It only took seven days for Amy Yang to get a little redemption.
Yang, who trailed Stacy Lewis by a shot heading into the final round at Siam Country Club, shot a 3-under 69 to win the Honda LPGA Thailand on Sunday by two shots, finishing on 15-under 273.
“I don’t know what just happened, Yang said after the win. “I still can’t believe I did it today.”
Stacy Lewis, who had a share of the lead after each of the prior three rounds, shot a final round of even-par 72 to fall into a tie for second with Yani Tseng (67) and Mirim Lee (69). Lewis and Yang were tied for the lead on the short par-4 15th hole, but a Lewis double bogey and a Yang birdie set the stage for Yang's win.
Tseng's joint runner-up finish is her best payday since finishing in the same position at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
Lydia Ko has pulled the ANZ Double.
On the heels of winning the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open a week ago, Ko won her national championship, the Women's New Zealand Open, on Sunday at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch.
"This is even better than I would ever have imagined," said Ko. "It's just great to have won the two Opens back to back."
Ko, who shot a second-round 61, shot a final round of 1-under 71 for a 14-under 202 total and a four-shot winner over 18-year-old Aussie amateur Hannah Green in the 54-hole event. The win is Ko's 10th in a professional event and her second NZ Open title, with the first coming in 2013 as an amateur.
The teen became the youngest No. 1 player in the history of golf in January with a joint runner-up finish at the LPGA's season-opening Coates Golf Championship. In the three starts since taking over the top spot, Ko has won twice.
A reminder: She's just 17.
Read this like you would a car commercial: The Honda Classic, extended! For one. More. Day!
The Honda Classic resumes its third round on Sunday at 10 a.m. after play was called on Saturday following a two-hour weather delay. When play was called just before 3 p.m. on Saturday, PGA Tour officials expected to restart play at 7 a.m. However, over 5 inches of rain fell on PGA National on Saturday, knocking down scoreboards and signage, creating air bubbles on greens and damaging bunkers. Grounds crews needed more time to prepare the golf course.
“There’s no way we can hit a 7 a.m. (start),” said Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice-president of rules and competition, according to Golfweek.
A total of 71 players made the 36-hole cut, with the second round completed on Saturday morning. That forced a split-tee start for Round 3 in groups of three. However, just four tee times got started on the first and 10th holes before play was halted for the day.
All that means there's no way The Honda Classic will finish on Sunday.
A Monday finish always leads to eye-rolling from everyone involved, but this isn't the first time The Honda Classic will extend beyond Sunday. In 2007, the first year the event was held at PGA National, Mark Wilson went on to win the tournament on Monday.
However, the Monday after Honda isn't your typical travel day. For a good number of players in the field, Monday is the legendary pro-member tournament at Seminole Golf Club, 20 minutes toward the Atlantic from PGA National. In 2014, the pro-member had six of the world's top 10 in the field.
Don't be surprised, then, for a rash of players withdrawing from the tournament after Round 3 is finished.
After her Friday 64 to take the lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand, Stacy Lewis talked about the need to not look back and keep moving forward at Siam Country Club.
Lewis did not move forward on Saturday, shooting a 1-over 73 in Round 3 that left her with a one-shot lead heading into the final round. The 30-year-old is at 13-under 203 and just ahead of Amy Yang, who carded 71.
"It was a bit all over the place today," Lewis said. "Hit some good shots, hit some shots too far."
The world No. 3 struggled early in her third round, making three consecutive front-nine bogeys to lose the lead. It took an eagle at the drivable par-4 15th to regain the lead from Yang. A bogey at the par-5 last hole was a disappointing way to finish the round. However, Lewis said it's an all-too-common conclusion to her rounds at this venue.
"This 18th hole just frustrates me," she said. "Over the years it's gotten my number more times than it's been good."
Sandra Gal is another shot back in third, with Mirim Lee and Jenny Shin tied for fourth at 10 under par.
Lydia Ko doesn't have her driver's license, so she can't drive 55. But she almost broke 60 on Saturday at the New Zealand Women's Open.
The 17-year-old world No. 1 shot a course-record, 11-under 61 at Clearwater Golf Club to grab the lead early on Day 2 of her national championship. The 61 tops the prior mark of 63, shot by last year's winner Mi Hyang Lee en route to the win.
Ko actually bogeyed her first hole of the day, then got started with an eagle at the par-5 second. In a 10-hole stretch from the fourth hole to the 13th, Ko made nine birdies. A birdie at the last locked up a two-day total of 13-under 131.
The New Zealand native is already a winner in 2015, taking last weekend's ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open on the LPGA Tour. She is playing in her national championship this week instead of at the LPGA's stop, the Honda LPGA Thailand. No matter the results of both events, Ko will remain No. 1 in the world.
Misery makes company, so no one would have blamed Brooks Koepka for missing The Honda Classic cut as his Thursday-Friday playing partners, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, looked lost on PGA National's Champion course.
However, as McIlroy and Johnson were struggled after three-and-a-half hours of weather delays in Round 2, Koepka thrived. The Phoenix Open winner shot 6-under 64 -- the clubhouse leader for best round of the week -- to overcome an opening 78 and find his way into the weekend field.
The 24-year-old made eight birdies on the day, including one on the par-5 18th (his ninth of the day) after needing a drop when his second shot took a huge hop off the cart path.
Koepka could have easily packed it in, drove to his nearby home and called it a week. Instead of thinking selfishly, he chose to be motivated by the people in his gallery who supported him.
“I have so many family and friends out,” he said, “that you almost don't want to let them down.”
The Florida State product who turned pro in 2012 reflected on how far he's come in such a short timeframe, knowing a younger version of himself would not have battled for a payday quite like he did on Friday.
"I couldn't have done that – I would have come back and shot around even par, a couple over today," he said. "But just to be able to grind it out is key and to never think you're out of it, I think that's really important. Like I said, great players, no matter what they shoot the day before on Thursday, they are going to come out and they are going to play well on Friday.”
The bad news for Rory McIlroy is he is going to miss the cut at The Honda Classic.
The good news is he is a short drive from a weekend at home.
McIlroy shot 4-over 74 on Friday at PGA National and, at 7-over total, won't be around for the final 36 holes in his 2015 PGA Tour debut.
"I'm pissed off," McIlroy said after the round.
"I don't like missing cuts," he continued. "You want to be playing on the weekend, and I'm not there. Well, I'm here; I'm home. I'm not going to be playing this weekend, which is not nice."
The world No. 1, along with the late-early half of the draw at the Champion course, had to endure two weather delays on Friday -- the first for rain, the second for electrical storms in the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. area. McIlroy only managed to play two holes before play was initially stopped at 8:23 a.m. He played another hole after the resumption of play at 10:31 a.m. However, the horn was blown again at 10:55 a.m. and did not pick back up until 12:31 p.m. Between the two stoppages, play was halted for over three-and-a-half hours. Second round play will not be completed on Friday.
McIlroy's front nine, starting on No. 10, was relatively clean, dropping two shots to par with bookend bogeys. However, three bogeys in the final four holes, starting immediately after his only birdie on the round, sent the four-time major winner home.
Given how McIlroy has been playing since last summer, the missed cut comes as a surprise. In two 2015 starts on the European Tour, he finished runner-up in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
This is the 11th time McIlroy has missed the cut on the PGA Tour. However, it is the first time McIlroy has missed a PGA Tour cut since the 2013 Open Championship, ending a streak of 22 consecutive cuts made.
Stacy Lewis has a message for the golf world: She's not going anywhere.
The world No. 3 had a statement round on Friday on Day 2 of the Honda LPGA Thailand, shooting 8-under 64 at Siam Country Club to take a three-shot edge into the weekend over Amy Yang.
Lewis, who turned 30 on Feb. 17, knows this is a course where there's no room for holding pat.
"Tomorrow is just keep looking forward," Lewis said. "I did a good job of that today, of not looking at the leaderboards and what anybody behind me was doing. Just kept focusing on the next shot."
Curiously, Yang is the player who stared down Lydia Ko last weekend for the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne before blinking in the final four holes. Yang is playing well because she ended her 2014 season earlier than usual, in October, and recharged her batteries.
“You know, sometimes you get tired of what you’re doing,” Yang said. “I think that’s what happened to me last year. That’s why I decided to finish season earlier, too. But over the winter while I’m resting I wanted to play more golf. Finally my mind changed and I wanted to go back there and play in contention if I can.”
Ariya Jutanugarn, who has enjoyed one of the hottest starts to the 2015 LPGA season, is tied for third at 8 under with Caroline Masson, Jenny Shin and Mirim Lee.
Inbee Park, world No. 2 and the 2013 champion and '14 runner-up in this event, trails Lewis by 14 heading into the final 36 holes.
There's a good chance you hadn't heard of Jim Herman before Thursday.
The first-round leader at The Honda Classic has two top-10 finishes in his prior 75 career PGA Tour starts, with both coming in 2013. The opening 65 he shot at PGA National isn't his career low on Tour, but it is by far his best round given the conditions and competition. He's never led on the PGA Tour.
There's an even better chance you would never have heard of Jim Herman on Thursday were it not for Donald Trump.
