Power Rankings: 2017 BMW Championship

By Will GraySeptember 13, 2017, 3:09 am

The PGA Tour heads west to Chicago this week for the BMW Championship. A field of 70 players will tackle Conway Farms Golf Club, with only the top 30 in the points race advancing to the season-ending Tour Championship.

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.

Dustin Johnson won this event last year by three shots over Paul Casey at Crooked Stick. Here are 10 names to watch outside Chicago:

1. Jordan Spieth: It feels like it's only a matter of time. In a season that has already included three wins and a major, Spieth is once again circling another trophy after opening the postseason with two runner-up finishes. He is one of three players in the field who cracked the top 20 at Conway Farms in both 2013 and 2015.

2. Justin Thomas: Thomas had a week off following his convincing win at TPC Boston, but don't expect the PGA champ to slow down. He is a far different player than he was two years ago, when he tied for 13th at Conway Farms, and has barely missed a beat since his major breakthrough last month at Quail Hollow.

3. Dustin Johnson: The world No. 1 started the playoffs with a win, and he is now on a run of five straight top-20 finishes. That stretch is likely to continue against a limited field on a course where Johnson tied for seventh two years ago and should once again be able to utilize his advantage off the tee.

4. Jason Day: The Aussie destroyed the field at Conway Farms two years ago when he was at the height of his powers, and he finished T-4 here back in 2013. Day has had a relatively middling season but has also started to turn things around in recent weeks, notably a T-9 finish at the PGA and a T-6 finish at The Northern Trust.

5. Rickie Fowler: Fowler continues to have perhaps the most consistent season of his career, and while the Honda Classic remains his lone win it has certainly not been his only strong week. Given his T-4 finish at Conway Farms two years ago, there's reason to think that Fowler will factor once again this week.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom has gotten off to a relatively slow start in the playoffs, but that could turn around this week on a course where he tied for seventh back in 2015. Matsuyama is only a few weeks removed from a dazzling performance at Firestone where he routed a similarly elite field.

7. Paul Casey: The Englishman is on a postseason tear, with five straight top-5 finishes in playoff events dating back to last year. Casey hasn't won in the U.S. since the 2009 Shell Houston Open, but he remains in prime form and now will hit the course after his wife welcomed their second child over the weekend.

8. Jon Rahm: Rahm is hoping to cling to a coveted spot in the top 5 in the points race heading into next week's finale, and in order to do that he'll again need to shine while making his course debut. It hasn't fazed the Spaniard to date, including top-5 finishes at each of the first two playoff stops.

9. Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay remains a fantasy sleeper, but perhaps not for much longer. The former amateur standout hasn't missed a single cut this year in his return from a lengthy injury break, including top-15 finishes in each of the last two events. Don't be surprised to see his name near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

10. Justin Rose: Rose opened his postseason with back-to-back top-10 finishes and now arrives at a venue where his ball-striking advantage should pay dividends. The Englishman tied for 13th in Lake Forest two years ago and could use this week to boost his standing heading into East Lake.

Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.