Power Rankings: 2015 FedEx St. Jude Classic

By Will GrayJune 10, 2015, 3:48 pm

The 31st event of the wraparound season is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Tennessee for the FedEx St. Jude Classic. A field of 156 will tackle TPC Southwind, where low scores are expected in droves.

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Ben Crane won this event a year ago over Troy Merritt. Here are 10 players to watch in Memphis:

1. Dustin Johnson: Johnson enters this week as a clear-cut favorite, with six top-10 finishes in 12 starts this season including a win in Miami. He has three top-20 finishes in his last four starts, notably a T-13 finish last week at the Memorial, and his three trips to Memphis include a win in 2012 and no result outside the top 25.

2. Ryan Palmer: Palmer is among the Tour's best when it comes to making birdies in bunches, and scores tend to go low each year in Memphis. Palmer finished T-10 in Dallas in his most recent start, currently sits fifth on Tour in scoring average and contended at this event in both 2012 (T-3) and 2013 (fourth). 

3. Billy Horschel: Horschel quietly left Memorial with a T-11 finish, his third straight top-20 result. He appears to be comfortable at TPC Southwind, with top-10 finishes each of the last two years, and as his run to the FedEx Cup showed last season, he is prone to hot streaks that can stretch for weeks.

4. Phil Mickelson: Lefty has shown a recent knack for peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open, chasing his T-2 finish in 2013 at this event with a T-11 result last year. While he only has two top-10 finishes this season and struggled at Muirfield Village, Mickelson is looking to knock the rust off in advance of the U.S. Open and seems to enjoy the steamy challenge of TPC Southwind.

5. Brooks Koepka: Koepka won earlier this year in Phoenix, another ballpark with plenty of room and one that required going low. He finished T-19 last year in his Memphis debut, carding bookend rounds of 67, and he is seventh this season in the all-around ranking and 12th in scoring average.

6. Harris English: English notched his maiden win here in 2013, and he returns in need of another big result to earn one of the last spots in the field for the U.S. Open. English has six top-25 finishes this season, including a trio of top-10 results, and he finished T-18 last week at the Memorial with four straight rounds of par or better.

7. Webb Simpson: Simpson is teeing it up for the first time since a runner-up finish at the Wells Fargo Championship, and he finished T-3 at this event last year in his first appearance since 2010. His lone missed cut this season came back in February and he has cracked the top 25 in exactly half of his 12 starts. 

8. Charles Howell III: Howell finished T-31 last week at the Memorial, highlighted by a second-round 66, and his record at this event includes three top-30 finishes over the last four years. Howell is 20th on Tour in GIR percentage and should create plenty of birdie opportunities this week,

9. Camilo Villegas: Villegas has struggled this year but always seems to find his form in Memphis. He has four top-11 finishes over the last five years at TPC Southwind, highlighted by a T-3 finish in 2011, and he did get back into the winner's circle last year in Greensboro.  

10. Luke Donald: Donald is making his first appearance at this event, buoyed by his result Monday in U.S. Open qualifying. While he has been on a downward slide over the last year and a half, the Englishman may have found an extra bit of confidence and appears to possess the game of a player who can capitalize on TPC Southwind. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.