Back in 2006, Herman had grown weary of mini-tours and Monday qualifiers, taking a job as an assistant pro at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. It was there Trump noticed Herman and encouraged him.
“Got into a nice conversation with Donald, Mr. Trump, one day,” Herman said. “He’s like, `Why are you folding shirts and giving lessons? Why aren't you on the Tour? I've played with tour players, you're good enough.’
“I don't know, maybe something like that gives you more confidence."
Herman calls Trump's club in nearby Jupiter, Fla., his home course and wears the Trump logo on his golf shirts and bag. The reason is simple, Herman said: "He’s been influential in getting me to the Tour."
Sergio Garcia's tee shot to the par-5 18th in Round 1 of The Honda Classic didn't go where he hoped. It went in the water.
But when Garcia, who said he played Seve-like golf last week in contention at the Northern Trust Open, came upon his ball barely submerged in the hazard up the right of the hole, he decided it was worth a whack. After putting on his waterproof gear, Garcia stepped in and took a swing.
It was a great play for the Spaniard, who not only got the ball back in the fairway, but advanced it. He wound up making par at his ninth hole of the day, eventually shooting 2-over 72 on a difficult scoring day at PGA National.
Yani Tseng, nice to see you again atop a LPGA leaderboard.
Shooting an opening 6-under 66 on Thursday, Tseng shares the lead after Round 1 of the Honda LPGA Thailand with Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lang.
''Could be better, could be worse,'' said Tseng. ''I miss(ed) couple short putts, but I just tell myself to smile and let it go.''
Tseng, a five-time major winner and former No. 1, has slipped to 90th in the Rolex Rankings as she has lost her game, in part because she struggled with the pressure of the world's top ranking. However, she is now working with a new teacher, Claude Harmon III, and a new trainer, David Donatucci, in hopes of regaining her form and confidence.
“They just keep me so relaxed and believing in myself,” she said. “I know I can do it. I just need my swing good. (And when) I swing good, I just need to be mentally very tough. So I’m working on my mental (game) and trying to be tougher and tougher out there.”
If there's a place for Tseng to break through again, it's in Thailand. In seven career starts, she has two wins and has never finished outside the top seven.
“I feel like coming back here," she said, "It’s always the start of the season and I feel fresh and it gives me good energy."
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Rory McIlroy has every intention of being the top-ranked player in the world for a long time.
McIlroy, who enjoys a sizable edge over Bubba Watson, the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, makes his 2015 U.S. debut on Thursday in The Honda Classic, played in his adopted American hometown. Entering his 31st consecutive week at No. 1 in the world, McIlroy is precisely where he wants to be in his career.
“It's what I've always wanted to do," he said. "I would be wasting my time if I was out there practicing as much as I do, and putting as much into it, if I didn't want to be in this position. And wasting the people's time around me, as well, that helped me get to this point.
“Of course I want to be that guy. I said it last year. Golf is waiting for someone like that to step forward, put their hand up and win the big tournaments. Yeah, this is the position I want to be in, and I want to be in it as long as I can.”
The Ulsterman, who won two seasons last year, is riding a hot streak, having finished no worse than second in his last eight European Tour starts dating back to 2014. He's already won this year at the Dubai Desert Classic and finished second to start his year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Though he hasn't played in three weeks, he's not concerned about a layoff.
“People talk about momentum and talk about sort of riding it, but I think momentum and confidence are two very similar things in golf," he said Wednesday. "If you’re confident and you’ve had good performances, that confidence seems to carry on; and if you’re happy with how practice goes, then you’re obviously going to be confident going into tournaments."
Not only is McIlroy by far the best player on the planet right now, but he has a great track record at PGA National. McIlroy was a winner on the Champion course in 2012 and a playoff runner-up last year.
However, he had an embarrassing incident in this event in 2013, pulling out after eight holes in the second round with a phantom dental problem. McIlroy has come so far since then, and he views that time as part of a learning curve he's long past.
“I’m in a great position and I feel like I handle the position I’m in a lot better than I did a couple of years ago,” said McIlroy. “I’ve got more experience at it. I’ve spent well over a year of my career at world No. 1, so I’m pretty used to it by now."
Tiger Woods is at a crossroads, where his personal life and professional career meet.
Woods is 39 and a father of two growing kids inching toward their formative years, sharing custody with ex-wife Elin Nordegren. He's also a 14-time major winner with 79 PGA Tour wins, an ailing back, a troubled short game and an erratic driver.
What's more important? It seems family is winning, and former coach Sean Foley is supportive.
“The golf world doesn’t want that, but he’s my friend, and to watch him with his kids, he’s easily one of the most patient fathers I have ever seen,” Foley said to the Toronto Sun.
“If you win a tournament, it feels good, but you go home and your kid takes a bee-line at you and jumps in your arms that just feels better. So I’m sure, as we all get older, we all have this kind of discussion with ourselves. And I’m sure he’s had it.”
Foley -- who started working with Woods in 2010, less than a year after his public shaming related to extramarital affairs -- said Woods is in a far better place now as a father than when they first met.
“My hat’s off to him because I think he’s seeing things for how they matter, and if that upsets the golf world, then so be it," Foley said.
Woods announced Feb. 11 that he won't play on the PGA Tour again until his game is "tournament ready." On one hand, his agent Mark Steinberg says Woods is working hard on his game and wants to play tournaments. On the other hand, he isn't in this week's Honda Classic, just miles from his home in Jupiter, Fla.
Several of the game's legends, including Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, believe there's some kind of mental block keeping Woods from performing at even an adequate level. Foley sees the gap as one of desire.
Asked if Woods will get his game back, Foley responded, “He’s Tiger Woods. If he wants to, he will. It’s that simple.”
Davis Love III is the new-old 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, and he's back with more knowledge, a hunger and an ear open to hearing from his future players.
Love is also the front man for a new approach to the biennial matches. The changes the PGA of America and its now-dissolved task force are good and almost universally liked. So why did it take a task force to implement common sense?
And what happens if the U.S. loses?
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Common sense prevailed.
The PGA of America revealed a new approach to the Ryder Cup at its Florida headquarters on Tuesday, fronted by a familiar face.
Davis Love III was formally introduced as the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, and he will complete his team with more time to find the hot hands that can help the Americans end a three-match losing streak in the biennial series.
Eight players will automatically qualify for the team based on a retooled points system which starts next week with the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. Qualifying will end after the 2016 Barclays, the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. With the 2016 PGA Championship moving to July to accommodate golf's return to the Olympics that August, the typical cutoff of the season's final major had to change. However, moving the late August date will continue to stand in non-Olympic years.
Love will then make three of his four captain's picks after the BMW Championship, a week's more time than recent captains. Finally, Love, who is the eighth man to be a multiple-time U.S. captain, will complete his team with a last pick after the Tour Championship so that he can grab the absolute hottest hand before the matches.
While the captain's picks have been re-engineered to allow on-form players to make a last push, Love and future captains will have a support system rooted in experience. Going forward, Ryder Cup captains will field four vice-captains -- two former captains and two players with significant Ryder Cup experience. Love has already courted 2006 captain Tom Lehman as a vice-captain. Lehman, like Love, was a member of the 11-man task force charged with creating this infrastructure after the 2014 loss at Gleneagles. There's no indication that a future captain will need to have first served as a vice-captain.
The task force has been dissolved, too, but has been replaced with a permanent, smaller Ryder Cup committee. It'll have six members: the PGA of America's president, vice-president and CEO, as well Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. This committee will handle future captain selections and other Ryder Cup decisions.
Whatever you think of Phil Mickelson's post-defeat Scottish outburst, the task force or naming Love captain again, the U.S. appeared to put on a more unified, solidified front on Tuesday. How much influence that will ultimately have on the 12 men representing the U.S. at Hazeltine in 2016 is unclear. An even scarier unknown is what will happen next if the Americans lose again.
Greg Norman knows a thing or two about dealing with mental scar tissue. He's faced huge letdowns on the biggest stages with the utmost class. So when he is speaking about the toll golf can take on a player's mind, he's an expert.
Norman, a Hall of Famer who spent more than six years as the world's No. 1 golfer, told Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" on Tuesday that he doesn't think Tiger Woods will ever return to top form.
"Quite honestly, I doubt it," Norman said. "Not the way he was in 2000 on for eight or nine years."
The 60-year-old expressed what's become a common sentiment: something is wrong with Woods' head.
"Mentally he's a little unraveled," Norman said.
“Imagine with what we’ve seen since December of last year, with his short game [and] chipping," Norman continued. "Imagine standing over the back of the 12th green at Augusta National, and you’ve got to chip it down there, Rae’s Creek right in front of you, or the back of the 15th of Augusta National . . . all those gremlins are going to be sitting in his head.”
Woods announced Feb. 11 that he would not compete on the PGA Tour again until he felt his game is "tournament ready." He is skipping this week's Honda Classic near his home in Jupiter, Fla. It's unclear when Woods will play next, but many anticipate his return at the end of March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times. A start at Bay Hill would be a likely indicator of an intention to play in the Masters.
Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, has made public statements on Woods' behalf, suggesting his client is champing at the bit to play again. However, Woods isn't playing this week and can't play next week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral because he isn't in the world top 50.
