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Power Rankings: 2018 Memorial Tournament

By Will GrayMay 29, 2018, 4:02 pm

The PGA Tour heads north to Ohio this week, returning to Dublin for the Memorial Tournament. A field of 120 players will tackle Muirfield Village Golf Club under the watchful eye of tournament host Jack Nicklaus.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - 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.

Jason Dufner won this event last year by three shots over Rickie Fowler and Anirban Lahiri. Here are 10 names to watch outside Columbus:

1. Justin Rose: Rose put on an absolute clinic at Colonial, and now returns to a course where he won in 2010 and lost in a playoff in 2015. The Englishman has finished T-8 or better in each of the last five times he's made the cut at Muirfield Village and appears to be peaking just in time for the season's second major.

2. Rory McIlroy: The Ulsterman didn't close things out at Wentworth, but the opening two rounds displayed just how high his ceiling can be. McIlroy finished T-4 in 2016 in his most recent Memorial appearance, one of four finishes of T-15 or better he has racked up in his last six trips to Nicklaus' event.

3. Justin Thomas: Thomas will tee it up as the world No. 1 for the first time, and he'll do so on a course where he tied for fourth a year ago. Thomas won on another Nicklaus layout earlier this year at PGA National and he hasn't finished outside the top 25 in an individual tournament since the BMW Championship in September.

4. Dustin Johnson: It's not like Johnson lost the No. 1 ranking because of a slump - he just couldn't keep pace with a streaking Thomas. But DJ's record at Muirfield Village includes a T-3 finish two years ago and a fourth-place showing in 2011, proving his firepower can often find a home at one of the Tour's more demanding layouts outside of the majors. Hasn't finished outside the top 20 in a stroke-play event since September.

5. Jason Day: Day is a local resident and playing a de facto home game, but that convenience hasn't yielded a top-10 finish in nine prior appearances for the Aussie. There's reason to think that drought could end this week, given Day's strong play en route to a win at Quail Hollow and T-5 finish at TPC Sawgrass that flashed shades of his 2015 form.

6. Marc Leishman: Day's countryman couldn't keep pace with Aaron Wise two weeks ago in Dallas, but a runner-up was still his third top-10 finish in his last six starts. Leishman also boasts a record of three straight top-15 finishes at Muirfield Village, including a T-5 finish in 2015, and has broken par in 11 of his last 12 rounds.

7. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar won this event five years ago and has been stellar at this event, with only one finish outside the top 15 in 10 appearances since 2007. That includes fourth-place finishes each of the last two years, and Kuchar bounced back from his first missed cut in over a year with a T-32 finish last week.

8. Jordan Spieth: Spieth largely stalled out during his fortnight in the Dallas area, but he has made the cut in each of his five prior Memorial appearances including three top-20s and a third-place finish in 2015. While it's still a matter of the putter with Spieth, he has shown a penchant for heating up on the greens at Muirfield Village.

9. Tiger Woods: Woods' last appearance at Muirfield Village included a third-round 85, but he's certainly a different player than he was three years ago. Coming off a strong weekend at TPC Sawgrass three weeks ago, he'll have plenty of good memories in Dublin given his five tournament victories as he looks to build momentum for Shinnecock.

10. Rickie Fowler: Fowler's T-2 finish last year was his second runner-up result at this event, and he bounced back last week from a rare missed cut at The Players. While his three straight early exits in Dublin from 2014-16 give reason for pause, Fowler has four top-25s over his last six starts overall.

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Woods talks about Ryder Cup prospects in third person

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:47 pm

Conversations between Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods have gotten a little awkward.

That’s what happens when Woods, the U.S. Ryder Cup vice captain, needs to assess the prospects of Woods, the player.

“We’re talking about myself in the third person a lot,” he said with a chuckle Tuesday at the Northern Trust Open. “That’s one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

“I’m one of the guys on the short list, and sometimes I have to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


After placing second at the PGA Championship, Woods finished 11th on the U.S. points list with just eight months of tournament results. Three of Furyk’s four captain’s picks will be announced after the BMW Championship in three weeks, and barring a late injury, it’s almost a certainty that Woods will be one of those selected.

