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Golf rankings, player capsules

The SportsXchange

The Sports Xchange's 2013 PGA Tour rankings, selected by TSX Golf Staff, based on 2012-2013 performance.

1. Tiger Woods, United States -- Woods is the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings for the first time since late October 2010 after claiming a record-tying eighth victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He prevailed by two strokes over Justin Rose in a Monday finish forced by a rainout the day before. Woods tied Sam Snead, who captured the Greater Greensboro Open eight times, for the most victories in one event on the PGA Tour, and his 77th victory on the circuit is five short of Snead's record. Woods has won three times in five PGA Tour starts this year. ... Other than the Tavistock Cup on Tuesday at Isleworth, where he lived until 2011, Tiger will not play again until the Masters. You can bet he will probably make at least one early trip to Augusta National, where he has won four times, but not since 2005. He has finished in the top 10 seven times in the last eight years at the first major of the year. ... After opening with 69-70 at Bay Hill, Woods took a two-stroke lead by shooting a 6-under-par 66 in the third round, punctuated by a 20-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole. He birdied three of the first six holes in the final round, and none of his pursuers got closer than two shots as he closed with a somewhat-conservative 70 in breezy conditions. Woods, who fell as low as 58th in the world, has closed the deal 52 times in 56 tries when having at least a share of the 54-hole lead. Even though he didn't putt as well as he did in winning at Doral two weeks earlier, he averaged 27.5 putts per round and led the Bay Hill field in strokes gained via putting.

2. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Coming off a two-week break since tying for eighth in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, McIlroy is hoping all the hard work he has put in with his new Nike clubs pays off this week in the Shell Houston Open. He posted his first two rounds in the 60s this season at Doral, including a 7-under-par 65, and while many armchair quarterbacks believed he should have played in either the Tampa Bay Championship or the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory considered it before deciding to stick to his original schedule. ... McIlroy is playing in Houston for the third time, having shot 74-73--147 and missing the cut by one stroke in 2010, the last time he teed it up on the Tournament Course at Redstone. In 2009, he opened with a 5-under-par 67 and closed with a 69, but he played the middle rounds in 73-74 and wound up in a tie for 19th. Both times, the tournament was played the week before the Masters, but this time he will have another week off so he can get to Augusta National early. He lost his No. 1 ranking to Tiger Woods this week, but he could regain it with a high finish in Houston. ... There's an adage in golf that the most important clubs in the bag are the driver and the putter, and McIlroy has struggled with both early this year on the PGA Tour. However, the numbers offer but a small sampling because he has played only five full stroke-play rounds. He has hit only a little more than half the fairways with his Nike Covert driver. At Doral, he ranked 138th with an average of .360 strokes gained while using his Nike Method putter.

3. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- After missing five weeks because of a rib injury, Snedeker was a shadow of the player he was early this season, shooting 76-76--152 to miss the cut by five strokes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was his first missed cut since the PGA Championship last August at Kiawah Island, one of only two missed weekends he had in 2012, the other coming at the Players Championship. Sneds finished in the top three in four of his five previous tournaments this year, including a victory at Pebble Beach in his last outing in February. ... Since he needs the work, Snedeker added this week's Shell Houston Open to his schedule. He's played in the tournament three times and missed the cut each time, in 2004, 2007 and 2010, the last two on the Tournament Course at Redstone, where the event will be played this week. When he shot 3-under-par 69 in round two in 2010, it was the only time he has broken 70 in six rounds in the tournament, which he has played in a cumulative 16 over par. ... Snedeker was only 1 over par through 16 holes in round one at Bay Hill, but things unraveled quickly, as he hit his tee shot into the water at No. 17 and took a triple-bogey 6. Then his second shot got wet on the finishing hole, leading to a triple-bogey 7. When he got to No. 17 the following day after starting on No. 10 and carding six consecutive pars plus a birdie at No. 16, things again went sideways. He drove into the water again but salvaged a double-bogey 5, then hit his second shot into the water at No. 18 and three-putted from 22 feet for a triple-bogey 7.

4. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Continuing his roller coaster season, Lefty shot 71-79--150 and missed the cut by five strokes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was his first missed cut since he failed to make it to the weekend in consecutive tournaments two weeks apart last year, the Greenbriar Championship and the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Phil won the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he tied for third in the WGC-Cadillac Championship in his last outing, but those are his only top-20 finishes in seven starts this season. ... Mickelson likes to play the week before a major because he says he feels rusty on Thursday if he does not, but with the schedule changing ahead of the Masters this year, he is going to play this week in the Shell Houston Open and skip the Valero Texas Open so he can head to Augusta early. He has played in Houston nine times previously, winning the tournament in 2011 and tying for fourth last year. Two years ago, he played the weekend in 63-65 to claim a two-stroke victory over Chris Kirk and Scott Verplank. ... After opening with 73 at Bay Hill, Mickelson needed to go low in round two, but instead, he recorded three 7s. He carded a triple-bogey 7 at No. 13, his fourth hole of the day, incredibly four-putting from 5 feet. Then he added a double-bogey 7 on No. 6, where he drove into the water and reloaded, only to hit his second drive into a fairway bunker. Mickelson drove into an unplayable lie at No. 9, again reloaded, and he reached the green in 5 before taking a triple-bogey 7. His highlight of the week was a 17-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole in round one.

5. Luke Donald, England -- Coming off a tie for fourth in his title defense at the Tampa Bay Championship, his best finish of the season, Donald hoped to keep things going when he flew halfway around the world to play in the Maybank Malaysian Open. Instead, he shot 74-73--147 and missed the cut by three strokes. Not only was it the first time he did not play the last two rounds since the U.S. Open last June at the Olympic Club, but it also was the first missed cut of his career in a European Tour event, and certainly not what he was looking for with the Masters only two weeks away. ... Even though Donald could use the work to get sharp before the Masters, he apparently won't play again until the first major of the season in two weeks. He's not in the field for the Shell Houston Open this week, and he has not committed to the Valero Texas Open, which he has not played since 2003. Luke probably figures it's best to get to Augusta National early and work on his game there. ... Donald put himself in a hole early last week in Kuala Lumpur, carding three consecutive bogeys through No. 13 after starting round one on the back nine. He tried to rally with three birdies on the front, but he also carded a double-bogey 6 on the second hole. Luke got off to a good start in round two with birdies on the fifth and sixth holes, but he could not recover from a double-bogey 7 at No. 10 and was on his way home early.

6. Justin Rose, England -- While playing alongside Tiger Woods in the first two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rose outperformed the new/old No. 1 golfer in the world by four strokes. When they were separated for the last two rounds, it was the Englishman who couldn't keep up, although he made a game effort down the stretch during the Monday finish to take solo second, two strokes back. It was his third consecutive top-10 finish on the PGA Tour, and fourth overall this season, moving him to No. 3 in the World Golf Rankings behind Woods and Rory McIlroy. ... Rose is another player who is using the Tavistock Cup early this week as his final competitive preparation for the Masters. He's going to get to Augusta National early to begin his on-site work before again trying to become the first Englishman to claim a major championship since Nick Faldo donned the Green Jacket in 1996 after Greg Norman's infamous final-round collapse. Norman closed with a 78 after holding a six-stroke lead. ... Rosy had the lead at Bay Hill last week after opening with 65-70, and he seemed headed toward victory when he played the first four holes of round three in 4 under par, capped by a 19-foot eagle putt at No. 4. However, he faltered the rest of the day, carding five bogeys in a span of 11 holes through No. 17 to shoot 72. After carding two bogeys in the first three holes of the final round, he rallied by playing the last 15 holes in a spotless 4 under to finish with a 70, but it was not enough to catch Woods.

7. Dustin Johnson, United States -- It appeared that Johnson was primed for a big season when he captured the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but he has been unable to regain that form after a bout with the flu, producing a string of lackluster performances in his past seven outings. He might have built some momentum in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where he opened with 68-69, but he shot 70-72 on the weekend to tie for 12th, his best finish since winning at Kapalua. ... This week, DJ is making his final appearance before the Masters, playing in the Shell Houston Open for the third time, but the Tournament Course at Redstone does not seem likely to be the place where he could find his game. In his only two appearances in the tournament, Johnson shot 73-77--150 and missed the cut by six strokes in 2008, then came back the following year with 75-72--147 to miss the weekend by four shots. Simply playing all four rounds might give him some hope heading to the Masters, since he has the long game to tame Augusta National when he's on. ... Although Johnson has hit barely half the fairways this season, he has been able to hit the green in regulation almost 70 percent of the time because he gets it out there off the tee about 300 yards. However, he has slipped with the putter, averaging 29.33 putts per round after being at 28.64 last season. Last week, he ranked 66th in strokes gained putting at .193. DJ probably is never going to a great putter, but he has to perform better than that on the greens to contend.

