Power Rankings: 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship

By Will GrayAugust 27, 2014, 5:19 pm

This week marks the 43rd event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour continues the playoffs with the Deutsche Bank Championship. A field of 94 players will tee it up this week at TPC Boston, where the winning score often exceeds 20 under par.

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Henrik Stenson returns to defend the title he won a year ago over Sergio Garcia. Here are 10 names to watch this week in Norton:

1. Adam Scott: The Aussie was T-15 last week at Ridgewood despite a Saturday 75, his seventh straight top-15 finish dating all the way back to May. Scott got his first PGA Tour win here back in 2003 and has added four top-10 finishes since then, including three years in a row from 2010-2012. He knows what it takes to contend at TPC Boston, and should do so again this year.

2. Rory McIlroy: An "off" week for the Ulsterman still netted a top-25 finish, which McIlroy has produced in every start on Tour this year. He won here in a shootout back in 2012 and while his other two results haven't been spectacular, he has shot 65 or better in four of 12 competitive rounds at TPC Boston. McIlroy is certainly not hurting for confidence these days, and should contend again before heading to Denver.

3. Jason Day: Day appears ready to put an injury-plagued summer behind him, as he followed a T-15 finish at Valhalla with a runner-up showing at The Barclays. The Aussie cracked the top three in Boston in both 2010 and 2011, and he had four rounds in the 60s en route to a T-13 finish a year ago.

4. Jim Furyk: While another chance to end his victory drought passed him by, Furyk still notched an eighth-place finish at Ridgewood, his ninth top-10 finish in 18 starts this season. He hasn't finished outside the top 20 since Colonial, and he continues to lead the Tour in scrambling. Furyk has three top 10s in nine starts at TPC Boston, most recently 2011 when he finished sixth.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Despite a missed cut last week in New Jersey, Snedeker remains one of the hotter players around and now heads to a course where he finished sixth or better for three straight years from 2010-2012. Snedeker's three prior starts before the missed cut at Ridgewood all netted top-15 finishes, and he should add to that tally in his final start before Ryder Cup captain's picks are announced.

6. Matt Kuchar: In his first start since withdrawing from the PGA Championship with a bad back, Kuchar picked up right where he left off with a T-5 finish at Ridgewood. It was his third straight top-15 result, and Kuchar has turned 21 starts this season into 11 top 10s and 15 top 25s. He's cracked the top 15 at TPC Boston three of the last five years, including a T-4 finish last year.

7. Hunter Mahan: Now atop the FedEx Cup standings, Mahan is heating up just in time for a potential Ryder Cup berth. His Barclays win was his third straight top-15 finish including Firestone and Akron, and Mahan was among the field leaders in GIR percentage each of those three weeks. He's finished inside the top 15 in Norton two of the past three years, including a T-13 finish last year when he opened with 65.

8. Rickie Fowler: One of the best players this summer, but heading to a course where he has had limited success in the past. Fowler is now riding a streak of five straight top-10 finishes after a T-9 result at Ridgewood but his finishes at TPC Boston have gotton progressively worse: T-41, T-52, T-74 and a missed cut last year. Something's gotta give.

9. William McGirt: The veteran is quietly flying under the radar, and has now notched four straight top-25 finishes. After bookend 64s at Sedgefield, he tied for fifth at The Barclays to head to TPC Boston with some significant momentum. He is among the Tour's putting leaders and has shot 66 or better in six of his last 16 competitive rounds.

10. Jordan Spieth: Spieth hasn't had a month to remember in August, but he closed with a 67 at Ridgewood to finish T-22 last week, his 17th top-25 finish of the season. Spieth is seventh on Tour in birdie average in 2013-14 and returns to TPC Boston after a memorable debut last year, when he tied for fourth after a final-round 62 that locked up his spot on the Presidents Cup team.

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Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 2:21 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.

Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.

Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.

“The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.

It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.

“I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.  

“What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”

Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.

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1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.

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Fiery Augenstein outduels Morikawa at U.S. Amateur

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 12:55 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why.

The swing loaded with speed.

The on-course charisma.

The big shot in the big moment.

The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.

Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8.

Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: "I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin."

And did he?

“I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.”

Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14.

One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

“Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag.

“It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.”  


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies.

On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match.

It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house.

“He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.”

The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin.

“It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said.

That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player.

“I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.”

The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course.

“He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.