Power Rankings: 2017 Dean & DeLuca Invitational

By Will GrayMay 24, 2017, 12:42 pm

The PGA Tour remains in the Lone Star State this week for the Dean & DeLuca Invitational. A field of 121 players will tackle Colonial Country Club, the famed home of Ben Hogan and site of the "Horrible Horseshoe."

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.

Jordan Spieth won this event last year by three shots over Harris English. Here are 10 players to watch in Fort Worth:

1. Jon Rahm: One poor round at TPC Sawgrass isn't strong enough reason to downgrade Rahm's chances this week. The Spaniard remains on a tear during his first full season on Tour, including a win at Torrey Pines, and was in contention at the Players before ballooning during the third round in an effort that will certainly prove to be the exception rather than the rule.

2. Jordan Spieth: Spieth enters off two straight missed cuts, but Colonial could cure what ails him. It's a venue where he feels comfortable and one where he held on for a much-needed victory last spring. Spieth is back to his old putter after a 36-hole audition with a new weapon, and if a few putts roll in his confidence could rebound quickly amid partisan crowds.

3. Sergio Garcia: The Masters champ won here back in 2001, but he hasn't returned since a pair of top-20 finishes in 2011 and 2012. Garcia has played his way into contention each of the last two weeks only to fade on Sunday, but that final-round trend could end on a layout that should reward his tee-to-green precision.

4. Ryan Palmer: Palmer is a member at Colonial and has come close to winning the event in recent years, with top-5 finishes in three of the last five years. That stretch includes a T-3 finish last year, and Palmer returns home having finished T-11 at the RBC Heritage and T-6 at the Valero Texas Open just a few weeks ago.

5. Kevin Kisner: Kisner is twice a runner-up this season, including a team playoff loss at Zurich, but that coveted second win could come this week on a course where he finished T-5 in 2015 and T-10 a year ago. Kisner is 15th on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green and should be able to thrive amid the cozy confines of Colonial.

6. Jason Dufner: Dufner has long listed Colonial as one of his favorite tracks, and he's twice a runner-up there including a playoff loss to Adam Scott in 2014. The former PGA champ also finished T-6 at Colonial last year and was T-13 just last week across the Metroplex at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

7. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar made another Sunday climb up the leaderboard last week en route to a T-9 finish at the Nelson, his third such final-round move since the Masters. While he hasn't won in more than three years, he's been a regular contender at this event including a runner-up finish in 2013 and a T-6 finish last year.

8. Tony Finau: Finau may be known for his prowess off the tee, but he showed with a T-5 finish at Innisbrook that he can contend on tight layouts as well. Finau is fourth this season on Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green, battled back from an opening-round 75 to finish T-13 last week and has cracked the top 35 in each of his two prior Colonial appearances.

9. Bud Cauley: Cauley may quietly be the hottest player on Tour. His T-5 finish last week was his fourth straight top-10 finish, a run that also includes a T-9 finish at Harbour Town, a T-10 finish at Valero and a T-5 result at Zurich alongside Justin Thomas. When he last played Colonial, Cauley finished T-14 (2013) and T-21 (2014).

10. Zach Johnson: The two-time major champ has been largely quiet this season, but this is the type of venue that could offer a spark. Johnson won at Colonial in both 2010 and 2012, highlights amid a five-year run where he never finished outside the top 10. He added a T-17 finish last year and tied for 18th three weeks ago at Eagle Point.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."