Who's hot, who's not heading into Augusta

By Ryan Reiterman April 4, 2017, 5:00 pm

Masters week is finally here, but before the first men's major of the year begins, take a look at how the top players have fared so far this season to see who's hot and who's not heading into Augusta.

Dustin Johnson

World Ranking: 1

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 7

Wins: 3

Top-10s: 6

Missed Cuts: 1

Best Masters Finish: T-4 (2016)

Masters Outlook: Last season’s Player of the Year has kept on rolling in 2017, and he couldn’t be in better form heading into the Masters. Johnson is coming off three straight wins, and he has 16 top-10s in his last 20 starts.


Rory McIlroy

World Ranking: 2

2017 Starts: 4

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 3

Missed Cuts: 0

Best Masters Finish: 4 (2015)

Masters Outlook: With only four starts on Tour in 2017 because of a rib injury, McIlroy heads into Augusta for his second shot at the career Grand Slam rested but not rusty. He finished T-7 in his first start back at the WGC in Mexico, T-4 at Bay Hill and played well at the Match Play despite failing to win his pool.


Jason Day

World Ranking: 3

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 6

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 1

Missed Cuts: 1

Best Masters Finish: T-2 (2011)

Masters Outlook: He started the season at No. 1, but it’s been a rocky 2017 so far for Day. He ended last year by withdrawing from the Tour Championship because of a back injury, and he began the year with a T-12 at Kapalua, MC at Torrey and a T-5 at Pebble. After that it’s been lackluster starts at Riviera and Bay Hill, along with a WD from Mexico (illness) and at the Match Play Day, where he left early to be with his mother, who is battling cancer. He is preparing to play in the Masters.


Hideki Matsuyama

World Ranking: 4

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 8

Wins: 1

Top-10s: 2

Missed Cuts: 1

Best Masters Finish: 5 (2015)

Masters Outlook: Matsuyama closed 2016 with four wins in his final six starts, and he successfully defended his title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. But since Phoenix, Matsuyama has finished MC, T-25, T-45 and T-51.


Henrik Stenson

World Ranking: 5

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 6

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 3

Missed Cuts: 2

Best Masters Finish: T-14 (2014)

Masters Outlook: The reigning Open champion has cooled off in his last two starts with missed cuts at Bay Hill and Houston. But outside those poor showings and a WD in Mexico (illness), Stenson has seven top-10s in his last 10 starts. Surprisingly, he’s yet to record a top-10 finish at the Masters in 11 career starts.


Jordan Spieth

World Ranking: 6

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 8

Wins: 1

Top-10s: 4

Missed Cuts: 1

Best Masters Finish: 1 (2015)

Masters Outlook: Despite dropping to No. 6 in the world ranking and coming off a missed cut in Houston, there is a legitimate argument that Spieth is the real favorite this week. He’s finished T-2, 1, T-2 in his three career starts at the Masters, but he’ll be looking to move the narrative forward after giving up a five-shot lead on the second nine last year. Spieth hit two balls into the water at the par-3 12th, but he said he’s already exorcised the demons during a couple of scouting trips to Augusta, and he has won three times since last April, including a four-shot win in February at Pebble Beach.


Justin Thomas

World Ranking: 7

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 8

Wins: 2

Top-10s: 3

Missed Cuts: 3

Best Masters Finish: T-39 (2016)

Masters Outlook: He started the season with a bang after wins in Malaysia, Kapalua and the Sony Open. But since then, Thomas has a mixed record of three missed cuts, two T-39s and a T-5 at the WGC in Mexico. Finished T-39 last year in his only Masters start.


Rickie Fowler

World Ranking: 8

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 7

Wins: 1

Top-10s: 3

Missed Cuts: 1

Best Masters Finish: T-5 (2014)

Masters Outlook: Fowler is trending nicely for Augusta. He’s coming off a T-3 in Houston, and Fowler won earlier this year at the Honda. He also recorded solid finishes at Bay Hill (12th), WGC Mexico (T-16) and Phoenix (T-4). After top-5 finishes in all four majors in 2014, Fowler hasn’t been a factor in his last eight major starts.


Adam Scott

World Ranking: 9

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 5

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 1

Missed Cuts: 1

Best Masters Finish: 1 (2013)

Masters Outlook: The 2013 champion has only played in five events and is coming off a missed cut in Houston. The good news is his strokes gained-putting stats have improved this year (129th to 38th), and he has finished out of the top 15 just three times in his last 14 starts.


Sergio Garcia

World Ranking: 11

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 6

Wins: 1

Top-10s: 1

Missed Cuts: 0

Best Masters Finish: T-4 (2004)

Masters Outlook: With only three top-10s in 18 career starts, Garcia and Augusta have not always been on good terms. But the 37-year-old Garcia is a happy camper off the course (he’s engaged), and he captured the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year.


Jon Rahm

World Ranking: 12

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 7

Wins: 1

Top-10s: 4

Missed Cuts: 0

Best Masters Finish: Rookie

Masters Outlook: Besides Dustin Johnson, Rahm has been the story of the year so far. The rookie from Spain won at Torrey Pines, lost to DJ in the final at the Match Play and Rahm has recorded two other top-5 finishes. A Masters rookie hasn’t won since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, but Rahm is certainly the favorite this year to break that streak.


Patrick Reed

World Ranking: 13

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 9

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 1

Missed Cuts: 1

Best Masters Finish: T-22 (2015)

Masters Outlook: The Ryder Cup hero has yet to find his game since leading the U.S. team to victory last October. In 13 events since Hazeltine, Reed only has two top-10s and both were in limited-field events (Hero World Challenge and Kapalua). He also missed the cut last week in Houston after rounds of 77-69.


Justin Rose

World Ranking: 14

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 7

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 4

Missed Cuts: 0

Best Masters Finish: T-2 (2015)

Masters Outlook: Coming off a top-10 in Houston, Rose is also trending well heading into an event where he has some good history. Rose has three top-5 finishes this year after battling a bad back late last season. He tied for 10th last year at Augusta and finished T-2 in 2015.


Danny Willett

World Ranking: 17

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 6

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 1

Missed Cuts: 2

Best Masters Finish: 1 (2016)

Masters Outlook: The defending champion has been up-and-down since winning the green jacket last year. He admitted to being burned out at the end of last year, and 2017 hasn’t been much better with only one top-10 in six starts.


Phil Mickelson

World Ranking: 18

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 8

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 2

Missed Cuts: 0

Best Masters Finish: 1 (2004, 2006, 2010)

Masters Outlook: Lefty is still searching for his first win since the 2013 Open, but he heads into Augusta with some decent form after a T-7 and T-5 in the two WGC events. Mickelson will also be motivated to rebound from a rare missed cut at last year’s Masters.


Bubba Watson

World Ranking: 19

2017 PGA Tour Starts: 7

Wins: 0

Top-10s: 1

Missed Cuts: 2

Best Masters Finish: 1 (2012, 2014)

Masters Outlook: The two-time Masters champion hasn’t won since the 2016 Genesis Open at Riviera, and he hasn’t done much yet in 2017. His only top-10 in seven starts came in his last event at the WGC Match Play, where he lost in the round of 16.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.