The disparity between what Steinberg says and Woods' absence indicates caused an anonymous PGA Tour player, speaking to Golfweek, to suggest there's something more to Woods' woes than chipping and driving.
The player said, "[Steinberg is] covering for him.”
Watch the entire Greg Norman interview right here:
The PGA Tour starts its Florida Swing at the home of the PGA of America. PGA National's Champion course hosts the Honda Classic. This will be one of the best fields of 2015 so far, challenged by a tough Jack Nicklaus layout, including the dreaded Bear Trap, one of the toughest stretches on the PGA Tour.
Rory McIlroy makes his 2015 U.S. debut this week and headlines a stacked field. Russell Henley is defending champion. There are a lot of players to like this week based on the combo of current form and their past record at PGA National.
1. Rory McIlroy -- He's the undisputed best in the world. He's rested. His lawsuit is settled. He's already got a win and a second-place finish this year. He won this event in 2012 and was co-runner-up last year in a playoff. Pick him.
2. Keegan Bradley -- Get on the Bradley Bus this week. Looked good in a T-4 effort at Riviera, coming up a shot short of the playoff. He's got three consecutive top-12 finishes at the Honda.
3. Justin Rose -- Rose is playing well right now, but more importantly, he's been in the top five at Honda in his last three starts. Missed 2014's event with an injury.
4. Sergio Garcia -- The Spaniard nearly won the Northern Trust Open with a game he admitted was "smoke and mirrors." If he can improve even a little, he's a threat to win on a course where he's never missed the cut and was T-8 last year.
5. Russell Henley -- The defending champion has been very steady to start this season. He had a pair of fall top-four finishes and hasn't missed a cut. He was T-13 here in 2013. Streaky, but this course seems to jibe with his game.
It was July 1986, and Colin Montgomerie had recently graduated from the Houston Baptist University. He'd learned to win playing collegiate golf in the States, but wasn't thinking about a future in professional golf. In fact, Monty was ready to represent the best players in the world, not compete against them.
Then, the day after the Open Championship at Turnberry, the Scotsman played nine holes that changed his life.
"Ian Todd, who was the president of IMG, was playing the course on the Monday after the Open, and they asked me to join them for the back nine as a job interview," Montgomerie said to Golf Magazine. "I was going to use my business management degree that I had got in America to manage the likes of Nick Price, Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer -- all IMG clients. I thought it would be fantastic, so I played at Turnberry with two senior IMG executives."
By the time the round was over, the job interview had morphed into something else.
"I shot 29 on the back nine," Monty said. "Afterward, they said, 'Well, Colin, that was impressive. You're not going to work for us; we're going to work for you!'"
Montgomerie would turn pro a year later, embarking on a career of 31 European Tour wins and a record seven consecutive money titles.
James Hahn won his first PGA Tour event on Sunday, but he's got something much more important happening in his life. The 33-year-old Cal product will become a first-time dad in three weeks, with his wife set to give birth to a daughter.
"To me, the biggest thing in my life right now is the birth of my daughter in three weeks," Hahn said after winning the Northern Trust Open in a playoff over Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey.
"That, to me, kind of humbles myself and kind of brings me down to reality that, you know, I'm going to be a dad here in three weeks. I couldn't be more excited, and more nervous that we don't have a name picked out yet."
The site of Hahn's first PGA Tour victory, Riviera Country Club, might make a great name.
"I'm going to have to talk to my wife about Riviera," Hahn said, drawing laughter.
He might be fighting an uphill battle on that one. But, if it helps, there are approximately 1,600 people in the United States with that first name, according to census estimates made by HowManyofMe.com.
"I think that's a good name," he continued. "But we'll see what she says when I get home."
If Tiger Woods called, or texted, or whatever, Butch Harmon would answer.
Woods' one-time teacher told Golf World he would be willing to help his former pupil on a part-time basis as he tries to reform his swing and get his game, and back, healthy again.
"If he wanted, I'd be more than happy to spend a couple of hours and give him my opinion," Harmon said. "I don't think he would ask because it goes against his pride."
The pair stopped working together in 2003, with Woods moving to Hank Haney after a brief period as guardian of his own swing. Harmon, 71, has never lacked work and is arguably busier than ever. He's working with Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, as well recent winner Brandt Snedeker and Jimmy Walker. Despite all that, Harmon would make time to help a great get back on track.
"As a fan of great golf, it's hard to watch him pitch the ball now," Harmon said. "You can see it's a total lack of confidence."
Harmon believes Woods is doing the right thing, keeping away from tournament golf until his game is ready and his back is healthy. In Harmon's eyes, the question of reps or rest is an easy one.
"If I was him, I wouldn't play until I'm healthy," he said. "I know you say you need the tournament reps and all that. Not necessarily. For him, the big thing is the Masters. We know he knows how to play."
Sunday was a banner day for teenagers in women's professional golf events.
First, 17-year-old world No. 1 Lydia Ko picked up her sixth LPGA win at the Women's Australian Open.
Then, 16-year-old Hannah O'Sullivan made history on the Symetra Tour, the LPGA's developmental circuit. O'Sullivan, a junior at Chandler Hamilton H.S. in Arizona, won the Gateway Classic to become the youngest champion in the tour's history. Her 3-under 69 in the final round helped her to a four-shot win at the Mesa, Ariz., tournament with a 15-under 201 total for the 54-hole event.
O'Sullivan replaces Cristie Kerr as the tour's youngest winner. Kerr was 17 when she won the 1995 Ironwood Futures Classic in Gainesville, Fla. She's the first amateur winner on the Symetra Tour since Kellee Booth took the 1999 Pacific Bell Futures Classic in Riverside, Calif.
O'Sullivan has verbally committed to play golf at the University of Southern California, but she may have to give that some second thought now.
It took three playoff holes, but James Hahn ended Sunday solo atop the Northern Trust Open leaderboard.
Hahn won his first PGA Tour title on Sunday, defeating Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in overtime at Riviera Country Club.
The three players finished regulation at 6-under 278. Casey, who overcame a shank on the 13th hole and made what turned out to be a critical par, hit a poor tee shot at the last that led to a bogey that cost him the win. Hahn and Johnson, who each shot 2-under 69 on Sunday, made par on the long finishing hole.
In the playoff, all three players made par in their second crack at No. 18 on the afternoon. Casey got up-and-down for par from off the green, with two-putt pars for Hahn and Johnson.
The extra session moved to the short par-4 10th, with all three players in precarious position to the right of the treacherous green. In succession, all three players hit good shots, with Johnson last to play and ending up closest to the hole. After Casey missed for birdie, Hahn and Johnson poured theirs in to extend the playoff to a third hole, the par-3 14th.
Both Johnson and Hahn found the green with their tee shots. Hahn, putting first, drained the left-to-right-breaker for birdie. When Johnson's attempt to match didn't scare the hole, Hahn had won.
Third-round leader Retief Goosen stumbled on Sunday, shooting 4-over 75 in weather conditions that deteriorated as the day progressed.
Sergio Garcia needed a pair of pars on the final two holes to pick up his first win since the 2012 Wyndham Championship, but made bogey on both instead to come up a shot short of the playoff.
Hahn is now in the Masters and has a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour -- and finally something for people to remember him for other than his Gangnam Style dance at the Phoenix Open.
Lydia Ko is a winner again on the LPGA Tour.
The 17-year-old Kiwi put away the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open on Sunday with a two-shot win over Amy Yang. Ko shot a final-round, 2-under 71 on the composite course at Royal Melbourne to capture the title with a 9-under 283 total.
Ko had entered the final round with a share of the lead alongside Ariya Jutanugarn, whose closing 76 left her in third palce. It was a rough start for Ko, who dropped a shot at the first and missed a short birdie putt at the second. However, a pitch-in eagle on the third hole helped Ko get back on track.
"I couldn’t really see the ball drop in the hole but people were clapping and it was getting louder as the ball was getting closer,” Ko said.
Ko admits she was the beneficiary of a 45-minute weather delay, as lightning was a threat to the course. Before the siren sounded to suspend play, Yang was poised to make a momentum-changing eagle at the par-5 10th, but had to wait. When she returned, Yang settled for a second consecutive birdie at the 10th hole to temporarily grab the lead from the teen No. 1.
"I think that break was really good for me," Ko said. "I had some lunch and got my stuff together there and I played much better after that."
Playing in the final group behind Yang, Ko returned to birdie the 10th hole, then the 12th and finished with six pars in a row as Yang faded down the stretch with a pair of bogeys in the final four holes.
The win is Ko's sixth LPGA title and cements her place as world No. 1 -- a status that was in doubt just two weeks ago at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic. Two tournaments as No. 1, Ko now feels assured she can handle her unprecedented position.
Ko said, "It’s good to know that just from my confidence that I can still play good and not really think about the world rankings.”
Sergio Garcia was in bad shape after his tee shot at the par-4 13th in Round 3 of the Northern Trust Open. The drive was so bad in landed in a bunker...on the 10th hole.
Garcia had two options: take out a wedge and lay up over trees with an outside chance of making par or go for the green through the tiniest of windows with a long iron and, well, have an outside chance of making par. The Spaniard opted for the latter, and it worked brilliantly.
In the end, Garcia was able to get up-and-down for a par on one of Riviera Country Club's toughest holes. Garcia posted 3-under 68 on Saturday to reach 5-under total for 54 holes and is in position for his first PGA Tour win since the 2012 Wyndham Championship.
Lee Trevino thinks Phil Mickelson wasn't the right guy to call out Tom Watson after the American Ryder Cup team lost for a third straight time.
“If Phil Mickelson wants to say what he said, it’s up to him," Trevino said to Golf.com. "I thought it would have come out a lot better from someone like Patrick Reed, who went 3-0-1, instead of a guy who has been a part of so many losing teams. If I had a losing record in the Ryder Cup, I’d keep my mouth shut.”
Mickelson, who went 2-1-0 at Gleneagles last September, has a career mark of 16-19-6 in 10 career Ryder Cup appearances -- eight of which the U.S. lost. After the loss, he laid into the leadership style of Watson after the U.S. lost by a 16 ½ - 11 ½ count to the Paul McGinley-led European team.
The five-time major winner clamored for a return to the system employed by 2008 winning captain Paul Azinger. Mickelson's comments ultimately led to the formation of an 11-man task force, charged by the PGA of America with examining the entire American approach to the matches. Davis Love III, one of the task force's members and losing 2012 Ryder Cup captain, is expected to be named to the same role for the '16 matches on Feb. 24.
Trevino approves of Love's second chance.
“Davis did a hell of a job [in 2012]," Trevino said. "He just got run over on the last day and it wasn’t his fault. His players didn’t play very well on Sunday."
However, Trevino cautions Love shouldn't just have more say over who makes his team, but that the captain should have complete say.
“I think the captain should be able to pick all 12 of his players,” he said. “He’d pick out the ones who are playing the best at the time. You left out two great players who were playing extremely well, Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel, last time. If you’re going to take all the heat, and the captain does, then goddam it, you should be able to pick your own players.”
Jack Nicklaus has maintained for years that Woods will one day break his record of 18 professional majors, but sounded more doubtful than ever on Thursday.
"He's got a lot of golf in front of him, but it's going to be up to him. He's still got to do it," Nicklaus said on Golf Channel. "He may, he may not. Obviously chances are harder for him now than they were five years ago, but I still think he has time on his side."
If Woods is going to even approach Nicklaus' mark, he'll have to figure out his short game.
The Golden Bear has been where Tiger Woods is right now, and he's come through on the other side. Perhaps that why the 18-time major winner can say with some confidence that Woods' problems, including his short-game woes, are the result of a mental block.
"Tiger's struggling, I don't think there's any question about that. We all know that, he knows that. I think he's struggling more between his ears than he is any place else," Nicklaus said Friday on Golf Channel.
Anyone who has seen Woods play since his return to competitive golf at the Hero World Challenge last December knows of his short-game struggles. Woods looked lost inside 50 yards at the Phoenix Open and struggled in 11 holes during an abbreviated start at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago.
Nicklaus said he faced a similar issue in 1979.
"I was actually putting it around bunkers. I couldn't chip it," he said. "I was terrible, I was just awful."
A tip from fellow pro Phil Rodgers helped him rebound. Nicklaus won the 1980 U.S. Open and PGA Championship. However, Nicklaus believes Woods would be best served figuring out a short-game approach on his own.
Woods has announced he will not play again until his game is "tournament ready." He will not play in next week's Honda Classic and will be ineligible for the WGC-Cadillac Championship the following week. The next time Woods would be likely to play is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the end of March.
Michael Jordan is a busy man, and he doesn't have time for slow golf.
The problem is that the pace at Bear's Club in Jupiter, Fla., where Jordan is a member and off which he owns a home, is too slow for the 52-year-old legend. What's his rumored solution? Building his own ultra-private golf club with a membership he can hand-pick.
Jordan has secured an option to purchase a plot of land in Hobe Sound, just south of Medalist Golf Club, another Jupiter club which counts Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler among its members, according to Golf.com.
“He’s going to keep [membership] small, probably fewer than a hundred,” a source told the publication. “Fellow athletes, buddies and other people who come highly recommended.”
Former PGA Tour player Brad Faxon told Golf.com he had once scouted that same property for a potential practice facility and said is lacks the infrastructure and topography to make development easier.
"If you did something there, it would have to be pretty special," Faxon said.
Money is no object for Jordan, who is majority owner of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. A 2014 Forbes report pegs Jordan's net worth at $1 billion.
Apparently Tiger Woods still isn't tournament-ready.
In an announcement that surprised exactly no one, Woods will not be participating in the upcoming Honda Classic.
"I'd like to play The Honda Classic – it's a tournament in my hometown and it's important to me – but I won't be there unless my game is tournament-ready," Woods wrote last week in announcing his layoff from golf. "That's not fair to anyone. I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon."
The question now is what "very soon" means. Woods now will not qualify for the World Golf Championship at Doral, and thus can't play until at least the Valspar Championship on March 12, an event he's never played. A more likely return date could be the Arnold Palmer Invitational in mid-March, an event he's often used as a reliable tune-up for The Masters. Woods is currently ranked 66th in the world, and will continue to drop farther as a result of this withdrawal.
"He has been hitting balls every day," Woods' agent Mark Steinberg told USA Today. "His back is feeling stronger and stronger. He was hitting shorter shots early in the week, and now he's getting after it. He's putting in the effort to get back. He just does not want to do it under the spotlight of tournament play. But he is putting in a heck of a lot of time into his game."
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
Everyone needs a good cry now and then.
Bubba Watson might be quicker to turn on the water works than some of us, but there's nothing wrong with emoting. Watson did recently when he tried to offer some help to friend and recording artist Justin Bieber.
Bieber, who has been trying to undergo a public metamorphosis from a bad-boy personality to become a more subdued, humble guy, apparently turned to Watson for a little advice on how to deal with sudden success.
"Crazy story, I have a friend, a pastor up in Seattle, Judah Smith, and I helped start a little church here at the Montage [Hotel in Beverly Hills] every Wednesday night, and so I'd kind of run into Bieber through Judah Smith, and we just started talking, just trying to help him," Watson recalled on "Access Hollywood."
"We all have issues we're going through...and I tried to give him guidance...let him ask me questions...on how to deal with success," Watson explained.
The two-time Masters winner was hoping to offer Bieber a shoulder to cry on, or arms to cry in, as he said. Did Bieber take up Watson on his offer?
"No, but I cried in his," Watson said. "It's Justin Bieber, you know what I'm saying? Like a little kid in a candy story, you know, it was perfect."
I have no idea what Watson means by that, but if he helped Bieber get his act together, then kudos to him.
It's a 315-yard hole. It should be easy, right? The par-4 10th at Riviera Country Club can be anything but, and Scott Piercy learned that the hard way on Thursday to start the Northern Trust Open.
Piercy started the tournament on the 10th and the long-hitter chose to try to drive the green. His tee shot wound up in the back bunker. Forced to play away from the hole location to a tight space, Piercy didn't execute and his second shot went across the green and into the front bunker. Then he make the reverse march after his front bunker shot went into the back bunker. Piercy repeated the back-to-front act with his fourth shot before his fifth shot, and fourth bunker attempt, stayed on the green.
The good news is Piercy made the putt for double-bogey 6.
Piercy went out in 7-over 43 for his first nine holes.
A lot of people figured Fred Couples would be the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain.
Several players on the losing 2014 Ryder Cup team asked him to take on the task. Multiple players on the 11-person PGA of America Ryder Cup task force implored him to lead. Couples, who led the U.S. to three consecutive Presidents Cup wins in his tenure as captain, said he wanted the job.
PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua told Couples in December that there would be more conversation and the decision, perhaps already made at that point, wouldn't be made for some time. Well, here we are: Davis Love III is going to be once again be captain and Couples has been shunned.
Couples is happy for his friend.
“I was in Chicago with Davis, he did a phenomenal job,” Couples said Wednesday, according to Golf Channel. Couples was an assistant captain for Love in 2012 at Medinah, where Love's charges surrendered a four-point, final-day lead in record-tying fashion to lose for the second consecutive time in the biennial matches.
He added, “In maybe a couple of years down the line, I’ll have another shot at it. I’m not bitter or upset or anything like that, because in my opinion they picked a great guy."
However, the 1992 Masters champion indicated that were Love, his good friend, not given a crack at redemption, he would have not reacted as cordially to the news.
“And to be honest with you, I will tell you that if it was maybe not Davis, I might have a different attitude toward this, but he’s been my friend for 30 years and I’m very happy for him," Couples said.
Couples acknowledged back in November he didn't consider himself a "PGA of America guy," meaning he didn't fit the archetype of a U.S. Ryder Cup captain. He also questioned the necessity of the task force. It's an open and obvious question to wonder if those public statements didn't cost Couples this opportunity.
Topgolf is a hot name in golf circles, and the Dallas-based company is hoping to sizzle on an even larger scale with a new location just off the Las Vegas Strip.
