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Power Rankings: 2017 The Northern Trust

By Will GrayAugust 22, 2017, 8:41 pm

The PGA Tour heads north to New York this week for The Northern Trust. A field of 120 players will tackle Glen Oaks Club, which is hosting a playoff event for the first time.

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

Patrick Reed won this event last year by two shots over Rickie Fowler when it was played at Bethpage Black. Here are 10 names to watch in Old Westerbury:

1. Jordan Spieth: With so many new variables tied to an unknown layout, don't overthink it. Spieth's form has not especially slipped since his back-to-back wins earlier this summer, and his prowess on quick, poa annua greens like the ones expected at Glen Oaks is well-established.

2. Rickie Fowler: Fowler came up short in his major quest at Quail Hollow, but he was nonetheless solid en route to a T-5 finish that included a 32 on the back nine on Sunday. Fowler has been remarkably consistent all season, with five top-10 finishes over his last six starts, and is likely to contend again this week.

3. Dustin Johnson: The world No. 1 should have a little more room off the tee this week on a 7,300-yard, par-70 layout that could favor the bombers. While he hasn't won since March, Johnson has notched three straight top-20 finishes to show the form with which he dominated in the spring isn't too far off.

4. Justin Thomas: Thomas will be making his first start since his breakthrough win at the PGA Championship, his fourth victory of the season and one that vaulted him to the top of the Player of the Year race. Thomas is second on Tour in birdie average this season and sixth in total strokes gained.

5. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama blew away the field at Firestone, but he couldn't keep pace with Thomas down the stretch two weeks ago in Charlotte. He's likely to challenge for what would be his sixth straight top-15 finish this week, given that he's the only player ahead of Thomas this season in terms of birdie frequency.

6. Henrik Stenson: The Swede made a last-minute decision to play the Wyndham Championship, and it paid off as he won for the first time since the 2016 Open Championship after recording four straight rounds of 66 or better. Stenson's ball-striking prowess should be rewarded this week as he fifth straight finish of T-17 or better.

7. Brooks Koepka: Koepka has played sparingly since his U.S. Open win, but he has played well with three straight top-20s. He should once again be able to lean on his driver this week on a burly layout that includes only one par-4 under 400 yards.

8. Rory McIlroy: Perhaps the ultimate wild card in this week's field. Based on his comments at Quail Hollow, it's surprising to see him even make the trip to Long Island, but we saw last year just how quickly the Ulsterman can catch fire come playoff time. Should his rib injury cooperate, we could see him start his season-long title defense in style.

9. Jason Day: Day has been close in recent weeks, but his bid for a second major was derailed by a costly quad during the third round in Charlotte. The Aussie appears to be turning things around, and he remains hungry for what would be his first win in nearly 16 months.

10. Charley Hoffman: Hoffman has had a solid season that has yet to yield a win, but he enters the playoffs clinging to the final automatic qualifying spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team. Hoffman should have plenty of motivation to remain on the right side of the bubble, and he's only a couple weeks removed from a playoff loss in Canada and a T-3 finish in Akron.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.