Expert Picks: WGC-Accenture Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2013, 7:45 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to Dove Mountain Golf Club in Marana, Ariz. for the season's first WGC event. Hunter Mahan defends his title against 63 of the world's best in single-elimination match play format. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner. They will also be joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest throughout the fantasy season.


Randall Mell

Jones Bracket: Charl Schwartzel: Liking his form after following up a 2nd at the Joburg Open with a T-3 showing at Riviera.

Hogan Bracket: Matt Kuchar: Match play brings out his best, and it will again this week.

Player Bracket: Tiger Woods: Looked formidable winning at Torrey Pines, and all the pieces appear to be coming together.

Snead Bracket: Luke Donald: That wonderful short game will wear out his opponents.

Final Prediction: Donald over Kuchar


Jason Sobel

Jones: Ryan Moore: Former U.S. Amateur champion is obviously proficient in the match play format, and has been playing some very good golf so far this season.

Hogan: Nicolas Colaserts: My bracket has a Colsaerts-Garrigus matchup on Saturday morning. If it happens, bring your binoculars.

Player: Tiger Woods: Truth be told, I don't love him in this event - but I really don't love his bracket. Easily the weakest of the four.

Snead: Scott Piercy: Sure, Ian Poulter is the popular pick, but Piercy hits bombs and plays his best golf in the desert. Watch out.

Final Prediction: Moore over Woods


Win McMurry

Jones: Charl Schwartzel: He has finished in the top-five in all of his last five worldwide starts, including winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship in mid-December. He’s 5-4 at Dove Mountain, yet all four of his losses went at least 18 holes. The toughest match before the semi-finals could be Ryan Moore in the third round. His best recent match play result was making it to the quarter-finals in 2011 Volvo World Match Play.

Hogan: Justin Rose: He tied for second at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and has stayed hot now for months contending at big events, including a T3 at the PGA Championship and T5 at the Bridgestone Invitational last year. He was knocked out in the first round last year, but has made it to the quarterfinals before, back in 2007. He went 2-2-0 at Medinah closing Sunday with three consecutive birdies to beat Phil Mickelson. I believe he’ll channel those feelings this week.

Player: Tiger Woods: Tiger has struggled here recently without making it past round two since he won in 2008. Tiger is back in form, coming off his win at Torrey Pines and he has the best record here, 33-9. Despite not winning a full point for the Americans at the Ryder Cup (0-3-1), he comes into the week after playing golf with the President. If he needs any confidence boost, or reminder of who he is, he has it.

Snead: Luke Donald: He’ll put Michael Jordan’s mind-game techniques to work this week as he tries to capture his second match play title here in three years. Last year as the top seed he went out in the first round, but the year before he won it all. He’s 16-7 in the event. His toughest opponent may be Ian Poulter.

Final Prediction: Woods over Rose  


Ryan Lavner

Jones: Charl Schwartzel: It'd be foolish to ignore his scalding-hot record over the last seven worldwide starts: T3-2-1-1-2-T3-5. With Rory out of the way early - I have him losing to Fowler in the second round - Schwartzel will have little resistance in reaching the Final Four.

Hogan: Justin Rose: This is one of the deepest brackets, so the road to the semis could be an arduous one for Rose. But I see the Englishman squeaking by Keegan Bradley to set up a date in the Final Four.

Player: Tiger Woods: Yes, Tiger is in great form, as he showed at Torrey Pines and, reportedly, in an 18-hole duel with the Leader of the Free World. But Tiger has a relatively easy path to the semis, and I see him only needing to get past Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan to reach it.

Snead: Ian Poulter: Can't bail on the match-play maven, at least not yet. Even with the extended layoff, I expect Poults to be sharp at Dove Mountain, where he won in 2010. He'll take down Luke Donald in the quarterfinals to reach the Final Four.

Final Prediction: Woods over Schwartzel 

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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 9:20 pm

Tiger Woods was in almost total control of his game for the majority of his third round Saturday at PGA National. And although he was once again bit by the Bear Trap, the 14-time major winner tapped in for birdie at the par-5 18th to post a round of 1-under 69 and fight his way back to even par for the week.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first birdie via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

Unfortunately, the Bear Trap would ensnare Tiger for the second day in a row. Woods, whose iron play had looked as crisp as it had in years, sailed approaches long and left at both the par-3 15th and par-3 17th, leading to bogeys which erased the two birdies he worked so hard to secure.

But just like on Friday, Woods rallied back with a late birdie, this one at the home hole, to steal back a shot.

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O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”