The Sports Xchange's 2013 PGA Tour rankings, selected by TSX Golf Staff, based on 2012-13 performance and projections for this season.
1. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland -- Despite others saying that he needs to work with his new Nike clubs in competition, McIlroy apparently is sticking with his plans not to play tournament golf again until WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in two weeks near Tucson. After practice sessions with his instructor, Michael Bannon, and Nike technicians last week in Dubai, he spent a few days with his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, in the Alps rather than play in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which he won in 2009. ... Rory will be heading to his U.S. base in Florida sometime in the next few days for some work with putting guru Dave Stockton, who said he does not think the kid will have too much trouble adapting to his Nike Method putter. Stockton said it probably would take McIlroy longer to get used to his Nike Covert driver. Both clubs were problematic when McIlroy missed the cut in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship to start his season. ... For what it's worth, Tiger Woods reduced McIlroy's lead in the World Golf Rankings by winning the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago and also replaced the Irishman as the favorite of the bookies to win the Masters. At most books, Woods is at 5-1, followed by McIlroy at 6-1, but that might change several more times in the next two months heading to the first major of the year. Woods has said that he never was concerned about his ranking when he was No. 1, that winning took care of it, and McIlroy probably is much the same.
2. Tiger Woods, United States -- Following his record-setting eighth victory at Torrey Pines, Woods apparently will take three weeks off before teeing it up next in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, a tournament he has won three times, but not since 2008. Reportedly that will be the first of three straight weeks in which he will play, including the first two events of the Florida Swing, the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship. After a week off, Woods then would play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he has won seven times, including last year. ... Last year, Tiger returned to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time in 10 years and tied for 15th, but he will not be there this week. He's played at Pebble only three times since winning there twice in 2000, making a brilliant comeback with a final-round 64 to capture the AT&T and claiming the U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes. Woods drove down the coast often to play Pebble during his days at Stanford, and as much as he loves the course, he's not that fond of playing it when it is softer during the winter. ... Apparently Woods also is skipping the Northern Trust Open, his hometown event near Los Angeles, even though caddie Joe LaCava tried to talk him into playing next week. He played in the tournament for the first time in 1992 on a sponsor's exemption as a 16-year-old sophomore at Western High in Anaheim, but the last time he teed it up at in the tournament at Riviera was in 2006.
3. Luke Donald, England -- While Donald is in the final week of what has been a long offseason, that's not to say that he has been taking it easy, especially of late. He sent out a message on Twitter last week that he was just finishing his daily workout in the gym before heading out for practice in 75-degree weather on a cloudless day at The Bear's Club in Jupiter, Fla. No less than Jack Nicklaus claims that none of the pros who train at the club work harder than Donald. ... Luke will open his PGA Tour season next week in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, where he will be playing for the 12th consecutive year. That's the first of at least four consecutive events, as he also will play in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, which he won in 2011. Then he will jump right into the Florida Swing at the Honda Classic, which he won in 2006, and the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Those two will be virtual home games, as he will be able to sleep in his own bed at his winter home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. ... Donald spent 55 weeks as the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings and knows he has his work cut out for him to overtake No. 2 Tiger Woods and No. 1 Rory McIlroy, but he has said that he is happy to be flying under the radar somewhat with much of the spotlight on the other two. His top priority, however, remains claiming that elusive first major title.
