Power Rankings: 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson

By Will GrayMay 16, 2017, 8:21 pm

The 2017 fantasy golf season heads west this week, as the focus of the golf world shifts to the Lone Star State for the AT&T Byron Nelson. A field of 156 players will tackle TPC Four Seasons Resort at Las Colinas, which has hosted this event since 1983.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Sergio Garcia won this event last year in a playoff over Brooks Koepka. Here are 10 players to watch in Irving:

1. Brooks Koepka: Perhaps it's a slight stretch to rank Koepka ahead of the current world No. 1, but Koepka held the 54-hole lead last year en route to a playoff loss and his bomb-and-gouge game has found a home at this event. After a slow start to the year, Koepka has now quietly compiled five straight top-20 finishes including a T-16 finish last week at TPC Sawgrass.

2. Dustin Johnson: Johnson didn't really factor last week, but he still left Ponte Vedra Beach with a T-12 finish to continue his current run of impressive results. Johnson has cracked 70 in 11 of his last 12 rounds at this event and finished inside the top 20 in six straight starts in Dallas, a run that dates back to 2009.

3. Sergio Garcia: The defending champ returns to Irving equipped with a green jacket and will make just his second start since his major breakthrough. While a Sunday 78 dropped him into a tie for 30th last week, Garcia played well for large stretches last week and should once again be able to thrive on the Four Seasons layout.

4. Jordan Spieth: The local favorite finished T-16 here as a 16-year-old amateur making his PGA Tour debut in 2010, but he hasn't bettered that result since. Spieth was in the mix through 54 holes last year before a final-round 74, and he should be able to contend this week despite missing the cut at The Players for the third straight year.

5. Charley Hoffman: Hoffman is perhaps more well-known for his strong run of form in San Antonio, but his Dallas track record isn't too shabby. The veteran has finished T-12 or better in each of his last three appearances, with four top-10 finishes dating back to 2006. He was a runner-up at Bay Hill and cracked the top 30 at both the Masters and Players.

6. Jason Day: The Aussie returns to the site of his first PGA Tour win back in 2010, but it's now been more than a year since he lifted a trophy of any kind. Day plummeted down the standings with a final-round 80 at TPC Sawgrass, and this will be his first start in Dallas since 2013. The confidence that took him to world No. 1 last year appears to be lacking.

7. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar hasn't won in more than three years, but he's been a regular contender at this event. He finished one shot out of a playoff last year, T-7 in 2014 and has four top-15 finishes over his last six appearances. Kuchar used Sunday charges to move up the standings recently at both the Masters (T-4) and RBC Heritage (T-11).

8. Jason Dufner: Dufner earned the second of four career wins at this event back in 2012, and he has cracked the top 25 in four of his last six appearances. The former PGA champ has been a top-25 machine in recent months, with seven such results in his last 10 starts dating back to the CareerBuilder Challenge in January.

9. Ryan Palmer: Palmer is a DFW resident with plenty of experience in this neck of the woods, with three top-10 finishes here since 2011. That includes a runner-up finish six years ago, and Palmer currently ranks eighth on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green and had a run of three straight top-11 finishes interrupted by a missed cut last week.

10. Kevin Tway: Tway didn't qualify for the Players, which may have been the only way to slow him down. His recent run includes a T-3 finish at Valero, third-place showing at Zurich alongside Kelly Kraft and a T-5 finish at Wells Fargo. Tway is in the midst of some of the best golf of his career and now ranks 23rd on Tour in strokes gained off-the-tee.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm