This week the European Tour kicks off its Desert Swing with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. 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; editorial director Jay Coffin; associate editor Will Gray; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.
Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Three runner-ups and a third-place finish at Abu Dhabi bode well for the world No. 1 to make a winning start to 2015.
Group 2: Jamie Donaldson: Ryder Cup standout won at Abu Dhabi two years ago. Stars seemed aligned for strong showing.
Group 3: Peter Uihlein: All that talent puts him on track to follow Brooks Koepka’s path.
Group 4: Robert Rock: The Englishman won at Abu Dhabi just three years ago.
Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Because the world No. 1 finished last year strong with top-3 finishes in three of his last four starts, because he’s earned a small fortune with his play in the United Arab Emirates and because he’s Rory McIlroy.
Group 2: Jamie Donaldson: Many American golf fans were first introduced to the Welshman with his walk-off wedge shot to clinch the Ryder Cup for Europe last fall, but he began his climb to stardom with his victory in 2013 in Abu Dhabi.
Group 3: Oliver Wilson: One of the European Tour’s most popular players continues his comeback following his victory at last fall’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Group 4: Robert Rock: The Englishman hasn’t exactly been on a tear lately, his best finish since last year’s desert swing was a tie for ninth at the Wales Open in September, but he did hold off Tiger Woods in 2012 to win the Abu Dhabi stop.