Players Championship field: How they qualified

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 8, 2017, 7:00 pm

It's time for the 44th Players Championship. Here's a look at the field and how they qualified for a tee time at TPC Sawgrass.

Aaron Baddeley: Won 2016 Barbasol Champ., 69th in FedExCup last season

Blayne Barber: 101st in FedExCup last season

Ricky Barnes: 71st in FedExCup last season

Daniel Berger: Won 2016 FedEx St. Jude Cl., 26th in FedExCup last season

Zac Blair: 110th in FedExCup last season

Jonas Blixt: Won 2017 Zurich Classic, 107th in FedExCup last season

Jason Bohn: 97th in FedExCup last season

Keegan Bradley: 103rd in FedExCup last season

Scott Brown: 80th in FedExCup last season

Wesley Bryan: Won 2017 RBC Heritage, Led 2016 Web.com Tour Money List

Rafa Cabrera Bello: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

Chad Campbell: 73rd in FedExCup last season

Patrick Cantlay: Was on major medical, earned enough FedExCup points

Paul Casey: 5th in FedExCup last season

Roberto Castro: 22nd in FedExCup last season

Alex Cejka: 83rd in FedExCup last season

Greg Chalmers: Won 2016 Barracuda Champ.

Kevin Chappell: Won 2017 Valero Texas Open, 8th in FedExCup last season

K.J. Choi: 91st in FedExCup last season

Ben Crane: 117th in FedExCup last season

Jason Day: Defending Champion, 6th in FedExCup last season

Graham DeLaet: 120th in FedExCup last season

Luke Donald: 58th in FedExCup last season

Jason Dufner: 19th in FedExCup last season

Ernie Els: Won 2012 Open (last exempt year)

Harris English: 47th in FedExCup last season

Matt Every: Won 2015 Arnold Palmer Inv.

Derek Fathauer: 100th in FedExCup last season

Tony Finau: 45th in FedExCup last season

Ross Fisher: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

Matthew Fitzpatrick: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

Tommy Fleetwood: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

Rickie Fowler: Won 2015 Players, 2017 Honda Classic, 31st in FedExCup last season

Jim Furyk: 86th in FedExCup last season

Sergio Garcia: Won 2016 AT&T Byron Nelson, 2017 Masters

Robert Garrigus: 109th in FedExCup last season

Brian Gay: Was on major medical, earned enough FedExCup points

Lucas Glover: 106th in FedExCup last season

Fabian Gomez: 40th in FedExCup last season

Branden Grace: 41st in FedExCup last season

Cody Gribble: Won 2016 Sanderson Farms Champ.

