Expert Picks: McGladrey Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 16, 2012, 6:42 pm

This week the Fall Series continues with The McGladrey Classic, where Ben Crane returns as defending champion. 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.


Win McMurry

Group 1: Jeff Overton: He finished solo eighth last week at the Frys.com Open, is on a hot streak of seven consecutive rounds in the 60s and tied for sixth a year ago in Sea Island.

Group 2: Michael Thompson: He finished one shot out of the playoff here last year and tied for 13th in Vegas the last time he teed it up in competition. Putting is crucial this week, and he's certainly got the flat stick down, ranking 25th on Tour in strokes gained putting.

Group 3: Nick O'Hern: If you haven't noticed, I bank on recent play and past performance with all of my picks. O'Hern was T-22 last week and tied for sixth here last year. His only top-10 finish this year was at the Fedex St. Jude Classic (T-3) and he certainly could use another as the year winds down.

Group 4: Alexandre Rocha: He lost in a playoff in Reno earlier this season, but is still grinding it out to secure status for next year. He is in form to get it done, coming off his T-4 finish last week. He was T-26 here a year ago.


Jason Sobel

Group 1: Zach Johnson: Sea Island resident was T-12 two years ago and played well in the Ryder Cup recently.

Group 2: Chris Kirk: In his last four events, Kirk has a 65.8 opening-round scoring average, but 72.0 in the final round. If nothing else, expect a good start.

Group 3: Heath Slocum: He won the inaugural McGladrey two years ago. When he finds a place he likes, he often tends to play well.

Group 4: Joe Durant: At 7,055 yards, this is not a bomber's course. Durant is short, but keeps it straight.


Randall Mell

Group 1: Jim Furyk: This proud competitor is motivated to end the year with a good taste in his mouth.

Group 2: Sean O'Hair: Too much talent not to catch fire again before the year is over.

Group 3: Nick O'Hern: He will finish off what he started last week with his hot start at the Frys.com Open.

Group 4: Gavin Coles: Found some magic right about this time last year, winning a Web.com Tour event just down the road in Jacksonville.


Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Zach Johnson: Sea Island resident should be rested after a two-week hiatus and he's played well in his last two starts (T-15 at the Tour Championship and 3-1-0 at the Ryder Cup).

Group 2: Brian Harman: Rookie has played the Seaside Course as much as anyone; in fact, he beat tournament host Davis Love III in a three-hole shootout a few weeks ago at the Sea Island layout.

Group 3: Greg Owen: One of the Tour's best shot makers (25th in ball-striking) will have an advantage if the winds come up in the Golden Isles this week. He was solid (T-22) in his last start at the Frys.com Open.

Group 4: Alexandre Rocha: Missed a 10-footer for birdie at the last hole of the Frys.com Open that would have assured him his 2013 Tour card, but he's earned the majority of his money this year in his last four starts and has played well at Sea Island (T-26 in 2011).


Rob Bolton

Group 1: Jim Furyk: First start since the Ryder Cup. Seven top-10s this year - some more notable than others - but he's still chasing his first victory in 2012. Dissected Seaside a year ago en route to a share of 11th place.

Group 2: Chris Kirk: He's a local and he's cashed in nine straight starts. Can't afford to take any zeroes as we come down the stretch.

Group 3: Russell Knox: Wouldn't normally invest in a rookie ranked 157th on the money list, but the Scot is seriously trending. Since a T-7 on the Web.com Tour in late September, he's racked up a pair of top-15s on the PGA Tour, including a career-best T-9 at CordeValle on Sunday.

Group 4: Alexandre Rocha: Flashed some swagger en route to a tie for fourth at the Frys.com Open, his second top-five in four starts. Also ranked T-2 in greens in regulation and second in strokes gained putting at CordeValle.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.