The driving-range-slash-entertainment-complex has 13 U.S. locations with another nine under construction. The Vegas location, on which a ceremonially groundbreaking took place Wednesday, will be its biggest endeavor yet.
The facility, which will open in spring 2016, will be situated on an 8-acre parcel of land behind the Signature towers of the MGM Grand resort. Its 105,000-square-foot space will be almost double the size of a typical Topgolf location and will accommodate 2,000 people. In that space, patrons can work on their golf game, play games with their friends using Topgolf's range of targets with its RFID-tagged golf balls or simply sit back and enjoy with libations and food off the menu.
On top of its typical three-level structure, the Vegas location will have a fourth level with an unobstructed view of the Strip and amenities including VIP hitting bays, cabanas and multiple swimming pools. Topgolf Vegas will also have a music venue built in so it can be an outdoor concert hotspot from time to time.
Of course, going bold in Vegas comes with a price tag. This location will cost the company somewhere in the area of $50 million as opposed to the $18 million figure typically associated with other locations. In such a high-profile playground, Topgolf is expecting a big payoff, counting on 1 million visitors in Year 1.
In the last week, a pair of intriguing stories have shaped golf's near-term focus and long-term future. We discuss them both in this week's "The 19th Hole Golf Show."
First, I discuss Tiger Woods' decision to step away from pro golf until his game is "tournament ready." I parse his statement and try to decipher if he'll play The Honda Classic, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Masters. I also wonder what "tournament ready" means to a guy who has always held he only plays if he thinks he can win.
Then I dig into the leak that Davis Love III will be named the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain. How did he land the job? Why him over Paul Azinger or Fred Couples? Is he 2012 blueprint an advantage for the U.S. heading into Hazeltine against new European captain Darren Clarke?
Tiger Woods' 2000 was one of the greatest years in the history of golf. Woods won the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship as part of a nine-win PGA Tour season.
Frank Nobilo, who played against Woods during his PGA Tour career and is now a CBS and Golf Channel analyst, said Woods has an equipment edge that year which undoubtedly helped the 14-time major winner.
"A lot of people look at 2000 as Tiger at his best but it was probably the first and only time in Tiger's career that you could argue that maybe he had better equipment than the rest," said Nobilo to Reuters on Tuesday.
When Woods turned pro in 1996, he played Titleist equipment, including their wound ball. As he transitioned to using more Nike equipment, Woods put a solid-core ball, called the Tour Accuracy TW, into play during a European Tour event in Germany in May 2000.
"I tested it and felt great about it and what it did for me, how it performed around the greens and especially in the wind," Woods told Golfweek in 2014. "I believe it was, in Germany at the Deutsche Bank event in Hamburg, where I put it in play for the first time. Then I came back and played Memorial and won, and then I had a good showing at the U.S. Open at Pebble and then won the British and the PGA. It was a nice little run, and I basically won four straight majors with that ball."
Woods was a pioneer in that regard, moving away from a wound-core ball and its rubber-wrapped core to the solid, multi-piece core construction with a urethane cover. That kind of ball construction is standard issue today, but, at the time, was viewed skeptically by many of Woods' peers.
Nobilo feels Woods' edge went away within a couple of years as the golf world followed Woods' choice.
"Everybody now is using the same type of equipment so it's hard for any one player to get that technological jump ahead that I believe Tiger had in 2000," Nobilo said. "He obviously had skills too but that's why it wasn't a fair fight."
Just three years after Woods' amazing 2000 season, Phil Mickelson, who played Titleist equipment at the time including the Pro V1 which debuted in '00, poked Woods with public comments saying Woods was playing with "inferior" Nike equpiment.
''He hates that I can fly it past him now," Mickelson said in 2003. "He has a faster swing speed than I do, but he has inferior equipment. Tiger is the only player who is good enough to overcome the equipment he's stuck with.''
Enjoy Lydia Ko while you can. The 17-year-old world No. 1 has already planned for her retirement.
Ko, who will begin her collegiate studies (mostly online) at Korea University in March, expects to walk away from professional golf when she's 30. What will she do next? Become a psychologist.
"I say my plan is to retire when I'm 30 so I'm not just going to go to the beach and hang out for the rest of my life," Ko said Wednesday ahead of the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne. "There's always a second career that comes along with it and I'm trying to build up towards it and, because I'm playing a sport, psychology links well with it."
The Kiwi teen, who became the youngest No. 1 in golf history with a runner-up finish at the LPGA's season-opening event last month in Ocala, Fla., has plenty of money in the bank. Last November, Ko landed the biggest single payday in the history of women's golf, winning $500,000 for taking the CME Group Tour Championship and earning a $1,000,000 bonus as winner of the inaugural Race to the CME Globe.
We now know the captains for the 2016 Ryder Cup in Minnesota.
Darren Clarke was officially named the European captain on Wednesday at the European Tour's headquarters in England. Clarke was unanimously voted by a five-person panel to get the gig over the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Clarke's strongest challenger for the job, and Thomas Bjorn, an eventual captain in his own right.
Clarke will take on Davis Love III, who will head the American side again after his team coughed up a four-point edge on the final day of the 2012 matches at Medinah near Chicago. Love has not been officially named captain by the PGA of America, but is expected to be introduced as the new captain at the organization's Florida headquarters on Feb. 24.
Love gets a Mulligan as a captain, while Clarke aims to continue an impressive run as a member of Team Europe. Clarke was on five Ryder Cup teams as a player, going 10-7-3 and only being part of one losing team, back in 1999. Just weeks after his wife's death in 2006, Clarke won all three matches he played at The K Club in Ireland, including an emotional 3-and-2 singles victory against Zach Johnson. He was vice-captain under both Colin Montgomerie in 2010 and Jose Maria Olazabal in 2012, whose teams also won.
For Europe, Clarke's ascendance to the captaincy is just a continuation of its long-term planning for the biennial matches.
“I am lucky to have played and worked under some fantastic captains in my seven Ryder Cups to date, and I look forward to the challenge of trying to follow in their footsteps and help Europe to a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory at Hazeltine next year," Clarke said in a statement.
Clarke, who is the 2011 Open champion, is the first Northern Irishman to captain a Ryder Cup team.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Paul Azinger, the last man to lead the U.S. to a win in the Ryder Cup back in 2008, didn't want another crack at the job in 2016.
“I had no interest in being the captain in 2016 for many reasons, personal and business,” Azinger said, according to Golf Channel.
In fact, Azinger recommended to the PGA of America's 11-man Ryder Cup task force that Davis Love III get a chance to avenge his team's 2012 loss at Medinah. Love is expected to be named '16 captain at PGA of America headquarters in Florida in Feb. 24.
“If true, Davis is an excellent choice for many reasons,” Azinger said. “He's still connected to the players. He was very prepared and thorough in 2012. Davis will bring much needed continuity to the process.”
Azinger and 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples were the two names most clamored for by fans and players alike after the U.S. lost the biennial matches in September 2014 for the third consecutive time. Shortly after the loss at Gleneagles, Phil Mickelson wondered why the PGA of America had gone away from Azinger's system -- and into the less player-friendly methods of '14 captain Tom Watson.
Mickelson's commentary led to the formation of the task force, of which he is a part, as well Love. Azinger declined to be a part of that committee, which was tasked with identifying a 2016 captain as well a long-term, repeatable approach to the matches.
American fans would love to see a repeat of how Love's strategy worked for the first two days of the 2012 matches. They'll ultimately hope, however, for the final outcome Azinger helped deliver.
Welcome into this week's Devil Ball Golf World Top 5, our ranking of the best players on the planet based on the most recent results instead of the two-year window covered by the Official World Golf Ranking.
With the top two in the DBGT5 off last week, there's little movement at the top of the ranking. However, we did have some moves in the back half.
5. Jordan Spieth (Last start: T-7 at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, OWGR: 9): Spieth gets back into the fifth spot on the heels of another sneaky good finish, this time a T-7 effort at Pebble Beach. His game travels anywhere, but no one seems to be noticing.
4. Jimmy Walker (Last start: T-21 at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, OWGR: 13): Jimmy Walker wasn't much of a factor in his title defense at Pebble Beach, but has been very strong in 2015. The Sony Open wins keeps him ahead of Spieth, for now.
3. Jason Day (Last start: T-4 at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, OWGR: 4): Jason Day won in San Diego, then almost pulled out of the Clambake with flu-like symptoms after an opening 72. So what's he do instead? Play a killer final three rounds and finish T-4. Special.
2. Bubba Watson (Last start: 2nd at Waste Management Phoenix Open, OWGR: 3): Watson is back as defending champion this week at the Northern Trust Open. Expect good things.
1. Rory McIlroy (Last start: WIN at Omega Dubai Desert Classic, OWGR: 1): McIlroy is off until the Honda Classic. Must be nice to be playing that much better than anyone else right now.
The PGA Tour descends on the Los Angeles area this week for the Northern Trust Open. Bubba Watson is defending champion, headlining a field at Riviera Country Club that includes Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Bill Haas, Jim Furyk and more.
Riviera's 10th hole is among the best short par 4s on the planet, and will be a feature hole this week.
