Power Rankings: 2014 Tour Championship

By Will GraySeptember 9, 2014, 4:52 pm

This week marks the 45th (and final) event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the playoffs conclude with the Tour Championship. A field of 29 players will tee it up this week at East Lake Golf Club, where a FedEx Cup champion will also be crowned.

Be sure to join the Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to test yourself against our panel of experts, including defending champion Charlie Rymer. Click here for full fantasy assistance, including stats and picks.

Henrik Stenson won here a year ago over Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker, but failed to qualify for this year's event. Here are 10 names to watch outside Atlanta:

1. Jim Furyk: He quietly tied for third last week in Denver, and now returns to East Lake where he won both the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup crowns in 2010. Furyk is still without a win this year, but he's been among the most consistent performers all summer, with exactly half of his last 12 starts going for top-five finishes.

2. Rory McIlroy: If he can avoid the four-putts, he just might leave Atlanta with the FedEx Cup. McIlroy still netted a T-8 in Denver despite his putting woes, and now looks to check another accomplishment off his to-do list in what has already been a career year. He contended well into the weekend at East Lake in his lone prior appearance in 2012, netting a T-10 finish despite a Sunday 74.

3. Billy Horschel: Horschel has the ability to get hot and stay hot, a feature that was on full display last week at Cherry Hills. He heads to East Lake as one of five players who control their own FedEx Cup destiny, and it's a course where he tied for seventh in his 2013 debut. East Lake rewards tee-to-green consistency, and Horschel ranks fourth on Tour in GIR percentage.

4. Adam Scott: Scott is somehow flying under the radar despite the fact that he hasn't finished worse than T-16 since the Players Championship. The Aussie ranks third this season in scoring average, 10th in total driving and 11th in GIR percentage, a combination that should put his name again near the top of the leaderboard on a course where he won back in 2006.

5. Justin Rose: Rose finished in the middle of the pack last week after skipping the Deutsche Bank Championship, but he now heads to a course where he was a runner-up in 2012 and finished sixth a year ago. He ranks fifth in the new strokes gained, tee-to-green category, seventh in the all-around and 10th in scoring average, which means the Englishman is likely to contend at East Lake for the third straight year.

6. Rickie Fowler: Like Furyk, Fowler is looking to end a successful season by notching his first win. While his track record at East Lake isn't the best - a T-23 finish in 2012, his lone prior start - he does have six top-10 finishes in his last seven starts, a streak that dates back to the U.S. Open and includes a T-4 finish last week in Denver.

7. Jordan Spieth: It was just a year ago that Spieth capped an unprecedented rookie season with a runner-up finish in the Tour Championship, and while his sophomore season has brought more of the same, he's cooled somewhat in recent weeks. Spieth bounced back last week with a T-8 finish at Cherry Hills, and now returns to a venue where he has more experience than a third of the field - surely a first in his brief career.

8. Sergio Garcia: Garcia flirted with victory in Denver before unraveling over the weekend, but his game should again allow him to contend this week at East Lake, where he tied for ninth last year and also notched high finishes in both 2007 (fourth) and 2008 (second). The Spaniard has turned it around on the greens, and now ranks second on Tour in overall strokes gained.

9. Bill Haas: Haas knows what it takes to win at East Lake, having done so three years ago, and he hasn't finished worse than T-16 in any of the first three playoff events. One of the most consistent players this season, he enters this week ranked ninth in GIR percentage and coming off a 67-68 weekend at Cherry Hills, where he finished T-15.

10. Bubba Watson: Watson will have plenty of support from the Georgia Bulldog crowd in Atlanta, and he comes in off of three straight 66s en route to a runner-up finish at the BMW. Watson's game at first glance doesn't appear ideally suited for East Lake, but he did tie for fifth in his most recent appearance (2012) and ranks sixth on Tour this season in the all-around.

Getty Images

Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.