4. Dustin Johnson, United States -- DJ will be back on one of his favorite courses this week when he plays in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the sixth time. He has won the tournament twice, the first time when it was shortened to 54 holes in 2009, as his three rounds in the 60s gave him a four-stroke victory over Mike Weir. The following year, he was so far out in front after rounds of 64-68-64 that he still was able to pull out a one-stroke victory over J.B. Holmes and David Duval despite closing with a 2-over-par 74. Johnson also tied for seventh in 2008 and tied for fifth last year. In the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble, he took a three-stroke lead into the final round before imploding with an 82 to tie for eighth. ... Johnson started the season fast by winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions before being slowed by the flu, which caused him to withdraw after the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii. He did not seem to be back at full strength when he tied for 51st in the Farmers Insurance Open, so he would like to get back on track this week at Pebble Beach. One of the goals he set before the season was to claim multiple victories, and he could get that one out of the way quickly by winning this week. ... DJ, who seemed reluctant to advertise when he was involved with Natalie Gulbis last year, doesn't have the same problem now that he with Paulina Gretzky. Last week, he posted on Twitter a picture of Gretzky, daughter of hockey's Great One, Wayne Gretzky, and actress Janet Jones Gretzky.
5. Brandt Snedeker, United States -- Posting four rounds of 6-under-par 65 or better, Snedeker chased Phil Mickelson all the way to the finish of the Waste Management Phoenix Open before finishing second, four strokes behind. It was his third finish in the top three this season, as he also finished solo third in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and tied for second in the Farmers Insurance Open. Those results have the defending FedEx Cup champion atop the standings again after five events of the new season. ... Sneds is moving on to Pebble Beach to play for a third consecutive week and a fourth time this season, even though he has missed the 54-hole cut in two of his last three appearances in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He skipped the tournament last year after failing to make it to Sunday in 2009 and 2011, and his best finish in five appearances in the event was a tie for 21st in 2010, when he shot 66-68 in the middle rounds. Those are half of the four scores Snedeker has posted in the 60s in 18 rounds during the AT&T. His best performance at Pebble came in a much bigger spotlight, as he tied for eighth when the U.S. Open was played there in 2010. ... Snedeker did his best to stay with Mickelson last week at TPC Scottsdale, playing 41 consecutive holes with a bogey until stumbling on the 72nd hole, when his chances were gone. The only other blemishes on his week were bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes in a first-round 64 and a double-bogey 5 on the 12th hole in a second-round 66.
6. Phil Mickelson, United States -- Even though he went wire-to-wire in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mickelson still gave us a couple glimpses of "Phil the Thrill." But he was so good all week that he claimed a four-stroke victory over Brandt Snedeker, winning for the 41st time on the PGA Tour and for the sixth time in Arizona, tying Johnny Miller's record. ... Lefty got his game in shape just in time for another of his favorite tournaments, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He won it for the fourth time last year by coming from six strokes down with an 8-under-par 64 in the final round to beat 54-hole leader Charlie Wi by two shots. Making it even more sweet, he outplayed playing partner Tiger Woods, who slid to a tie for 15th, by 11 shots. Mickelson is playing in the tournament for the 17th year in a row and 18th time overall, also having claimed the title in 1998, 2005 and 2007. He missed the cut when the U.S. Open was played at Pebble in 1992, but tied for 16th when it returned in 2000 and tied for fourth in 2010. ... After so-so performances in his first two starts of the season, Mickelson credited work with instructors Butch Harmon and Dave Stockton, plus a new Callaway driver, for his turnaround last week. He carded 29 birdies and an eagle in 72 holes, making perhaps only two bad swings. After lipping out a putt for 59 on Thursday and settling for 60, Mickelson was on the verge of a 54-hole scoring record when he drove into the water with his three-wood on No. 18 in round two and took a double-bogey 6. With a five-shot lead on Sunday, he nearly drove into the water on No. 17, but still made birdie. That's the kind of week it was.