Unlike last week, with three courses and luck of the draw in play, tabbing picks for Riviera is pretty cut and dry. Here are our picks:
1. Dustin Johnson -- Three top-four finishes at Riviera since 2010 and was T-4 last week at Pebble Beach. Johnson said after his closing 66 at the Clambake that his game is close. I'll buy that.
2. Bubba Watson -- After a couple of weeks off, Bubba's back to defend. Had Phoenix in his grasp but a balky putter cost him the win. Somewhat surprising he won here last year, but is playing well and knows how to close.
3. Jimmy Walker -- Walker finished a modest T-21 in a defense at Pebble Beach, but was never really a factor. He had consecutive T-4 finishes in 2011 and '12 at Riviera and is always worth a look with his length and accuracy off the tee.
4. Bill Haas -- Fellow Team Bald member Bill Haas has been in the top 25 in his last four NTO starts, including a win in 2012 and a medal-stand finish in his defense.
5. Jordan Spieth -- If you don't follow me on Twitter, you missed the coining of the term Spiething, which is how Jordan Spieth sneaks into the top 10 of an event and no one seems to notice. Spieth was T-12 here last year, and his game plays anywhere.
Some other good choices this week include last week's winner Brandt Snedeker, as well Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel. The final three guys have all struggled with form or closing the deal in recent memory, but have good Riviera records and can earn a lot of fantasy points for your team.
Davis Love III will get a chance to avenge the "Meltdown at Medinah."
According to a report by Golfworld's Tim Rosaforte and a tweet from former PGA of America president Ted Bishop, Love will be named 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain on Tuesday, Feb. 24.
Sources say Davis Love next US Ryder Cup Captain. #DoOver Bet Freddie wishes he had do over at Medinah. My $ was on Couples, but luv DL3.— Ted Bishop (@tedbishop38pga) February 16, 2015
Love was the 2012 captain, and his team performed well for the first two days in Chicago, building a four-point lead heading into the final day. However, the Americans lost the Ryder Cup, succumbing to a record European charge somewhat inspired by captain Jose Maria Olazabal and his relationship with the late Seve Ballesteros.
Bishop, who became PGA president months after that loss, reached out to Tom Watson about returning as Ryder Cup captain after a successful turn in 1993 -- the last time the United States has won the biennial matches on foreign soil. Watson's second run as captain bordered on total failure, as the U.S. lost by a five-point margin at Gleneagles for the third consecutive time in the series. The five-time Open champion's style also rubbed many of his players the wrong way, with Phil Mickelson speaking out in the moments after the American defeat to NBC and media gathered in Scotland.
The resulting fallout led to the creation of an 11-man Ryder Cup Task Force by the PGA of America, charged with auditing the entire U.S. approach to the matches, including selecting a 2016 captain, developing a succession plan and assessing how the American team should prepare the week of the matches. Love is a member of that group.
It was thought three-time victorious Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples was the favorite for the job, especially when the 1992 Masters champion confirmed he had been contacted by the task force about the opportunity. Other names had been floated, including an early populist movement to bring back winning 2008 captain Paul Azinger, the last man to lead the U.S. to a win in these matches. Love's name did not appear at the top of many speculative lists of potential candidates.
Love will know his opposition on Wednesday, when the European Tour is expected to announce Darren Clarke as their 2016 captain for the matches at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.
Pebble Beach is Dustin Johnson's Happy Place.
The two-time AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner knocked off whatever rust lingered from a six-month PGA Tour leave of absence in his second 2015 start, finishing tied for fourth with a final-round, 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach.
Playing alongside future father-in-law Wayne Gretzky, the duo finished tied for sixth in the pro-am competition, eight shots back of winners Pat Perez and Pandora jewelry co-founder Michael Lund.
Before Sunday, Johnson hadn't finished in the top five in a PGA Tour event since a T-4 finish at the 2014 U.S. Open. On July 31, Johnson then announced an indefinite leave of absence from the Tour to face "personal challenges."
Johnson returned last week, a new dad with fiancee Paulina Gretzky, at the Farmers Insurance Open. He missed the cut. He tees it up again this week at the Northern Trust Open near Los Angeles.
"I'm looking forward to [the tournament]," Johnson said afterward. "I really like that golf course and I'm playing really well right now."
The long-hitting 30-year-old thinks it won't be too long before he extends his streak of seasons with at least one PGA Tour win to eight.
"Second week back out playing and it keeps feeling better and it's getting close," he said. "It's going to be really good here soon."
Before Sunday, Vegas sportsbooks had Brandt Snedeker at 50-to-1 odds to win the Masters.
He wasn't even in the field yet.
Snedeker locked up his invite to Augusta National in April, however, with his second win in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in three years. His 22-under-par total set a new tournament scoring record in relationship to par -- breaking the old mark shared by Mark O'Meara and Phil Mickelson -- and earned him a three-shot victory.
Any player who wins a regular PGA Tour event earns a spot in the Masters, one of the many perks of winning.
“It gets me back on track to where I feel I belong,” Snedeker said after the win, referring to his eighth Masters invite.
Snedeker, who has been working with Butch Harmon since last July, would have qualified for the Masters had he finished 2014 in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. However, he injured his knee in a November 2014 Segway accident, and Snedeker chose not to play for the remainder of the year. He ended up 58th in the world ranking as the calendar turned, needing to win or climb in the top 50 before the Masters. The win lifted Snedeker to No. 31 in this week's ranking.
The Vanderbilt product has previously said the Masters is the major he wants to win above all others, and he's come close several times. He was in position to win a green jacket after 54 holes in 2008, but a final-round 77 dropped him down a spot into a tie for third as Trevor Immelman won his only major. Five years later, Snedeker had a share of the lead with Angel Cabrera entering the final round. That Sunday, a 75 left Snedeker out of the picture as Adam Scott became the first Aussie-born Masters winner. Last year, a third-round 80 wiped Snedeker off the leaderboard.
If you didn't get in on backing Snedeker before his seventh PGA Tour win on Sunday, wagering on him at the Masters isn't quite the sneaky pick it was a week ago. He's now pegged at 30-to-1 to win a green jacket.
Jim Furyk was already off to a lousy start in the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Sunday. Then it got worse.
Furyk's drive at the par-5 sixth at Pebble Beach Golf Links went well right, ending up on a steep, rocky cliffside. The bulldog he is, Furyk figured out a stance and hit his ball back to the fairway. He eventually made par on the hole.
Furyk is looking for his first PGA Tour win since the 2010 Tour Championship. Sunday marked the 24th time in Furyk's PGA Tour career that he entered the final round with the lead. However, he has failed to close the deal each of the last eight times he's been in that position.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have been linked to a tax investigation in the United Kingdom related to investments made on their behalf.
The Mirror reports the HMRC, the U.K.'s tax collection agency, is investigating potential abuse of tax credits offered for investments made in areas of urban blight by a firm called Valhalla Private Client Services using money supplied by McIlroy and McDowell, as well others.
The report does not claim either of the golfers, or the other investors, had knowledge of the potential abuse, which may have included overstating an individual's investment in a project after combining their funds with bank loans.
The HMRC could compel the investors to pay taxes on the invested dollars that were exempt from taxation using what's called an "accelerated payment notice." That notice would require the investors to pay 70 percent of the tax credits within 90 days of its issuance. The money could be refunded if the investigation proves the investments were in compliance with the tax credit program.
For McIlroy, this investigation comes on the heels of reaching a settlement in parallel lawsuits with former agents Horizon Sports Management related to commissions when the Dublin-based firm represented McIlroy. McIlroy reportedly agreed to pay Horizon somewhere in the area of $20 million to settle the suits. McDowell, who was represented by Horizon until the end of 2014, recruited McIlroy to the agency. Both men now have their own management companies to represent their affairs.
Once again, Jim Furyk is in position to break his PGA Tour winless drought.
Furyk shot a third-round, 9-under 63 at Pebble Beach -- a career best -- to take the lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am by a shot over Matt Jones and Brandt Snedeker. The 2003 U.S. Open champion played the three-course rotation in 18 under par.
For Furyk, Sunday will mark the 24th time in his PGA Tour career that he's carried the lead into the final round of a tournament. However, Furyk has been unable to convert those last eight opportunities into wins. The last time Furyk sealed the deal was when he clinched the 2010 FedEx Cup with a victory at the season-ending Tour Championship, the last of three victories that year.
In one sense, it's great that Furyk can put himself in that position so often. However, he's been on the receiving end of some tough losses, including missing out on the 2013 PGA Championship and not capping off the BMW Championship that same year despite shooting 59 in the second round.
Furyk, who made the cut in all 21 events he played last season, is looking forward to the opportunity on Sunday.
"That's what gets me out of bed in the morning, that's what keeps me competing," Furyk said Saturday. "Ultimately, I want to win golf tournaments and that's what's most important to me."
However, Furyk acknowledged he'd have to confront a multi-year trend if he's going to grab the win at Pebble.
"I'm not going to put pressure on myself, I'm just going to go out there and try and play the same way," he said. "But I think that, on Sunday, it's just hard not to."
How Ryuji Imada made par at Pebble Beach's world famous, par-3 seventh hole on Friday is remarkable.
