Power Rankings: Deutsche Bank Championship

By Will GrayAugust 27, 2013, 8:03 pm

This week, the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin their second leg as TPC Boston hosts the Deutsche Bank Championship. The top 100 players remaining in the FedEx Cup race will need to remain aggressive on a course expected to yield low scores, with only the top 70 players advancing to next month's BMW Championship.

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Rory McIlroy returns to defend the title he won by one shot in a shootout last year over Louis Oosthuizen. Here are 10 players to watch this week in New England:

1. Adam Scott: Fresh off his win in New Jersey, the new world No. 2 heads to a course where he has finished inside the top eight each of the last three years. The Aussie won the inaugural edition of this event in 2003 and has broken 70 in 10 of his last 12 competitive rounds at TPC Boston.

2. Tiger Woods: Assuming his back is healthy enough to let him play, Woods will likely be a force this week in Norton. A winner here in 2006, Woods was also co-runner-up in both 2004 and 2007 and has finished T-11 or better in each of his last four starts in this event. Coming off his tie for second at Liberty National, there's reason to think that trend will continue should his body hold up for 72 holes.

3. Justin Rose: Rose's tie for second last week was his best result since his U.S. Open triumph in June. The Englishman now heads to TPC Boston ranked second on Tour in total driving and third in scoring average, appearing poised to break out of a recent drought in this event that dates back to his tie for fourth in 2006.

4. Rory McIlroy: Though his 2013 season has not gone according to plan, McIlroy demonstrated last year that TPC Boston is a venue upon which he can thrive. The Ulsterman backed up his T-8 finish at Oak Hill with a tie for 19th last week and has begun to demonstrate some consistency, having carded 12 straight rounds of 72 or better since missing the cut at the British Open.

5. Brandt Snedeker: The reigning FedEx Cup champ missed the cut in New Jersey but clearly feels comfortable at TPC Boston, with three straight top-six finishes in this event. Arguably the best putter on Tour, Snedeker should remain on the short list of potential favorites any time a venue requires birdies in bunches, as is the case this week in Massachusetts.

6. Phil Mickelson: Though his Sunday rally at Liberty National fell just short, Mickelson's closing 65 gives him ample momentum heading into this week's event. The reigning Open champion leads the Tour in birdie average and has considerable success at TPC Boston, with top-10 finishes in each of the past two years to go along with his win in 2007.

7. Zach Johnson: Having skipped last week's event, Johnson will look to continue a streak of five straight top-10 finishes that dates back to the John Deere Classic last month. The former Masters champ has made a considerable late-season surge, one that he will need to maintain in order to hold on to his current position in the Presidents Cup standings (10th) during the final week of qualification.

8. Henrik Stenson: Though he faded over the weekend after an opening 65 at Liberty National, Stenson remains one of the hottest golfers on Tour, with four top-three finishes in his last five worldwide starts. The Swede currently leads the Tour in GIR percentage while ranking third in total driving and fourth in scoring average.

9. Jim Furyk: Furyk's tie for sixth in New Jersey was his fourth straight top-10 finish, a streak that includes his near-miss at the PGA Championship. With eyes on making the Presidents Cup roster, Furyk tees it up this week on a course where he has finished T-13 or better four of the last five years.

10. Jordan Spieth: Though he's 26th in the U.S. Presidents Cup standings, Spieth will likely look to make one last positive impression this week on Fred Couples in hopes of a captain's pick. After following up his runner-up in Greensboro with a tie for 19th at The Barclays, it's a safe bet that the Texan will extend his impressive rookie campaign with another high finish.

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Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.