proved his game is suited to Open conditions. While he hasn't won since the Open, he has been consistent this year, finishing in the top 25 eight times.

10. Jim Furyk: The 2003 champion has a U.S. Open-type of game. He hits it straight, and he never stops grinding. His collapse down the stretch last year at Olympic was tough to watch, but he did finish tied for fourth, just two shots behind Simpson. He hasn't been at his best this season, but he always seems to show up for the Open.

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Z. Johnson looks to end victory drought at Valero

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 10:45 pm

Nearly three years after his most recent victory, Zach Johnson has a chance to get back into the winner's circle at the Valero Texas Open.

Johnson started the third round at TPC San Antonio with a share of the lead, and he maintained that position after closing out a 4-under 68 with a birdie on the final hole. At 13 under, he is tied for the lead with Andrew Landry and one shot clear of Trey Mullinax as he looks to win for the first time since The Open in 2015.

"Different wind today. Misjudged some numbers, misjudged some wind, made some bad swings, all of the above," Johnson told reporters. "But truthfully, I mean my short game was actually pretty good, my putting was great. I missed some putts but I hit some really good ones, hit some lines and I gave myself opportunities, especially on the back side."

Johnson started slowly, making the turn in even-par 36, before carding four birdies on the inward half. It was a microcosm of his week at TPC San Antonio, where Johnson is even through three trips across the front nine but has played the back nine in 13 under while picking up more than six strokes on the field in strokes gained: putting.

Johnson won this event in both 2008 and 2009 when it was held at nearby La Cantera, but he has only cracked the top 10 once since it shifted venues in 2010. But facing off in the final group against two players who have yet to win on the PGA Tour, the veteran hopes to capitalize on his back-nine prowess this week in order to deliver career win No. 13.

"I've got to do exactly what I did on the back side, and that was give myself opportunities on every hole," Johnson said. "I'm putting great, I'm seeing the lines well, my caddie's reading the greens well. So it's just a matter of committing and executing down the stretch."

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Mullinax fires course-record 62 at Valero

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 9:01 pm

Trey Mullinax surged into contention during the third round of the Valero Texas Open, shooting a 10-under 62 that set a new course record on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

Mullinax started the day seven shots off the pace, but his sizzling round left him alone in third place through 54 holes, one shot off the lead. The former Alabama standout caught fire on the back nine, shooting a 7-under 29 despite a bogey after chip-ins for eagle on No. 14 and birdie on No. 16 to go along with an eagle on the home hole.

"It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had," Mullinax told reporters. "To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good."

Mullinax appeared headed for a missed cut after a 74 in the opening round, but he bounced back with a second-round 68 to earn a weekend tee time and his third-round score broke the previous course record of 63 held by multiple players.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

The 25-year-old finished 137th in FedExCup points last season, leaving him with only conditional status this season. His lone top-10 finish of the year came at the Valspar Championship, where he survived a Monday qualifier and went on to tie for eighth, and this marks only his third start since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.

"Obviously I would like to play a little more, but the tournaments I get in, I'm really excited about playing golf," Mullinax said. "I've loved every start I've gotten, and I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in."

Mullinax holed a putt to clinch a national title for the Crimson Tide in 2014, and he finished T-9 at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But success has been fleeting among the professional ranks, meaning Sunday's opportunity to notch a career-best finish or breakthrough victory is nothing short of enticing.

"I'm sure you'll be nervous," Mullinax said. "To have a chance to win or just go play good golf is what I came here for, so that's what I'm going to do."

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Quiros maintains one-shot lead through 54 in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 7:46 pm

RABAT, Morocco - A birdie on the last hole gave Alvaro Quiros a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Trophee Hassan II.

Quiros' birdie on No. 18 allowed the Spanish golfer to sign for an even-par 72 on Saturday to stay at 7-under par overall and clear of four players in second place.

South African pair Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, France's Alexander Levy, and Finland's Mikko Ilonen were just a shot behind at 6 under heading into the final day at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat.

Quiros is a seven-time winner on the European Tour, but went six years without a victory until last year with his triumph at the Rocco Forte Open in Italy.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

He's seeking a wire-to-wire victory in Morocco after sharing the first-round lead with Bradley Dredge before taking it outright on Day 2.

Quiros had an on-off day in the third round - he said it was ''suddenly great shot, suddenly not so good'' - and carded four birdies and four bogeys to come out even and still hold on to his lead.

Van Rooyen shot 71, Bezuidenhout 68, Levy a 69, and Ilonen the best round of the week so far with his 6-under 66.

Ilonen had seven birdies and just a single bogey - on his first hole - to leap 23 places up the leaderboard and into contention for a first tour title since 2014 when he won the World Match Play Championship.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.