Power Rankings: 2015 John Deere Classic

By Will GrayJuly 7, 2015, 12:20 pm

The 35th event of the wraparound season is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Illinois for the John Deere Classic. A field of 156 will tackle TPC Deere Run, which has been the site of plenty of final-round heroics in recent years.

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

Brian Harman won this event a year ago by one shot over Zach Johnson. Here are 10 players to watch in Silvis:

1. Jordan Spieth: No better place to begin this list than with Spieth, who earned his breakthrough win here in 2013 and finished T-7 last year in defense of his title. After a second major win at Chambers Bay in his last start, Spieth has no shortage of confidence and will be the man to watch this week.

2. Zach Johnson: This is always a tournament the Iowa native circles on his schedule. Johnson won here in 2012 and has finished second each of the last two years, with a T-3 finish in 2011 preceding his victory. He enters with plenty of form, with eight top-20 finishes over his last 10 starts including a sixth-place showing at the Travelers Championship.

3. Kevin Kisner: Kisner still hasn't cracked the winner's circle, but he is still having an incredible season. The Greenbrier marked his third playoff loss in the last 12 weeks, and Kisner has now rattled off six top-15 finishes in his last eight starts dating back to the RBC Heritage.

4. Steve Stricker: It wasn't very long ago that this was a spot where fantasy golfers circled Stricker months in advance. He won here three straight times from 2009-11, and hasn't finished worse than T-11 since 2006. While he doesn't have much momentum after a MC at The Greenbrier, Stricker always seems to find his footing at TPC Deere Run.

5. Tony Finau: The long-hitting rookie just continues to impress. Finau finished T-13 at The Greenbrier and has now reeled off seven straight top-25 finishes dating back to the Wells Fargo Championship. Finau has 19 of 28 rounds in the 60s during that stretch, and he ranks 14th in birdie average.

6. Robert Streb: Streb's playoff loss at The Greenbrier was his fourth top-25 finish in his last five starts. Now equipped with all 14 clubs after putting with a wedge during the final round last week, Streb should continue his recent run of form. He ranks 15th in GIR percentage and 19th in total strokes gained. 

7. Justin Thomas: Thomas held sole possession of the lead with 10 holes to go at The Greenbrier, and while he collapsed coming home he demonstrated that he has shown that he has the chops to contend on the PGA Tour. The rookie has six top-10 finishes, ranks seventh on Tour in the all-around and 11th in birdie average.

8. Steven Bowditch: The Aussie hasn't slowed since his win in Dallas, and has now put together four top-25 finishes across his last five starts after a T-13 result in West Virginia. Bowditch finished T-12 in Silvis in 2013 and followed with a T-11 finish last year that included an opening-round 64.

9. Ryan Moore: Moore has become a regular presence on the John Deere leaderboards, with three straight top-25 finishes including last year's T-7 result. The veteran won earlier this year in Malaysia and has eight top-25 finishes to his credit, including a T-18 finish at the Memorial.

10. Chad Campbell: Campbell has shown a bit of mid-season form, with a pair of top-25s followed by a T-37 finish at The Greenbrier, and he has a strong track record at TPC Deere Run. Campbell has cracked the top 15 each of the last two years and has four such results over the past seven years.

Getty Images

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

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

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.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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.