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Power Rankings: 2017 BMW Championship

By Will GraySeptember 13, 2017, 3:09 am

The PGA Tour heads west to Chicago this week for the BMW Championship. A field of 70 players will tackle Conway Farms Golf Club, with only the top 30 in the points race advancing to the season-ending Tour Championship.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Dustin Johnson won this event last year by three shots over Paul Casey at Crooked Stick. Here are 10 names to watch outside Chicago:

1. Jordan Spieth: It feels like it's only a matter of time. In a season that has already included three wins and a major, Spieth is once again circling another trophy after opening the postseason with two runner-up finishes. He is one of three players in the field who cracked the top 20 at Conway Farms in both 2013 and 2015.

2. Justin Thomas: Thomas had a week off following his convincing win at TPC Boston, but don't expect the PGA champ to slow down. He is a far different player than he was two years ago, when he tied for 13th at Conway Farms, and has barely missed a beat since his major breakthrough last month at Quail Hollow.

3. Dustin Johnson: The world No. 1 started the playoffs with a win, and he is now on a run of five straight top-20 finishes. That stretch is likely to continue against a limited field on a course where Johnson tied for seventh two years ago and should once again be able to utilize his advantage off the tee.

4. Jason Day: The Aussie destroyed the field at Conway Farms two years ago when he was at the height of his powers, and he finished T-4 here back in 2013. Day has had a relatively middling season but has also started to turn things around in recent weeks, notably a T-9 finish at the PGA and a T-6 finish at The Northern Trust.

5. Rickie Fowler: Fowler continues to have perhaps the most consistent season of his career, and while the Honda Classic remains his lone win it has certainly not been his only strong week. Given his T-4 finish at Conway Farms two years ago, there's reason to think that Fowler will factor once again this week.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom has gotten off to a relatively slow start in the playoffs, but that could turn around this week on a course where he tied for seventh back in 2015. Matsuyama is only a few weeks removed from a dazzling performance at Firestone where he routed a similarly elite field.

7. Paul Casey: The Englishman is on a postseason tear, with five straight top-5 finishes in playoff events dating back to last year. Casey hasn't won in the U.S. since the 2009 Shell Houston Open, but he remains in prime form and now will hit the course after his wife welcomed their second child over the weekend.

8. Jon Rahm: Rahm is hoping to cling to a coveted spot in the top 5 in the points race heading into next week's finale, and in order to do that he'll again need to shine while making his course debut. It hasn't fazed the Spaniard to date, including top-5 finishes at each of the first two playoff stops.

9. Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay remains a fantasy sleeper, but perhaps not for much longer. The former amateur standout hasn't missed a single cut this year in his return from a lengthy injury break, including top-15 finishes in each of the last two events. Don't be surprised to see his name near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

10. Justin Rose: Rose opened his postseason with back-to-back top-10 finishes and now arrives at a venue where his ball-striking advantage should pay dividends. The Englishman tied for 13th in Lake Forest two years ago and could use this week to boost his standing heading into East Lake.

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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break

By Mercer BaggsJuly 19, 2018, 2:14 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.

“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.

Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.

Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.

“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”

It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.

“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.

“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”

This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.

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Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated,” taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor. Kang made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

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Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.