Expert Picks: The Memorial Tournament

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 28, 2013, 11:05 pm

The PGA Tour heads to Ohio this week, as Jack Nicklaus hosts a world-class field at Muirfield Village for The Memorial Tournament. 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: Tiger Woods: The last time the world No. 1 arrived at the Memorial with four Tour titles ... wait, he’s never done that. It’s what makes Woods the easiest chalk pick of the year in his quest for his sixth title at Jack’s Place.

Group 2: Keegan Bradley: The ongoing debate over the ban on anchoring will be a distraction – the Tour’s player advisory council is scheduled to meet Tuesday at Muirfield Village – but Bradley’s runner-up at the Byron Nelson suggests he’s game-ready, regardless of his putting style.

Group 3: Sang-Moon Bae: That final-round 77 at Colonial aside, Bae has proven to be one of the hottest players in golf over the last fortnight.

Group 4: James Hahn: He hasn’t been at his best since the Tour bolted the West Coast, but if anyone has the skills, and the steps, to celebrate a victory “Gangnam Style” on Muirfield Village’s 18th green, it is Hahn.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Justin Rose: Everybody else is going to pick Tiger Woods, right? Well, I’ll either pick up ground on the experts field or be in last place by even more. Worth the risk.

Group 2: Jason Day: Two years ago, he skipped this event, much to the chagrin of Jack Nicklaus. Last year, he missed the cut. This year, he’ll contend.

Group 3: K.J. Choi: At the site of his 2007 victory, Choi is always a strong pick to make some noise at his hero’s tournament.

Group 4: Jason Kokrak: Back in his college state of Ohio, the long-hitting bomber should make plenty of birdies in front of some friendly faces.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Tiger Woods: No explanation required as he seeks his sixth Memorial title and third in the last four years.

Group 2: Bo Van Pelt: A consistent record of strong play at Muirfield Village over his last three starts there.

Group 3: Matt Every: Nice T-6 at Memorial last year, nice T-4 at Colonial last week.

Group 4: Jonathan Byrd: Struggling since wrist surgery, but his strong play at Memorial bodes well for rebound.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: When Woods tees it up right now, it’s impossible to pick against him. Last year’s winner, who rallied down the stretch with birdies on three of his last four holes, won’t be surrendering Jack’s trophy this week. He will lift it for the sixth time in his career and will use the momentum to fuel his fire heading to Merion.

Group 2: Hunter Mahan: He grabbed a top 20 last year by firing a 68 on Sunday despite a 77 in Round 3. He has two top 10s this year.

Group 3: John Huh: Came close to posting top 10s at both the Byron Nelson and Colonial, with a T-8 in Dallas and a T-11 in Fort Worth. He finished T-19 here last year.

Group 4: Jonathan Byrd: This is the week Byrd turns things around. With five missed cuts and zero top 10s, he returns to Jack’s place where a year ago he tied for sixth thanks to consistency throughout the week.

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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.

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.”