7. Justin Rose, England -- Following a strong start to his season on the Middle East Swing of the European Tour, Rose is taking a total of three weeks off before he plays for the first time this year on the PGA Tour in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He tied for second in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, being unable to hold the lead in the final round, and tied for 16th in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. ... Even though Rose is a product of the Euro Tour, his biggest victories have come in the United States, including the 2011 BMW Championship during the PGA Tour playoffs and the WGC-Cadillac Championship, in which he will defend his title next month. His relationship with the European Tour occasionally has been strained, especially when he was left off the 2010 Ryder Cup team by captain Colin Montgomerie, and at times he has dropped his membership. He lives most of the year with his family in Central Florida, and like Luke Donald and Paul Casey, has been criticized in England at times for being too Americanized. However, he has won three times in Europe, and with a big year is capable of winning the money titles on both tours in the same season, as Donald and Rory McIlroy did the last two years. ... Although he does not set specific goals at the start of the season, Rosy said he wanted to get off to a good start in the Race to Dubai so he didn't have to play catch-up later in the year. He should be able to make up ground on the PGA Tour by playing at least two of the four events on the Florida Swing.
8. Adam Scott, Australia -- Scott has been lying low at his homes in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, and in Queensland on the Gold Coast of Australia since he tied for 14th in the Australian Open in December after winning the Talisker Australian Masters a few weeks earlier. He will make his 2013 debut next week in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, where he won in a playoff over Chad Campbell after rain shortened the tournament to 36 holes in 2005. ... Scott, another player impacted by the expected ban of anchored putters that could come next month, was not at the PGA Tour meeting with Mike Davis of the United States Golf Association two weeks ago. However, he did get his two cents worth in during a conversation with chief executive George O'Grady of the European Tour late last year. In 2011, the Aussie turned to a long putter that he anchors to his chest, and it turned his game around. After a prolonged slump, he ended by winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. If the ban is enforced by the USGA and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, it would not go into effect until 2016. However, commissioner Tim Finchem said it might be implemented sooner by the PGA Tour in order to keep it from being a distraction. ... After playing at Riviera, Scott might tee it up only for more times before the Masters. His schedule at adamscott.com lists the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Tampa Bay Championship, the latter two during the four-event Florida Swing.
9. Lee Westwood, England -- Playing for the first time this year, Westwood got off to a solid start by finishing in a tie for fifth in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the eighth time he has placed in the top 20 in the event. He finished six strokes behind and might have been able to put some pressure on winner Stephen Gallacher of Scotland on Sunday if not for posting a round of 1-under-par 71 on Saturday, the only time he was out of the 60s. ... After making the long flight from Dubai, Westwood will make his 2013 PGA Tour debut this week in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The Englishman has played in the tournament only once previously, when he tied for 62nd in 2005, starting fast with 68-69 before playing the weekend in 74-79. He has started his season in the U.S. at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship each of the past four years, but since he moved to Florida in December, Lee is going to play a total of eight times before the Masters. He tied for fifth when the U.S. Open was held at Pebble in 2000, and tied for 16th when it returned in 2010. ... Westy punctuated his opening-round 67 with an eagle on the 18th hole at Emirates Golf Club last week and shot 66-68 on the weekend. He carded eight birdies in the final round but kept himself from getting closer to the lead by also recording four bogeys, including three on the back nine. Westwood has been working hard with his putter, perhaps the weakest club in his bag, and it paid off as he averaged 27.5 putts per round.
10. Bubba Watson, United States -- Having shaken the flu bug that weakened him for several weeks, Watson saved his best golf for last in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, closing with a 7-under-par 64 to finish alone in 15th place. If not for a 71 in the third round, he would have posted his second top-10 finish of the season, as he also tied for fourth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. ... Having been forced to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago, Bubba is going to stay home this week in Scottsdale while continuing to regain his strength, and he'll skip the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. However, he will be back on the PGA Tour next week when he plays in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera for the seventh consecutive year, his third event of the season heading to the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship the following week near Tucson. Then it's on to the Florida Swing and the run-up to his title defense in the Masters. ... Bubba carded four bogeys in the third round last week at TPC Scottsdale, but only three on his other three rounds, including none in a brilliant final round, in which he made five birdies in seven holes through No. 11. His only really bad spell of the week came when he recorded three bogeys in the final eight holes of that 71 on Saturday. Watson's long game is his strength, but he averaged 28.8 putts per round after being at 29.73 last season. If he can putt like that all season, he will be difficult to beat.