Still, Woods was named in February as an assistant for his third consecutive team competition, even though he told Furyk at the beginning of the year that he envisioned himself as a player on the 2018 squad.

“I’m very close to making that happen,” he said. “It’s been a long year, and that’s been one of my goals, to make the team. To be a part of that team you have to be one of the 12 best players, and I’m trending toward that.”

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Woods on busy schedule: 'It's about pacing myself'

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 1:34 pm

At the beginning of the year, Tiger Woods was anxious to see how his fused back would hold up to tournament play.

Now he’s in the midst of one of his busiest stretches in years.

With the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup likely to be added to his schedule over the next few weeks, Woods could play seven events in a nine-week span.


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


“That is a lot of golf,” he said Tuesday at The Northern Trust. “It’s about pacing myself and making sure I don’t practice too much, don’t overdo it and make sure my training schedule goes well.

“One of the hardest things this year has been finding the right balance. As the summer has gone on, I’ve gotten better and felt better. This is a pretty important stretch.”

Woods has already played 14 events – his most since 2013, when he had 16 starts.

He’s committed to playing the first three playoff events, beginning with this week’s event in New Jersey. There’s a week off after the BMW Championship, and at No. 20 in the FedExCup standings, Woods doesn’t need to do much to punch his ticket to East Lake. He’s also virtually assured of being a U.S. captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, held in France the week after the Tour Championship.

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Tiger Tracker: The Northern Trust

By Tiger TrackerAugust 21, 2018, 1:00 pm

Tiger Woods begins his FedExCup Playoffs run at this week's Northern Trust. We're tracking him at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.


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Stock Watch: Will Bjorn buy or sell slumping Sergio?

By Ryan LavnerAugust 21, 2018, 12:07 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Sneds (+9%): It doesn’t always happen, a Tour player shooting 59 and then finishing it off with a W, so it was satisfying to watch Brandt Snedeker go wire to wire at the Wyndham. An in-form Sneds now should edge out Kevin Kisner for one of Jim Furyk’s final captain picks.

Viktor Hovland (+6%): Watching the Oklahoma State junior maul the field at the U.S. Amateur, a question arose: How does the fifth-ranked player in the world not win more often? The U.S. Am was just his second title, anywhere, outside of Norway. That could all change, after he proved to himself that he could handle the best field and the stiffest challenge.

Lexi (+4%): She once again was penalized – for playing preferred lies in a different fairway – but Thompson still shot 17 under and tied for 12th in her first start since a self-imposed break to recharge her batteries. In the media tent she was refreshingly honest about the difficulties of being a 23-year-old superstar who never went to college and whose life is consumed by golf. Here’s hoping she can find a better balance (like, say, Michelle Wie) over the next few years.

Tyler McCumber (+3%): The world rankings don’t reflect it, but McCumber is playing the best golf of anyone in the world right now. In his past four starts on the Canadian circuit, he’s gone win-win-3rd-win and shot 90 under par with a scoring average of 65.88 and just two rounds higher than 68.

Nick Taylor (+1%): Playing for his Tour card, Taylor shot a bogey-free 63 Sunday at the Wyndham – with an eagle and birdie in his last four holes – to jump from 129th to 119th in the standings. That’s clutch.


FALLING

Billy Hurley III (-1%): A winner two years ago at Tiger’s event, Hurley is now headed back to second stage of Web.com Q-School after finishing 201st in the standings – by a point. A tough break for one of the game’s good dudes.

Kevin Stadler (-2%): He reminded us of the dangers of slamming clubs, after the head of his 7-iron flew off and struck a spectator in the head, requiring stitches. It was a scary scene – “It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much blood,” said playing partner Shaun Micheel – that could have been even worse.

Sepp Straka (-3%): There were plenty of stories of heartbreak at the Web.com Tour regular-season finale, perhaps none as crushing as Straka, who went 5 over for his last seven holes (including three consecutive bogeys to finish) to drop outside of the top-25 bubble.

Sergio (-4%): At last, some signs of life – his tie for 24th in Greensboro was his best finish on Tour since March – but he still didn’t make the playoffs, and it still might not be enough to sway Thomas Bjorn. For the captain it may come down to a question like this: Who would you rather have in Paris, Sergio or Russell Knox?