Imada's tee shot to the short hole went well long of the 103-yard target, held up from the water by iceplants on a steep hill behind the green. He found his ball and took a mighty, balanced whack at it, landing the ball just off the green but safe from the ocean. For his third shot, Imada simply chipped the ball in for a routine par.
The final tally was 2-over 74 for Imada, which has him in need of a good round today to make the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
That par, though.
For a while, European Tour fans had to look out for two Lawries: the Scottish one Paul, who won the 1999 Open Championship with a 10-shot comeback in the final round, and the Irishman Peter, who had become a staple on the circuit.
However, in the last two years, Peter Lawrie has fallen off the map, dropping from 161st in the world two years ago to about 900th in the Official World Golf Ranking to start 2015.
There are a lot of reasons a player can lose their game, but Lawrie's reason is unique: He says he became addicted to soda.
“I was addicted to it and I tried to stop it,” Lawrie said to Irish-based Newstalk and its “Golf Weekly” podcast. “I was drinking liters of the stuff. Even in the hottest countries, like Malaysia, I would have Coke on the golf course, because I was addicted to it.”
The 40-year-old cut Coke from his diet as part of a fitness push in 2013 -- an approach Lawrie was killing his career.
“I went from such a high on sugar to a dramatic low,” he continued. “And I never recovered from it. I really didn’t. That was the one thing. I know this might shock people, but I lost all confidence in myself. I wouldn’t say I went for a breakdown, but I got exceptionally emotional at the end of that year and some of last year, as well. It was just very difficult to deal with all of the situations that were coming at me. Whether that had anything to do with my mental state in any shape or form, I have no idea.”
So, Lawrie admitted defeat and resumed drinking soda, albeit in much smaller quantities than he did before cutting it cold turkey. He's made the cut in his last three starts, including a T-16 last week in Malaysia that was his best finish since the 2013 Irish Open, where he wound up T-10 just three weeks before cutting Coke.
“[Dropping soda from my diet] just didn’t work," he said. "I don’t know whether it triggered something in my brain or whatever, but I wasn’t the same Peter Lawrie when I did it.”
Robert Allenby maintains he can't remember a two-and-a-half hour stretch after leaving Amuse Wine Bar in Waikiki Beach on the Friday night after missing the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
The Honolulu Police Department did their best to fill in the blank on Thursday.
Detective John McCarthy told the Associated Press that the three people Allenby was seen leaving the wine bar with around 11 p.m. that Friday night were not connected to the golfer. McCarthy said the three people returned to the bar shortly after walking out in front of the Aussie.
McCarthy also said there's no evidence to suggest Allenby was in a nearby strip club after leaving Amuse.
''There is no evidence he was ever in that strip club,'' McCarthy said. ''Our investigation shows he was not at Club Femme Nu.''
Chris Khamis, a 47-year-old homeless man who said he tried to help Allenby get a cab back to his hotel, previously claimed Allenby told him he had been to a strip club earlier in the night. A previous report also suggested Allenby had been at Club Femme Nu. It appears to have been a case of mistaken identity, confusing other Aussies in the club with Allenby.
Police told Allenby that he remained in the same place for that stretch he cannot recall.
''On the ground, laid out cold,'' Allenby said. Police, who spoke with homeless people who saw the incident, told Allenby he simply passed out and fell to the ground. Allenby contends he doesn't remember falling and that he still could have been punched.
"I do remember a hit into the eye, but I don't remember what it is," Allenby said. "The scar on my head is a fall. But did I fall from getting hit in the eye? I've tried and tried and can't remember.''
Pebble Beach is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It makes a great setting for a golf course. It also, apparently, is the perfect setting for a wedding proposal.
PGA Tour player Mark Hubbard got down on one knee behind Pebble Beach's iconic par-5 18th hole on Thursday to ask his girlfriend Meghan McCurley to marry him. Since we're posting this, Meghan obviously said yes.
Hubbard is in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, earning his way last season by finishing 18th on the Web.com Tour money list. So far, the 24-year-old has made seven cuts in eight starts this season -- enough money to pay for that rock.
Well done, young man.
When PGA Tour players win, they typically pay their caddie 10 percent of their haul. But that's the norm for tournaments, not the season-long FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize.
So when Billy Horschel won the Tour Championship last September to clinch the FedEx Cup, his caddie Micah Fugitt wasn't sure how he might be rewarded for helping Horschel earn golf's biggest payday.
Horschel paid Fugitt like a standard win. That made Fugitt an instant millionaire, according to a report by Golfweek's Jim McCabe. What did Fugitt feel when Horschel told him the good news?
"Shock, happiness, joy," said Fugitt. "You have such a wide range of emotions."
Horschel didn't just pay his looper, however. He left $10,000 for the locker room attendants at Tour Championship host East Lake G.C. He also gave a cut to others who have helped him along the way, including his family.
Perhaps the magnitude surprised Fugitt, but not Horschel feeling compelled to give back to those who sacrificed for him: “He’s always been great about showing gratitude to people like that.”
Let's face it: Most John Daly stories on this site are not about what the two-time major winner accomplishes inside the ropes.
However, despite not winning on the PGA Tour since the 2004 Buick Invitational (now the Farmers Insurance Open) and shooting a 90 last year at the Valspar Championship, when Daly posts a number -- a good one, that is -- people notice.
John Daly shot a bogey-free, 7-under 65 at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Thursday to get in contention after Round 1 of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. It's Daly's lowest score on the PGA Tour since a third-round 64 at the 2014 Sony Open in Hawaii.
"It's been a long time since I've played that well in the first round of this tournament," Daly said after the round. The bomber, who averaged some 320 yards off the tee on Thursday, was happy to get to take off the headcover often.
"This course allows you to hit the driver a lot," he said. Those drives set up, by his estimation, four or five gimme-range birdies.
While Daly tends to produce the one-off, eye-catching round here and there, maybe this week is different. Daly is paired with former NFL head coach and current TV analyst Herm Edwards, who Daly credited after the round with inspiring his play.
"He's so positive and he's just fun to be around," Daly said, insinuating he might need to see Edwards give one of his trademark pep talks.
There's plenty of time for that in between shots over the next two days. Edwards may well be able to coach Daly through to a run at the pro-am title -- maybe even his first PGA Tour title in over a decade. But Daly isn't thinking too far ahead of here and now.
Asked how he'll approach being in contention, Daly said, "Just take each hole at a time and enjoy the moment."
Josh Duhamel is a busy guy.
He's got a new show, a crime dramedy called "Battle Creek," debuting March 1 on CBS. He's a fairly new dad with a 17-month-old son. Between the 16-hour days of shooting and the rest of his waking hours dedicated to being a parent, finding time to practice ahead of this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was difficult. So, he had to actually put it on the calendar.
"I told my wife," Duhamel started, referring to Stacy Ferguson, better known as recording artist Fergie, "'This is going to sound ridiculous, honey, but I'm going to put in the schedule two hours of golf practice, four times per week.' She totally understood. She knows I love coming here."
Duhamel, who plays to about a 10-handicap index, credited TaylorMade's new RSi irons with helping to mask some of the swing rust, particularly with his long irons.
"I'm hitting these new irons longer and straigher," he said during a Wednesday telephone interview. "I think they're a lot more forgiving than anything I've hit before, so I think they're going to be a big help. At least that's the story I'm going with."
The 42-year-old is paired this week with three-time PGA Tour winner Chris Kirk in the pro-am portion of the tournament. They don't know each other, but they're about to learn a whole lot over the next three, maybe four, days.
"I hear he's really good," Duhamel said, somewhat understated. "Any of these pros can catch fire at any time, and it's a lot of fun when your pro's doing well."
Duhamel knows something about contending for the Clambake crown. In 2010, he finished runner-up with Sergio Garcia. On that Sunday, Garcia shot 77 at Pebble Beach, so it was up to Duhamel to carry the team.
"I just played out of my mind," he said. "It was so much fun. I couldn't miss. It was the highlight of my sports career.
"It was fun because we just kept birdieing, birdieing, birdieing. I think we made up eight or nine strokes on Sunday. I'm hoping that we play well."
Even though they don't know each other, it's safe to presume Duhamel and Kirk will go for broke if they have a chance to win on Sunday, regardless of whether or not Kirk has a chance to take individual honors.
As for the religious experience of playing Pebble Beach Golf Links once, perhaps twice, in a week, Duhamel is particularly fond of the par-5 finishing hole that runs along the Monterey coast. A past birdie there probably makes him partial.
Regardless of outcome, Duhamel said he'll have a great time. After all, it's Pebble Beach: The views are stunning and there's a table in the world-famous Tap Room with Duhamel's name on it.
"I love me some Tap Room," he admitted.
It's also a chance, in an odd sense, to blend in. Duhamel said no one attending the tournament really cares about the amateurs -- a modest statement considering some of the names from entertainment and industry competing this week.
But then Duhamel joked, "Unless you're Bill Murray."
Miguel Angel Jimenez has done a lot of dancing on the course in 2015. He had a reason to do another jig on Thursday.
Playing in the inaugural True Thailand Classic, Jimenez holed out his second shot on the 474-yard, par-4 ninth at Black Mountain G.C. In celebration, the Mechanic went to the tried-and-true, Chi-Chi Rodriguez-inspired dance, then did a little two-step to finish off the fun.
