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Power Rankings: 2018 Wells Fargo Championship

By Will GrayMay 1, 2018, 3:12 pm

The PGA Tour heads to North Carolina this week for the Wells Fargo Championship. A field of 156 players will tackle a difficult test at Quail Hollow Club, which hosted the PGA Championship just nine months ago.

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 to submit your picks for this week's event.

Brian Harman won this event last year by one shot over Dustin Johnson when it was held at Eagle Point. Here are 10 names to watch in Charlotte:

1. Rory McIlroy: When it comes to Quail Hollow, McIlroy is an undisputed No. 1. The Ulsterman earned his first Tour win here back in 2010, lost a playoff two years later and blistered the course again en route to win No. 2 in 2015. He racked up six top-10s in seven trips from 2010-16 and finished T-22 at last year's PGA.

2. Justin Thomas: The last time Thomas played the Green Mile, he left with the Wanamaker Trophy. He hasn't slowed down since his major breakthrough at Quail Hollow, and this week has a chance to reach No. 1 in the world. His T-7 finish here in 2015 shows that last year's performance was no outlier.

3. Rickie Fowler: Like Thomas, Fowler has thrived on this course both as a major test and as a regular Tour stop. This is where Fowler got his first career win, back in 2012 in a playoff over McIlroy and D.A. Points, and he finished T-5 or better both in 2016 and at last year's PGA. Making his first start since a Masters runner-up.

4. Patrick Reed: Reed makes his first stroke-play start as a major champ on the course where he cracked the top 10 at a major for the first time just nine months ago. Reed's runner-up at the PGA was a sign of things to come, and he has made the cut every time he's played this event at Quail Hollow while finishing outside the top 35 just once.

5. Jason Day: The former world No. 1 remains in the midst of a return to form, with top-25 finishes in each of four stroke-play starts this year. That includes a win at Torrey Pines and a runner-up at Pebble Beach, and now Day heads back to a course where he finished T-9 in his last Wells Fargo appearance and matched the same result at the PGA despite a disastrous quadruple bogey during the third round that ended his title chances.

6. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson makes his post-Masters return on a course where he has done everything but win, having finished fifth or better a whopping six times at Quail Hollow since 2007. While he missed the cut at the PGA and has largely struggled since his breakthrough win in Mexico, don't be surprised if his name pops up on the leaderboard come Sunday.

7. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama has gotten progressively better in each appearance at Quail Hollow, starting with a T-38 finish in 2014 and peaking at last year's PGA when he tied for fifth and had a chance to win coming down the stretch. He is now three starts into his return from a wrist injury and finished T-19 at the Masters.

8. Louis Oosthuizen: Oosthuizen rounded out his career Grand Slam of major runner-ups at Quail Hollow last summer, and in recent weeks he's quietly been displaying some solid form. He teamed with fellow South African Charl Schwartzel to nearly win last week at Zurich, and his last four stroke-play starts have produced three top-20s.

9. Tiger Woods: Woods is a bit of an unknown this week, but his past success is enough to earn a spot on this list. He returns to Quail Hollow for the first time since 2012 and hasn't played the weekend since 2009, but that year he tied for fourth and Woods won this event back in 2007. Making his first start since the Masters, there's reason to suspect he may contend as he did multiple times in Florida.

10. Webb Simpson: Simpson will enjoy the trappings of a home game this week, as he returns to a course where he is a member and was a runner-up to McIlroy back in 2015. Simpson also finished T-4 back in 2012 and has three top-10s in his last six stroke-play starts, including a T-5 finish at the RBC Heritage three weeks ago.

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U.S. Amateur playoff: 24 players for 1 spot in match play

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.

Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

They'll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th at Pebble Beach, where Tom Watson chipped in during the 1982 U.S. Open and went on to win.

The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.

Stewart Hagestad had the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach, to move into a tie for 10th after opening with a 76 at Spyglass Hill. The 27-year-old Hagestad won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earned low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."