11. Jason Dufner, United States -- Coming back to the PGA Tour after playing on the Middle East Swing of the European Tour, Duf seemed to run out of gas late in the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He shot 68-71--139 at TPC Scottsdale and missed the cut by a single shot. That broke his streak of 22 consecutive cuts made, which was the longest active streak on the circuit, dating to the Sony Open in Hawaii last year. ... Having played four times this season after starting the year with a tie for 18th in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Dufner is going to take two weeks off before playing next in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. ... Dufner came to the final hole last week in Scottsdale needing a birdie to make it to the weekend and gave himself a chance, but he could not coax an 11-foot birdie putt to find the hole. He seemed to be coasting toward the third round at 6-under-par for the tournament through 11 holes on Friday while playing alongside Phil Mickelson, who was tearing up the course en route to a big lead. However, Dufner carded three birdies in a span of four holes through No. 15 and was unable to make a birdie after the 10th hole. To make matters worse, two of the bogeys came at the 13th and 15th holes, both par 5s. He missed the green to the left at No. 13 and could not reach the putting surface with his chip, and then hit his second shot into the water on No. 15. As usual, his ball-striking was good, but he averaged 35.8 putts per round.
12. Webb Simpson, United States -- Following a two-week break after playing in the first three events of the PGA Tour season, Simpson returns this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He got off to a decent start, tying for 11th in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and tying for 20th in the Sony Open in Hawaii, but he missed the 54-hole cut in the Humana Challenge, although he did post his lowest round of the season, a 7-under-par 65, in the third round. ... Webb is playing in the AT&T for the third time, having shot 71-74-71 to miss the 54-hole cut by one stroke in 2009, and tying for 46th in 2010. He started out fine three years ago with rounds of 67-68 at Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club to rank in the top 10, but he played the weekend in 74-72 on the host course. Simpson was in his second season on the PGA Tour when the 2010 U.S. Open was played at Pebble Beach, and he failed to qualify for the second major of the year. ... The reigning U.S. Open champion has been sharp with his irons in his first three tournaments this season, ranking eighth on the PGA Tour last week in greens in regulation at 78.33 percent. However, he struggled with his belly putter and was 124th with an average of 29.80 putts per round and 103rd in strokes gained putting at minus-.133. Last year, he was 42nd at 28.79 putts per round and 56th in strokes gained putting at plus-.213, not great but good enough considering his other skills.
13. Ernie Els, South Africa -- Following a mediocre three-week start to his season on the European Tour, Els is back working at The Bear's Club in Florida for his 2013 debut on the PGA Tour next week in the Northern Trust Open, where he won in 1999. He also will play the following week in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and in at least two events on the Florida Swing, including the Honda Classic, which he won in 2008. Ernie met in Qatar with Sherylle Calder, his visualization coach, and she gave him a few things to work on. Els thanked Calder during his acceptance speech after winning the Open Championship last year at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, giving her some of the credit for turning his game back in the right direction. ... Els has a lot of juggling to do with all the projects he is involved in, and last week he met with the team of the Els for Autism Foundation. The organization has some special events planned for April, which is Autism Awareness Month. In addition, the full tournament schedule for the 2013 Els for Autism Golf Challenge, a nearly year-long fund-raising program, will be announced next month. ... Els also was proud to announce that the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, a junior program in his native South Africa that has produced then likes of Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, had five of its members qualify for the 2013 Sunshine Tour, the pro golf tour in South Africa. He congratulated Drikus Bruyns, Shaun Smith, Adrian Ford, Makgetha Mazubuko and Heinrich Bruiners for making it through Q School.
14. Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa -- With a victory in the Volvo Golf Champions already tucked away this season, Oosthuizen will be back down on his farm in Mossel Bay, South Africa, before making his first start of the year in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship later this month. After the match-play event, he will settle into his U.S. base at Old Palm Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., as he plays his second season as a full-time member of the PGA Tour. ... Oosthuizen will play three times during the Florida Swing, following the Accenture by teeing it up in the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship, both in close proximity to his home at Old Palm. After skipping the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he will play in the Tampa Bay Championship and the Shell Houston Open before the Masters in the first week of April. ... Oosty, who was been joined at Old Palm by good pal Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood, said two weeks ago at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters that he hopes to someday become No. 1 in the World Rankings. He was No. 6 last week and said he realizes that it will take time to overhaul top-ranked Rory McIlroy, but he has set a goal of moving up to as high as No. 2 this season. With Tiger Woods having won the Farmers Insurance Open and seemingly primed for another big year after winning three times last season, that might take a monster season from the South African. Even so, he seems to be getting close to the form that carried him to the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
15. Matt Kuchar, United States -- After playing in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for 10 consecutive seasons through 2010, Kuchar will be skipping the event this week for the third year in a row. He posted only one top-10 finish on the Monterey Peninsula, a tie for sixth in 2007, in all his years there, although he also tied sixth when the 2010 U.S. Open was played at Pebble. He has committed to play next week in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera for the seventh straight year and the eighth time overall. ... Kuchar always has a gallery at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., because he grew up in Florida and lives not far away in St. Simons Island, Ga., right across the state line. However, this year as defending champion, he will be cheered on by "Kuch's Krew," a fan club that has been formed by tournament organizers and Bridgestone Golf, one of his sponsors. Fans can earn a trip to the tournament with three friends by submitting a video explaining why they want to be a part of Kuchar's gallery. A panel will judge the videos based on creativity and originality, narrowing it down to the best three entries. Visitors to pgatour.com will vote for their favorite video in March. The winner will be announced early in April. Visit pgatour.com/theplayers for details. ... Kuchar leads the PGA Tour with 31 top-10 finishes in the past three-plus seasons and has gotten off to another strong start by tying for ninth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, tying for fifth in the Sony Open in Hawaii and tying for 15th in the Humana Challenge.
16. Ian Poulter, England -- Vowing to play less this season in order to stay strong toward the end of what has become a nearly year-long season, Poults has two weeks left in his six-week break following the Hyundai Tournament of Champions before he plays again in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He won the Accenture by beating Paul Casey in the 2010 final, but that's the only victory of his career in the United States. He did win the WGC-HSBC Champions, now a PGA Tour sanctioned event, late last year in China and hopefully his long hiatus after tying for ninth in the Hyundai won't break his momentum. ... Poulter made appearances at the PGA Merchandise Show and even showed off some of his new Cobra equipment and Puma gear for merchandisers and members of the media on Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Center in Orlando, Fla., not to mention some colorful items from his clothing line. However, he was back at work last week at nearby Lake Nona Golf Club, posting this note on Twitter: "Time to go hit some balls. Trackman in hand with iPad. Happy days. Joys of testing." ... Poulter set a course record of 8-under-par 64 at Kingston Heath Golf Club near Melbourne, Australia, in the second round of the Talisker Australian Masters last November en route to finishing second to Adam Scott. But the mark did not stand for long, as Mark Brown of New Zealand broke it by shooting 62 last week during British Open qualifying, earning a spot in the 142nd Open at Muirfield, Scotland, in July.
17. Keegan Bradley, United States -- After staying close to his mentor and Ryder Cup partner, Phil Mickelson, for a little more than two rounds in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Bradley crashed and burned with a 2-over-par 73 in the third round and eventually tied for 24th. He admits that he often is his own worst enemy because he sometimes tries too hard. Keegan has finished out of the top 20 in three consecutive events since he tied for fourth in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. ... Having played four times in the first five weeks on the West Coast Swing, Bradley will take this week off, skipping the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, even though he tied for 15th in his only appearance on the Monterey Peninsula in 2011 as a rookie on the PGA Tour. He will be back next week to play in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, where he lost last year in a playoff to Bill Haas. He'll follow that up a week later with the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. By the time he gets home to Jupiter, Fla., and the Florida Swing, he will have already played in six tournaments. ... Bradley carded two birdies in the first four holes of the third round last week at TPC Scottsdale before falling apart, putting up five bogeys and only one more birdie the rest of the way. That came after he started 67-63, carding only a single bogey in his first 42 holes. Bradley closed with a 68, but it was too little and too late. He again struggled with his belly putter, averaging 29.5 putts per round.
