Expert picks: PGA Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 7, 2012, 7:00 pm

This week the world's best travel to South Carolina to battle over the Wanamaker Trophy in the season's final major, the PGA Championship. 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;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Tiger Woods: His play last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational aside, Woods has put himself in the mix at the last two majors and has now played 13 Grand Slam events without a win. It has to happen sooner or later and Kiawah is as good a place as any.

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: Asked one Tour swing coach who he liked this week and he smiled, 'Someone who is long and can draw the ball.' According to Webster's Dictionary, that would be DJ (with an honorable mention for Lucas Glover).

Group 3: Geoff Ogilvy: Although he doesn't have the best record recently at 'Glory's Last Shot,' the Australian knows how to win the big event and his tie for ninth at the Open Championship is a good indication of how he may play at Kiawah.

Group 4: Trevor Immelman: Count this as an omen pick. We covered the last major event played at Kiawah, the 2003 World Cup, which was won by Immelman and fellow South African Rory Sabbatini.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Not necessarily sure he'll win, just want to make sure he's on my team when he does.

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: DJ in South Carolina at a place where bunkers are not bunkers? Sounds perfect.

Group 3: Johnson Wagner: Let's call this the omen pick. Wagner was the first person I saw when I got on property.

Group 4: Jeff Overton: You're just looking for value in Group 4 and if he can make a cut, it's good value.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Already this season he has excelled on one of Pete Dye's courses (TPC Sawgrass), and he has posted two top 10s in the majors. The winner this week at Kiawah will be a strong-minded, steady plodder with a tidy short game - sounds an awful lot like Kooch, no?

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: There are several reasons to feel good about DJ this week: he's playing in his home state; he's one of the Tour's longest hitters; and he wouldn't mind exacting a little revenge on Pete Dye.

Group 3: Padraig Harrington: The Irishman is a proven winner with a pair of top 10s at the majors this year. A good sand player and streaky putter, too.

Group 4: Scott Stallings: What lost season? In his past two starts he has a win and a T-7. This guy has rediscovered his game.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Graeme McDowell: After two straight major final rounds in the final pairing, GMac is ready to contend once again.

Group 2: Dustin Johnson: The Ocean Course seems tailor-made for DJ - and no, that's not just because of this week's 'no bunker' policy.

Group 3: Kyle Stanley: Watched him play 18 holes on Sunday and the kid's an absolute stud. Could be his time to shine.

Group 4: Thorbjorn Olesen: Whether it was an oversight by Mr. Fantasy or just a strange move, placed at the bottom of Group 4 amongst the club pros is a kid who seriously contended at Lytham.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: It's past time for number 15. He gets it in the last major of the season.

Group 2: David Toms: He's coming off a T-8 at Firestone and a T-4 at the U.S. Open. The 2001 PGA champ is in great shape to add a 14th win to his resume and he just might do it at Kiawah.

Group 3: Geoff Ogilvy: Eight top-25s this year, including a season-best T-9 finish at the U.S. Open. This Aussie ball-striker could be lethal in the winds at the Ocean Course.

Group 4: Davis Love III: Don't under-estimate the Ryder Cup captain at Kiawah. The Carolina native feels very comfortable here and the distraction of the upcoming matches at Medinah may work to his advantage.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Luke Donald: Donald doesn't seem like he would be the favorite at this ballpark, but his short game will win him his first major.

Group 2: Zach Johnson: Two wins this year show just what control he has over his golf ball right now.

Group 3: Geoff Ogilvy: 2006 U.S. Open winner may remind us all just how good he can be.

Group 4: Sean O'Hair: Under-appreciated talent who knows how to collect trophies.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Quite simply, if I'm going to get outscored, it'll have to be with someone other than the 14-time major champion.

Group 2: Louis Oosthuizen: Flashed tip-top form at Firestone en route to a solo fourth. World-class tee-to-green game is imperative at Kiawah.

Group 3: Robert Garrigus: Absolute no-brainer. May not be anyone more confident about his game right now. Could lead the field in both distance off the tee and greens hit.

Group 4: Thorbjorn Olesen: Dismissing back-nine fade in Austria two weeks ago. Shared ninth place at the British and won in Sicily along the Mediterranean in early spring.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.