Power Rankings: 2014 McGladrey Classic

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2014, 6:39 pm

The PGA Tour continues to kick off the 2014-15 season with the McGladrey Classic, the third event of the new season. A field of 144 players will tee it up at Sea Island, where players could be challenged by the nearby ocean breezes.

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Chris Kirk won this event a year ago by one shot over Tim Clark and Briny Baird. Here are 10 players to watch in Georgia:

1. Webb Simpson: Simpson may not be a part of the "Sea Island Mafia," but he certainly knows his way around the Seaside Course. In three appearances he has never finished worse than T-12, including a playoff loss in 2011, and he boasts a 67.2 stroke average in the event. Coming off a T-4 finish in defense of his title in Las Vegas, he is clearly in form and should have another strong week.

2. Bill Haas: Making his first start since the Tour Championship, having been edged out by Simpson for a spot on the Ryder Cup squad. Haas quietly capped a solid season last month, one in which he missed the weekend only once in 28 starts and had 17 top-25 finishes. He was a runner-up here in 2010, his lone prior start at Sea Island.

3. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar is a Sea Island resident and tied for seventh a year ago after four straight rounds of 68 or better. After a taxing end to his season, he's had a week off following his T-21 showing at the Frys.com Open and should have some more gas in the tank - not to mention a few Yellow Jacket fans in his corner.

4. Scott Brown: He's gotten out of the gates quickly this season, with a T-12 in Napa followed by a T-10 in Las Vegas. Brown is an Augusta native so he knows a thing or two about golf in the Peach State, and the 31-year-old tied for fourth last year after finishing T-20 in his McGladrey debut in 2012.

5. Zach Johnson: Johnson is making his first start since the Ryder Cup, but like many in this week's field he has plenty of experience on the Seaside Course. Johnson tied for 16th a year ago, going 68-67 over the weekend, and last year showed a penchant for getting hot during the part of the calendar when many top players choose to sit it out.

6. Chris Kirk: The defending champ is teeing it up for the first time since the Tour Championship, but the momentum from his playoff run should still carry over. Kirk had top-five finishes in two of his last three starts last season, including a win at TPC Boston, and closed out 2013-14 with a 68.6 stroke average across his final three events. Now he returns to a course where he fired bookend 66s en route to victory a year ago.

7. Tony Finau: The long-driving rookie has been hot to start the season, with top-15 finishes at both the Frys.com Open (T-12) and Shriners (T-7). While he will be seeing this week's venue for the first time, Finau has had little trouble fitting into the big leagues so far this month and currently sits second on Tour in birdie average.

8. Hudson Swafford: While some fans may mistake him for his doppelganger and fellow Georgia Bulldog Harris English, Swafford has played well so far this season as he looks to build a name for himself on Tour. Swafford has carded 71 or better in each of his first eight competitive rounds in 2014-15, notching a pair of top-20 finishes in the process, and now plays what amounts to a home game at Sea Island.

9. Nick Watney: After a disappointing season, Watney showed signs of life in August and now has begun his new campaign with a T-16 finish in Las Vegas after four straight rounds in the 60s. While he is making his first start on the Seaside Course, Watney now has four top-25 finishes in his last six starts dating back to July and may soon return to the winner's circle.

10. Martin Laird: Laird cooled after an opening-round 64 at TPC Summerlin, but his T-18 result was still his fourth straight top-20 finish dating back to last season. The Scot now has 16 straight stroke-play rounds of 71 or better and has hit the green in regulation 77 percent of the time to begin the new season.

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Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

“I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

“I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

“A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

“My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

“I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

“As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.