Power Rankings: 2015 Tour Championship

By Will GraySeptember 23, 2015, 2:47 pm

The 47th event of the season - and the fourth event of the postseason - is upon us, as the PGA Tour heads to Georgia for the Tour Championship. A field of 29 will tackle East Lake Golf Club, with winner potentially taking home the season-long FedEx Cup.

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Billy Horschel won this event a year over Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy. Here are 10 players to watch in Atlanta:

1. Jason Day: No better place to start than the current world No. 1. Day is the hottest player on the planet, has won two playoff events by six shots apiece and now has the FedEx Cup within his sights. The Aussie has won four out of his last six starts overall and finished T-4 at East Lake a year ago.

2. Henrik Stenson: A winner here in 2013, Stenson has been largely overshadowed by Day's recent form, but the Swede is playing well at the right time. He enters with three straight top-10 finishes, including a pair of runner-ups, and leads the Tour in both GIR percentage and total strokes gained.

3. Justin Rose: Rose finished T-13 at the BMW Championship, his seventh top-20 finish in his last nine starts, and his East Lake record is a strong one. The Englishman has three straight top-six finishes at the season finale, including a runner-up finish in 2012.

4. Rory McIlroy: The Ulsterman tied for fourth at Conway Farms, and could finally be fully healthy after his ankle injury in July. McIlroy finished second a year ago, and after failing to win the FedEx Cup in 2012 despite a pair of postseason wins, he could turn the tables by stealing the trophy from Day.

5. Jordan Spieth: A win this week would cement Spieth's status as Player of the Year, but he finished T-27 last year including a third-round 80. That being said, he was a runner-up in 2013 during his Tour Championship debut and appears to have gotten his game back on track after a pair of missed cuts to open the playoffs.

6. Rickie Fowler: Fowler won three weeks ago at TPC Boston, and as a result he controls his own destiny this week at East Lake. Fowler chased his win with a T-4 finish last week in Chicago, and he finished eighth last year at East Lake.

7. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama remains quietly solid, opening the postseason with three straight top-25 finishes. While his East Lake debut didn't pan out well in 2014, he hits plenty of greens - a key to success on the par-70 track.

8. Kevin Kisner: The Georgia product is happy to be at the season finale, but don't expect him to rest on his laurels. Kisner plays much of his best golf in the south, and he opened the playoffs with a pair of top-20 finishes before a stumble last week at Conway Farms.

9. Zach Johnson: Johnson doesn't have a stellar track record at East Lake, but he does have plenty of experience. The two-time major champ is a regular at the season finale, and he has three straight top-25 finishes to his credit, including a T-13 finish at the BMW.

10. Dustin Johnson: The bomber missed out on the season finale last year, but he has the game to contend on a difficult track. Johnson has two top-10 finishes among his three postseason results, and is fifth on Tour in both birdie average and scoring average.

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Watch: 13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, part of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward the back-right hole location, about 25 feet away, closer than both Fleetwood and Johnson.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back after the opening round. He tied for second here a year ago.

Johnson is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."