Power Rankings: 2017 Wells Fargo Championship

By Will GrayMay 2, 2017, 11:50 am

The 2017 fantasy golf season heads east this week, as the focus of the golf world shifts to the Tar Heel State for the Wells Fargo Championship. A field of 144 players will tackle Eagle Point Golf Club, which is hosting the event 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.

James Hahn won this event last year in a playoff over Roberto Castro. Here are 10 players to watch in Wilmington:

1. Dustin Johnson: Johnson makes his much-anticipated return from injury this week and will make his first start since winning the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. He won that tournament of course, just as he did his prior two starts, and deserves to be a favorite in a moderately weak field despite any lingering concerns about rust.

2. Jon Rahm: The Spaniard has been cruising since his breakthrough win at Torrey Pines in January, with no finish worse than his T-27 result at the Masters. After taking three weeks off, he'll get back to action on a venue where his lack of course knowledge is neutralized by a new venue - not that it's exactly slowed him down elsewhere this year.

3. Kevin Kisner: Kisner nearly willed a victory for him and Scott Brown at the Zurich Classic before falling short in a Monday playoff. But he's familiar in the southeast, often plays some of his best golf here and now has contended three times this spring. A runner-up finish at Bay Hill and a T-11 finish at Harbour Town show that another win is close.

4. Phil Mickelson: Lefty has been a mainstay at this event since its inception, but he'll be starting from scratch just like everyone else with the shift to Eagle Point. But he has six top-25 finishes in nine starts since coming back from hernia surgery, a solid run of consistency for a player still looking for his first win in nearly four years.

5. Adam Scott: After Johnson, Scott is the next highest-ranked player in this week's field at No. 11 in the world. His typically strong ball-striking stats have taken a bit of a dip this season, but the Aussie finished T-9 at the Masters in his most recent start and heads to North Carolina rested after three weeks off.

6. Daniel Berger: Berger's missed cut last week alongside Thomas Pieters at Zurich was certainly a surprise given the form with which he entered the week. Berger won last year in Memphis and has top-10 finishes in both Houston and Phoenix this season. He enters this week ranked 15th on Tour in birdie average, so he should have no trouble adding circles to his scorecard.

7. Wesley Bryan: Bryan makes his first individual start since winning the RBC Heritage last month. That victory at Harbour Town was certainly no fluke given his prior opportunities at Riviera and PGA National, and the rookie clearly thrives when tee-to-green proficiency is required. With four top-10s in his last six starts, confidence is clearly not a concern.

8. Paul Casey: The Englishman continues to quietly contend, his latest effort being a T-6 finish at Augusta National. Casey hasn't won on Tour since 2009 but he has been a consistent challenger this season, with T-16 or better in four of his last five starts overall. He boasts a strong stat line that includes 16th in strokes gained tee-to-green and sixth in strokes gained around-the-green.

9. William McGirt: Webb Simpson will get plenty of attention this week as an Eagle Point member, but McGirt may be the local to keep an eye on. He has shown no signs of regression after notching his first win last year at the Memorial, and now he returns to his native state on a run of three straight top-25s that includes a T-22 finish in his Masters debut and a T-3 finish at Harbour Town.

10. Bud Cauley: After injury stalled his early rise as a pro, Cauley appears to have found his footing. Top-10 finishes in each of his last two individual starts show that the former Alabama product is ready to contend, and he made it three in a row last week by teaming with Justin Thomas for a T-5 finish in New Orleans.

Getty Images

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."

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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