Power Rankings: 2017 Tour Championship

By Will GraySeptember 20, 2017, 3:50 pm

The PGA Tour heads south to Atlanta this week for the Tour Championship. A field of 30 players will tackle East Lake Golf Club, where one player will leave with the FedExCup.

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.

Rory McIlroy won this event last year in a playoff over Ryan Moore. Here are 10 names to watch in Georgia:

1. Justin Rose: This could be Rose's chance to lift the hardware at East Lake after a number of near-misses. The Englishman is peaking at just the right time, with three straight top-10 finishes including a BMW runner-up, and has finished T-6 or better in each of his last four trips to the Tour Championship including a pair of runner-ups.

2. Jordan Spieth: Spieth enters as the top seed in the season-long race, and rightfully so. After opening the postseason with a pair of runner-ups, Spieth put up bookend rounds of 65 at Conway Farms and now returns to the course where he won it all just two years ago. He also finished second here as a rookie in 2013.

3. Justin Thomas: Thomas has the inside track on Player of the Year honors, and he could put it on ice with a strong performance at East Lake. Thomas finished T-6 last year in his debut appearance and now returns having reeled off five wins since, including a major and a victory at TPC Boston just three weeks ago.

4. Marc Leishman: Leishman is arguably the hottest player on Tour right now, having followed a close call at TPC Boston with a wire-to-wire, five-shot win last week outside Chicago. The Aussie hasn't played the Tour Championship since his rookie season of 2009 but he is chock full of confidence and seems to be following the path Billy Horschel took to winning the FedExCup in 2014.

5. Dustin Johnson: The world No. 1 nearly captured the season-long title last year, and he is the only player besides Rose in this week's field with four straight top-10 finishes at East Lake. That stretch includes a tie for sixth last year, and Johnson broke out of a mini-rut just a few weeks ago with his dramatic playoff win at The Northern Trust.

6. Rickie Fowler: Fowler has had a remarkably consistent season, but one that has included only a single trophy. He could change that this week after a runner-up finish at the BMW Championship kept him at No. 6 in the points race and within a whisker of ensuring he'll win the FedExCup with a win in the season finale. Don't be surprised if his trophy haul quickly increases from one to three.

7. Paul Casey: The Englishman has become rather deadly in the postseason, and this week should prove no different. Casey has cracked the top 5 in each of his last three trips to East Lake, including a T-5 finish in 2015 and a T-4 result last year, and was riding an overall top-5 streak of five straight playoff starts before last week's T-33 finish.

8. Jason Day: The Aussie appeared headed for another win at Conway Farms last week before Leishman raced past him, but he's still accruing momentum at a critical juncture. Day's switch to friend Luke Reardon at caddie appeared to pay quick dividends, and despite withdrawing from this event last year he has three top-10 finishes in his last five trips.

9. Sergio Garcia: The Masters champ snuck into the 30-man field in dramatic fashion, but now he gets to tackle a course where he has four top-10 finishes in five prior appearances during the FedExCup era. That includes a runner-up in 2008, and he enters off a T-12 finish that serves as his best worldwide result since May.

10. Patrick Cantlay: After starting the year on a major medical extension, Cantlay has fought all the way to the season finale and now has a chance to snatch Rookie of the Year honors away from Xander Schauffele with a strong performance. Cantlay hasn't missed a cut all year and won't this week, and he appears likely to rack up four straight top-15 finishes in his first run through the playoffs.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

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 6 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."