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Power Rankings: 2018 RBC Heritage

By Will GrayApril 10, 2018, 5:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads to South Carolina this week for the RBC Heritage. A field of 132 players will tackle Harbour Town Golf Links, where the winner is annually awarded a tartan jacket.

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.

Wesley Bryan won this event last year by one shot over Luke Donald. Here are 10 names to watch in Hilton Head:

1. Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has become Mr. Consistency on the PGA Tour, going more than a year since his last missed cut. He has finished T-28 or better each of the last three weeks, highlighted by a T-8 finish in Houston, and he has finished T-11 or better each of the last three years at this event following his dramatic victory in 2014.

2. Cameron Smith: The young Aussie won a team event last year, but he may be on the cusp of his first individual title in the U.S. following T-6 finishes in three of his last five starts. That run includes a T-5 finish last week in Augusta, and Smith has cracked the top 30 in each of his first two trips around Harbour Town.

3. Luke Donald: The former world No. 1 has fallen off the map, but always seems to rise to the occasion at this event regardless of form. While Donald has never won here, he has finished second or third a whopping seven times in the last nine years, including a playoff loss in 2011 and back-to-back runner-up finishes.

4. Adam Hadwin: The Canadian is quietly compiling a strong season, including three top-12 finishes in his last five starts and a brief flirtation with contending last week at the Masters. Hadwin, like many on this list, isn't among the longest players on Tour but Harbour Town is a venue that values other assets as evidenced by his top-30 finishes each of the last two years.

5. Brian Harman: The former Georgia product should feel plenty comfortable in the lowcountry, and after a strong start to the season there's reason to expect him to contend again. Harman already has seven top-10 finishes this season, most recently a Round of 16 exit in Austin, and he has cracked the top 10 twice in the last four years at this event.

6. Dustin Johnson: The current world No. 1 is returning to his roots, teeing it up a short drive from his former stomping grounds at Coastal Carolina for the first time since 2009. Johnson missed the cut that year, as he did in 2008, and he'll be somewhat hamstrung by the cozy confines. But he still has plenty of game to contend, even on a tight layout.

7. Paul Casey: Casey went about his business last week, posting a solid T-15 finish despite making the cut on the number. He has played sparingly in Hilton Head, but he does have top-25 finishes in three of his last four trips and is still riding the momentum of last month's comeback victory in Tampa.

8. Kevin Kisner: Like Harman, Kisner is a University of Georgia alum who usually plays his best on the grasses and courses of the southeast. That includes Harbour Town, where he lost in a playoff to Jim Furyk in 2015 and finished T-11 last year. Kisner finished T-28 last week in Augusta in his first start since a runner-up performance in the WGC-Dell Match Play.

9. Charley Hoffman: Hoffman thrilled with an ace during the final round of the Masters, and his T-12 finish was his third top-20 in his last four stroke-play starts. Hoffman has been equally consistent at this event, posting three top-15 finishes in a five-year span before last year's missed cut.

10. Webb Simpson: Simpson lost in a playoff here to Graeme McDowell back in 2013, and his Heritage record includes four top-15s since 2010. While he hasn't won in nearly five years, Simpson is among the Tour's best this season on and around the greens, so don't be surprised to see his name on the leaderboard come Sunday.

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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.