8. Matt Kuchar, United States -- Kuchar is in the midst of a two-week break before making his final appearance ahead of the Masters next week at the Valero Texas Open. He's passing on the Shell Houston Open this week, even though he tied for eighth in each of his past two appearances on the Tournament Course at Redstone, in 2010 and 2011, after missing the cut in his four previous starts in the tournament. ... Kuchar is off to a strong start this season, having finished 16th or better in five of his seven tournaments, including a victory in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship late last month. That trophy goes nicely with the one he collected for winning the Players Championship last year, and the next step would be to claim a major championship. He'll get his next chance in two weeks at Augusta National. It would be a popular victory in Georgia since he is a graduate of Georgia Tech. ... Kuchar's ball-striking numbers this season don't jump off the page, but he's been able to get the ball into the hole, thanks to his play around the greens. He ranks sixth in sand save percentage at 65.79 percent, 20th in scrambling at 66.20 percent, has averaged 28.04 putts per round and is 27th in strokes gained putting at .570 with his long but legal putter. That's the way he has to play the game, because among the best golfers -- and he was at No. 9 in the World Golf Rankings last week -- he is one of the shorter hitters.

9. Bubba Watson, United States -- Playing in the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the first time since moving virtually next door to Bay Hill, Watson waited until the final round to show his best stuff, closing with a 5-under-par 67 to finish in a tie for 14th. That enabled him to climb 41 spots on the leaderboard and post his fifth finish in the top 20 this season in six events. He missed the cut in the Northern Trust Open in his other start. ... Bubba is taking two weeks off at his new home in Central Florida before heading to Augusta National for the defense of his Masters title. He will be the host and set the menu of the Champions Dinner, and while he earlier talked about some type of barbecue in addition to joking about a grilled cheese sandwich from Waffle House, lately he said everyone will have to wait and see what he serves. ... Starting early on a windy Sunday morning at Bay Hill, Watson posted a bogey-free 67, easily the best score among the early finishers in the final round. He actually found something in the middle of his third round and toured his final 27 holes in a bogey-free 7 under par, which should give him some momentum heading to Augusta. His eventual finish would have been even better if not for three big numbers. Watson hit from a front greenside bunker to a back one on the first hole Thursday and took a double-bogey 6. Later in the day on No. 11, he hit his second shot into the water en route to another double-bogey 6, and he shot 74. The next day, he hit his second shot into the water and carded a third double-bogey 6 and shot 71.

10. Adam Scott, Australia -- Having played only four times on the PGA Tour this season, you might think Scott would be in the field this week at the Shell Houston Open or next week at the Valero Texas Open, especially with the Masters only two weeks away. However, he is skipping both Texas events that lead to the first major of the year, even though he has won both in the past. Scotty cut his schedule back last year in hopes it would lead to better play in the majors, and it paid off with strong performances in the Grant Slam events. He tied for eighth in the Masters, tied for 15th in the U.S. Open, finished second in the Open Championship after a late collapse and tied for 11th in the PGA Championship, so he's sticking with that schedule. ... Scott won this week's tournament, the Shell Houston Open, in 2007, the second year it was held on the Tournament Course at Redstone, shooting 65-66 on the weekend to beat Bubba Watson and Stuart Appleby by three strokes. In 2010, he played the weekend in 66-67 to beat Freddie Jacobson of Sweden by one shot in the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. ... Scott must feel his game is in pretty good shape heading to the first major of the year, despite playing in only three stroke-play events, thanks to two finishes in the top 10. He tied for 10th in his season debut, the Northern Trust, and tied for third in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, five shots behind winner Tiger Woods.

