Power Rankings: 2017 PGA Championship

By Will GrayAugust 9, 2017, 1:27 pm

The PGA Tour heads south this week for the PGA Championship. A field of 156 players will tackle Quail Hollow Club, which is hosting the season's final major for the first time.

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.

Jimmy Walker won this event last year by one shot over Jason Day. Here are 10 names to watch in Charlotte:

1. Rory McIlroy: Given the choice between two clear favorites, I'll side with the Quail Hollow specialist. McIlroy has won twice here and lost in a playoff among six starts, and he has had this week circled since it was first announced years ago. Top-5 finishes at both Royal Birkdale and Firestone show that his game may be peaking just in time to save his season.

2. Jordan Spieth: Spieth hasn't played Quail since 2013, and the course has undergone significant changes since. But you can't deny the heater he's currently on, as Spieth continues to ride the momentum from his dramatic Open victory. The Grand Slam pressure will ratchet up if he's still in contention come the weekend, but it's a spotlight he's handled before.

3. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese sensation put on a clinic during the final round in Akron, tying the course record and routing the field with a seemingly effortless 61. Matsuyama played Quail Hollow three straight years from 2014-16, improving his finish each time including a T-11 result last year.

4. Rickie Fowler: Fowler and Matsuyama are the top candidates for best player without a major, a title Fowler nearly shed at the PGA three years ago. He's had a rock-solid season in 2017, highlighted by his win at the Honda Classic and including five top-10 finishes in his last seven worldwide starts.

5. Dustin Johnson: The world No. 1 hasn't been quite the same player since his back injury at the Masters, but he certainly has the tools to take advantage of a soggy layout this week in Charlotte. Johnson notched a top-10 finish two weeks ago in Canada, and while he hasn't played Quail Hollow since a missed cut in 2011 he still leads the Tour in total strokes gained.

6. Brooks Koepka: The U.S. Open champ has quietly compiled a stellar run of finishes in majors, finishing T-21 or better in each of his last nine major starts. That includes a T-6 finish at Royal Birkdale in his first start since Erin Hills, and Koepka will now make his Quail Hollow debut after cracking the top 5 in the PGA each of the last two years.

7. Jason Day: The former world No. 1 has been a shell of his former self this year, but he tends to bring his best to the season's final major. Day broke through to win two years ago at Whistling Straits and nearly pulled off the double last year, when he was a runner-up at Baltusrol. He tied for ninth in 2012 in his most recent visit to Quail Hollow.

8. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson hasn't won anywhere since lifting the claret jug more than four years ago, but he has a history of feasting on Quail Hollow. The southpaw has finished T-5 or better six times here since 2007, and while that stretch does not include a win it shows that even at age 47 he's a likely contender this week.

9. Charley Hoffman: Hoffman contended into the final round of the Masters, and in recent weeks he has been playing some of the best golf of anyone not named Spieth. Hoffman's playoff loss in Canada highlights a run of four top-10 finishes in his last six starts, a stretch that has vaulted him into the mix for the Presidents Cup and should continue this week.

10. Jon Rahm: The Spaniard has cooled somewhat since his decisive victory at the Irish Open, but the potential remains for him to break through once again on a big stage. He's one of several big names making their debut this week at Quail Hollow, but Rahm leads the Tour in strokes gained off the tee and sits third in total strokes gained this season.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Woods happy to help Furyk at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:58 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods didn't hesitate when Jim Furyk asked him to become a vice captain at the upcoming Ryder Cup.

Woods said Wednesday that Furyk asked he and Steve Stricker “a while ago” whether they were interested in being assistants in Paris as the Americans try to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Woods said of Furyk, “and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I’m there to help him. We’re worked well the last couple of years in the cups together.”

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Though Woods has said that he wants to be a playing vice captain, he has been an assistant at each of the past two international team competitions.

Furyk, Woods and Stricker were all assistants at Hazeltine, where the U.S. won in a rout.

“Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical, and he’s just a fantastic leader,” Woods said. “For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.”

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Woods to hit '4 or 5' drivers each day at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:25 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Those hoping Tiger Woods will wield the driver early and often this week at PGA National likely will be disappointed.

Depending on wind direction, he said he will only hit “four or five” drivers each round.

During Wednesday’s pro-am, Woods hit driver on six holes. He found two fairways with the big stick and found the right rough four times, though a few of those misses were only a few yards off the fairway.

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In two starts this year, Woods has struggled mightily with every club off the tee, but driver has been especially troublesome. He has found only 36 percent of the fairways so far (30 of 84).

The Champion Course here is a par 70, with water and bunkers often lining the fairways. Putting the ball in play off the tee will be at a premium, and so Woods opted for a low, penetrating 2-iron six times in the pro-am.

Woods said he did not make any equipment changes following the missed cut at Riviera.

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TT postscript: One birdie in casual pro-am round

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:15 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are a few observations after watching Tiger Woods’ pro-am round Wednesday at the Honda Classic:

• As expected, the stress level was minimal at PGA National. He had a short warmup (considering it was still freakin’ dark when he was about to tee it up, at 6:45 a.m.) and generally took little time contemplating shots, except for a few clubs off the tee.

• Tiger spent a lot of time chipping, pitching and putting after completing a hole. No surprise there. He didn’t play a practice round Monday or Tuesday, and he hasn’t competed here since 2014. Gotta get in that work.

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• He hit six drivers Wednesday. That’s probably one or two more than he will in competition, depending on wind direction. Two of those drives found the fairway. The other four were varying degrees off-line in the right rough, none more wild than his push slice on the difficult sixth hole that was probably 60 yards right. At least it was playable over there – water runs all the way down the left side.

• It’s not quite a stinger, but he hit more than a few 2-iron shots off the tee, with a sweet, little draw. That’ll play quite nicely here.

• We said it for a few rounds at Torrey Pines, and then again for one day at Riviera, but here goes: Woods appears to have taken the left side of the course out of play. Whether that remains true after playing under “game speed” this week, who knows?

• Woods made only one birdie, after getting up and down out of the greenside bunker on the par-5 third. His pro-am stat line, for those interested: 7 of 14 fairways, 12 greens and 31 putts and shot around 2 over. Again, he was not really trying.

• Best shot of the day? His fairway-bunker shot on the sixth hole (while playing his second ball). He skied a mid-iron from 187 yards to kick-in range. A little more of that, please.