Expert picks: RBC Heritage

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 10, 2012, 6:00 pm

The focus of the golf world now descends upon Magnolia Lane and Augusta National for the season's first major. 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.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Luke Donald: Englishman lost in a playoff last year at Harbour Town and after a slow start last week at Augusta National, he finished strong with a 4-under 68.

Group 2: Stewart Cink: Former Heritage champion had bookend rounds of 71 (Thursday) and 69 (Sunday) at the Masters. it was his middle efforts - Friday and Saturday (75-81) - that are concerning but Cink is starting to show signs of life.

Group 3: Brian Gay: Light-hitting ballstrikers with smooth putting strokes seem to do well at Harbour Town and Gay is the prototype champion. He won the Heritage by 10 in 2009 and at seventh in total putting, he's an easy pick.

Group 4: Boo Weekley: As reclamation projects go Weekley may not be the easiest pick, but consider that the two-time Heritage champion has shown glimpses of his former self in recent weeks (T-3 in Puerto Rico and T-14 in Houston) and after Bubba Watson's victory last week he's looking to keep the run going for Milton, Fla.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Jim Furyk: He has all the components of what I look for in a winner - recent form and past success. Won this event in 2010 and also has a pair of runner-up finishes here, as well as strong recent performances at the Masters, Bay Hill and Transitions.

Group 2: Bryce Molder: He's had a solid season so far (six top-20 finishes in eight events) and it's gone relatively unnoticed. With the way he's performing with his irons this season, I think he finds his form and hangs around near the top this weekend.

Group 3: Brian Gay: What a clinic he put on here three years ago en route to his 10-stroke romp of the field. Channeling confidence here this week would certainly bring his season back in the right direction, and his impressive scrambling and sand save percentages also give him an edge.

Group 4: James Driscoll: He comes in off a T-8 in Houston and I am drawn to the stats in which he currently leads the Tour. He's first in approaches from 75-110 yards and first in putting from 5-10 feet, which are great stats for a short Harbour Town course with small greens.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Luke Donald: Finished off the Masters with a solid 68, lost in a playoff here last year and is a fixture in the top three at Harbour Town.

Group 2: Brian Davis: Consecutive top-5 finishes make him a hot player and, because of his honesty here in the 2010 playoff against Jim Furyk, this place owes him one.

Group 3: Harris English: English told me last year that he likes tree-lined courses. Well, this is about as tree-lined as it gets on Tour.

Group 4: Brian Harman: Harman is 13th in the all-around ranking and has bounced back nicely after each of his two prior poor starts this year.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Luke Donald: In his last three Harbour Town appearances, Donald's finished second, T-3 and T-2.

Group 2: Ricky Barnes: Just one strong finish so far this year (third at Pebble Beach), but Harbour Town inspires him (T-4 and T-5 finishes here).

Group 3: Brian Gay: Hey, he's won at Harbour Town before (2009) and has another top-10 finish.

Group 4: Vaughn Taylor: Steady efforts this year, looking for a peak performance this week.

John Hawkins

Group 1: Jim Furyk: 2010 Heritage champion only a few weeks removed from a playoff loss at Innisbrook and had a great showing at Augusta last week.

Group 2: Brian Davis: Coming in off of back-to-back top-5 finishes at Bay Hill and Houston. After a rules infraction cost him in a playoff two years ago, this course may owe him a good finish.

Group 3: Henrik Stenson: Backed him last week and it nearly paid dividends; Stenson is clearly a streaky player as evidenced at Augusta but I think he'll finish well this week.

Group 4: Boo Weekley: The two-time Heritage winner is on the upward swing. After solid finishes in Puerto Rico and Houston do not be surprised to see his name on the board on Sunday.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Luke Donald: No. 1-ranked golfer in the world has finished second twice and third once in the last three years at Harbour Town. Come get some.

Group 2: Brian Davis: T-4s in his last two starts this season. Unfinished business from his unfortunate rules infraction here in 2010 when he lost in a playoff.

Group 3: Brian Gay: Chalk pick. Perfectly suited for Harbour Town. Owns the tournament record at 20-under 264 in 2009.

Group 4: Boo Weekley: Two-time champion has another two top-15s in five starts here. Playing consistently well of late.

 **Join Fantasy Expert Rob Bolton for a live golf chat Wednesday at 12:00p ET at**

Tune in to Golf Channel this Thursday-Friday from 3:00p-6:00p ET for live coverage of the RBC Heritage.

Getty Images

Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm