Expert Picks: 2014 Sony Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 7, 2014, 9:27 pm

This week marks the eighth event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season as Waialae Country Club plays host to the Sony Open in Hawaii. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's 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; contributor John Hawkins; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; staff writer Ryan Lavner and defending fantasy champion Charlie Rymer.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Zach Johnson: The fairways-and-greens specialist is back to his machine-like ways and the tight, windy confines of Waialae are an even better fit for his game than Kapalua as evidenced by his Sony Open victory in 2009.

Group 2: Harris English: Any concerns over the third-year PGA Tour player's transition to a new equipment company this year were mitigated by his tie for 11th at Kapalua.

Group 3: John Peterson: One of the most consistent performers on the Web.com Tour last year has all the markings of this year’s breakthrough talent.

Group 4: Scott Langley: He kick-started his rookie year on Tour with a tie for third at the Sony Open. Although he cooled as the season progressed, Hawaii is the perfect place to start over.


Will Gray

Group 1: Jordan Spieth: Picked up right where he left off with a runner-up in Maui to follow his Rookie of the Year showing in 2013. The first of many high finishes for the 20-year-old.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: There's "horses for courses," and then there's CH3 at Waialae. Playing a venue that clearly suits him, Howell will look to earn valuable world ranking points this week as he eyes a return trip to Augusta National.

Group 3: John Peterson: Peterson thrived in the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals, and as a result is fully exempt this season on the PGA Tour. The former NCAA champ is poised for a big year.

Group 4: Sean O Hair: Still on the comeback trail, O'Hair is returning to Waialae for the first time since his T-2 finish in 2012. Has shown promise already this season with a pair of top-30 finishes in October.


Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Zach Johnson: Not a great track record at Waialae - win in 2009, just one other top 30 in eight trips - but big, brawny Kapalua wasn't supposed to fit his game, either. With three wins in his last six starts, he's too hot to pass up.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Annual pick at the Sony, and he rarely disappoints. Second in all-time earnings here with seven top-five finishes, including four in the past five years.

Group 3: Jeff Overton: Ten of his last 12 rounds at Waialae have been in the 60s, and he was eighth a year ago. Four top 25s to kick off the 2013-14 season.

Group 4: Will MacKenzie: In a weak group, take a flier on the guy who has three top-15 finishes in four starts this year.


Randall Mell

Group 1: Zach Johnson: He's riding a nice wave, so we'll ride his game like a surfboard in Hawaii.

Group 2: Tim Clark: Knock, knock. He's always at the door here, with two runner-up finishes in his last two Sony Open starts.

Group 3: Mark Wilson: After winning Sony in 2011 he has missed the last two cuts there, but the mojo will return.

Group 4: Sean O Hair: A lot of talent ready to come back out again.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.