11. Webb Simpson, United States -- Coming off four consecutive finishes in the top 20, Simpson played some of his worst golf this season, posting a score of a 80-73--153 to miss the cut by six strokes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He missed the weekend for the second time this year, also having been knocked out at the Humana Challenge. He missed the cut four times in 2012. ... Having played nine times already this season on the PGA Tour, Webb is taking two weeks off ahead of the Masters, where he tied for 44th last year in his first appearance at Augusta National. He has posted six finishes in the top 25 this year, so his game appears to be in good shape as the major season approaches, with the defense of his U.S. Open title at Merion only two months away. ... Simpson did not make a single birdie in his first-round 80 last week at Bay Hill, recording his worst score of the season by seven strokes. It also equaled the highest score of his career, as he also shot 80 in the first round of the 2010 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He tried to bounce back in the second round, carding five birdies, but also had four bogeys and a double-bogey 5 on the third hole, where he hit his tee shot into the water and his approach into a greenside bunker. Simpson was not sharp in any phase of the game, hitting only 15 of 28 fairways, 15 of 36 greens in regulation and averaging 32.7 putts per round with his belly putter.

12. Steve Stricker, United States -- Following two more weeks at home in Wisconsin, Stricker returns to the PGA Tour on Thursday for the Shell Houston Open, his final tune-up for the Masters. His plan to play a limited schedule this season, with only 11 events listed so far, is paying off, as he has finished in the top five of all three events he has played, including second in both the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the WGC-Cadillac Championship. ... Strick is teeing it up in 13th time in Houston, and he has three top-10 finishes in the event, all on the Tournament Course at Redstone. In 2006, the first year it was held on the course, he played the weekend in 68-66 and finished solo third, but he was seven shots behind winner Stuart Appleby. Stricker tied for ninth the following year, when he posted three rounds in the 60s, but a second-round 1-over-par 73 kept him being in the mix on Sunday. In 2011, he recorded three rounds in the 60s and a second-round 72 to tie for fourth, seven strokes behind champion Phil Mickelson. Before the event moved to the Tournament Course, Steve missed the cut three times in six starts. ... Stricker said at Doral that he believes his shorter schedule is working because he is rested, relaxed and excited to play every time he tees it up on the PGA Tour. He loves the game but does not enjoy the travel, and other than the competition, he would rather be at home with his family. It helped that his wife, Nicki, was his caddie at Doral, just like the days when they traveled the mini-tours as newlyweds.

13. Keegan Bradley, United States -- Bradley made a run at Tiger Woods in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, carding birdies on three of his first six holes to get within three strokes of the lead. However, he managed only one more the rest of the way, at No. 12, to close with a 71 and wind up in a tie for third. It was his fourth top-10 finish of the season, and third in a row, putting him in good shape with the first major of the year approaching. ... Having gotten off to a solid start in his nine events this season, Keegan is going to tee it up again this week in the Shell Houston Open, which he is playing for the third consecutive year. He tied for 51st in his initial start at Redstone, failing to break 70, but opened with 67-69-69 last year on the Tournament Course before a 1-under-par 71 left him in a tie for fourth, four shots behind winner Hunter Mahan. The following week, he tied for 27th in his first Masters. He already has been to Augusta National, and he might make another trip before the first major of the season in two weeks. ... After opening with a 2-over-par 74 last week at Bay Hill, bouncing back from three bogeys in a span of four holes by finishing with 10 consecutive pars, Bradley got it going in the middle rounds. He collected 14 birdies while shooting 69-66 on Friday and Saturday, making four birdies in a span of seven holes on the back nine Friday and five in a span of nine holes through No. 12 on Saturday. He led the field by hitting 46 of 56 fairways, and he also hit 49 of 72 greens, but he could have been better with his belly putter, averaging 29.0 putts per round.

