Expert Picks: McGladrey Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 5, 2013, 10:28 pm

This week marks the fifth event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season as Sea Island Club plays host to The McGladrey Classic. 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.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Brendon de Jonge: He garnered attention in the Presidents Cup and despite experiencing some lows since then, he returns to Sea Island where he tied for fourth last year.

Group 2: Freddie Jacobson: The Swede tied for ninth in his last PGA Tour start in Las Vegas, and despite having only played two competitive rounds in Sea Island (back in 2010), he has the game that translates anywhere when he is playing well, as evidenced by how he started the 2013 season with top-10s in three of his first four starts.

Group 3: Camilo Villegas: Camilo is ready to string four competitive rounds together. At the Open last month, a third-round 77 derailed a top finish, one that could have been much better than his T-26. He tied for 20th in this event last year.

Group 4: Y.E. Yang: Hard to believe the major champ from only four years ago is in Group 4. He's making his first start here, and I believe his game can't be too far away. His best recent finish was third place about six weeks ago on the Japan Golf Tour.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Boo Weekley: Although he may be a tad jet-lagged after his trip to Asia, if the wind blows, the Seaside Course is perfect for a ball-striker like Weekley and he hasn't missed a cut since July.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: CH3 is off to one of his signature early-season runs (this is, after all, the early stages of the 2013-14 campaign), having finished in the top 10 in his last two starts (T-7 CIMB Classic and T-5 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open).

Group 3: Brian Harman: The left-hander lives within walking distance of the Seaside Course and knows the greens as well as anyone. He's also posted top-five finishes in two of his last five Tour starts.

Group 4: Hudson Swafford: After a few years of seasoning on the Tour, the University of Georgia standout could surprise some with his play this season and Sea Island (Ga.) Resort has become his second home.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Zach Johnson: At home at Sea Island helps, but not as much as being on a hot streak (seven top-10 finishes in nine starts).

Group 2: David Toms: Finished second to Tommy Gainey at Sea Island last year, was T-3 there two years before that.

Group 3: Brian Gay: This event can quickly turn into a putting contest. Gay knows how to win those.

Group 4: Chad Campbell: Has had his struggles, but he showed some good form this summer and has a T-7 at Sea Island on his resume. 

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Just a few weeks removed from his first win since the 2012 U.S. Open, Simpson often gets hot and stays hot.

Group 2: Chris Kirk: Plenty of UGA products in the field from which to choose, and most of 'em will say Kirk has as much talent as anyone.

Group 3: Camilo Villegas: Ready for a bounceback season, he plays his best golf on courses where birdies are plentiful.

Group 4: Justin Thomas: Don't be fooled by him being the last player ranked in Group 4 - he's got the game to be a household name someday. 

Will Gray

Group 1: Zach Johnson: The resident of nearby St. Simons Island finished the 2013 season as hot as any player on the PGA Tour. Now back on a course he knows as well as anyone, the 10-time winner should be able to keep up a streak of hot play that has now extended more than three months.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: A native of nearby Augusta, Howell combines recent form and past event history better than almost anyone in the entire field. He's begun his 2013-14 season with two top-10 finishes in his first three starts, including a T-5 in Las Vegas, and has finished T-7 or better in two of his three career starts at Sea Island.

Group 3: Vijay Singh: The 50-year-old has experienced a bit of a resurgence in the past few weeks, chasing his runner-up at the Open with a T-23 finish the following week at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The Fijian played well at Sea Island a year ago before struggles over the weekend dropped him into a tie for 27th.

Group 4: Justin Thomas: The former Alabama product is familiar with Sea Island, having won an SEC championship here in 2012. Having shined last year at the Travelers Championship, Thomas is eager to follow in the footsteps of Max Homa, another recent college player who contended down the stretch at the Open last month. 

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry