Expert picks: RBC Canadian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 24, 2012, 8:00 pm

The PGA Tour heads to Ontario this week for the RBC Canadian Open, in search of valuable FedEx Cup points as the regular season nears its conclusion. 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; staff writer Ryan Lavner; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Ernie Els: An emotional letdown could be expected, but the Big easy doesn't usually take it easy after wins. He has a strong history of following up one title with another.

Group 2: Robert Garrigus: Hamilton Golf & Country Club isn't really a big bomber's course, but Garrigus will navigate the tight confines just fine.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: No Canadian has won the Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher in 1954. DeLaet is playing well enough to change that.

Group 4: Gavin Coles: The Aussie's strengths should be accentuated on a course that demands accuracy. He's showing signs that it's coming together.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Hunter Mahan: A two-time winner this season, Mahan is a ball-striking machine - fourth in total driving, third in greens hit - and the type of player who should thrive at claustrophobic Hamilton G & CC. He has finished outside the top 20 only once in his past five starts.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Didn't play last week, which was too bad - few on Tour have been as hot as Piercy. In his past two starts at the Greenbrier and John Deere, he's finished T-12 and third, respectively. He was T-6 at this event last year, albeit on a different course. Maybe he's comfortable north of the border.

Group 3: Ken Duke: Hard to believe that the 43-year-old Duke has six - six! - top 10s this season, tied for second-most on Tour. Though his past two starts have been unspectacular, he has still shot in the 60s in 12 of his past 18 rounds.

Group 4: Hunter Hamrick: All he's done since leaving college was make the cut at the U.S. Open, then finish 10th at the True South Classic where he shot all four rounds in the 60s. Clearly, he's trying to follow in the footsteps of fellow Alabama alum Bud Cauley, who went straight from campus to the pro ranks.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Brandt Snedeker: Some players would suffer a letdown after a major title contention; Snedeker will use it as motivation.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Solid ball-striker who can get hot in a hurry; if he's on his game, expect a lot of birdies this week.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: Native of Canada may be a sentimental pick this week, but he's also a smart one; will win a tourney at some point in the next 12 months.

Group 4: Scott Brown: Mr. All-or-Nothing has missed a dozen cuts this season, but has finishes of solo seventh and T-5 in his last two starts.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Jim Furyk: Hamilton Golf & Country Club is a classic course and over his career Furyk has shown himself to be a player who is comfortable with, and contends on, classic layouts. The two-time RBC Canadian Open champ won here in 2006 and has recorded top-11 finishes this year at Riviera, Augusta National, Harbour Town, Colonial and The Olympic Club. I can see him winning this week.

Group 2: Bud Cauley: This young gun returned to a site of 2011 success last week in Mississippi and finished fourth in the True South Classic for his best finish of 2012. I like picking a hot hand whenever I can and Cauley certainly fits the bill this week.

Group 3: Billy Horschel: This young talent has had some injury issues but his game is showing many signs of life, as he finished third last week in Mississippi for his best career Tour finish. He would have had another big finish in the John Deere Classic if not for a final round 74. I have a feeling Horschel will have another good week this week.

Group 4: Hunter Hamrick: A former University of Alabama standout, Hamrick made the cut in his professional debut last month at the U.S. Open and then recorded his first top-10 finish in his second professional start last week. He has a lot to gain right now and he has already had a great year as part of the Alabama team that finished second in the NCAA Championship.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Mr. Consistent finished tied for fourth in Canada in 2010 and is fresh off solid finishes in his last two starts, including a tie for ninth last week at Lytham.

Group 2: Spencer Levin: Has slumped lately after a solid start to the season but he closed with a Sunday 69 to finish tied for ninth last year in Canada and is among the Tour's best putters (15th in strokes gained putting). 

Group 3: Bob Estes: Surprisingly consistent season for the journeyman, he's missed just one cut since April and he's finished outside the top 15 only once out of his last four starts north of the border.

Group 4: Gavin Coles: Improved putting has helped the Australian cash checks in seven of his last eight starts and he needs a big finish if he's going to make the playoffs.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Matt Kuchar: Given that I'm suddenly trailing by a considerable margin, I'm hoping my competition invests elsewhere while I lean on arguably the most consistent golfer in the field. His T-9 at the British was his seventh top-10 of the season.

Group 2: Scott Piercy: Fulfilling every full-season gamer's expectations with 10 top-25 finishes. Rested after a season-best third at the John Deere Classic. Confident and aggressive, a nice tandem on a classic track with slow, receptive greens.

Group 3: Graham DeLaet: Riding Canuck synergy here. Recurring back discomfort is always a concern but he's held together nicely overall. Also took two weeks off since sharing 12th place at the Greenbrier Classic on a similar course.

Group 4: Matt Hill: Calculated flier. Sits atop the Canadian Tour's Order of Merit with a win, a second and a pair of T-8 finishes. Former collegiate superstar at North Carolina State, and has also posted top-15s in five of his last seven starts on the eGolf Professional Tour.

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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