Expert Picks: Phoenix Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 31, 2012, 9:00 pm

This is another double week for fantasy players! experts offer up their fantasy choices below for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and their selections for the CommercialBank Qatar Masters can be seen 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, 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.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Solid and consistent. Hasn't gone back-to-back starts without a top-10 since June; don't bet against that streak ending here where he finished T-8 last year.

Group 2: Jason Dufner: After first getting into a playoff last year in Phoenix, he wanred the world again not to overlook him at the PGA Championship. Dufner comes into the Sonoran Desert off a T-12 in the Palm Desert.

Group 3: Brendon de Jonge: He tied for 22nd last year and all three of his starts in 2012 have yielded finishes inside the top-30.

Group 4: Harris English: While rookies don't typically play well here, he has the length off the tee that we've seen from some past champions here. He's also 3-for-3 on making it to the weekend this year.

Jay Coffin

Group 1: Webb Simpson: When someone is clearly the best player in the field, you have to take him.

Group 2: Bo Van Pelt: Finished T-18 last year, but hasn't played well here other than that. It's risky.

Group 3: Bud Cauley: Cauley has played so well he's moved up to Group 3. Still worth taking though.

Group 4: Harris English: I like the Bulldog rookie's game. He may not win this year, but he'll contend often.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Dustin Johnson: TPC Scottsdale is a bomber's paradise - see two-time champion Holmes, J.B. - and DJ is the game's ranking bomber at the moment.

Group 2: Gary Woodland: See item above. Also, Woodland has spent a good amount of time in the desert recently with new swing coach Butch Harmon, so there will be no adjustment needed for the thin air.

Group 3: Kyle Stanley: This may be wishful thinking, but I believe karma will want to make with the cosmic make-good following last week's heart-breaker at Torrey Pines.

Group 4: Harris English: Rookie has done OK in the desert the last few months. He was T-19 at the Humana Challenge and finished T-13 at Q-School in December in Palm Springs.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Bubba Watson: His newly-purchased General Lee car is parked outside the clubhouse. You'll hear that one or two or 1,000 times this week.

Group 2: Martin Laird: Scotland's own could be primed for a very big season.

Group 3: Scott Piercy: Darkhorse pick to win this week. You can thank me later.

Group 4: Matt Jones: Recipient of last sponsor's exemption will have support from the ASU crowds.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Bill Haas: The FedEx Cup champion is off to a great start in '12; should continue this week.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: Tops my power rankings because of his runner-up finish here two years ago.

Group 3: D.A. Points: Sticking with the hot hand until he cools down, which may not be until the end of the West Coast Swing.

Group 4: Chris Couch: Yup, with top-8 finishes in the last two Phoenix Opens, the guy likes TPC Scottsdale.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Webb Simpson: If the putter were warmed up at the Hyundai, Simpson might already have his first title of 2012.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: 'Fowler Mania' goes to another level with a win in the Sonoran Desert.

Group 3: Camilo Villegas: Showed returning form at the end of last year, and it's carrying over to this season.

Group 4: Chris Couch: Time for the big man to pop back on a leaderboard. He was T-8 in Scottsdale last year.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Webb Simpson: Coming off a T-38 at the Sony and hasn't had consecutive starts without a top-10 in seven months.

Group 2: Rickie Fowler: Taut debut at Torrey Pines, with only five bogeys en route to a T-13 finish. Carded a field-low 62 here last year and was runner-up in 2010.

Group 3: Bryce Molder: Top-15s in five of his last six starts going back to October. He's 2-for-2 here, with a T-8 in 2010.

Group 4: Jeff Maggert: Healthy again. It's early, but he's currently leading the PGA Tour in scoring average and the all-around.

You can watch complete coverage of the Waste Management Phoenix Open Thursday-Friday live on Golf Channel from 4PM-7PM ET.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.