Power Rankings: 2016 Players Championship

By Will GrayMay 10, 2016, 3:59 pm

The 2016 fantasy golf season rolls right along, as the PGA Tour heads to Florida this week for the the Players Championship. A field of 144 players will tackle the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, home of the infamous par-3 17th.

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Rickie Fowler won this event last year in a playoff over Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia. Here are 10 players to watch in the Ponte Vedra:

1. Rory McIlroy: After missing the cut in his first three Players starts, McIlroy appears to have a pretty good read now on the Stadium Course. He has finished T-8 or better each of the last three years here, and he enters off a T-4 finish at Quail Hollow that might have been even better were it not for some early stumbles.

2. Jason Day: The world No. 1 continues to impress, as Day finished T-5 at the rain-shortened Zurich in his most recent start. He has made 18 starts since last year's U.S. Open and has finished T-12 or better 15 times, including six wins. It's the type of consistency that makes Day a likely contender this week despite missed cuts in three of his five prior trips.

3. Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard is the all-time earnings leader at this event, having won in 2008 and come close in both 2013 and 2015. Garcia finished T-34 at Augusta National despite a third-round 81 and his Players record includes seven top-15 finishes in 10 starts since 2006.

4. Rickie Fowler: The defending champ let one get away last week in Charlotte, but he still returns to TPC Sawgrass as the season-long leader in the all-around ranking. Fowler has six top-10 finishes in 12 starts this season and was also a runner-up on the Stadium Course in 2012 before last year's memorable finish.

5. Jordan Spieth: Spieth should be well-rested after taking the last four weeks off following his Masters runner-up. He is making just his third start at TPC Sawgrass, where he missed the cut last year but finished T-4 in 2014 after playing his first 54 holes without a bogey. Given his recent record in big events, he seems much more likely to contend than miss the weekend.

6. Henrik Stenson: It's hard to believe seven years have passed since Stenson won at TPC Sawgrass. It's the highlight of a course history that includes six top-20 finishes in 10 starts, and while Stenson lost his consecutive cuts made streak last week at Quail Hollow, he has otherwise been playing well this season and nearly won in both Orlando and Houston.

7. Justin Rose: The Englishman's putter cost him a chance at the title last week at Quail Hollow, but he remains one of the best tee-to-green players around. Rose has five top-10 finishes in 10 starts this season, including T-10 at Augusta National, and while his Players record is spotty, it does include a T-4 finish in 2014.

8. Hideki Matsuyama: A winner earlier this year in Phoenix, Matsuyama has finished T-18 or better in each of his last four starts, including a T-7 finish at the Masters. He has also cracked the top 25 in each of his two prior Players appearances, having shot even-par or better in seven of his eight competitive rounds.

9. Zach Johnson: The reigning Open champ always seems to bring his best to the Stadium Course. Johnson has finished T-32 or better each of the last seven years at TPC Sawgrass, including a runner-up in 2012 and a T-13 finish last year. He was fifth earlier this year at Bay Hill and finished T-29 in San Antonio in his most recent start.

10. Dustin Johnson: When we last saw Johnson, he finished T-4 at the Masters to close out a string of three straight top-5 results. In fact, he hasn't finished outside the top 15 since Pebble Beach, but he'll need all the recent form he can get to reverse a course history where he has cracked the top 50 only once in seven trips (T-34 in 2010).

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

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Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

“More punishment,” he said.

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DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

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TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

• Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

• This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

• Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

• At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

• Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

• My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.