Stock Watch: 2016's risers and fallers

By Ryan LavnerDecember 6, 2016, 2:19 pm

Each week on, we examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf. This week, we’re taking a look at the year in its entirety.


DJ (+10%): After winning his first major under bizarre circumstances, Johnson is no longer golf’s most tantalizing tease. He’s the star with arguably the most potential for greatness. 

Ariya (+9%): This year will be viewed as the beginning of the Jutanugarn era in women’s golf. She’s the real deal.

Hideki (+8%): A scary thought: One of the game’s preeminent ball-strikers has significantly improved his putting. His five-win 2016 might be the start of something special.

Stenson (+7%): His near-flawless week at The Open, and his thrilling duel with Phil Mickelson, will go down as one of the best of all time. Now 40, he has never looked better.

Phil (+6%): No player did more in 2016 with less to show for it: a few close calls, a magical run at a major, and a macho performance at the Ryder Cup. Fortunately for us, he remains as unpredictable, and brilliant, as ever.

Jon Rahm (+5%): A star in the making – unless you don’t like ball-mashers with a soft touch around the greens – he is an easy bet for a victory (or two) this season.

Alex Noren (+4%): With four wins since mid-July, the 34-year-old journeyman has soared into the top 10 in the world. The next step is producing in the biggest events.

Patrick Reed (+3%): He’s the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s version of Ian Poulter … only way more talented.

Kevin Chappell (+2%): Kevin Kisner had four runners-up in 2015 before breaking through for a victory. Chappell had three runners-up in 2016 before …

Tiger (+1%): He’s upright, and happy, which is more than we could have typed a year ago. It’s anyone’s guess whether he wins again on Tour, but at least now his body is allowing him to try.


Lydia (-1%): It’s a testament to her scoring ability and short game that she took a step back with her ball-striking and still won four times this year. Battling Ariya will be her greatest challenge yet.

Zach (-2%): Consistently excellent for much of his career, Johnson slipped 25 spots in the world rankings after posting just five top-10s in 25 starts.

Jim Furyk (-3%): Yes, he became the first Tour player to shoot 58, but offseason wrist surgery ruined the flow of his season and more distractions await if he’s tabbed as Ryder Cup captain.

Rickie (-4%): The narrative that surrounded his breakout 2015 season – he’s a better closer than Mariano Riviera! – quickly unraveled this year, after frittering away multiple chances to win. 

Bubba (-5%): He showed such little form for much of the year that he was passed up for a Ryder Cup spot even while ranked No. 7 in the world. 

Justin Rose (-6%): The Olympic gold was sweet, of course, but the Englishman’s nagging back injury has put a dark cloud over his immediate future. Rio was his only top-20 since May.  

Bernhard Langer’s peers (-7%): Every year, it seems, a familiar name turns 50 and threatens to take the senior circuit by storm. And every year, it seems, Langer eliminates any suspense with another sensational campaign.

European Ryder Cup team (-8%): Poor pairings, aging leaders, a controversial qualifying process … who could have imagined a few months ago that it’d be the Europeans who are facing the most questions about the direction of the team?   

USGA (-9%): They’ve vowed to simplify the rules, which is good, because this year had its share of forehead-slapping disasters.

U.S. women (-10%): Sure, the Americans had their worst showing in the 67-year history of the LPGA, but help is on the way with young U.S. stars like … um … well … 

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.




Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”

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Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

"Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

"I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

"I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

"Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

"I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."