Emiliano Grillo: 11th in FedExCup last season

Bill Haas: 46th in FedExCup last season

Adam Hadwin: Won 2017 Valspar Champ., 85th in FedExCup last season

James Hahn: 39th in FedExCup last season

Brian Harman: 53rd in FedExCup last season

Tyrrell Hatton: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

David Hearn: 56th in FedExCup last season

Russell Henley: Won 2017 Houston Open, 87th in FedExCup last season

Jim Herman: 42nd in FedExCup last season

Charley Hoffman: 44th in FedExCup last season

J.B. Holmes: 30th in FedExCup last season

Billy Horschel: 50th in FedExCup last season

Mark Hubbard: 115th in FedExCup last season

Mackenzie Hughes: Won 2016 RSM Classic

John Huh: 95th in FedExCup last season

Billy Hurley III: Won 2016 Quicken Loans Nat'l, 55th in FedExCup last season

Yuta Ikeda: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

Freddie Jacobson: 90th in FedExCup last season

Dustin Johnson: Six PGA Tour wins in last 12 months

Zach Johnson: Won 2015 Open, 57th in FedExCup last season

Sung Kang: 96th in FedExCup last season

Smylie Kaufman: 43rd in FedExCup last season

Martin Kaymer: Won 2014 Players

Jerry Kelly: 72nd in FedExCup last season

Michael Kim: 118th in FedExCup last season

Si Woo Kim: Won 2016 Wyndham Champ., 17th in FedExCup last season

Chris Kirk: 54th in FedExCup last season

Kevin Kisner: 23rd in FedExCup last season

Patton Kizzire: 82nd in FedExCup last season

Russell Knox: Won 2016 Travelers Champ., 10th in FedExCup last season

Brooks Koepka: 35th in FedExCup last season

Jason Kokrak: 33rd in FedExCup last season

Matt Kuchar: Won 2012 Players, 18th in FedExCup last season

Anirban Lahiri: 119th in FedExCup last season

Martin Laird: 77th in FedExCup last season

Bernhard Langer: Won Senior Players in each of the last three years

Danny Lee: 92nd in FedExCup last season

Marc Leishman: Won 2017 Arnold Palmer Inv., 68th FedExCup last season

Spencer Levin: 94th in FedExCup last season

David Lingmerth: Won 2015 Memorial Tournament, 67th FedExCup last season

Luke List: 122nd in FedExCup last season

Andrew Loupe: 113th in FedExCup last season

Jamie Lovemark: 49th in FedExCup last season

Shane Lowry: Won 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Inv., 102nd FedExCup last season

Peter Malnati: 104th in FedExCup last season

Ben Martin: 70th in FedExCup last season

Hideki Matsuyama: Two wins this season, 13th in FedExCup last season

Graeme McDowell: 48th in FedExCup last season

William McGirt: Won 2016 Memorial Tournament, 24th FedExCup last season

Rory McIlroy: Won 2016 FedExCup

Troy Merritt: 121st in FedExCup last season

Phil Mickelson: Won 2013 Open, 16th in FedExCup last season

Bryce Molder: 89th in FedExCup last season

Francesco Molinari: 111th in FedExCup last season

Ryan Moore: Won 2016 John Deere Classic, 7th in FedExCup last season

Grayson Murray: Led 2016 Web.com Tour Finals Money List

Kevin Na: 28th in FedExCup last season

Seung-Yul Noh: 125th in FedExCup last season

Alex Noren: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

Sean O' Hair: 27th in FedExCup last season

Louis Oosthuizen: 38th in FedExCup last season

Ryan Palmer: 34th in FedExCup last season

Rod Pampling: Won 2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Pat Perez: Won 2016 OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Scott Piercy: 37th in FedExCup last season

D.A. Points: Won 2017 Puerto Rico Open

Ian Poulter: Was on major medical, earned enough FedExCup points

Jon Rahm: Won 2017 Farmers Insurance Open

Chez Reavie: 81st in FedExCup last season

Patrick Reed: Won 2016 Northern Trust, 3rd in FedExCup last season

Kyle Reifers: 61st in FedExCup last season

Patrick Rodgers: 74th in FedExCup last season

Justin Rose: 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, 51st in FedExCup last season

Charl Schwartzel: 25th in FedExCup last season

Adam Scott: 4th in FedExCup last season

Webb Simpson: Won 2012 U.S. Open, 51st in FedExCup

Vijay Singh: 99th in FedExCup last season

Cameron Smith: Won 2017 Zurich Classic

Jordan Spieth: Won 2017 AT&T Pebble Beach, 9th in FedExCup last season

Kyle Stanley: 116th in FedExCup last season

Brendan Steele: Won 2016 Safeway Open, 63rd in FedExCup last season

Shawn Stefani: 123rd in FedExCup last season

Brett Stegmaier: 108th in FedExCup last season

Henrik Stenson: Won 2016 Open, 36th in FedExCup last season

Robert Streb: 105th in FedExCup last season

Kevin Streelman: 59th in FedExCup last season

Steve Stricker: 76th in FedExCup last season

Brian Stuard: 60th in FedExCup last season

Daniel Summerhays: 65th in FedExCup last season

Hudson Swafford: Won 2017 CareerBuilder, 64th in FedExCup last season

Vaughn Taylor: 62nd in FedExCup last season

Justin Thomas: Three wins this season, 12th in FedExCup last season

David Toms: 124th in FedExCup last season

Cameron Tringale: 112th in FedExCup last season

Tyrone Van Aswegen: 98th in FedExCup last season

Harold Varner III: 75th in FedExCup last season

Jhonattan Vegas: Won 2016 RBC Canadian Open, 29th in FedExCup last season

Johnson Wagner: 78th in FedExCup last season

Jimmy Walker: Won 2016 PGA Champ., 14th in FedExCup last season

Bubba Watson: 21st in FedExCup last season

Boo Weekley: 114th in FedExCup last season

Lee Westwood: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

Bernd Wiesberger: Top 50 in Official World Golf Ranking on May 1

Danny Willett: Won 2016 Masters, 93rd in FedExCup last season

Gary Woodland: 20th in FedExCup last season

Getty Images

Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

Getty Images

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.  

<
Getty Images

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.” 

Getty Images

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.”