Power Rankings: 2014 Wells Fargo Championship

By Will GrayApril 29, 2014, 6:52 pm

This week marks the 25th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to the Tar Heel State for the Wells Fargo Championship. A field of 156 players will tee it up this week at Quail Hollow Club, where the field will have to conquer the "Green Mile" of holes 16-18.

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.

Derek Ernst returns to defend the title he won last year in a playoff over David Lynn. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Charlotte:

1. Rory McIlroy: The Ulsterman is out of the top 10 in the world for the first time in more than three years, but he's playing some good golf. His T-8 at the Masters was his third top-10 in his last four starts, and now McIlroy returns to the site of his first PGA Tour victory and a course where he nearly won again in 2012. Three of his four starts at Quail Hollow have yielded a top-10 result, and this week he should make that four out of five.

2. Jim Furyk: Furyk hasn't won in nearly four years, but that drought may come to an end soon. He enters with a streak of four straight top-20 finishes, highlighted by a T-7 at Harbour Town when he contended deep into the final round. The veteran has been quietly consistent at Quail Hollow, with five straight finishes of T-26 or better, and Furyk won here in 2006.

3. Phil Mickelson: He has to get things going at some point...right? Mickelson is still without a top-10 finish this season, but he has never finished worse than T-35 in this event and has notched seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts. He led for much of the tournament last year before falling just short of a playoff, and was also a runner-up to McIlroy in 2010.

4. Lee Westwood: The Englishman won in Malaysia in his most recent start and has cracked the top five each of the last two years in Charlotte, finishing T-4 last year and T-5 in 2012. Westwood contended at the Masters, finishing seventh despite a closing 73, and tied for 17th in Houston the week prior. He's not at the form that earned him the world No. 1 ranking, but he's trending in that direction.

5. Rickie Fowler: Fowler had a surprising early exit last week in New Orleans, but should bounce back at Quail Hollow, the site of his lone PGA Tour victory (2012). Before his missed cut at TPC Louisiana, Fowler had finished fifth and T-6 in his two most recent starts, the latter coming at Augusta National. While he was an MDF last year as the defending champ, his other starts in Charlotte have been more productive: sixth in 2010 and T-16 in 2011.

6. Justin Rose: While many big names missed the cut in NOLA, Rose quietly notched a tie for eighth and has now finished inside the top 15 in three of his last four starts. He's only played once here since 2010, but that resulted in a T-28 in 2011 after Rose went 69-69 over the weekend.

7. Ryan Moore: Moore appears to have found his footing on this course, with four of his last eight rounds at Quail Hollow yielding a 68 or better. He tied for sixth last year and tied for fifth the year prior, and counts a win in Malaysia among his seven top-25 results this season. Moore is seventh on Tour in GIR percentage and eighth in birdie average, so expect him to have more than his fair share of circles on the scorecard this week.

8. J.B. Holmes: Holmes is back from the disabled list in a big way, and after a third straight top-20 finish he has now fulfilled his major medical extension and has playing privileges for the rest of the season. Holmes has made 10 of 11 cuts this season, with five top-25 finishes, and tied for ninth at Quail Hollow in 2011. His length off the tee should prove to be a considerable asset this week.

9. Bill Haas: Haas withdrew for the first time in his career in his last start, pulling out of the RBC Heritage with a bad wrist. After a week off, he's ready to return to an event where he has been feast or famine. A product of nearby Wake Forest, Haas has made only five of 10 cuts in Charlotte but when he's played the weekend, he's finished no worse than T-29 and twice finished fourth.

10. Kevin Na: Na has made five of his last seven cuts overall, and each of those weekend appearances has resulted in a top-20 finish, including a runner-up at Innisbrook. He's also had success at Quail Hollow, with a fifth-place showing in 2011 and a tie for 14th in 2010. While he has been dogged by slow play issues, he has also turned into one of the more surprising success stories of the 2013-14 season.

Getty Images

Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

Getty Images

Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

Getty Images

Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

Getty Images

Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.