14. Hunter Mahan, United States -- Before stumbling down the stretch in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Mahan was in position for his second top-10 finish in his past three tournaments. He carded four bogeys in a span of six holes through No. 17 and closed with a 3-over-par 75, sliding seven spots down the leaderboard to a tie for 21st. Still, it was his seventh top-25 finish in eight outings this season, missing only when he tied for 26th in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. ... Having played often and very well so far this season, Mahan will tee it up for the ninth time when he defends his title this week in the Shell Houston Open, his final event before the Masters in two weeks. After opening with rounds of 69-67-65 last year, a 1-under-par 71 in the final round was enough for him to come from two strokes behind 54-hole leader Louis Oosthuizen and beat Carl Pettersson of Sweden by one shot. Hunter, who lives about four hours from Redstone in Colleyville, Texas, is making his 10th appearance in the tournament. He tied for fifth in 2007, tied for sixth in 2009 and tied for eighth in 2011. ... Mahan opened with a solid 71-70-70 last week at Bay Hill. It appeared he might be primed for his best stroke-play finish of the season when he played his first nine holes of the tournament in a bogey-free 3 under, but he could not keep up the pace. He took only 55 putts in the middle rounds, but needed 67 in the first and last, including an atrocious 36 over the final 18 holes.

15. Lee Westwood, England -- His move from England to South Florida has not yet produced the results Westwood was hoping for, including a tie for 63rd last week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Coming off two solid finishes, a tie for ninth in the Honda Classic and a tie for 25th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, he could not break 70 in any of his four rounds at Bay Hill. ... Westwood is playing for the eighth time this season in the Shell Houston Open before taking a week off heading into the Masters, in which he tied for third last year. This will be his fifth consecutive appearance in Houston and his seventh overall, with his only top-10 finish a tie for eighth in 2010, when he started with 69-68 but played the weekend in 72-71. He was with the leaders through 54 holes a year earlier at Redstone, starting 69-70-68, but a closing 2-over-par 74 dropped him to a tie for 11th. ... Despite his disappointing finish at Bay Hill, Westy did play a stretch of 34 holes in 5 under par and could have had a better result if not for three big numbers. He opened with a 1-under-par 71 but was 5 over for round two after hitting two shots in the water to take a triple-bogey 7 at No. 3 while finishing on the front nine. Then he saved a 75 with three birdies in a span of four holes. The only blemish in his 72 the next day was another triple-bogey 7 at No. 8, where he hit his second shot into the water and tried unsuccessfully to hit it out. In the final round, Westwood hit his approach to No. 18 into the water and carded a third triple-bogey 7 to close with a 75.

16. Ian Poulter, England -- Even though he has not played badly, Poulter has been unable to match the top-10 finishes he had in his first two events this season, backing up a tie for 28th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship with a tie for 21st last week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He didn't look rusty when returning from a six-week break after the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but he hasn't been quite as sharp lately, breaking 70 only once in his last five rounds. ... Poulter is playing an abbreviated schedule early in the season to save himself for the long haul. He is passing on the Shell Houston Open, which he played only when he tied for 21st in 2006, but he has committed to play in the Valero Texas Open for the first time a week ahead of the Masters. He played well with new clubs in his bag in his first two events this season, but he has some tightening up to do in the next two weeks before the first major of the season. ... Poulter played some solid golf at Bay Hill, starting 72-69-70, and he was in position for a high finish before he closed with a 3-over-par 75 to slide seven spots down the leaderboard. It started on the first hole, where he hit his approach into a greenside bunker and needed two more shots to get on the green en route to a double-bogey 6. His best stretch of golf came when he carded five birdies in a span of eight holes on his way to a 69 in the third round. One of the better putters around, he took only 25 putts in round two but averaged 29.7 in the other three rounds.

17. Jason Dufner, United States -- Dufner wasn't playing his best, but he was at even par through 22 holes last week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational before the wheels suddenly fell off. He played his last four holes in 4 over par to finish at 71-77--148 and miss the cut by one stroke. It was his second missed weekend of the season, as he also missed the cut by one shot in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. ... With nine tournaments already under his belt this season, including two on the Middle East Swing of the European Tour, Dufner is taking two weeks off before teeing it up for the third time at the Masters in two weeks. Coming off a career year in which he claimed his first two PGA Tour victories in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the HP Byron Nelson Championship, his best results this season have been ties for ninth in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. ... Duf's demise at Bay Hill can be traced to the sixth hole in round two, which he was finishing on the front nine. He hit his second shot onto the rocks and had to take a penalty stroke before hitting his fourth shot into a bunker. No. 5 went into the water for another penalty stroke, and he had to sink a 9-foot putt for a triple-bogey 8. Dufner came to No. 9 needing a par to make the cut, but he could not hit the green in regulation, and he missed a 10-foot putt for par.

