Rankings: Donald Do-over?

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2011, 11:28 am

Here are GolfChannel.com’s Power Rankings, the top 10 favorites for the RBC Canadian Open:

1. Luke Donald: Third at this event last year and after a lukewarm U.S. Open (T-45) and missed cut at the Open Championship, the world No. 1 – whose game is built on consistency – has some motivation to play well.

2. Matt Kuchar: Has eight top-8s in 16 starts this year, which is why his way-off-the-mark performance – an 11-over 36-hole total – at Royal St. George's was such a surprise. Kooch was playing well preceding the trip overseas, however, so now back on an American-style course – in Canada – look for a speedy recovery.

3. Anthony Kim: Rumored signs of recent progress confirmed by his strong T-5 showing in England, maybe AK's back. Time will of course tell, but he's a player who thrives off of motivation and momentum, so look for Kim to put the pedal to the metal this week.

4. Rickie Fowler: Impressed many at Royal St. George's after sustaining some of the worst weather of the top finishers en route to his T-5 finish – his best in a major yet – so don't be surprised if Fowler holds a Tour trophy sometime soon.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Already got the job done at The Heritage this year – his second Tour win – and he has two top-7 finishes at this storied event in his still-young career. Currently 20th in the All-Around ranking, Sneds should handle the event's new home in Vancouver just fine.

6. Jim Furyk: The 2006 and 2007 RBC Canadian Open champ has been struggling of late. Four missed cuts in his last five events come as an unexplainable oddity for the reigning FedEx Cup champion. Is this the week he breaks his slump?

7. Hunter Mahan: Seven top-10s this year show Mahan's game is coming of age. But missed cuts last week at the Open Championship and last month at the U.S. Open, filled by mediocre finishes at the Travelers and AT&T (T-43, T-30), also show he's not on form at the moment.

8. Carl Pettersson: The defending champ shot a third-round 60 en route to his one-stroke win over Dean Wilson, but with a new course comes new rules – and only a sentimental vote for the Swede, considering his mediocre 62nd-place standing in the FedEx Cup this year.

9. Paul Casey: Considering the Englishman made over $3.6 million on Tour last year, 2011 has been an anomaly, with no top-10s in just nine starts and a mere $378,575 to his credit. Still, Casey got the nod from our panel this week because, like Mahan, he's a marquee name and sooner or later the big names play well.

10. Charl Schwartzel: Considering his 1st, T-9 and T-16 finishes at the majors in 2011, it's a surprise The Masters champ didn't draw more respect from the panelists. But, has respect of who should play well accounted for anything this year?

Note: This list is compiled from rankings submitted by members of GolfChannel.com's editorial team, based on who is most expected to contend in each upcoming event.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.