18. Steve Stricker, United States -- Stricker slipped out of the top 10 in the World Golf Rankings last week, although only to No. 11, but it seems to be only a matter of time before he goes into freefall unless he can play well virtually every week during what he says will be a reduced schedule this season. He finished second in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions to remain high in the rankings, and it will be interesting to see how he performs in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in two weeks when he returns from a six-week absence. ... Strick claims he will play only about 10 times this season, including the four majors and the three World Golf Championships that are played in the United States. He also can be expected to defend his titles in the Memorial Tournament and the John Deere Classic, which he has won the last two years. It helps that those tournaments are played in the Midwest, close to his home in Madison, Wis., as he plans to cut down on his travel and be home more with his family. It could mean that he will skip the Open Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, a week after the John Deere, which he considers his home event. ... Stricker has played on the last three United States teams for the Ryder Cup, and four in all, and last three U.S. Presidents Cup teams, but by playing as little as he plans to, it could be difficult for him to earn enough points to qualify for the Presidents Cup matches in September at Muirfield Village, Ohio.
19. Zach Johnson, United States -- A fan of Johnson's asked him on Twitter last week when he was going to make his 2013 debut on the PGA Tour, and Zach had to tell the guy that he had played in the first three events of the season. Unfortunately, it was easy to miss him because he didn't get off to the start he wanted, as he tied for 18th in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions against a 30-man field, missed the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii and tied for 23rd in the Humana Challenge. Not all that bad, but not up to his standards, especially after he claimed two victories last season. ... Johnson has one more week off at home in St. Simons Island, Ga., before he returns to the PGA Tour at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, where he will be playing for the eighth time in nine years after finishing in a tie for 17th last year. After the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, he figures to play two or three times on the Florida Swing ahead of the Masters, which he won in 2007. ... Johnson appeared with golf legends Butch Harmon and Bob Vokey, designer of perhaps the best and most-played wedges in the game, at the Titleist booth during the recent PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. While he was in town, he also took his kids to Disney World and posted on Twitter pictures of them with Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck, in addition to taking in a game between the Orlando Magic and the Toronto Raptors from courtside seats at the Amway Center.
20. Hunter Mahan, United States -- For three rounds, Mahan was in the chase pack while Phil Mickelson ran away with the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he simply could not go low enough at TPC Scottsdale. He did not make a bogey over his first 50 holes, but he carded three the rest of the way and wound up in a tie for 16th. It was his second consecutive finish in the top 20 as he continues to fight back from a poor second half of the 2012 season after winning twice early in the year. ... With his game showing signs of coming around, Mahan is going to play for the fourth time this season when he tees it up in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the 10th consecutive year. He did not have a top-10 finish in the tournament until he came in solo second in 2011, finishing two strokes behind D.A. Points. He came back with a tie for 15th last year, his fourth finish in the top 20 at Pebble. Hunter also is listed in the field next week for the Northern Trust Open, one week before his title defense in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. ... Mahan started with three rounds of 4-under-par 67 last week at TPC Scottsdale and closed with a 69, giving him four scores of 60 in his last six rounds. That came after he could not break 70 in his first three rounds this year and four of the first five. Mahan ran hot and cold with his putter in Scottsdale, taking a total of 53 putts in the first and third rounds but needing a total of 63 in the second and fourth.
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; Nicolas Colsaerts, Belgium; Ryan Moore, United States; Jason Day, Australia.