Back in January at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Jimenez made a hole-in-one accompanied by another dancing celebration.
Jimenez shot 5-under 67 in the Thai opening round to trail leader Michael Hoey by three shots.
Honolulu police have charged a man in connection with the possession and use of credit cards stolen from golfer Robert Allenby in January.
Police said Wednesday that 32-year-old Patrick Owen Harbison is the man seen on surveillance footage in several Waikiki businesses using credit cards Allenby said were stolen on a strange night after he missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Allenby has said publicly that the cards had been used to rack up at least $20,000 in fraudulent charges.
Harbison, who was already in custody on an unrelated charge, faces a total of seven counts: three counts of second-degree identity theft, three counts of second-degree attempted theft and one count of unauthorized possession of confidential public information. He has five prior convictions, including on a felony drug charge.
Allenby said he was kidnapped, robbed and beaten after leaving Amuse Wine Bar in Waikiki after traveling there with friends after dinner on Friday night of tournament week. The Aussie said the last thing he remembered was leaving the wine bar shortly before 11 p.m., then being knocked out as he left the bar with people he didn't previously know or recognize after the fact. Allenby said he cannot remember the next two-and-a-half hours of that night.
However, he then said he was dumped out of a car in a nearby park, several miles from the wine bar, saved from two homeless men kicking him by a homeless woman, Charade Keane. Keane disputed some particulars of Allenby's story, saying she found him around the corner from the wine bar and never told him he was thrown from a vehicle. She did maintain she helped Allenby from the homeless men with the help of a passing retired military man, getting Allenby into a cab back to his hotel, where he contacted his son via Facebook and police.
The two homeless men in Allenby's story, Chris Khamis and Toa Kaili, have also spoken, saying they were trying to help Allenby find his belongings after seeing him twice that night, passed out both times. Khamis -- who remained after, the men say, Allenby became agitated with their efforts to help -- claims Allenby suffered his head injuries after passing out and falling on a lava rock while Khamis was trying to fin a cab. Khamis also alleges Allenby said he had been at a strip club earlier in the night.
Honolulu police, however, distanced themselves from all aspects of Allenby's story other than losing his credit cards. Honolulu Police Department Lt. John McCarthy said, "There is no kidnapping investigation” and said he was unaware of any "physical altercation," according to The Australian. However, police are continuing to investigate how Harbison got the credit cards as a separate investigation.
Allenby spoke at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, chiding the media for doubting his story and insisting the police would solve the case. He missed the cut at Phoenix and in last week's Farmers Insurance Open.
Leave of absence. Break. It's semantics. The bottom line is Tiger Woods said Wednesday he won't play tournament golf until he's ready – and that he could be ready in two weeks ... or not.
On his website, Woods explained he's fighting two battles that will keep him from playing tournament golf until both are won.
Woods said he is having daily physical therapy to treat the back injury that forced him to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open after 11 holes in Round 1. He also said his game isn't in tournament shape and won't play again until it is.
"Right now, I need a lot of work on my game, and to still spend time with the people that are important to me," Woods wrote on his website. "My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. Like I've said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I'm ready, I'll be back. Next week I will practice at Medalist and at home getting ready for the rest of the year. I am committed to getting back to the pinnacle of my game."
Woods didn't rule out his next originally scheduled start at the Honda Classic (Feb. 26), but he sounded doubtful at best for the start of the PGA Tour's Florida Swing.
"I'd like to play The Honda Classic – it's a tournament in my hometown and it's important to me – but I won't be there unless my game is tournament-ready," Woods wrote. "That's not fair to anyone. I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon."
The soonest Woods could play next after Honda would be the Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 19), which will round out the Florida run. From the tone of Woods' writing, however, it seems he might wait much longer to return.
Less than a year ago, Woods was ranked No. 1 in the world, but his ranking has plummeted since. After his withdrawal from the Farmers, he now stands at 62nd in the world, the lowest since October of 1996, when he ranked 75th.
Two of golf's greatest champions died in the last week, with the passing of Charlie Sifford and Billy Casper. Having enjoyed the opportunity to spend some time with Mr. Casper in 2014, I look back on Casper's career, as well what made him unique as a competitor and a man.
If you want to learn more about Billy Casper, you can purchase his autobiography "The Big Three and Me."
You can leave your heart in San Francisco. However, you apparently can't leave your golf clubs in your car.
Paul McGinley, who led the European Ryder Cup team to a third straight win in the biennial matches last fall, had his clubs and several Ryder Cup pieces stolen from his car on Monday.
The Irishman was in town to have lunch with a friend before heading to Pebble Beach for this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. After the lunch, the pair went for a walk. When McGinley returned, he found his car had been broken into and his clubs, equipment, carry-on luggage and passport were all gone.
In addition, a number of pieces of 2014 Ryder Cup memorabilia McGinley intended to put up in a charity auction were stolen.
"I was just disappointed," McGinley said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "I had only been in the country an hour and a half. It can happen in any country, or city in the world. I thought it was safe, and it didn't cross my mind."
Take it from a former major champion who lost his battle with the yips: Tiger Woods does not have the yips.
That's the verdict of 1991 Open champion Ian Baker-Finch, who missed 32 consecutive cuts from 1994-97 because of the yips and caused him to walk away from professional golf.
"I would hit 50 perfect drives on the range, and snap-hook it off the first tee," Baker-Finch said on SEN Radio in Australia. "[Woods] does exactly the same thing. At the first tee at Augusta every year he’s so nervous he hits it 100 yards off line, and he’s just hit 50 perfect drives on the range. You can’t tell me that that’s a bad back, or a swing flaw. It’s totally mental. It’s a fear. And it's not the yips. It's not a spasm. ... It's a fear."
Several of Woods' peers observed the same thing as Baker-Finch, including Colt Knost, who has echoed those sentiments on Twitter.
Woods missed the cut in his 2015 debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, including carding a career-worst 82 in Round 2 at TPC Scottsdale. He withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open last Thursday after 11 holes, citing back pain. Woods has struggled mightily off the tee, often spraying the ball way right off his target line. He also is struggling to find any semblance of a short game. Both issues have led people, including Woods' former teacher Hank Haney, to suggest Woods has the yips.
Baker-Finch would like to see Woods eschew his apparent obsession with mechanics and get back to feel golf.
"I'd like to just see him go play and shoot a score every day and enjoy golf again and maybe even learn to play again, if that's the right terminology," he said. "I think [Woods has] forgotten how to play golf. I think he's trying to play with a perfect swing every day, every time."
After 260 years, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews can now count 14 women as members of the club.
The club, off which the governing body the R&A was formed in 2002, announced Tuesday seven honorary and seven ordinary -- that is, they paid membership fees -- female members.
Among the honorary members are Britain's Princess Anne; golf legends Louise Suggs, Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies and Renée Powell; as well as European golf standouts Belle Robertson and Lally Segard.
The club also has seven full members, revealed by GeoffShackelford.com:
- Angela Bonallack, champion English golfer and wife of 1971 Walker Cup captain Michael Bonallack
- Claire Dowling, accomplished golfer and captain of the 2000 GB & I Curtis Cup team
- Diane Dunlop-Hébert, the 109th president of Golf Canada
- Patsy Hankins, first president of the gender-combined New Zealand Golf and first Women's Chairman for the International Golf Federation
- Martha Lang, accomplished amateur golf, competing in some 60 USGA events, and Women's Committee chair for the USGA in 2011 and '12
- Carol Semple Thompson, legendary amateur and multi-time Curtis Cup captain
- Marion Thannhauser, former president of the European Golf Association
Welcome into this week's Devil Ball Golf World Top 5, where we take the most recent snapshot of results to lay out the best players in the world right now.
As you might guess, our standing No. 1 Rory McIlroy, with a win at the Dubai Desert Classic, didn't go anywhere. However, we welcome Jason Day into the world top five.
5. Brooks Koepka (Last start: MC at Farmers Insurance Open, OWGR: 19): Koepka got himself into position with a first-round 66, then shot three 74s in a row and even had a five-putt at one point. It's OK to have a letdown here and there.
4. Jason Day (Last start: WIN at Farmers Insurance Open, OWGR: 4): Jason Day has been brilliant since last fall and capped off a great run with his third PGA Tour title. Now healthy and playing the best golf of his life, Day could go on a big run -- the one he thought he'd make last year.
3. Jimmy Walker (Last start: T-7 at Farmers Insurance Open, OWGR: 13): Jimmy Walker seems a threat to win every time he tees it up on the PGA Tour. He seemed the favorite on Sunday to pull it off at Torrey Pines for his second win in 2015, but slipped with a final-round 73.
2. Bubba Watson (Last start: 2nd at Waste Management Phoenix Open, OWGR: 3): Watson is enjoying some time off, but he's in fine shape for Augusta National and a run at a third Masters title in four years.
1. Rory McIlroy (Last start: WIN at Omega Dubai Desert Classic, OWGR: 1): McIlroy is off until the Honda Classic, but no one can catch him in the meanwhile. He's committed to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is nice.