Expert Picks: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 5, 2013, 7:35 pm

This week the PGA Tour heads to scenic Pebble Beach, where Phil Mickelson returns to defend his title after a dominating performance in Phoenix. 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.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Brandt Snedeker: The second-highest ranked American has been the game's best (non-living legend division) the last two weeks, and he is showing no signs of slowing down.

Group 2: Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Spaniard joins a growing number of Europeans testing the PGA Tour waters this year, and given his recent record (he hasn't missed a cut anywhere since last October), American galleries shouldn't be surprised.

Group 3: Charlie Beljan: Despite a slow start to 2013 for the Disney champion (three missed cuts in four starts), the laid-back atmosphere at the 'Clambake' should be a perfect fit for him.

Group 4: James Driscoll: It's been feast or famine for Driscoll at Pebble Beach (seven starts, four missed cuts, two top-25 finishes), but following last year's three-round MDF (54-hole cut) he seems due for a solid week.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Hunter Mahan: Everyone else is going to take Dustin Johnson here (right? right), so I'll zig when they zag and go with another long hitter instead.

Group 2: Ryan Palmer: After looking good on the weekend in Phoenix, Palmer was still talking about reaching the Match Play, which may mean he needs to win this week.

Group 3: James Hahn: Gangnam Style dancing notwithstanding, Hahn's final-round 62 should give him good vibes heading back to his NorCal home.

Group 4: Steve Marino: Still severely under-ranked based on missing most of last year; gotta jump on him before he jumps into another category.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: With a win under his belt this season and two wins at Pebble Beach, he's the surest bet for the week, despite his W/D at Sony and T-51 finish a couple weeks ago at Torrey Pines.

Group 2: Tim Clark: He opened his season strong with a runner-up finish at the Sony Open, and on the Monterey Peninsula he has three top 10s and five top 25s since 2003.

Group 3: Ricky Barnes: He hasn't played on the weekend in his last two starts, but prior to that he had back-to-back top-20 finishes. Barnes shines at high-profile venues like Pebble Beach, where he finished third last year.

Group 4: Steve Marino: Playing this season on a major medical extension, he has earned more than $100,000 in three starts on his quest to keep his playing privileges. The last time he teed it up here, he finished T-4 in 2011 following a solo fourth-place finish in 2010.  

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: Has already won this season, and he returns to an event that he has won twice.

Group 2: Jimmy Walker: Hasn't missed a cut since July, and was T-9 here in back-to-back years.

Group 3: Billy Horschel: Has posted a pair of top-11 finishes in four starts this season, pushing his made-cuts streak to 15.

Group 4: Steve Marino: Was T-15 in his last start, and had fourth-place finishes here in both 2010 and 2011.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: Johnson wins for the third time at Pebble Beach, his West Coast home away from home.

Group 2: Aaron Baddeley: A pretty good record at Pebble Beach, wiht a fourth and T-6 in his last two starts there.

Group 3: Ken Duke: There are good memories to build upon from his T-7 finish at Pebble Beach last year.

Group 4: Steve Marino: Coming off good play in San Diego, with a pair of fourth-place finishes at Pebble Beach to build upon.

Norm Macdonald (Celebrity guest)

Group 1: Webb Simpson

Group 2: Brendon de Jonge

Group 3: Luke List

Group 4: Jeff Maggert

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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”

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Rory almost channels Tiger with 72nd-hole celebration

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:11 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy’s final putt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational felt awfully familiar.

He rolled in the 25-footer for birdie and wildly pumped his fist, immediately calling to mind Woods’ heroics on Bay Hill’s 18th green.

Three times Woods holed a putt on the final green to win this event by a stroke.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy was just happy to provide a little extra cushion as the final group played the finishing hole.

“I’ve seen Tiger do that enough times to know what it does,” McIlroy said. “So I just wanted to try and emulate that. I didn’t quite give it the hat toss – I was thinking about doing that. But to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special.”

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McIlroy remembers Arnie dinner: He liked A-1 sauce on fish

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 1:06 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Fresh off a stirring victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy offered a pair of culinary factoids about two of the game’s biggest names.

McIlroy regretted not being able to shake Palmer’s hand behind the 18th green after capping a three-shot win with a Sunday 64, but with the trophy in hand he reflected back on a meal he shared with Palmer at Bay Hill back in 2015, the year before Palmer passed away.

“I knew that he liked A-1 sauce on his fish, which was quite strange,” McIlroy said. “I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A-1 sauce?’ And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ He said, ‘No, for me.’”

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

A few minutes later, McIlroy revealed that he is also a frequent diner at The Woods Jupiter, the South Florida restaurant launched by Tiger Woods. In fact, McIlroy explained that he goes to the restaurant every Wednesday with his parents – that is, when he’s not spanning the globe winning golf tournaments.

Having surveyed the menu a few times, he considers himself a fan.

“It’s good. He seems pretty hands-on with it,” McIlroy said. “Tuna wontons are good, the lamb lollipops are good. I recommend it.”

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DeChambeau comes up short: 'Hat’s off to Rory'

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 12:48 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Amid a leaderboard chock full of big names and major winners, the person that came closest to catching Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational turned out to by Bryson DeChambeau.

While Henrik Stenson faltered and Justin Rose stalled out, it was DeChambeau that gave chase to McIlroy coming down the stretch at Bay Hill. Birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 were followed by an eagle out of the rough on No. 16, which brought him to within one shot of the lead.

But as DeChambeau surveyed his birdie putt from the fringe on the penultimate hole, McIlroy put an effective end to the proceedings with a closing birdie of his own to polish off a round of 64. DeChambeau needed a hole-out eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff, and instead made bogey.

That bogey ultimately didn’t have an effect on the final standings, as DeChambeau finished alone in second place at 15 under, three shots behind McIlroy after shooting a 4-under 68.

“I thought 15 under for sure would win today,” DeChambeau said. “Rory obviously played some incredible golf. I don’t know what he did on the last nine, but it was deep. I know that.”

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

DeChambeau will collect $961,000 for his performance this week in Orlando, just $47,000 less than he got for winning the John Deere Classic in July. While he would have preferred to take McIlroy’s spot in the winner’s circle, DeChambeau was pleased with his effort in Sunday’s final pairing as he sets his sights on a return to the Masters.

“For him to shoot 64 in the final round, that’s just, hat’s off to him, literally. I can’t do anything about that,” DeChambeau said. “I played some great golf, had some great up-and-downs, made a couple key putts coming down the stretch, and there’s not really much more I can do about it. My hat’s off to Rory, and he played fantastic.”