Expert Picks: Farmers Insurance Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 25, 2012, 3:00 pm

This is a double week for our fantasy players! experts offer up their fantasy choices below for the Farmers Insurance Open, and their choices for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship can be viewed here. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, GC 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;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Nick Watney: Finished in the top 10 in four of his last five starts at Torrey Pines, including 2009's victory, and of Butch Harmon's deep stable of players he may be due for the best season.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: So much for a slow return from the DL. Snedeker tied for eighth in his first event since hip surgery last fall and has been close at Torrey Pines before (T-2 in 2010).

Group 3: Steve Marino: Arguably the best member without a PGA Tour title and Torrey's poa greens mitigate his sometimes pedestrian short game.

Group 4: Harris English:  The rookie is 2-for-2 in cuts made this season and continues to have the look of a breakout star.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: Despite a T-49 last week, when you have a 3-time Farmers champion who has 39 wins on Tour and was runner-up last year, you can't bet against him. I certainly won't this week.

Group 2: Spencer Levin: Played well at Torrey Pines the last two years, finishing T-22 in 2010 and T-20 in 2011. If he can keep up his good play on the weekend, watch out.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Playing very well in 2012 with a pair of top-12 finishes and coming to a place where he has a pair of top-10 finishes in the last two years. Following his 5th place finish in 2011, he went on to win at Pebble Beach.

Group 4: Bud Cauley: With all he has done in the last year, Cauley seems like the can't miss kid of the 2012 Tour. Seeking to turn his 2012 start from good to great with a high finish at Torrey Pines.

Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Nick Watney: The 2009 Farmers champion has played quite well at Torrey Pines recently. He followed up his win in 2009 with a T-9 in 2010 and a T-6 in 2011, closing last year with a final-round 63.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Someone who likes Torrey Pines, as evidenced by some strong finishes in recent years. When he is playing well, Snedeker can be a consistent contender and he is playing well right now.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Not only has he played well at Torrey Pines (T-9 in 2010 and 5th in 2011), but he has also gotten off to a great start in 2012 with a T-12 at Kapalua and a T-6 at the Sony Open.

Group 4: Bud Cauley: Off to a good start in 2012 with a T-29 at the Sony Open and a T-30 in the Humana Challenge. While the start has been good, he knows and I know that he is capable and ready to do more.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Nick Watney: The obvious choice at Torrey Pines, where he has three straight top-10s including a win in 2009 and a T-6 finish last year, closing in style with a 63.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Another American coming off his best year as a pro. His runner-up, T-3 and T-9 finishes in five career trips to Torrey Pines make him impossible to overlook.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Points is a player with great value down the board. He's got a pair of top-10s in his last two Farmers events and is coming off a pair of solid finishes in Hawaii.

Group 4: Bud Cauley: How can you not love this guy? Swagger, youth and major game. He comes into Torrey with some confidence and momentum after a T-30 last week.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Nick Watney: Watney won here in 2009 and has finished inside of the top 10 here in four of his last five starts.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Off to a good start this year, he has three top-10 finishes at Torrey in his last four starts.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Hitting greens is crucial to success at Torrey and Points ranks T-5 in GIR so far this season.

Group 4: Bud Cauley: The guy is on fire. What a steal to have him in Group 4.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Nick Watney: Picked him in Week 1 and it didn't work out. Sticking with him.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Like what I saw last week in the desert.

Group 3: Steve Marino: Best player without a PGA Tour win will win eventually. Right?

Group 4: Bud Cauley: Will pick this guy in Group 4 every time.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Nick Watney: Won at Torrey Pines in 2009, one of four top-10 finishes in his seven starts there.

Group 2: Ben Crane: The guy's rolling with a couple top 10s already this season. Plus, he's a former winner at Torrey Pines (2010).

Group 3: D.A. Points: Good start this year (T-6 at Sony) and a good record at Torrey Pines (back-to-back top 10s).

Group 4: Troy Matteson: After back-to-back MCs to start the season, it's time for Mr. Matteson to pick it up. Top 10 at Torrey Pines last year provides good vibes.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Nick Watney: Four top-10s in his last five appearances here, including a victory in 2009.

Group 2: Brandt Snedeker: Shed the doubt over his hip surgery with a top-10 finish at the Humana. Three top-10s in his last five starts at Torrey Pines.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Pair of top-15s to start 2012 and has recorded top-10s at the Farmers each of the last two years.

Group 4: Bobby Gates: Shared eighth at the Humana with a pair of bogey-free rounds. Superb fit for Torrey Pines.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm