Power Rankings: 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship

By Will GraySeptember 2, 2015, 2:54 pm

The 45th event of the season - and the second event of the postseason - is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Massachusetts for the Deutsche Bank Championship. A field of 99 will tackle TPC Boston, with the top 70 in the standings advancing to the BMW Championship later this month.

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Chris Kirk won this event a year ago over Billy Horschel. Here are 10 players to watch in New England:

1. Jason DayHe's the man of the moment, and merits no other spot. Day topped the rankings last week at Plainfield and won in a rout, and now he returns to TPC Boston with even more momentum and the No. 1 ranking in his sights. Day has three top-10 finishes here in the last five years, including a runner-up in 2010 and a T-3 finish in 2011.

2. Rory McIlroy: He has played only once since his ankle injury, but McIlroy should be able to thrive on a course where he won a shootout in 2012. The Ulsterman played pretty well at Whistling Straits, all things considered, and his T-5 finish last year was highlighted by a third-round 64. TPC Boston sets up well for his lengthy carry off the tee and aggressive iron play.

3. Jordan Spieth: Spieth enters off a rare missed cut, but that was his first finish outside the top 10 since May. His record at TPC Boston is highlighted by a final-round 62 in 2013 that cemented his spot on the Presidents Cup team, and while he had a somewhat middling performance last year, the chances of Spieth putting up back-to-back duds seem pretty low.

4. Henrik Stenson: The Swede was unable to catch Day last week, but Stenson now has three straight top-25 finishes and appears to be rounding into form as his favorite part of the season approaches. Stenson won here two years ago, firing 66-66 over the final two rounds, and he leads the Tour in both total driving and GIR percentage.

5. Brooks Koepka: In his last chance to impress captain Jay Haas, Koepka will look to bounce back from a missed cut that ended his run of seven straight top-20 finishes. His record this season speaks for itself, and the low scores expected this week in Boston resemble the ones seen earlier this year in Phoenix, where Koepka notched his breakthrough win.

6. Dustin Johnson: Johnson finished T-9 at Plainfield after a T-7 finish at the PGA Championship, and appears to be peaking at the right time. His record at this event includes a T-4 finish in both 2009 and 2012, and Johnson remains among the Tour leaders in both scoring average (fifth) and birdie average (sixth).

7. Justin Thomas: The rookie has been on the cusp of a breakthrough all season long, and it just might come this week. His T-16 finish at The Barclays was his 14th top-25 finish this season, and Thomas ranks seventh this season in birdie average heading into a course where rounds in the mid-60s will be needed to contend.

8. Justin Rose: The Englishman remains on a tear, with six top-20 finishes over his last seven starts including a T-16 finish last week. He ranks inside the top 10 in a number of ball-striking categories, but his record at TPC Boston - only one top-50 finish in his last six appearances - could be a reason for concern.

9. Bubba Watson: Watson scored another close call at Plainfield, his third top-three finish in his last four starts. Dating back to his win at the Travelers, he has five top-25 finishes in six starts, and he leads the Tour in total strokes gained. In nine trips to TPC Boston, though, he has yet to crack the top 10.

10. Zach Johnson: Johnson finished T-4 at The Barclays, his fifth finish of sixth or better in his last eight starts. The Open champ has struggled to crack TPC Boston, with a best finish of T-13 way back in 2004, but he has finished inside the top 30 in five of the last six years, showing that all is not exactly lost. 

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.