Expert picks: AT&T National

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 26, 2013, 3:55 pm

The PGA Tour heads to Congressional for the AT&T National. 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 Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner. They are joined by former 'Saturday Night Live' star Norm Macdonald, who will serve as a celebrity guest.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Jason Day: Coming off a T-2 at Merion, and has a lot of success at Congo – a runner-up at the 2011 U.S. Open there and a T-8 at last year’s AT&T.

Group 2: Graham DeLaet: The long hitter was in contention all week at the Travelers, eventually finishing third, and is riding a streak of four consecutive top-25 finishes.

Group 3: David Hearn: Three consecutive finishes of T-21 or better, and his first crack at Congressional could be a successful one.

Group 4: Patrick Reed: He’s been in the hunt in each of his past two starts, resulting in back-to-back top 20s. Good value in a weak Group 4.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Adam Scott: Like that third-place finish in this event last year, like the confidence bolstered at Masters.

Group 2: Robert Garrigus: Not in particularly good form, but expecting it to come back where he finished T-4 last year.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: He had a nice summer run last year, time to get it going again.

Group 4: Davis Love III: Hard not to pick this 20-time PGA Tour winner when offered up in this category.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Adam Scott: the Masters champion has shown no signs of slowing down since Augusta National, and Congressional is his kind of ballpark – long with lightning fast greens.

Group 2: Robert Garrigus: This is another horses for courses deal. The bomber tied for fourth last year at Congressional and was third in 2011 when the U.S. Open was played on the Blue Course.

Group 3: Derek Ernst: The rookie has struggled since landing his breakthrough victory at last month’s Wells Fargo Championship, but he is too talented to ignore in Group 3.

Group 4: Andres Romero: The Argentine has never missed a cut at the AT&T National and although he hasn’t been his best this season he has the tools (power) to contend at Congressional.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Bo Van Pelt: Played well at this event a year ago and is fresh off winning the CVS with Steve Stricker on Tuesday.

Group 2: Robert Garrigus: Horses for courses, as Garrigus fared very well on this lengthy track at the 2011 U.S. Open.

Group 3: Jordan Spieth: An event that could use a little spark this week would love to see the teenager in the weekend mix.

Group 4: Brendan Steele: Owns the long game necessary to play well here after coming off a 20-birdie performance in Hartford. 

Win McMurry

Group 1: Adam Scott: The Masters Champ has stayed steady since his victory and finished third at Congressional last year. He’s 4th on Tour in scoring average and 3rd in all-around ranking.

Group 2: Ryan Palmer: He’s finished inside the top 15 in half of his previous eight starts (including a 4th at the Fedex St. Jude Classic and a T5 at the Players) and was T15 here a year ago.

Group 3: Brian Davis: He’s 4 for 4 right now playing the weekend, including a T8 at the Memorial. His recent history at Congressional isn’t the best, but did make the cut and finished T49 last year.

Group 4: Chez Reavie: He’s riding a good wave right now, especially for players in this fourth group. He comes in off two top 25s in his last four starts, which includes a T11 at Colonial. Last year he tied for 15th at the AT&T National.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."