Expert Picks: 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 5, 2014, 2:05 pm

This week marks the fifth event of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season, as players head to China for the WGC-HSBC Champions. 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; contributors John Hawkins and John Antonini; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Justin Rose: The Englishman finished tied for fourth last week at the BMW Masters, picking up where he left off last season with his tie for fourth at the Tour Championship.

Group 2: Graeme McDowell: Also was solid last week at the BMW Masters (T-16), and the Northern Irishman has come close in China before with third-place finishes at the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2011 and last season.

Group 3: Ryan Palmer: The American will have an advantage over many in the field having played last week’s BMW Masters and already beaten the inevitable jetlag, and he has finished inside the top 10 in three of his last four starts.

Group 4: Alexander Levy: Although he fell short last week at the BMW Masters (T-2), he already has one victory in China this year at April’s Volvo China Open and may be the European Tour’s hottest player at the moment.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Sergio Garcia: Coming off a T-2 finish last week in Malaysia, Sergio seems primed to contend once again in China.

Group 2: Keegan Bradley: Despite playing very well at times, Bradley’s 2013-14 campaign didn’t materialize as he’d envisioned. This one will be better.

Group 3: Ian Poulter: He’s made enough cash at the last two HSBC events to buy a fleet of cars – which knowing him, he undoubtedly did.

Group 4: Anirban Lahiri: I’m legitimately excited about this big hitter playing the big boys in his first career WGC start.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Sergio Garcia: Coming off a tie for second at the CIMB, with a fourth-place finish in this event in China a year ago. The Spaniard's having a lot of fun again.

Group 2: Martin Kaymer: His win among three top 10s at Sheshan International bodes well.

Group 3: Ryan Palmer: The guy's been on a solid run since the PGA Championship with four top 10s.

Group 4:Alexander Levy: Won the Volvo China Open in April, won in Portugal a few weeks ago.

John Antonini

Group 1: Sergio Garcia: Although he hasn't won, Garcia is perhaps the most consistent player on the planet in the last six months. No matter where he plays, the Spaniard can be counted on to post a top-five finish. This week should be no exception.

Group 2: Martin Kaymer: I'm going with a foursome of Europeans this week because the tournament means more to them as a part of the Tour's Race to Dubai than it does to Americans who are playing for 2015 FedEx Cup points. Kaymer won in China in 2011.

Group 3: Ian Poulter: He's really a no-brainer in this group. The winner in 2012 and runner-up a year ago, Poulter is a combined 42-under-par at the HSBC Champions the last two years.

Group 4: Pablo Larrazabal: A solid T-5 in last month's Volvo World Match Play has him ranked 27th on the European Tour money list. He's no one-year wonder, either, having been in the top 40 since 2011. Larrazabal began his year with a win in Abu Dhabi.

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Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."