18. Ernie Els, South Africa -- Playing alongside Justin Rose and Tiger Woods, who were among the leaders in the first two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Els could not keep up, and he shot 75-75--150 to miss the cut by three strokes. It was his first missed cut on the PGA Tour since the RBC Canadian Open last July, a span of 11 events, and it came a week after he pulled out of the Tampa Bay Championship because of a problem with his right hip flexor. ... The Big Easy has played eight times on both major tours this season and, despite his hip ailment, he has flown halfway around the world to play this week in the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic at Alpine Golf Resort in Chiangmai, Thailand. Also competing in the Asian Tour event will be Y.E. Yang of South Korea, Michael Campbell of New Zealand and local favorite Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand. Els will then take a week off before the Masters, having already taken a trip to Augusta, merely walking the course on doctors' orders because of his hip problem. ... Els made a birdie on the 13th hole in round two last week at Bay Hill to give himself hope that he might make the cut, but all was lost when he hit his approach into the water at No. 16 and took a bogey 6 on a hole on which he was thinking birdie or eagle. He got off to a miserable start after teeing off at No. 10 the previous day, carding three consecutive bogeys through No. 12 and three-putting from 45 feet for a double-bogey 5 at No. 14.

19. Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa -- Coming off two missed cuts in his last three tournaments, Oosthuizen will try to get things headed in the right direction with the Masters only two weeks away when he plays this week in the Shell Houston Open. He came to the U.S. with high hopes for this season after winning the Volvo Golf Champions, but he was knocked out in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and tied for 33rd in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, the only time he has reached the weekend in four events on the PGA Tour this year. ... Oosty is playing in Houston for the fourth time, and last year he started 67-66-66 on the Tournament Course at Redstone to take a two-stroke lead over Hunter Mahan into the final round. However, the South African closed with a 3-over-par 75 to wind up third, two strokes behind Mahan, who took home the trophy with a 71. Oosthuizen also tied for 16th at Redstone in 2011, closing 69-70-68. He shot 75-75--150 in 2008 to miss the cut by six strokes. ... Instead of treating last year's final-round meltdown in Houston as a downer, Oosthuizen took the positives from the week to Augusta National, where he was in the hunt all the way until Bubba Watson beat him with in incredible par out of the trees on the second playoff hole. He has one of the best swings in the game, and if he can find his game this week in Houston, Oosty could be a contender to add a Green Jacket to the Claret Jug he claimed in 2010 at St. Andrews.

20. Zach Johnson, United States -- Still trying to rediscover the game that made him one of seven winners of multiple events on the PGA Tour last year, Johnson had his moments in the middle rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. However, he opened with a 4-over-par 76 and closed with a 73 to finish in a tie for 34th, leaving him with just two top-25 finishes this season. ... With eight tournaments behind him already this year, Zach will spend much of the next two weeks at home in St. Simons, Ga., before making the drive across the state to Augusta National for the Masters, where he claimed the Green Jacket in 2007. Perhaps surprisingly, he is skipping the Valero Texas Open, which he won in 2008 and 2009, although he missed the cut, shooting 68-80--148, in 2010 while trying to make it three in a row. ... Johnson opened with a solid 70 last week at Bay Hill but lost his way in the middle of a second-round 76. At least he made the cut by two strokes after missing in three earlier events this year. His trouble started when he flew the green with his tee shot at No. 7, needed four strokes to reach the green and took a double-bogey 5. Three holes later, he went from fairway bunker to greenside bunker, needed two more shots to get his ball onto the green and three-putted from 16 feet to card a triple-bogey 7. Zach got off to a fast start Saturday with three birdies in the first six holes, but he could not keep it up and settled for a 69. He took a total of 56 putts in the first and last rounds but had 31 in each of the middle rounds.

Others receiving consideration: Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland; Martin Kaymer, Germany; Nick Watney, United States; Rickie Fowler, United States; Bill Haas, United States; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Jim Furyk, United States; Carl Pettersson, Sweden; Bo Van Pelt, United States; Peter Hanson, Sweden; Jason Day, Australia; John Merrick, United States; Charles Howell III, United States; Tim Clark, South Africa; Michael Thompson, United States.

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