Expert Picks: BMW Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 4, 2012, 10:30 pm

This week the FedEx Cup playoffs continue with the BMW Championship from Crooked Stick GC. Justin Rose defends the title he won last year over John Senden at Cog Hill outside Chicago. 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 consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin; RotoWorld.com's Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner.


Jay Coffin

Group 1: Tiger Woods: I'm sticking with him. He may not win, but he'll contend.

Group 2: Justin Rose: He won the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier this year, so I'll pick him to do well in another tournament sponsored by a car manufacturer.

Group 3: John Senden: I have a buddy that's told me all year that Senden was going to win an event this year. There isn't much time left.

Group 4: Kevin Stadler: Check out his record the last two weeks. Not sure he'll keep it up, but it's worth the gamble.


Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: His Ryder Cup selection merely validates his good form of late. With a T-3 and a T-4 in his past two starts, respectively, and with the big ballpark at Crooked Stick, there's little reason to suggest that D.J.'s hot play won't continue.

Group 2: Keegan Bradley: With his regular caddie on the bag for the last two rounds at TPC Boston, Bradley shot 63-69 to record a T-13 finish - his third top 15 in his past four starts.

Group 3: Jeff Overton: Crooked Stick is a bit of an unknown for players - except, of course, for the Indiana product. As long as he doesn't try too hard to dazzle the hometown fans, Overton has a chance to build on last week's T-7 finish.

Group 4: J.B. Holmes: His driving distance may be down this year (310 yards per pop), but the Kentuckian still bombs it. That should set up well at rain-softened Crooked Stick, where big hitters will dominate. 


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: With the weight of making captain Davis Love III's U.S. Ryder Cup team off his shoulders, he can free-wheel it at an event he has won before - although that BMW was on a much different (read: longer) track in Cog Hill.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: The claw/saw putting grip has rejuvenated Lefty, as evidenced by his tie for fourth at TPC Boston and his fourth-place showing in the all-important strokes gained putting category.

Group 3: Greg Chalmers: Australian told his swing coach last week not to worry about coming out to Crooked Stick because he is 'striping it.' At 36th on the FedEx Cup points list, he needs one more solid week to earn his first trip to the Tour Championship.

Group 4: Chris Kirk: He played his way into the BMW with steady finishes at the first two playoff stops (T-46 at The Barclays and T-35 at Deutsche Bank) and hasn't missed a cut since the Greenbrier Classic.


Jason Sobel

Group 1: Adam Scott: I picked him to win the FedEx Cup, so at some point that's got to mean a tournament win, too.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: Finally starting to peak again, thanks to his new claw putting grip.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: Playing some inspired golf over the final two months of the season.

Group 4: Graham DeLaet: Needs one more big push to get into the Tour Championship and claim a spot in the first three majors next year.


Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: One of the things that motivates Tiger the most is being the best. In his eyes, he was just beaten by his biggest rival who is making his youthful stake on being the best player in the world. Tiger bites into Rory's moment in the sun with a win this week and a claim that he is still the best in the game.

Group 2: Jim Furyk: He can breathe a sigh of relief this week after getting a nod from Captain Love. With that security, Furyk crushes all doubt surrounding his captain's pick by showing up big at the BMW. Plus, he's proven he's playing well - see his T-13 last week, as well as strong stats for hitting fairways and greens all year long.

Group 3: John Senden: Coming in off a solo 12th place in Boston, which makes it five of seven top-20 finishes this summer. He's 26th in the standings so he knows he needs to keep up his good play to make it to Atlanta and reap all the benefits of a Tour Championship berth.

Group 4: Kevin Stadler: Back-to-back ties for tenth place make Stadler a no-brainer in Group 4. He's on a hot streak and there is no better time to have one than the playoffs. Look for him to ride the wave into the Tour Championship.


Rob Bolton

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Even though Rory McIlroy deserves the investment, I'm hedging for the mere fact that it's rare to win in consecutive weeks. In his consistent attack, Woods had only four bogeys all week at the Deutsche Bank and finished third. 

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: The tinkering is paying dividends. Using the claw grip at TPC Boston, Mickelson finished fourth in strokes gained putting and placed T-4 on the final leaderboard. His sublime short game should also serve him well at Crooked Stick.

Group 3: John Senden: Never sexy, but always steady. Tee-to-green proficiency has led to a pair of top-20 finishes in the playoffs. Overall, he's logged 11 top-25 finishes among 17 paydays. Crafted his schedule early in the year to focus on the biggest events. 

Group 4: J.B. Holmes: While tempted here by Kevin Stadler - one of four golfers with top 10s in both postseason events - I've read that Crooked Stick caters to long hitters, a philosophy that no doubt has roots in John Daly's annihilation of the track in the 1991 PGA Championship. While the jury remains out if that's an accurate statement this time around, this is the perfect spot to hop on a bomber's bandwagon.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.